This is the fourth post in our working remotely blog series. Follow us on LinkedIn to ensure you’re alerted to our next post.
- 10 Tips for Collaborating Better with Teams (Plus How to Get Microsoft Teams for Free!)
- 5 Tips for Ensuring Your Infrastructure is Remote-Ready
- Working Remotely During Challenging Times
With the recommendation for individuals to implement social distancing, and in some cases statewide stay-at-home orders, many companies are asking staff to work remotely.
This change in normal routine can have a real impact on your team’s ability to stay connected (and sane).
If you’re on a team that’s now working remotely, try some of these ideas for fun ways to stay engaged…
Setup A Virtual Water Cooler Channel In Teams/Slack/Hangouts
Now that people are no longer hanging around the water cooler to chat, set up a channel in Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Google Hangouts for side conversations.
Without the organic distraction of office chatter, it’s easy for “Cabin Fever” to take hold and for some team members to feel like they’re working in isolation.
Impromptu casual chats and distractions are a good thing because they build morale and help people feel like they’re part of a team.
Here’s an example of a virtual water cooler chat where some HMB employees shared photos of their newest coworkers:
Hold A Remote Office Decorating Contest
If your organization is anything like ours, video chat has become a new part of everyday office life. This means you’re being (virtually) invited into many of your colleagues’ homes.
Lean into this new trend by holding a remote office decorating contest!
Here’s how to hold a contest:
- Send out an invite for people to participate in an office decorating party several days out.
- Create a channel for the contest and ask employees to post pictures of their progress.
- Use video conferencing to share virtual tours of office finalists.
- Allow employees to vote on the winner and give them a digital gift certificate!
Coffee Break With (Random) Coworker
Use working remotely as an opportunity to get better acquainted with coworkers you don’t work with day-to-day.
Try randomly matching people up in your organization to have a 30-minute chat (not related to work) over a cup of coffee.
Even when not working remotely, this is a great way to break down silos and build a more cohesive culture at your organization.
Start A Movement Goal
While everyone is socially distancing, there are fewer routine opportunities to get up and moving. No more walking to and from your car to your workplace or trekking across the office for meetings.
Creating a shared company movement (or step) goal can help combat this loss of activity by creating camaraderie and competition.
At HMB, we use MoveSpring to keep track of employee exercise and steps complete with a leaderboard of who is moving the most.
Virtual “Happy Hour”
Set up a time for the team to socialize on a video conference with their favorite beverage.
Note that Microsoft Teams can support scheduled meetings of up to 250 attendees and private chats of up to 100 participants.
Have ice breaker questions ready to get people talking.
A few examples include:
- What is on your current playlist?
- What was your favorite vacation?
- What is one thing you are really good at that no one knows about?
- What is your favorite comfort food?
Lighten Up Meetings
Virtual meetings tend to be more all-business and lose a bit of the human element we get when meeting in person.
Try to lighten things up by sending out a “favorite” question before each of your recurring meetings.
Here are a few ideas:
- Favorite toy as a child
- Favorite dessert
- Favorite TV series
- Favorite place
- Favorite sports team
- Favorite board game
- Favorite card game
Asking questions like this shouldn’t add-on much time to your meetings, but they help keep things more lighthearted.
Play A Virtual Game
One of HMB’s favorite traditions was our monthly board game night. Unfortunately, with social distancing, we’ve had to cancel these in-person events.
But, there are tons of virtual options we’re looking into to help fill the void.
Here are a few examples of games you can play with coworkers:
- PictionaryTry using a virtual shared whiteboard (Microsoft Teams has one that can be enabled by admins) or Drawasaurus to play a few rounds of Pictionary.
- CharadesYou can easily set this up with video call and an online idea/word generator.
- Multiplayer Online GamesOnline apps like Jackbox Games, Agar.io, airconsole.com allow you to organize company game nights.
Dress It Up
Another way to lighten the mood while remote working? Organizing a costume challenge!
For example, one of our employees brought a little joy to his team by celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in a shamrock onesie…
Your organization or team can organize a challenge by choosing a theme and encouraging participation. Examples of challenges include…
- Fancy clothes
- Dressing up in a costume
- Best hat
With video chat, the reveal of these costumes is even more fun.
Still Don’t Have Access To Remote Collaboration Software?
For many of these activities to work, you’ll need corporate-friendly collaboration software. If you don’t have this in place yet, you’re in luck!
Right now, Microsoft is offering a free 6-month Office 365 E1 license (which includes Microsoft Teams). To get access, you’ll need to get a promo code from a Microsoft Partner (like HMB) or from a Microsoft account representative.
If you’d like to get a promo code click here to get access to your trial promo code and HMB will help you get set up with an Office 365 E1 Trial for your business.
And, if your organization would like to learn more about how to implement Teams in your organization, you can sign up for a virtual Microsoft Immersion Experience with one of our certified Microsoft Facilitators (for free!)
P.S. This workshop will be conducted virtually so we can all stay safe!