Life has changed drastically over the last couple of weeks. Our whole office is now remote, but with a remote work policy in place starting last year, our team has had the opportunity to start learning how to incorporate and to work together remotely before it was required. This experience has definitely helped smooth our team’s transition.
Over the last year, we’ve done a few simple things to make remote work as non-disruptive as possible by including a video chat link for our morning scrum, outfitting all employees with laptops so they’re mobile, and moving (and adding) internal and project documentation in Notion.
Now that everyone is remote long-term, we’re putting more changes in place to increase communication and collaboration. We’re increasing the frequency of check-ins to try to create an atmosphere of personal connection, rather than a hassle or interruption. We also want meetings and calls to be a bit more casual to offset the tension and uncertainty around us.
Below are a few of the ways we’re working together.
Standup and Standdown
Every morning our team checks in through a #standup Slack channel as a way to let everyone know you’re online and starting to work. Then, at the end of the day, everyone signals in the same channel to let people know they are logging off.
Yes, we could just check when everyone’s bubbles are “active,” but this is where some of the best gif content of the day is coming through. Plus, it’s nice to get the same kind of “good morning,” “pip pip,” and “hey, what’s up” from your team that you’d normally get when you’re at the coffee machine.
We’re also utilizing our Slack Statuses to let everyone know that we’re at lunch, taking a walk, or in a meeting. This extra bit of information is helpful to let others know what you’re up to at the moment and whether you’re available.
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Now that our daily scrum is all on Zoom rather than in-person at our office, we’re trying to lighten things up a bit. We’re adding virtual backgrounds and using fun filters through Snap Camera (my personal favorite is the Cheetos wall).
To try and facilitate some of the spontaneous coworker interactions that would normally happen at the coffee machine, one of our coworkers is keeping an open Zoom meeting called “Water Cooler” for people to stop in and just chat for a bit.
We also set up a “Lunch Room” Zoom meeting around noon for anyone who wants to get lunch with their coworkers and eat “together.” This also has a dash of Netflix Party (see below) occasionally to watch The Office.
Remote Game Nights
Our office loves playing games and has a large collection of party games in the office. Since we can’t be together to play them, we found some virtual options for our game nights.
The Exploding Kittens app gives you a game code so you can invite others to play with you. We also set up a Zoom video chat so we can all talk while playing. Exploding Kittens is great because each game is quick (5-10 minutes each) so people can come in and play for as long as they like without having to quit a game early.
Another option we’re going to try soon is using Jackbox which has a bunch of different “irreverent party games” that can be played using a laptop/mobile devices. They even put together thorough instructions on how to have a remote game night.
While we’re all accustomed to playing phone games with friends, family, and strangers around the world, don’t ignore the importance of the videochat. We’re making personal connections here, not waiting in line for a latte. Realizing this (obvious) fact has been one of the most rewarding bits of Game Night.
Remote Movie Nights
Netflix Party has made it really easy for us to keep having our movie nights. One person uses the Chrome extension, log in to their Netflix account, and send the link to everyone else. It also has a chat so everyone can talk to each other during the movie. The hardest part about this is picking what movie to watch.
These are some of the ways we’re working to keep everyone updated on projects and tasks, as well as foster community in our workplace and keep everyone engaged.