Experts are suggesting that physical social distancing will be our primary tool for combatting a dangerous spike in corona cases, but emotional social intimacy just might be the key to thriving through it. With the influx of companies that have moved to be 100% remote, it’s only natural that we as individuals, as well as company-wide teams, risk feeling disconnected and potentially isolated from our peers.
As CEOs and leaders, we’re working in real-time to figure out the logistics of how to ensure our companies and teams can productively continue with business as usual. But, as we hyper-focus on the logistics and practical elements of having a remote workforce, we must also be mindful of maintaining elements of the softer components that keep our employees motivated.
Having a strong corporate culture is important to ensure overall employee happiness and productivity is crucial, even in the best of times, but it just might also be the key factor that helps us pull through during difficult times as well.
Beyond instituting a policy that all scheduled meetings are to be held via video (you can still call someone for a quick answer), here are a few things we’re doing at Scouted to keep our team feeling connected and supported.
1 | Daily “hello” / “goodbye” touchbase
Each day, we are using our “General” Slack channel to say “hello” and “goodbye” to the team. This is important for a few reasons: Practically, it helps everyone know when people are online and offline so colleagues know each other’s availability. It also helps individuals create their own personal structure/boundaries (since now they don’t have the physical boundary of an office to help them with that). And, even more importantly, it helps create an environment of friendliness that isn’t all work-related. When we say “hello”, we’re also often sending along a picture (could be of their gourmet breakfast or decked out DIY home workstation) or just a personal tidbit we want to share.
2 | Monday morning weekend banter
Every Monday morning for ~15 mins, our whole team is getting on a video-call just to chat about their weekends and catch up. This is not meant to be about work, but rather to help supplement the typical “how was your weekend” conversations that would naturally happen when you walk into the office after being out.
3 | Weekly (Tuesday) Team video lunch
As a company, we normally cater lunch every Tuesday and collectively take 1 hour off of workday and spend it hanging out together. It’s an important time for us to put to-do lists aside and bond with the team. Now that we are all remote, we are continuing to have our Tuesday lunches via video chat.
4 | Friday Spotify playlist
We’ve created a company Spotify playlist to share tunes and jam to the same music (we used to do this monthly but are now doing it weekly). Each week, a new theme is selected – most recently we did “cabin fever” but we’ve done “guilty pleasures”, “college graduation”, and “‘best workout tunes” among others. Once the playlist is created and the theme is picked, we each add a few songs to the mix. Not only does this keep me in the loop and introduce me to new music (my taste is pretty much stuck in 1970s classic rock), BUT I love guessing who added which songs. You get exposed to a whole new side of people!
5 | Encourage employees to take care of their physical & mental wellbeing
While we are all going to be spending more time at home, it remains helpful to get exercise and get fresh air (so long as we are still being socially responsible). Running, walking and Biking are all great forms of exercise that respect social distancing rules. As such, I’ve recently created a new perk at Scouted – we now pay in full for every employee’s Citibike membership. It’s a small cost to us, but a great way to help our staff get outside. We’ve also started a “Fitness” Slack channel where we can share at-home exercise routines to keep each other moving. It’s about thinking about what’s in your control and what you can offer to help others out.
6 | Ad hoc, creative social ideas
Normally we have a team event every month. Since that’s unlikely to happen in a traditional manner this month, I have been brainstorming other creative, low effort but stimulating ways we could spend time together. Be it having a theme/spirit day where we all dress up; putting aside an hour where we all listen to an educational podcast followed by a group discussion around it; creating a company book club; or something as simple as a virtual team happy hour.
As Paul Graham (founder of Y-combinator) wrote, “startups succeed or fail based on the quality of the founders”. So while your team might be able to do their literal work at home seamlessly, think of this as an opportunity to lift them up; help them get through these uncertain times by feeling supported by their (work) community.
We’re always looking for creative inspiration here at Scouted, so please share the different ways you are working to ensure a strong, cohesive culture at your company and what’s working and what’s not. We are stronger together, and the more we can share best practices and help each other out the better it will be for everyone.
Plus a few topical reads to keep you informed (and healthy):
- Bloomberg | Virus Vaccine Trial, Faster Testing Are Bright Spots in Outbreak
- CNBC | The best at-home workout streaming services to try during COVID-19
- Runners World | How to Run Safely Amid Coronavirus Concerns
- The New York Times | Wondering About Social Distancing?
- The Wirecutter | Dry Skin From Coronavirus Handwashing? Here’s What Dermatologists Recommend.
- LifeLabs Learning | WFH Productivity and Connection at a Distance (Live Webinar March 19th, 2020)