With almost 70% of full-time workers reaping the benefits of the work from home setup because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is obviously not just going to be a one hit wonder. In a survey done by FlexJobs (2020), 65% of their respondents still want to become full-time remote workers post-pandemic. A hybrid arrangement wherein employees work some of the days in both office and home was favored by 31%. These numbers indicate the overwhelming acceptance to the new norms of working.
Why work from home you may ask? For some, it provides a better work-life balance. It is also economical since they do not have to commute, rent an apartment if necessary and buy lunch from outside. Also, remote employees get to enjoy flexible work hours, less office politics and countless breaks. Oh, life! They are also happy based on CNBC (2020) since remote employees manifested a Workforce Happiness Index of 75 out of 100 compared to 71 for workers in the physical office. In the same research, remote workers are also believed to be satisfied with their jobs (57%) than the office-based workers (50%). While these are positive figures, we cannot disregard the fact that sometimes, performing our job at home can be monotonous. Imagine the humdrum of being in the same makeshift office, hearing noise and constant “AFKs” or away from keyboard moments, it can still be boring and demotivating at times. This is why many human resource departments also pivot and come up with innovative ways to get their side of the office busy and keep the workers away from the conundrum of quarantine slash remote work — the sometimes double negative!
Virtual events are playing an important role in the virtual office setting. These online events are fun, interactive, boost employee morale and create stronger relationships among everyone. Typical webinar or webcasts may count but these have become a thing of the past and do not really facilitate employee engagement. Here is a better list:
1. Virtual escape rooms
The mystery room craze has also gone virtual. Its massive surge in popularity made itself a preferred team building activity. Within the walls of the virtual escape room, teams inspect rooms for clues, solve riddles and finish puzzles within a limited amount of time to “escape the room”. This activity will reinforce the importance of effective communication, logic and critical thinking when situations are tough (like the tension employees have facing difficult clients). It also helps in improving memory and cognition, boosts productivity and strengthens relationships.
2. Reciprocity ring
Used to be done physically but is now also in the virtual office, this activity gathers people together to exchange information, help and advice. By doing this, you are mentally conditioning everyone that it is safe to ask for help at work. It is much like doing a check-in. It is a heartwarming experience seeing how your colleagues are willing and are extending efforts to help. This activity can be done by a group of any size though 20, at least, is recommended. Then, find a host who can assist you, equip you with materials or train you to facilitate. Although the reciprocity ring activity may sound simple to you, we suggest you evaluate only after its magic gets to you.
3. Stop the bus
Another quick way to get your colleagues collaborating is to do a short game called stop the bus. It is a classroom game for elementary which has also been favored by adults because of its entertaining and challenging nature. You only need a Zoom room and a Google doc file which should be accessible to everyone joining the activity. Divide your participants into a minimum of two groups and ask them to open the same file on their computers. After which, get their help to come up with at least 5 categories (for example: fruits, vegetables, animals, countries and girls’ names) which should be listed as a table in your Google doc with a box under each category where answers will be put. Then, the facilitator shares the screen with the categories and boxes and he will disclose a single letter. For example, “B”. The teams need to think of a word entry for each category which starts with the given letter, in this case letter “B”, among themselves and the first team to come up with a complete list should scream “stop the bus!”, they shall be the first one to encode their answers on the list. Answers should start with letter “B” being the disclosed letter: banana, broccoli, bear, Belgium and Brittany respectively. They get one point if there was no spelling mistake or if all the answers are correct. The facilitator can reward them with a little prize to get the motivation rolling. This game is a sure success and is a great method to practice vocabulary, quick thinking and goal setting.
Make these virtual event ideas a breather for your employees so they are spared from burnout and stress. Activities like virtual concerts, online magic shows, Zoom games, go green web advocacy campaigns and others can also make your remote employees feel good even for a while. Whatever you decide on, just ensure that all your ideas allow for social interaction and brain function to improve their mental health and overall well being as remote workers.
Arleen Atienza has been writing for several organizations and individuals in the past five years. Her educational background in Psychology and professional experience in corporate enable her to approach a wide range of topics including finance, business, beauty, health and wellness, and law, to name a few.