27 Mar, 2020Hanna Burrows2 min read

How to hang out with your teammates – remotely

If you’re not already working remotely, you probably will be soon.

Many of us already work remotely – at least part-time. With the spread of COVID-19, and social distancing measures we’re putting in place, that number will only continue to rise.

There’s plenty of advice around how to stay productive: create a workspace, communicate asynchronously, wear pants. But there’s more to work than being productive. Social activities – like team lunches, offsites, or gossiping in the hallways – help you feel closer to your colleagues, which in-turn, improves your ability to work together on projects. On the flip side, social isolation has been linked to mental illness, dementia, and death. Grim.

So, how do we replicate this feeling of social closeness when we’re all locked in our home offices?

Get Chatty

You’ve probably already got a tool you use to communicate with your team, like Slack. But it’s hard to just chat for the sake of it. So, set up some triggers – give your team reasons to talk.

  • If we’re stuck at home, we’re probably going to cook. So why not set up a #food channel, and share pictures of your meals and recipes? Side note: I’m loving this broccoli.
  • Start a #music channel, and share what you’re listening to. Consider creating a communal playlist, so you can ~~judge~~ enjoy each other’s favorites.
  • Try a #facts channel, and challenge yourself to post an interesting fact daily. It’s a great way to learn something new, but you’ll also learn more about your team’s interests outside of work.

Watch A Show

Grab the popcorn (or the tinned tomatoes you’ve been stockpiling) and settle in for a movie. Tools like Netflix Party help you stream movies at the same time as your friends, and chat while you watch. For a work-friendly option, try streaming an episode of Our Planet – it’s fascinating, appropriate, and episodes are short enough to fit into a lunch break.

Our Planet is full of bird facts you didn’t know you needed. Get excited!

Build A New Office

You’ve probably heard of Minecraft. It’s essentially virtual Lego – you dig up blocks, and then place those blocks to create structures. It’s enjoyed worldwide by all kinds of players, and is even used as a teaching tool in primary schools. Minecraft Classic can be played in your browser, for free, with up to 10 people.

Why not try to build a virtual copy of your real office? You’ll need to work as a team to plan your structure. Delegate who’s collecting which blocks. And if you jump on a call while you’re doing it, the social interaction will happen seamlessly.

Get Weirdly Competitive With Trivia

Consider replacing your Friday afternoon beers with a game of Water Cooler Trivia. This app works via Slack or email, and it’s free for a month. It’s great fun while you’re playing, but also a wonderful conversation starter. You’ll quickly learn who is a sports fanatic, and who is way too into Harry Potter (hint: it’s me).

Grand Designs: The Home Office Edition

Set up a regular video call, and have a different teammate take you through their home each time. It’s a fun way to get a glimpse into how we live our lives. It builds empathy. You’ll pick up some good tips for your own house (and workspace). And, if you’re lucky, you’ll see a cat.

Anyone who works from home with a cat and says it’s “distraction-free” is a liar

Update: see our blog post on our first remote team-building experience with Skyrocket Your Teams.

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