• Sasha Kudler

Staying Connected: Office Camaraderie in the Time of Corona

At first, the switch to working from home was novel — and so were the ways we found to keep in touch with our friends and coworkers. But as quarantine drags on, Zoom happy hours just aren’t cutting it the way they used to.

The fact of the matter is, whether you’ve been working from home for a while or your office just went remote, it can be difficult to build teamwork and camaraderie when you’re separated by screens. In an office, there is a constant buzz of conversation and interaction, but at home, it’s easy to feel isolated if employers don’t provide the proper resources. Of course we all know that good morale means more productivity, but the reasons to prioritize a culture of camaraderie go so much deeper than that: employees need to know that their employers care, not only about their physical wellbeing, but their emotional wellbeing as well.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas (and things you should consider) for bringing camaraderie in the age of corona beyond the basic happy hour:

1. Communication, Communication, Communication

We know we say this a lot, but trust us — if you want to know what’s best for your employees, the easiest way is to ask them! There are plenty of ways to do this (from individual HR meetings to anonymous surveys) but method aside, there are two questions you should always be asking: how are you doing? And how can we help?

Obviously, asking employees how they’re feeling won’t fix everything overnight. But it will give them a sense that you’re trying to prioritize their wellbeing, and it will give you a sense of the overarching issues your remote employees are facing. After all, you can’t fix a problem you don’t truly understand.

2. Shout Out Good Work

While this one is by no means groundbreaking, it’s nevertheless important to remember that a good portion of feedback—and praise—is often given to employees in person and in passing, whether that means a casual “good job!” after a meeting, or mentioning their work as an example to their peers.

The issue with email, and other forms of remote communication, is that we are constantly striving to be succinct — so those little pieces of praise will get thrown aside! Consider encouraging managers to create a call out system for good work — whether that takes the form of a weekly email, a slack channel, or just a gentle reminder to be a little more effusive with their praise moving forward.

3. Create a Common Space

In the office, there are plenty of common spaces for employees to go when they want to be social — when you’re working remotely, not so much.

Creating a non-work related common space for employees to chat & hang can help approximate this kind of interaction, and make employees feel closer not only to their team, but also to the staff as a whole. If you use Slack or a similar app, try creating a “Water cooler” channel, where employees can shoot the breeze about whatever they like. We also love the idea of creating a Zoom Lounge for employees to pop in and out of — that way, they always have somewhere to go if they want to be social!

4. Try Something New

It’s not that we have anything against the classic Zoom happy hour — it’s just that as quarantine goes on, it’s hard to find new things to chat about week after week.

With that in mind, consider involving your staff in a slightly more guided activity. From digital cooking classes to escape rooms, there are plenty of team building activities you can do with your staff, remote or otherwise. If you don’t have the budget for a team “outing” each week, there are plenty of free activities you can do too: try a game night, or have employees take turns teaching their coworkers how to do something. The more creative, the better!

5. Eat Together

Lunch has the power to be such a social time in the office — and while it’s impossible to recreate all of the things that make taking breaks together so wonderful, encouraging employees to pop on Zoom during their lunch hour and coffee breaks isn’t a bad idea (so long as they’re not bogged down by the dreaded Zoom fatigue).

Of course, the more people there are in your company, the more awkward it will be for everyone to be on the same call. Instead, consider splitting employees up into random groups each week — that way, they’re not bored, and you’re encouraging cross-team communication.

6. Create clubs

Have you ever wanted to create a book club in your office? We’re happy to tell you, the time is now! Encourage your employees to create (inclusive) clubs of their choosing — even groups that would traditionally meet in person, like a running club, can still keep members encouraged and accountable from a distance.

Any questions about how to best care for your employees during this period of uncertainty? We’re happy to help — just reach out to support@getbenepass.com.


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