COVID-19 has put a massive cramp in our former work lives, and I’m not just talking about the act of just going into the office every day. We are social creatures by nature, and, overnight, we had a considerable portion of our social lives – the ones that take place at work – stripped away from us.
There are no more chats in the kitchen at the coffee machine. No more after-work happy hours. No more company meetings where lunch is provided, and you get to share the energy of everyone you work with. It’s no surprise then that when a survey about employee engagement and productivity during COVID-19 was conducted, the results revealed that 52% of people feel less connected to their colleagues.
So how can companies go about creating these connections? The answer is virtual social work events. Here are five reasons why companies should make sure they are happening regularly.
You Have New Colleagues You Talk/Email/Skype/Zoom With Daily But Haven’t Met In-Person
More companies are onboarding employees that may not meet anyone from work in person for a long time and this can be awkward for everyone. To break the tension, introduce icebreakers in your Zoom meetings or over Slack channels. Icebreakers can be used to kick off a meeting or as a stand-alone event. The idea is to keep it short, sweet, and, ideally, non-work related so employees have the opportunity to get to know their colleagues. Great questions to ask are: What was your first job? What was the first concert you attended? All-time favorite movie? Notice that these are not yes/no questions. They require thought.
Companies that Meditate/Cook/Happy Hour Together Have More Productive & Engaged Employees
According to Ten Spot’s recent survey, 60% of the most productive and engaged workers today had been frequently offered virtual social work events by their companies during COVID-19.
Whether it’s a trivia night, a cocktail crafting class, a virtual scavenger hunt, or a 15-minute group meditation, we’ve found that companies have the most success with keeping employees engaged with work when these events happen consistently. Ideally, these are non-work-related events or experiences where work-specific talk is limited, and socializing is encouraged.
Your Employees Miss Each Other. Really, They Do!
Some employees are juggling a full house while they work from home and don’t have the time for the casual co-worker catch-ups they once had, let alone the time to attend a virtual happy hour. At the same time, it’s still essential to have some way to nurture relationships between co-workers to keep them connected that doesn’t impact the time they need with their family.
‘Show n’ Tell’ events are becoming a popular team-building activity during the Pandemic because they give employees a chance to share things that interest them.
A ‘Show n’ Tell’ can be structured in two ways. Either dedicate an entire meeting to ‘Show n’ Tell’ and rotate through employees one-by-one for two minutes each, or have one employee present their show n’ tell before a meeting to spark further dialogue.
Our research indicates that the highest-rated topics for Show n’ Tells have been around the idea of ‘what inspires you?’. Employees will screen-share a picture of what motivates or excites them. Another popular topic is ‘what would be your last meal?’ We’ve seen people pull up menus, photos, reviews, Google Maps. People take it seriously.
Everyone Needs a Reason to Celebrate – Even if it’s Only for 30 Minutes
The Pandemic hasn’t been an easy time for many. Connecting with others to celebrate things like quick wins, employee achievements, birthdays, or other significant company news can boost morale and productivity while bringing a bit of fun to the day. Celebrating with colleagues is critical right now.
Start by fueling an ongoing channel in Slack where teams post their monthly and quarterly goals, accomplishments (big or small) and celebrate them together – ours is #cowbells. Then, at the end of the month, follow it up with something that could be fun for everyone and their families – a virtual concert or magic show everyone can watch together, accompanied by gift certificates to order in and have food delivered that night.
The Pandemic Shouldn’t Take the Blame for Ruining Your Company Culture
We all know that when employees enjoy where they work, they want their friends to work there too. Referrals are a great way to increase your talent pool. Creating a culture that people want to be and stay a part of reduces employees running after the next best offer. Friendships in the workplace are an essential part of the equation. Whether it’s peer-pairing, mentoring, or team-wide virtual events, it’s crucial for employees to connect with each other and to connect with the company.