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As the end of the year closes in on us, we can look back on how our lives have changed due to COVID. The virus not only affected our social and family life, but also our lives at work. Most of us are working or have worked from home this year. At first glance, things didn’t seem all that bad; you could spend more time with your pets, family, and yourself. And you didn’t have to worry about traffic or dress code.
But as time went by, you probably saw that it wasn’t that great either. It is hard to see the boundaries between work and home, as before you had to physically travel from one place to the other and now you don’t. So people are forgetting natural pauses like driving to work and often start working even before getting dressed or having breakfast. There are also more interruptions around you, like your pets or your children walking around and making noise. But the worst thing is often loneliness. Just getting from one online meeting to the next is getting dreadful and lonely for a lot of people. Being able to chat informally with your colleagues during breaks, making jokes, or attending social events at work is essential for most to feel good.
Like I have said before, it is incredibly important to feel good so that you are able to cope and can adapt to change and learn new skills.
So how do you bring the informal chat and fun in remote teams?
Well, in order to bring the informal in remote teams, you have to plan them formally.
Yes, you heard me right. But don’t worry, I’ll give you a couple of tips 😉.
In the link below, you will be able to download a bundle that has specifically been designed to bring these informal moments, small talk, and fun when working remotely.
1- Specific informal chat
The first thing you could do is set up an informal chat for those informal moments. You can do this on WhatsApp, Messenger, Slack or any other platform you use. You could also plan an informal video conference specifically for these moments, without a formal agenda. This is of course not mandatory and only for the people who really need it. If you don’t want to pollute your formal chat with jokes and informalities, this is an excellent solution. In the link below, you will find a free link to ten cards you can share every day with informal questions you can answer or actions you can do as a group to get the flow going.
2- Start formal meetings informally
The second thing I really advise you is extremely easy to do but very effective. Try to start every meeting with a small informal moment. Tell your team an anecdote of something you’ve read, or about something that happened to you. But ask about their life and well- being as well! A simple check-up to see how your team is doing helps tremendously. How are you doing? How was your weekend? How are things with your kids?
3- Online games
Playing stupid online games with your colleagues can be surprisingly fun! There are a ton of online games you can find on the internet or in the Play/Apple store. I personally love playing Pictionary. This is again, only for those who want to play, but I really recommend trying it out. So organize a small gaming session with colleagues when you need it and all have a great laugh!
4- House tour
Fourthly, you can give a house tour! People will get to know you differently if you show them an aspect of your personal life. So you could try to make an awesome vlog and show your workspace, your kids, and your spouse.
5- Talent show
But giving a house tour isn’t the only way to get to know your colleagues differently and bring fun into your remote team. Different people often are talented in a lot of different things, maybe some people are really good singers or dancers. Some of them may be very good at sports or are good with woodwork or paint. So host a mini talent show! Let those colleagues shine and show another side of their life.
6- Breakout rooms
I hear you guys thinking:
“Yeah right, you think we have time for a gaming session or a house tour?”
So how do you let everyone talk and share these things without wasting precious time? You don’t want to give everyone three minutes of talking if you’re a group of fifteen, that would take way too long. Instead, you can use what’s called a breakout room. It’s an option on Zoom and Microsoft Teams where you divide your team in smaller teams of let’s say three and then give each person three minutes to talk. Afterwards, you can share each other’s conclusions and save precious time, while still letting everyone talk. Another positive thing about the breakout rooms, is that people often feel more comfortable sharing personal things in smaller groups.
7- Social calls
When you don’t see each other physically, it can be hard to see how your colleagues are doing. I often hear people that are surprised, because a colleague got a burnout. So give them a call! Simply picking up the phone and asking one colleague every day how they are doing can do a lot for that colleague. Don’t ask them work-related questions, but talk about them. How are you doing? Are you struggling with something? How are your kids?
I hope these tips help you create a looser mood in your remote team. Remember that a good mood in your team is key if you want to adapt to a fast-changing world and acquire new skills!