Almost a year since remote work has skyrocketed, everyone has had time to make up their mind; Whether you love telecommuting or just can’t get enough of being at home, there are good and bad sides to both ways of working. THE weak point of working from home that everyone talks about (and that many people suffer from) is the lack of human interaction. Although we spend our day on Zoom calls, bonding with colleagues has never been so difficult.
Do you say to yourself: “There’s nothing to do, I’m alone in the world”? Don’t panic, let’s try to limit the damage with 5 ideas / tools to limit your social isolation.
1. Virtual coffee chat
I don’t drink coffee and even I miss coffee machine chats! I miss those little chats which have absolutely nothing to do with work, but which create friendships between colleagues. Talk to someone just to find out how their cat is doing or to find out their new Netflix recommendation.
My first suggestion would therefore be to set up times to have a virtual coffee (or any other drink / snack) chat in your company. The concept is quite simple: every week (or bi-monthly), we match two people together, at random, for a discussion of about fifteen minutes by videoconference.
At Rablab it happens every other week, Thursday at 4:45 p.m.! While working remotely, we often talk with the same people and rarely with colleagues from other departments. Virtual coffee chat therefore allows us to get to know everyone in the company, regardless of their hierarchy or their seniority. Also, new employees really like this little ritual because it greatly facilitates their integration into the team. In short, a great alternative to a happy hour with 25 people where some people struggle placing a word!
Suggested tool: Random coffees
Random Coffees integrates directly into the Slack channel of your choice and randomly draws the “matches” of the week.
2. Dining with friends
Without a doubt, one of the things I miss most about the office is dinner with friends or colleagues. Taking the time to eat and talk with these humans that we see more often than our family (yes, spending 35-40 hours a week with someone, that brings you together), it’s one of the great pleasures of work! Since the beginning of this pandemic, you too have dined every other day in front of your computer? It’s definitely time to plan a little weekly dinner with your favorite colleagues. In addition, it is super beneficial to create small rituals like this one. Tuesday’s friendship day? Yes please!
3. Sport goals
Being active is good and as a team, even more! Integrating sport into a working environment, even from a distance, yes it is possible. There are plenty of initiatives that you can put in place in your organization to motivate your employees to move and thereby generate new conversations and create new links. Here are some ideas:
Step competition: As a team, try to beat your colleagues by taking as many steps as possible in a week. This is an easy concept to set up because everyone can have access to a pedometer directly on their phone or via a mobile application. In addition, it is inclusive even for the less active.
Meeting & walking: Do you have a recurring meeting that does not require a lot of concentration? Take the opportunity to invite all participants to go for a walk during this meeting. It feels good and it changes the energy of the usual meetings.
Online training: We talk about it often, but at Rablab, Wednesdays at 11am, it’s team training on Zoom! We all meet by video and our coach Albert makes us sweat (literally) for 1 hour. Every week, we give our 100% and above all, we laugh like never before. If it’s not possible to have a trainer, there are plenty of other options: Youtube classes, online yoga, home workouts, etc.
Suggested tool: Strava
Your company can create a club to track the physical activity of participating employees. What could be better than a little competition to spice up your day?
4. Giving feedback
Giving feedback other than in person is not easy for everyone and this is why it is necessary to create mechanisms that promote recognition and constructive feedback. By putting tools in place, new habits will be created in the company and these exchanges will be more and more natural. For our part, we have introduced two positive feedback mechanisms in addition to encouraging constructive comments on a daily basis. First, we have a group meeting every Friday and one of the items on the agenda is “The hits of the week”. Employees and managers are therefore invited to verbally recognize the work of one of their peers. The other initiative is an application that we integrated into our internal communication system (Slack). The app allows you to send a special mention to a specific employee and workmates can react to that mention.
Suggested tool: the integration of Praise.ly through Slack
5. The notorious happy hour
I end my 5 suggestions with this one because it is very obvious. I think almost all of the companies that are currently working remotely tried to do virtual happy hour from the start of the pandemic. Quickly, we get bored because it is so not the same feeling as in face-to-face and also, it becomes easily chaotic. So, I don’t think the happy hour is the best time to “connect” with your coworkers and “break” the feeling of distance, but if it’s well organized it can be very enjoyable.
Here are a few ideas that we tested at Rablab and liked a lot:
- Online games : there are so many, but our favorites are Scribble, Loups-Garous (Werewolves), Brightful games, Code Names.
- Escape challenge : Simple and effective concept, it is a virtual escape game.
- Quiz Night : A person in the team is responsible for creating a quiz according to a theme or simply general knowledge and let the fun begin!
- Bingo : Want to reward employees with small gifts? Play bingo from a distance and prepare giveaways for the participants.
- Online Cooking Class : This one we haven’t tested yet, but it’s a great idea that I’ve seen a few times on the web. Several platforms offer this service.
- Special Delivery : In the fall, we used the services of Cheers to deliver a surprise to our employees for the happy hour. They received, directly at their door, 4 beers from specially selected microbreweries and gummy candies. Attention that particularly pleased our employees.
- Go skating : Montreal is full of parks with skating rinks or icy spaces for skating – when the weather allows it of course!
In the end, remote working is the new reality for a majority of workers, pandemic obliges. We also know this phenomenon is here to stay, so we might as well adapt accordingly. It is by making small changes like these that we can ensure our colleagues and our own well-being.
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