Remote working has long been the dream for many. But until the coronavirus turned life as we know it upside down, most of us spent our 9-5 in a face-to-face environment. Believe it not, only about 3.5% of the US workforce worked from home more than half the time.
Now everything's changed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as much as 29% of the US working population is working from home. And sure, work from home life (once separated out from the why behind it all) has all the pluses we hoped for - no commutes, perennial Friday casual, and a fortune saved on Starbucks runs. But it also has a big downside: the lack of social connection.
We all know how much those social bonds matter. They're vital to fostering creativity, collaboration, and teamwork. And those things are critical to your overall workforce culture - and your success. But don't stress. All is not lost just because Zoom and Slack are your new workplaces.
Here's how to drive belonging, morale, and team bonding through virtual team building activities they won't be able to resist participating in.
Did Someone Say Kaffeeklatsch?
Probably not in so many words. But a virtual kaffeeklatsch - hangout over coffee - is a great way to get everyone together to chat, catch up and get that water cooler conversation happening. Schedule these during lunch breaks, coffee or afternoon tea breaks, or even make a happy hour of it. Invite everyone to log on to your video chat app of choice and get conversing. Worried you'll run out of things to talk about? Dial things up a notch with themes, activities, or dress codes. A book club, team karaoke, or a cocktail challenge are all options - or you can just spend the time gushing over everyone's pets.
Play Games on Company Time
We wouldn't ordinarily recommend spending your billable hours playing Words With Friends, but these aren't ordinary times. Games, quizzes, and trivia are a great way to get your team working together - and learning more about each other as well. Games like Fibbage or You Think You Know Me to test your knowledge of each other in a fun, work-safe way. Then there are old-school games like competitive Tetris or Scrabble. And of course, there's trivia - the ultimate in friendly us-vs-them. Even simple daily polls like coffee vs. tea or martini vs. Manhattan (showing your reasoning is a must!) are a fun way to get your staff interacting.
Get Smart (and Crafty)
Virtual workshops and classes are another way to bond over a shared interest or skill. You can go with a work-related workshop, with something that teaches a useful skill, or with something weird and whimsical. We live in a time when cooking classes, craft workshops, and courses in just about everything is in incredible surfeit, so why not take advantage? If you want college credit for your learning, take a look at this list, which includes prestigious resume-boosting classes like The Science of Happiness (UC Berkeley) and Street-Fighting Mathematics (MIT).
Have Your Camera at the Ready
Let's face it: we've all paid the 99c for that extra iCloud photo storage. Take advantage of your team's snap-happy ways with home photo challenges. Set up channels on Slack purely for showing off pictures of pets, or challenge your team to upload photos from their latest socially distant walk, run or hike. You can turn these into a scavenger hunt by creating a list of things to spot and snap when out and about (or even at home). Themed dress-ups, food and beverages, or views of the great outdoors are just some ideas for what to snap and share.
Social distancing doesn't have to mean literally that. We can physically distance while still staying close socially - we just have to work a little harder at it than usual. But by logging on, showing up, and getting creative with what it means to come together, you can keep your team on board, engaged and, ready to roll.