It's one thing to bond with your co-workers when you see each other basically all day, everyday, at the office. It's quite a different thing to create the same kind of atmosphere when most, or all, of you work remotely, and rarely (if ever) see each other in person. As career expert Vicki Salemi tells us, “employees need to feel valued and feel like their bosses care. And care about the whole being, not just the employee part”.
This is exactly why we've stepped in - keep reading for our round-up of virtual, social events ideas that your team can enjoy right from the comfort of your home offices.
This is more of an ongoing social element, but making space, whether this is a Whatsapp group chat or a Slack channel, for casual chit-chat is a simple step that makes all the difference. You wouldn't only ever talk about work back at the office - you'd chat to someone whilst making a coffee, over lunch or on the way to the printer; it's a good idea to keep that fun amicability alive.
So, you've made a team chat but how do you spruce it up? Setting weekly challenges - think little puzzles, riddles or trivia competitions can be a fun aside for people to think about on breaks or at lunch. A simple google search of whatever takes your fancy will give you plenty of material to work with too.
Go one further, and make the challenges all about your team. Encourage the sharing of baby photos, wedding pictures, pet videos or even their work-from-home lunch for the day. Everyone loves fun little insights about other people's lives.
Who doesn't love pizza? Who doesn't love parties? You can still, despite the circumstances, very much have your cake (pizza) and eat it. Plenty of restaurants have adapted by offering delivery services that are perfect for remote socials, and they're even wising up to current social needs by offering options like multiple address delivery, gift notes and topping personalisation.
It doesn't have to be pizza either - if you want something a little more experimental - there are plenty of food delivery options that you send you the ingredients to make something of your own, or to try something you're probably not having regularly. Take this London restaurant for example, that has a whole range of pasta options atop their pizza service, or this place for vegan doughnuts.
Quizzes seem to have have become a virtual rite of passage, so most people have probably done their fair share of question answering, but the fun of a quiz is not to be snubbed - especially as far as team building is concerned. You could have group teams facing off, and throw in rounds dedicated to work-related trivia. If nobody has time to slave over a PowerPoint, you could use an app as simple as Kahoot for ready-made packages that everyone can play from their mobile.
If you're feeling quizzed out, a games night is another great option, that can be turned into a regular affair. Read here for our break-down on what apps you can get your hands on, and for guides on how to use our personal favourite - Jackbox Games.
Packages are always fun. A great idea is to organise package swaps between colleagues, which could mean a personally curated assortment of goodies, or, equally, there are hundreds of pre-made options to select from. From cheese boards, to pampering sets and nifty gadgets, a simple search on Etsy will reap much reward. The beauty of this one is that there'll definitely be something out there to suit everyone.
You don't have to be a seasoned artist to enjoy some downtime getting crafty. Organise attending any of the various workshops that are on offer these days -all you'll need beforehand is some basic materials if you don't have any lying around already (think a couple of brushes and a paint set)- or, if you don't want to splash out too much you could get your team to gather around a friendly YouTube tutorial.
The same goes for virtual concerts and music events, you can register for tickets in advance or tune-in to a Facebook or YouTube livestream. You could even have a rota, where a new person each week gets a turn to choose something to get involved with. This will probably involve a classical music enthusiast tagging along to a House DJ-Set - the possibilities for broadening horizons are almost endless.
We could all do with some escapism at the moment - and this option is especially good for those of you that like a challenge. The team problem solving dynamic makes for a nice bonding opportunity too - especially if you happen to have any Harry Potter fanatics onside who would no doubt be in their element in this virtual experience. For a longer list of options, look here.
There are loads of way to approach this one, which makes it a versatile option that you can adapt to suit your particular group of players. You can print out sheets of household items to find, and spice things up by giving people prizes to play for. Find some handy resources here.
