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Adapting office team building to remote working

17th July 2020

Friday morning communal breakfasts Traditionally at Huddle, every Friday morning we would get breakfast delivered to the office and chat about the week gone by. It’s a time to reflect on the highs and lows of the week, get some much needed “face time” away from our keyboards, and most importantly discuss weekend plans! Then, social distancing came into effect meaning we needed to all work from home. But, we didn’t want to lose this Friday morning tradition. At first, we started to recreate the office traditions at home – we’d munch breakfast and sip coffee over Zoom chat, discussing how surreal COVID-19 was and the “new normal” we found ourselves in. But, the novelty of that soon wore off and we realised that trying to recreate Friday mornings at the office remotely just left us with soggy cheerios and self consciousness about eating too loudly. Recreating the office at home didn’t work The things we’d do to relax in the office aren’t the same things we’d do from home. We needed to find new traditions. So we went back to the roots of this Friday morning tradition – to re-connect as a team, have some relaxed conversation and get out of our heads a little bit, winding down from the week and preparing for the weekend. If anything, we needed this now more than ever!

We needed to re-connect as a team, have some relaxed conversation and get out of our heads a little bit, wind down from the week and prepare for the weekend.

Playing co-operative games One thing we started to do is to play games over Zoom during this time. These started with simple Pictionary-style guessing games, but evolved into all of us playing digital versions of board games like Mysterium and Pandemic remotely. These games are co-operative, meaning we work together and either all win or all lose, making them great for starting the day off in a positive and team-focussed mindset. (Forgive my compulsion to stack used batteries in uniform rows) Friendly competition with asynchronous games But games don’t always have to be played in “real time”. That’s so 2019. We can also get a lot out of “asynchronous” games played in our own time, around our other work. Another way that we found to lighten the mood throughout the week and give us something to look forward to is a Trello-based GIF battle. Every Friday we decide on three specific topics like “How you’re feeling today”, “First thing I’m going to do after lockdown” or “What my hair looks like”. Then, we all have 1 week to find amazing GIFs that fit into those topics perfectly. This can be done in our own time, at our own pace, until the following Friday where we vote on our favourites. Whoever gets the most votes has the privilege of choosing next week’s topics! For example, the topic was: How you’re feeling this week. And it was won by our Client Services Director, Tom, with this GIF: How my hair looks in lockdown, won by our Client Services Manager, Emily: Type your name and the word cool, won by none other than our Technical Director, Harry: And finally, Type your name and the word ’60s’ won by our Web Developer Fernando, with this amazing performance: Benefits Not only did we get an opportunity to wind down from the week and catch up “properly”, we also gained unexpected benefits. The GIF battle gives us each something fun to do in the 5 minutes on a Tuesday when the kettle is boiling, or someone is a bit late for a Zoom call. The co-operative board games give us a whole new way to work together and build our communication skills. Ultimately, what we have now is miles better than just eating a breakfast sandwich and trying to think of pretend weekend plans to brag about. For more ideas on team building during lockdown, take a look at this great resource from Atlassian, the company behind the Trello and Jira software tools.

July 17, 2020
By Tom Parson