For next week’s newsletter I’m going to highlight some of the things that teams have done to keep their workplace culture going when they’re apart.
Abedesi Osunsade told us about BrandWatch having Strava groups and 5k challenges to give tiny moments of connection of people who live near each other.
Join the conversation, reply to this with what your firm has been doing and I’ll share the best ones next week.
Chris from a consultancy firm says: "We have launched a ‘How are you?’ campaign to encourage people to ask each other how they are doing.
Also: “Wellness Wednesday’ campaign where everyone in the firm has been given an extra hour on top of their lunch Wednesday lunchbreak to do what ever they want. It’s a 2 hour lunchbreak with encouragement to go outside and get some exercise on the basis that its cold and dark after work during winter. Directors have booked everyone’s diary out to from 1-2pm on Wednesday to give it a bit more emphasis".
We have a team of 20 people and to bring us a bit closer together and recreate that team bond feeling we ran a questionnaire asking things like favourite TV series, best book (Joy of work!), birthday so peoplecould celebratevirtually, if you were hosting a come dine with me what would you cook and which celebrity would you invite? It provided some laughs and kept connections going.
My team is all over MS Teams. We have channels for book, podcast, tv recommendations etc. and then we run a Friday poll where people volunteer to host the poll which is usually about a random topic and there is generally a lively chat that follows. We're a market research company, so people get really into it:)
Often we try to start each conversation or meeting with a simple optimistic question - "what are you looking forward to this year (month, week" or "share something good that has happened to you recently"
Changes the tone and opens the creative bits of brain!
We've been sending one-off perks to boost morale during lockdown. We've sent pizza kits, biscuits and small treats through the post as part of our 'Perking From Home' programme. The spontaneity has been a nice surprise for everyone and a welcome distraction from the 9 to 5/6/7/8pm
We've had amazing success with a concept around getting teams to creating video intros.
One thing that we had previously done as a company is run an internal company expo where each team has their own expo stand to share and expose who the team was and what they had achieved in the last year. This has worked great in the past but obviously can't be done at the moment. So we did a video version of them instead.
We got teams to record a 2-3 min video that introduces the team and what they are currently working on. It works amazingly well, the creatively was off the chart for a domain that is about 50% customer service agents and 50% product engineering team. They ranged from a team doing it completely as TikTok videos spliced together, to a team that rewrote the lyrics to a backstreet boys video and recorded a hangouts based music video for it.
The engagement was high and the positivity that came from it was amazing, plus we have the bonus that now everyone in the domain knows a little bit more about what all the teams are doing, and who is in the team. Win-win.
CPC Project Services is a medium sized (c. 170 people) project management consultancy based in the UK. We've started offering live online yoga sessions twice a week for staff and their families. We are also doing a 100 mile run/walk challenge in January, with charity sponsorship and a Strava club to motivate each other. This helps us feel more connected and the exercise means we're more energised too.
Team building games designed for virtual environments such as online escape rooms using Teams breakout rooms: https://northgatetraining.co.uk/shop/virtual-training/escape-from-mars-collaborative-teamwork-training-activity
There were some staff choirs in different locations meeting face to face. The different groups linked up to build a virtual choir around the world: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zza2Jyj638c
We have been using a simple technique called one word checkin to get people to talk about how they are feeling. The idea is to sum up how you are currently feeling in one word and share it with the team. Its a simple and quick idea that has unlocked some really rich conversation both as part of a regular status meeting and broader team sessions. It a good way to take a temperature check on how people are feeling and helps flag potential issues - something that you'd get from people's body language when meeting face to face but is harder to gauge working remotely.
We're trying to share more - about who we are, our family, our past, our dreams. If we're far apart we need to believe in each other & root for each other as we do our friends and family.
We do a monthly virtual pub quiz which is open to colleagues and their families/ friends/ housemates. It's been really fun getting to know people and their environment outside of work. So far we've had colleague's parents, friends, housemates, children and in-laws joining.
"One thing that has worked well for us it to have virtual ‘community gatherings’. These are informal sessions on Teams, which we encourage people to use as confidential, safe spaces, where we share our experiences of work at the moment. It has really helped some of us to feel connected to each other and reassured that other people are experiencing similar things. This was organised through our women’s network, but actually open to everyone. We have also invited guest speakers in to guide similar sessions, such as the Samaritans for a wellbeing lunch & learn style session, and a psychologist for a talk on resilience"
Laura from Captify says: "We have the best people team, led by Sophie Theadom who are using data to inform our wellness strategies.
Data from our Officevibe daily surveys, our search trends, weather data and team feedback helped guide our focus on sleep wellness. We enlisted help from a Sleepology expert and created sleep treats to ensure teams could switch off, move more and sleep better." https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6752520767449120768/
Andrew sends me: “A Brand Genetics initiative that we did towards the end of last year:
Mo-Vember - as well as a few of us growing the statutory taches, we embraced the “Move” part of Mo-Vember too. Initially we wanted to get to Rio virtually (our other overseas office) but we thought that would kill us all! So we went for the Rio Steakhouse in Newcastle instead. We calculated it was 1,000km to get there and back. So we set out to achieve that, with all the team posting their daily runs, walks or cycles on a dedicated WhatsApp ("Brand Athletics"). And I’m pleased to confirm we made it - both there and back! Only sorry we couldn’t do some beers and karaoke while we were (virtually) there! Maybe later this year…
(We also had a very boozy Secret Santa - with everyone opening their gifts live online - and guessing who the sender was!)”
Hi Bruce, thanks for corralling this discussion. Here's our reflections courtesy of my boss, Nick. Slightly meta since we lead our UK Modern Work business so essentially as one of our accountabilities, we are the "Teams' Team": https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/2020-remote-working-reflections-nick-hedderman/?trackingId=1dnAsHbapNFs2fl3cn86Sw%3D%3D
Our company has introduced 'Wellness Wednesday" and given us all an extra hour off on our Wednesday lunchtime to get away from work and do something to help with our personal well being. With the long winter night people haven't been able to go for walks/jogging/exercise after work.
Directors have blocked out the time in everyone's diary to reinforce that its a legitimate break and we don't overbook with other meetings.
We’ve created our 'Remote Working Connection Injection'. Grounded in the idea of marginal gains, it’s an easy-to-use toolkit based around a framework that we’ve designed to cover the 6 areas we believe are essential to ‘keeping teams connected whilst apart.’ It also includes around 60 connection-enhancing culture hacks, created to generate a conversation and provoke further ideas.
The connection comes not only from the framework itself, but from coming together as a team to have a focused and open conversation (facilitated by the framework) about ways in which to stay connected and agreeing together specific commitments to keep and enhance connection whilst apart.
One of the most enjoyable parts of our lockdown life at Pure Planet are our virtual coffee breaks.
On a Wednesday morning through a clever App we get randomly matched with someone to have a virtual coffee with. Everyone is invited. We do this not because we are a small business, it’s because everyone’s contributions matter, especially this year. No one has any idea who they’ll be matched with. They then meet virtually that morning to have a chat and get to know each other better.
And the best bit?
We have the kind of conversations we’d have in the queue for a real coffee.
It’s not quite the real world, but we are getting there.