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News | May 11, 2020

Social Committee Goes Virtual

By Luis Delgadillo DCMA West Region Public Affairs

The message to the industrial base from Defense Contract Management Agency Director, Navy Vice Adm. David Lewis remain­s the same, “If you’re open, we’re open.” As a result, all over the world and in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, DCMA continues to support the warfighter.

As the nation fights to turn the tide against COVID-19, and while the agency’s field work continues, DCMA employees at home are finding creative ways to connect with each other on a human level by keeping social committees alive.  At DCMA Raytheon Los Angeles, one such committee is getting it done by creating fun events, and hosting them in various online spaces.

“As we are doing our duty by physically distancing ourselves to stop the spread of this virus, we are continuing to promote (virtual) social activities,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Mark McCullick, operations officer for DCMA Raytheon LA. “Physical distancing does not have to be social isolation.”

While contract management office social committees may have enjoyed varying levels of success and challenges in the past, the reality today is like nothing before.

With seven members of the committee sharing the workload of developing unique themes, activities and challenges, everyone gets a shot at managing a game. “As our team brainstorms activities, I feel we do a great job of including everyone's proposals and ensuring that each person has a chance to lead an event,” said McCullick.

For McCullick and fellow committee members like LaDonna Ford, a contract administrator also with DCMA Raytheon LA, the focus has been on supporting their fellow employees at home.

“Some people may not be able to handle quarantine or physical distancing as well as others, so fostering an environment where our colleagues can maintain social connections while working from home is crucial to our health and well-being,” said Ford.

Game on

One of the developed games is an ongoing challenge designed to encourage positive activities while employees remain indoors under California’s stay at home orders. Week to week, individuals earn points by reading books, learning languages, practicing with a musical instrument or cooking an extravagant meal. 

If an employee's photos support the week's given theme individuals earn extra points. Among the most popular themes to date are: sharing pet pics, wearing a favorite team jersey, sharing family photos, and sharing favorite books.

“I believe participating in challenges and team building exercises gives us a much needed, temporary escape, which can result in reduced stress levels and have a positive impact on work productivity and performance,” said Ford who leads the points tracking game.

Getting the word out

The committee uses various commercially available public websites and event hosting platforms to communicate and share images for the social committee activities. Most of the social activities take place virtually during non-duty hours, but all DCMA Raytheon LA employees are encouraged to participate.

In order to make sure that fellow employees track upcoming events or activities, committee members make announcements through every official channel available to them, including the chain of command.

“Getting to hype the weekly challenge or contest standings is always fun, because I love playing along too,” said DCMA Raytheon LA commander, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Shawn Littleton. “Sometimes my smack talk backfires though; I got knocked out of the ‘Words with Friends’ tournament pretty fast and had a lot of crow to eat, which seems fair to log as competition points for cooking.”

While Littleton’s board game bona fides did not extend into the online realm and eating crow isn’t social committee recommendation, committee members like Daniel Rodgers, a DCMA Raytheon LA supervisor, enjoyed seeing things playout. “There was an additional prize for knocking out the commander, a self-proclaimed Scrabble champion.”

While no one loses sight of the seriousness of the events around them, Ford, McCullick, Rodgers and the rest of the team seem to have found a model for a social committee with the potential to succeed in the ‘new abnormal.’ With this in mind, the group knows the best ideas might not always be their own. The team remains open to fresh concepts.

The hope is that a similar formula for success can be replicated at other offices. “We are open to other CMOs reaching out with their ideas or questions on how they can set up a similar program at their CMO,” said Rodgers. “It might help with people feeling detached or lonely at times like these.”