Is transitioning to working remotely affecting your team's motivation?

Csaba Balázs
Csaba Balázs
↓ 7 minute read
Jan 12, 2021
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10 ideas to keep your team happy and motivated

The notion of team gathers in the current context several new dimensions which, of course, require new approaches. Because we already went through this treasure hunt for ideas to maintain the cohesion of our team and also to enhance some of its aspects, we decided to share with you 10 activities that helped us strengthen the relations between the members so that we can perform at our best even from afar. We are true optimists and still hope from the bottom of our hearts to return to our beautiful office as soon as possible and to conduct face to face team buildings but, until then, here are some ideas that kept us close and brought a smile to our faces even on the cloudiest of days.

1. Those who eat together stick together

The Danish even have a word for this, fællesspisning, which would be translated as “eating together” but it refers not just to the action of eating in the company of others but also to the feeling of belonging we experience when sharing the intimacy of eating with others. The detachment of people from their communities was already impacted by the success of social media networks and on top of that, the restrictions of the pandemic imposed social distancing and isolation which made us all more aware of the irreplaceable value of human connection. Human connection, as the name of our company suggests, is one of our central values that guide our activity, that’s why we set the goal to support it no matter what. We enjoyed sweet surprises and sushi behind the screens and we even celebrated one of our colleague’s birthday by having a slice of cake delivered to every one of us. The joy of a shared dessert was not just a mere sensation of our tasting buds but actually a well-studied way of increasing the perception of well-being by providing a boost of oxytocin as Psychology Today journal states.

2. A good book is the perfect conversation starter.

You know the moment when you’re asked to say something about yourself and all of a sudden you lose the sense of who you are? A good introduction to self-knowledge, an invitation to reflection, and a conversation partner are the key ingredients for a wholesome self-discovery journey. We sent our colleagues two of Simon Sinek’s books, Start with Why and Together is better as a starting point for a conversation having as purpose the discovery of the own “why?”, of the engine that puts us in motion and guides our decisions. Each of us told a story from our own experiences that we considered important in the puzzle that makes us who we are. We then wrote on scribbles a sentence to summarize our “why” and after we guessed to whom each scribble belonged. The exercise made us feel amazing! It was a great way of getting to know ourselves and each other better while reminding us why we came to form a team and why we are stronger together.

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3. Human Bingo

Human Bingo is a game that we really enjoyed. We first played it at Cetățuia Food Park during summer when we celebrated Andreea’s birthday but we genuinely believe it can have the same charm in an online version as well. Each of us received a list of 10 specific questions about Andreea and the answers were spread between the colleagues. Using a timer, we had to find the correct answers to all questions and the first to complete them all had to yell “bingo!”. Of course, Human Bingo can be adapted such as the questions would cover the entire team and that would make the game even more challenging.

4. Recognition and appreciation

Every colleague brings his own contribution to the table, professionally and personally as well. We all have that one colleague who makes us smile or the one who is always ready to help or the one who seems to have the answers to all questions. Everyone’s authenticity deserves to be recognized and celebrated and we chose to start with Lia, the one who was part of Human Direct’s evolution for the last 7 years. So we created a short video called “Wish I were Lia for a day”. Such a video with appreciation messages can be created for every colleague to highlight their contribution and unique role in the team and will for sure be a reason to be joyful for the one who receives it as well as for the ones who express their sincere gratitude.One more way to express our appreciation for our team members was using the Disco extension for Slack to anonymously send virtual compliments and kudos. This gamification process represents one more reason to give our best and maintain a positive attitude during the day.

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5. Team buildings with a twist

When online team buildings are created in such a manner that all participants are engaged and the end result depends on everyone’s activity, they can generate a lot of satisfaction, good energy, and desire to be fully involved. One online TB that was truly engaging for us and brought to the surface out hidden artists was the one conducted by our colleague Evelin. We all received a part of a story and we portrayed it using objects we found in our homes to creatively play the scene. Online, we connected the scenes and we found out the whole story together. In the end, Evelin even taught us a choreography which we danced together with our laughter almost covering the music.

6. What is really happening?

Q&A sessions with the management department were quickly implemented to ensure that all employees had the information regarding the new collaboration perspectives. Our daily meetings are also an opportunity to appreciate the team’s efforts and encourage an individual way of working that remains in accordance with the overall vision of our company still. We understand that a business relies on the whole team, not solely on the management, so discussing each week about the active campaigns but also about other relevant topics as the impact of covid on the business and on us individually has allowed us to have a homogenous approach, shared understanding of the context and common goals in our work. For this particular aspect, we implemented an anonymous questionnaire regarding job insecurities to better observe where more support was needed.

7. Talk it out!

The pandemic we’re going through can be overwhelming on several levels and the fact that we have fewer occasions to engage in real social interaction undoubtedly has a negative impact on our emotional state. To minimize the negative effects of isolation we implemented open discussions unrelated to our field of activity. In these discussions, we encouraged the open expression of the frustrations, discontent, and challenges we encounter during these times. The effect talking had on us was freeing and helped us release the tension we were holding. Hearing how we individually react under difficult circumstances made us understand each other in a more authentic way. When the weather was still sunny and friendly we gathered on the shore of Someș to talk about how we feel and one of us who managed to sincerely open in front of the team received a biiiig chocolate to bring a smile on her face.

8. There's always a half-full part of the glass

We encourage maintaining a positive attitude towards the situations we encounter and we regard with humor the little inconveniences. Quizzes and other activities to get to know our colleagues better brought some fun in the equation and, speaking of humor, we even created a Slack channel titled Thanks Corona! :) where we share, with a tint of irony, moments of gratitude. For finding out more about each other we made a channel called I am human after all where we share parts of us beyond our job selves, like photos from childhood, favorite songs from different periods of our lives, books we loved, or hobbies.

9. Like the good old days

When we were still gathering at our office, our little kitchen was the place where all the jokes, stories, and personal discoveries were told always in the company of a cup of coffee. We acknowledge the need for breaks and sometimes when working from home, we are tempted to work for hours on end and even though this might be considered a boost of productivity, in the long term, it can turn into burnout. This is why we created the Human Direct Lounge, a simulation of our little kitchen, a channel that we can join when we want to enjoy a cup of coffee with our colleagues and recharge our batteries for some minutes.

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10. Exploring together

We all know that the IT field requires static work so short escapes from the screens are always welcomed. Occasional gatherings with the IT team, keeping, of course, the social distance imposed by the current context, can have a refreshing effect. Be creative with it! We suggest exploring the city and the areas nearby from the perspective of a tourist. You will be surprised how many new things you can discover about places you considered familiar before.

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