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The pandemic turned happy hour into virtual trivia

Trivia is how some Tampa Bay companies helped encourage social gathering at a distance,
Amanda Rzepczynski shows off the ring after the proposal by boyfriend Zach Lysack. [Courtesy of Total Quality Logistics]
Amanda Rzepczynski shows off the ring after the proposal by boyfriend Zach Lysack. [Courtesy of Total Quality Logistics] [ Total Quality Logistics ]
Published Mar. 26
Updated Mar. 26

When a global pandemic turned work remote, employers had to find innovative ways to keep employees connected and engaged.

One virtual solution that employers turned to for team bonding? Trivia. A number of Tampa Bay workplaces noted in company surveys that trivia became a unique and spirited way to learn more about coworkers and spend organic time together from the safety of their own homes.

At Amzur Technologies, a Tampa-based software development company with fewer than 60 employees in the area, office manager Yogita Chavali decided to harness the chain email to conduct employee trivia. She would write employees an email at the end of the day with a simple question that reflected on their personal life. It could be something as low-stakes as “What was the first thing you purchased with earned money?” or something as philosophical as “What are your biggest fears?” She would start the message with her answer and invite other people to “reply all.”

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Although group email chains don’t always go over well in the workplace, Chavali found that her coworkers enjoyed reading about everyone’s experiences, especially in the absence of time spent in person.

“People really want to interact,” Chavali said. “People really want to talk about things other than work, because we did not have any face-to-face interaction.”

Other companies, like Clearwater cybersecurity awareness firm KnowBe4, started trivia before the pandemic, but found that the get-togethers became a real asset after COVID-19. KnowBe4′s senior vice president of people operations, Erika Lance, finds a way to incorporate costumes and themes into most of the company’s trivia. She views the activity as bonding but also as a source of entertainment and release for employees.

At Clearwater cybersecurity awareness firm KnowBe4, employees participate in themed virtual trivia contests. In this one, employees dressed up as characters from the show Schitt's Creek. [Courtesy of KnowBe4]
At Clearwater cybersecurity awareness firm KnowBe4, employees participate in themed virtual trivia contests. In this one, employees dressed up as characters from the show Schitt's Creek. [Courtesy of KnowBe4] [ KnowBe4 ]

That explains why about 50 people participate in each trivia game, according to Lance, but about 200 people total watch it. She attributes that to the banter that occurs between employees. Participants get one minute to ask a question.

“One minute is a really long time,” Lance said. “If you’re just sitting there, staring at the screen, we intentionally set it up for these very humorous arguments or jokes.”

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Other companies reinvigorated their trivia with a virtual environment. In the pre-pandemic days at freight brokerage company Total Quality Logistics, headquartered in Cincinnati with an office in Tampa, trivia was a companywide affair that combined virtual and in-person dynamics. Each office was encouraged to host a happy hour at the end of the day with beer and food to go along with the trivia event.

Once COVID-19 hit and everyone was working from home, company leaders decided to organize a seven-week trivia tournament.

“It was kind of a reprieve in their day,” said Corey Drushal, a marketing manager at Total Quality Logistics. “People thought, ‘This is a fun activity that my family or my girlfriend and I can do together that’s easy and kind of served up on a platter.’ They don’t have to do anything but get on and play.”

One employee, Zach Lysack, played trivia with his girlfriend, Amanda Rzepczynski, every Thursday night while quarantining together. For the last trivia contest, he asked if he could use a question to propose to his girlfriend: “What date did Zach and Amanda get engaged?” The answer was, of course, that day.

[Courtesy of Total Quality Logistics]
[Courtesy of Total Quality Logistics] [ Total Quality Logistics ]

The proposal was successful. In an email the next day, the company’s CEO shared that Zach and Amanda were engaged. They’re getting married in mid-March.

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