For many organisations, the initial shock of lockdown and the challenges of operating with staff working from home, facilitating online meetings and keeping everyone connected will now seem rather old hat. But even if things are running relatively smoothly, one thing that we all struggle with when working remotely is that sense of social connection and bonding that comes with being in the same physical location as other people. As the old proverb - and Jack Nicholson - remind us, ďall work and no play makes Jack a dull boyĒ.
Much as it would be great to lay on a summer party, away-day or team-building event, that isnít likely to happen any time soon. With social distancing, people who are still self-isolating or cautious about going out too much, and parents who simply cannot ask someone else to have the children, in-person events arenít really on the cards in the current circumstances.
But that doesnít have to stop you giving your team an injection of fun. With a bit of imagination and ingenuity, itís perfectly feasible to come up with virtual activities that can help boost wellbeing and morale. So to get you thinking, here are seven fun things you usually do in person that can also be done remotely.
Grown-up field trip
Most schools have a field trip in the summer, so why not your business? This relies on everyone using their phones, so make sure everyone has plenty of data and be prepared to pay for extra if necessary. Then set a date and time for the trip.
Your team can go to their local woods, nature trail, country park, river, park or beach. Keep everyone connected on their phones, coverage allowing, and they can go for a walk and share their experiences live. They can discuss and show what they see, the types of birds and plant life. They could even show a flower, shrub or tree to the team they havenít seen before and see if anyone knows what it is.
As well as sharing how many fish have been caught by the anglers, the wildlife and the weather, they can talk about what the space means to them: did they grow up nearby, have a picnic with their other half when they were first dating, do they bring their kids or walk their dog here? A couple of hours where your team members can share their experiences can encourage better connections with nature - which is obviously beneficial for mental health - and work friends, but not talking about work.
While some gyms have opened for outside classes and others are putting in measures to reopen safely, this is another activity team members can get together to do remotely. Perhaps you could find an activity you think most of the group will enjoy, such as yoga, body balance or a HiiT workout and hire an appropriate instructor to take the team from the basics and progress them on, perhaps weekly, until they can all see an improvement.
Alternatively, if you have fitness bunnies on your staff maybe they can share their expertise, perhaps taking it in turns to share their tips on stretches, sit-ups, planks and so on. If a plan can be designed for those looking for that extra push to do exercise, this will be much easier when collectively engaged.
If a gym workshop doesnít appeal, what about a team dance? Many celebrities have made dance classes available online over lockdown, so why not take advantage of this to learn a routine to do together when you are finally reunited. The exercise will boost endorphins and could cause lots of laughter. Perhaps it could start a new hobby for some people. If youíre stuck for dance teachers, get in touch, we have some great teachers available who can bring their own music, routines and fun!
Comedy could also be a great team activity. Perhaps you could all vote on a classic comedy sketch, a live stand up performance or an episode of a series. Share it with the group and watch together or separately and then chat online to discuss the best bits.
Music is also a great way to destress and connect with others. Perhaps start a remote choir where you can all sing the same song together. It doesnít matter if youíre not the next Taylor Swift or Shawn Mendes, singing also makes you feel good and relieves stress. Perhaps there are a few musicians in your company? A Zoom session to show and share their talents with others is another great way to build connections and talk about something other than work. Or just get each team member to share their all-time favourite track or the one song that always cheers them up. Whatever you choose, music is powerful.
Remote wine tasting
If all that talk of activity is making you thirsty, why not try a remote wine tasting. Get the team to buy a bottle or two of the same wine and chat online about what they think of it. When thatís over, some small talk as you might have at an in-person event, is bound to lead to some giggles, especially if they ďforget to spit the wine outĒ! And it means partners and housemates can also join in the fun.
We like this idea so much that Corporate Away Days has partnered with a well-established wine event organiser who can bring selections of wines to your door with optional extras like cheese to accompany. They even have a fun quiz to take part in alongside the tasting Ė and all of it can be done remotely with no need to get together in-person.
For those who are more into food than drink, online cooking can also be tremendous fun. Much like the dancing, there are plenty of celebrities offering excellent classes, information and recipes for you to try at home. Getting the team together on Zoom or Facetime to cook a chosen dish, bake a cake or create their own whilst judging the end result on presentation - knowing that they all taste delicious Ė creates a Master Chef show that has never been easier to win.
If you need some help or inspiration, we offer cooking classes with all the ingredients delivered to your door and a master cook from an award-winning cookery school taking you through each step on Zoom.
Iím sure a lot of parents will tell you that their tween- and teenagers have kept in touch playing games online. But gaming is not just for kids! In todayís world most homes will have a games console of some description, either in the back of a cupboard or in the loft, if not under the telly.
Whether itís the latest XBOX, Playstation or even more interactive Nintendo Wii, now is the perfect time to dust off that console and select some games or sports to offer up some healthy competition within your team. The latest models allow people to play interactively with each other. Is it F1, Tennis, Football, Minecraft, Chess, Scrabble? The list goes on, and a league leader board can even be set up to motivate those joining in the fun.
Golf and cycling
Of course, not all activities have to be remote. As the lockdown restrictions continue to be eased, there are options for us to get together in twos and later in smaller groups. Now is a great time to build teams that logistically can meet with bikes or a set of clubs and enjoy timeless banter and exercise either on the golf course or checking out cycle routes close to homes. As long as social distancing is maintained, this is a great way to improve skills and fitness levels until bigger teams can enjoy an organised company away day.
Not all these options will be right for every team or every team member. If one of them isnít sporty or doesnít drink, for example, try encouraging them to join in a way that is comfortable for them. However, there is little point forcing them if they really donít want to. Try to mix and match your activities and ask your team for their feedback.
Whatever activities you choose to undertake, Iím confident it can only be a good thing for you as individuals, a team and a business.