Again, these group sessions could be booked in advance through a range of providers, but there are also plenty of tutorials on YouTube to get you started at no cost. Headspace memberships are also cheap, and there are lots of great materials available even on the free plan. Introducing some calm is bound to do everyone some good.
The same goes for group yoga sessions - this is a really great option for those of you wanting to stay active and release some stress, but it has the added bonus of being,generally, very accessible too - it's not too high impact and you only need a small space at home to get involved. As usual, you can easy hunt for paid sessions or turn to YouTube for some guides that you can screenshare on a video-call and do together as a team.
This is another one you might be familiar with already, but is often overlooked in social work scenarios. Picking a show to all watch together weekly could introduce a really fun ritual into people's schedules, and it almost goes without saying that we're all watching loads of TV at the moment anyway. Getting stuck into game shows, thrilling dramas or a film series is all the more enjoyable when done together - Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) lets you watch content in sync and features a chat option on the side for real-time commentary.
We could probably all do with doom-scrolling a little less - sharing book recommendations and spending even a really short time every week, or every couple of weeks, sharing thoughts will make for a much welcome activity switch-up.
It can be easy to leave the little quirks of the office behind now that we find ourselves working elsewhere, but one of the best things for keeping the social element of work alive is to preserve the traditions that you may have been tempted to ditch. Celebrate birthdays by wearing party hats to work, decorating your background with balloons and encouraging everyone (not that we expect they'd need much persuading) to have cake on a communal lunch break or at the end of the day. The same could be done for all sorts of occasions - any excuse to bring everyone together is a good one.
Start the day off right with communal coffee breaks, or a designated time for 'coffee morning' where people can drop in with their drink of choice for a little chat before work gets underway. This is a really effective way to take away from some of the monotony that can arise from living and working in the same place, plus it's always nice to more slowly ease into whatever is on the agenda.
Ever heard of desert island discs? If not, its a podcast that puts guests in the musical hot seat - asking them what eight tracks they'd take with them to a desert island. A fun twist on this to implement at work could be creating group playlists where everyone can contribute - you could keep the track limit to get people really thinking about what their top rated tunes are, or you could open the floodgates and amass a huge list that combines everyone's tastes. Either way, it's a more involved way of getting some insight into what your co-workers are into, and any ongoing project that can be constantly updated and fiddled with will make for a fun aside.
Kind of similar to coffee breaks, having a designated time for group beverages (alcoholic or otherwise), particularly at the end of the week can help to bring back some of the missed socialising time that lots of us are used to. Whip up some new cocktails or mocktail recipes each week, or combine drinks with another activity on the list to put an extra twist on things.
This one can be taken in a whole range of different directions. Whether you want to sign everyone up for some creative writing sessions or a talk from an interesting speaker making time for a hobby, or topic of interest will be a shared way to try something new - even from the unusual confines we find ourselves in. Plus, attending as a group is a great way to collectively encourage everyone to stay out of their comfort zone.
This is a fantastic way to get people thinking differently about the surroundings they've probably gotten, painfully, used to. No fancy equipment is necessary - just a phone with a camera and some imagination. You could think of a daily challenge, or make it a weekly occurrence (giving people a little longer to get the perfect snap). Think something like ' funniest pet snapshot', or ' most extravagant shoe tower' - the sillier the better.
Another competition-esque idea to run a company bake-off. You could play for points - as well as delicious baked goods - and choose between give participants the same recipe, or letting them run wild with their own personal choice of 'showstopper'. We may be past the banana bread and sourdough phases of lockdown, but the baking possibilities remain plentiful. This can also be a good way for those with childcare responsibilities to combine activities by enlisting the help of any little ones they have running around.
In any case, the main idea is try a range of things out and see what people get into. Some options might not suit everyone, but, equally, there's lots of margin to get people excited about virtual socials - you just need to know how to make the most of what you've got.
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It’s about time we outgrew the teething pains of current virtual and remote solutions. Let’s start making remote fun, collaborative and workable for all.