Being locked at home to exploring new things: My Personal Journey

Bringing the Team Together while working remotely: My personal Journey

So it’s been weeks and you’ve lost count of the number of days you’ve been stuck at home. You haven’t really met another soul and you’ve assigned names to all the delivery guys from Amazon, Grofers and Milkbasket who come in the early mornings and leave your food on the ground floor of your building (like some mythical Santa that delivers lettuce instead of chocolate). All this in the name of physical distancing. You’ve tried calling all your friends and they either have kids or adults that act like kids and their stories have taken an interesting turn from “oh look at the funny thing little Anjali did today” at the start of March to “I have taken the batteries out of everything that makes a noise and even the things that don’t”.

For many of us, working from home has taken away some of the strongest networks in our life. We have our little set routines and we know exactly which of our colleagues will be the early bird; who just came from the Gym and who’s late from last night’s “office drinks”. These are the people we split our breakfast with, badger into stopping work on that presentation so we can share (eat) their lunch and confirm our Amazon Prime and Netflix playlist.

Tip Tip 1 : A colleague’s lunch is always better - especially if you know their mom, unfortunately, in this case, I am that colleague and everyone knows my mom.

We’ve made up for just walking over to them to ask a question with Google hangouts, Skype and Zoom but the real connections that build and make a team (and keep the loneliness gremlins away)  take a little more magic. So in order to make our days a little brighter (and because this lockdown does not seem to end) I am going to share my top chill-out activities for bringing the Fun into WFH. So set up a chat link and bring back the interaction you sorely miss.

Top Tip 2: These activities require a great game master. All it takes to be a game master is to be loud and clear with your instructions. Instructions sent in advance (like download links) make things run a lot smoother. Make sure your teams share their video so you can increase the engagement.

  1. Scavenger hunt: The first game I use and the simplest one to organize. Create a list of 5 items and share them over the zoom chat and ask your team to do a show and tell. The first person to collect all items wins and you can ask them to take a photo and create a collage of some funny moments. WARNING: potential arguments range from – “does that count as a shade of blue” to “I said a photograph not a comic in a frame” or “mosquito spray is not something that smells good!”
  2. Board Games: If you have some multiplayer board games at home it is pretty easy to manoeuvre your webcam to the Board and play. Of course, your game master will have to move everyone’s pieces for them but that’s easily done as long as you can find someone who is impartial enough (Go Delhi!). My favourite game for this is Trivial Pursuit because you can create teams for 5-6 people, roll a die, pick a square and answer the trivia question. Teams work together to provide the correct answer in a short time frame so you can ensure no one is off googling the answer.
  3. Two truths and a lie: Let your team know this one in advance in case you get a lot of awkward silences. Simply ask each person to come up with two truths and a lie in order to correctly guess the lie. This is a great game for learning more about each team member.
  4. Taboo: A whole host of taboo cards are available online. Simply ping a selection to a colleague in a different chat window and see how many they can get everyone to guess without saying the taboo words in 2 minutes. Great fun for everyone!
  5. Charades – the classics cannot be avoided. Everyone knows how to play charades and the handover is simple. Let the person who sang pick the next player (victim?) and continue the cycle as long as you are comfortable.
  6. Antakshri – an Indian favourite. Divide into teams and sing a song where the first letter has to match the last letter of the word of the song your rivals sang.

Top Tip 3: Our teams are often split into sub-teams based on geographies and people will always have a tendency to pick their closest friends. If you see that everyone is not being engaged force them to pick someone from a different team.

  1. One of the easiest ways to organize a session is to pick a simple online game and ask the team to download and join. Shared gaming apps like Psych, Words with Friends and Risk allow us all to connect easily with each other. Choose the game, subject and room and let the apps manage the rounds, sessions and scoring so you can have fun!
  2. Meme Competition: Your team knows each other pretty well and the best way to get through the current situation is a great sense of humour. Organize a (tasteful) meme competition and ask everyone to send you memes they have created. Send out a poll on Google forms and share the owners and final scores over a laughter-inducing session.
  3. Story to scene/ Pictionary  – Good old paint or whiteboard software is a real lifesaver for these drawing games. For Pictionary, simply assign a set of objects (concepts for the more advanced) to team members and see how many they can draw as their team members guess. For Story to Scene, go in the opposite direction and have a team member narrate a story which the others draw. See how close they come to creating something resembling the story and avoid having anyone from the design team making everyone look pathetic.
  1. As you continue to build team spirit consider empowering your team members to contribute towards the Covid-19 crisis. Join fundraising efforts undertaken by 100+ NGOs and allow your employees to contribute to increasing awareness of safe practices to avoid infection; distribution of food ration kits; providing frontline medical workers with PPEs and supporting the migrant communities who are under financial stress.
  2. Move beyond financial donation and join the Goodera Virtual Volunteering platform and allow your employees to take up support activities for NGOs working in the field. Volunteers can work individually or as part of a team to provide solutions that create greater social impact from their own homes. With a range of long and short term commitments you can continue to build a strong team spirit while enhancing your team’s skills in a range of areas including sharing financial expertise, coordination with hospitals, calling the elderly who are in isolation, sharing career advice with young students and much much more!

The key to managing team spirit in this crisis to keep everyone motivated and enthusiastic about achieving something significant despite the challenges that come with remote availability. Help your team unplug after work and manage loneliness for the younger members who don’t have family members at close, by picking up some of the activities above. Let me know how you keep your team engaged and share some of the outcomes below!

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