Looking for a great way to foster communication and encourage personal connections in a fully remote workforce? 

We speak with Annette van Niekerk, Product Designer at Passion.io, about the “Tea for Three” initiative she implemented at Passion and the “secret” facts she learned about her fellow Passioneers.  

What’s your role at Passion, when did you join and what is one fun fact about you? 

Annette: I have been a Product Designer at Passion since August 2021. Fun fact: I am a sucker for epic video games & movie/series soundtrack compositions. Think along the lines of James Horner, Hanz Zimmer, Lorne Balfe, etc.

What is Tea for Three and how did it start? 

Annette: For the Tea for Three initiative, all the employees at Passion are divided into random groups of 3-4 people each week (which is rotated weekly). Each group is responsible to schedule a time slot within that week where they can just casually chat and get to know each other better (preferably focus on discussing non-work-related topics). Attendance is not compulsory but encouraged.

While I was working at a previous company, one of our clients had those Tea for Three calls for their employees. My sister was outsourced through my previous company to that client (we worked at the same company), and she thought it was a fun initiative to introduce to our company. So we started having those calls there and once I left them to join Passion, I wanted to introduce this initiative here so that I can get to know everyone better.

You are sending out the groups for the week every Monday, do you decide who goes into which group or how does it work? 

Annette: Partially, yes. Each week I check our employee portal (BambooHR) to see who is on leave, who will be on leave, and who is out sick. Then I update our existing employee list accordingly for that week. I then create the groups using an online group randomizer tool with some manual adjustments to ensure people don’t get grouped with the same people multiple times in a row (I have a document that always lists the past 12 weeks’ groups that I cross-reference).

What impact is Tea for Three having on our team and culture from your point of view? Why is it important? 

Annette: It helps our team feel more comfortable with one another, which improves general team morale, in my opinion. This is important for healthy company culture. If people feel included and comfortable with one another, they tend to work better together.

Last but not least, do you have an interesting or funny story to share from a Tea for Three? 

Annette: More like a general thought. I love learning interesting things about each team member. Some people are avid photographers in their spare time, some are passionate about cooking, and others are into fun sports like surfing and mountaineering. It’s learning about all these “secret” facts of each person that you wouldn’t have known otherwise, that makes me excited for each week’s Tea for Three calls.

Interested in learning more about our culture? Check out this blog article

Want to join the next tea for three sessions? Check out our open positions.