The world is currently in a new situation, one we’ve not dealt with before in our modern society. A pandemic is sweeping the globe and more and more people are being requested to work from home for the time being to prevent the spread of coronavirus. For some industries, this is business as normal and they will be used to hiring staff remotely from all over the world and handling different time zones. For others, this is brand new territory they have yet to tread and everyday is a learning curve.
For offices that normally worked in an open-plan environment with opportunities for socialising and team building, this is a completely different change that may affect the bonds between colleagues and personal motivation. Fortunately, just because we are working from home, doesn’t mean that team building and socialisation cannot happen and our access to the internet is facilitating more connections than it ever has before.
Keeping in Touch
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There are a number of different programmes for keeping communication open between staff, the corporate supported Slack and Microsoft Teams are popular options, whereas domestic Skype has been in use for some decades and the relatively more new to the scene, Discord is dedicated to streamers and gamers. Some of these clients carry a monthly subscription fee, however Skype and Discord are free and Discord has recently put more support in place for increased connections during this uncertain time.
A Different Type of Team Building
When staff think of team building, the first thought is getting together in a room as a company and splitting off into teams to carry out problem-solving activities sometimes against the clock or competitively against other teams of staff. Team building and methods of team building, however, have come a long way and just because we need to stay apart for the time being, doesn’t close off team building opportunities entirely.
Team Building Through Gaming
Gamers have been socialising from the comfort of their front room for years and many welcome the opportunity to invite new people into their hobby. WIth the facility for games to contain up to 100 players, there are plenty of options for team building across a variety of genres. For staff that enjoy a bit of strategy, there are games such as Civilization and Planetary Annihilation whereas those who enjoy shoot-em-ups could team up in PUBG or classic Call of Duty.
For games with a difference, the Jackbox Party Pack series are excellent group or family games with a variety of mini-games to play and support for as many as 16 players in a single game. You just need to be able to view the host screen via screen share or Discord’s Go Live feature which allows up to 50 voice connections in a private chat with a screen-sharing host.
Team Building Through Quizzes
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Pub quizzes, general knowledge competitions and end of year round-up quizzes are so popular they make up a huge proportion of television programmes and are also a popular activity to enjoy together. Put together a quiz with a variety of rounds including a picture round, general knowledge, sports, tv and film, music and include a round that is relevant to your industry.
Then create an accompanying answer sheet using Google Forms (free to use) and provide a link to each of your teams. One person can be the quiz master and host the voice chat while the others create private voice chats or text channels to discuss their answers.
Team Building Through Socialisation
Socialisation is often done over lunch or on dedicated work nights out and while we are all to remain home as much as possible, many people are worried about their opportunity to socialise with their colleagues. Although not supported across all communication clients, open voice channels that allow individuals to drop in and out as they please are an excellent, low-pressure way to encourage socialisation when someone is performing a low-effort task or has a ten minute break.
Discord provides support for these open voice channels with the ability to set access levels for different staff, meaning companies can have dedicated open voice channels for management and a voice channel that allows all staff to join.
The world is undergoing some extreme changes, both good and bad – more people remaining in their homes has resulted in some rapid improvements to the environment, whereas businesses that normally relied on footfall are facing temporary closures. Until we get further through the outbreak, we are unsure how many changes we are still to face but for now, we need to make the best of the resources available and remember to check in with those who may be isolated from family and friends, whether they are colleagues, neighbours or friends.