By Craig Bulow, Corporate Away Days
Only a little while ago people were struggling with the concept of working from home. Now for many, working from home is the “new normal”.
Despite the unexpected nature of the change most have sorted out the practical issues of having a home office and have adapted to remote working.
Just as we settle into these new patterns, it changes again. Some homeworkers are returning to the workplace. Those at the start of the trickle of the returning workforce will face fresh anxieties; whether their journey is safe and how it will feel being in the office without many of their colleagues etc.
Now is not the time to get complacent about your team’s mental wellbeing. Indeed, you should be revisiting the concerns you had initially about keeping your team in touch and, most importantly, retaining the sense of camaraderie that can be lost when people are working apart.
So, how do you maintain a scene of fun, friendship, and camaraderie under the current circumstances? Let me share some tips and ideas:
Set out working hours clearly
While this may not be possible for all business models, if you can, give everyone a set working day. Give them a start time and set times for tea and lunch breaks and a finishing time. You can then encourage them to ‘have lunch’ with the colleague. Ensure they can separate work/home life. If they’re working until 7pm, they’re unlikely to be motivated to start again at 9am. Also, a lack of routine can be demotivating.
Hold regular video meetings
Keep utilising Zoom, Skype, Facetime. It’s important to see colleagues, read their facial expressions and body language and smile at one another!
Really make sure that everyone is given a voice during these meetings. If there are too many faces on the screen, some might melt into the background. Make time for everyone to speak and be listened to. This is crucial for mental wellbeing and to enhance feelings of togetherness and team building.
Remind your team of your core values and discuss in a group how they can be applied and tweaked to fit with the current situation. Ensuring everyone engages with these values is critical for a successful business and even more so when working remotely.
Encourage Morning Motivations. Team members write down “What I accomplished yesterday… What I’m planning today… What today’s challenges are”. Colleagues can discuss these; “I had a similar challenge last week. This is how I approached it”. “I have the same plan today. Let’s speak later to see how we’re getting on”.
Socialise “at work”
The culture of business has changed so much over recent years; it is far more sociable in its nature. So, keep this going.
It is likely to encourage camaraderie if people can have virtual chats by the water cooler. Use apps such as Tandem.chat or group chat on WhatsApp. Alternatively, why not suggest they play an online game in their tea break? For example, they could play scrabble on Facebook or a site such as Lexulous or fans of Uno can play online either one-on-one or in groups.
Socialise after work
How about creating after work socialising with, for example, a cooking evening? Everyone takes turns in demonstrating their favourite recipe. A curry-maker might suggest a craft lager to drink alongside!
A fitness challenge is a great way to socialise, while boosting physical and mental wellbeing through exercise. For example, everyone could go to their local park and have a run or power walk at the same time, then share photos on the chat group of your choice.
Put training in place
Some businesses may still be working at full steam, but others will have slowed down. Perhaps now is the time to get some training booked in – something that so often get bumped by other priorities. To boost camaraderie, try to include team training that will benefit everyone. If you usually train in-house, this can also be done via video calling. If you generally employ outside trainers give them a shout and see what they are offering.
Arrange (NOT) away days
Of course, a great thing to build team spirit is an away day together. As impossible as this sounds, you may be able to replicate it and give your team some fun to take their minds off everything. Perhaps they could all go fishing at their own local catch-and-return lake and have a competition to see who can catch the biggest. What about a day at the races? Your team could dress up, get some prosecco, and bet on races being run abroad. You know your team. Now’s a good time to get creative and treat them!
By building a sense of fun, friendship, and camaraderie you will support your employees and their mental wellbeing. Implementing the ideas discussed will stop team members suffering feelings of frustration and isolation. An additional benefit is that a sense of camaraderie will help a team to deal with problems more effectively and come through stronger.
About the author
Craig Bulow is the founder of Corporate Away Days, a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focussed on Wellbeing and Reward activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing.
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