Sharing a sense of place

When your team can't be together, try sharing a virtual tour to get a common sense of place

I'm fond of simple hacks that improve my workday in some way, whether it's better meetings, improved concentration for focus work, or quick ways to start something new. For workday listening, I still find myself occasionally coming back to San Francisco Bladerunner, a combo of sounds and music that together make you feel like you're living in Blade Runner.

Nowadays travel is difficult or impossible. Team offsites and other in-person meetups are not safe. It's very hard to have a shared notion of space and location with team members in other locations. We're mostly confined to viewing each other through little rectangular video feeds, and our sense of place usually ends at sharing today's weather. But if there are tools out there that can make this experience a bit better, why not try them?

For a simple way to get started, fire up Google Maps while on a call with your team. Either have each team member load it individually, or share your screen so everyone can see and one person can control the session. Have you all visited a common city for a team event in the past? If not, has everyone lived in or visited some common area? Point the map to that area, and tour the landmarks, restaurants, or stores that you've visited. For our team, touring parts of New York, London, and San Francisco where we've lived and had team events is always a fun way to remember our time together as a team. It usually reminds us of fun bonding events we'd forgotten about. Remember that time we got cronuts without having to wait in line? Remember the neighborhood bar where we had events, and would bring our own pizza?

Going Further

For a more immersive individual experience you can try during your workday, use this approach.

1. Pick a location

Choose a place, maybe a city where a teammate lives.

2. Open a view

Select one of these viewing tools, and find a video, 360 view, or panorama from the destination location you've chosen:

3. Check the weather

Check the weather for your chosen place with one of these tools:

4. Simulate the weather

Open an ambient sound generator and set it to reflect the weather or environmental conditions in your chosen location. Set the volume to 50%.

5. Open a radio to that location

If you want to add music, you can open a local radio station, and adjust the volume to your taste. Some options for finding one:

6. Share your setup

Share links to the combination of pages you have open with your team, so they can all share the experience during their day.

7. Pick a new location and repeat

If you're choosing locations where team members live, then repeat this on different days with each team member's location, and let them curate the selection of video and audio.

Try It

If you're looking for ways to have just a tiny bit of the experience of being closer to your team members, there are ways to do it. Heck, if getting the feel of a commute in another place (remember commutes?) is something you want to try, there's a website for that: Drive & Listen. But even just a quick tour in Google Maps is a worthwhile team activity to get started.

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