Connecting through COVID

A laptop with lots of people on a Zoom call, alongside a coffee mug

It’s not a unique insight to say that one of the casualties of COVID has been social connection within teams. The team I lead at the moment has had a particular challenge because we underwent a restructure during COVID. While less than ideal, there were a number of reasons that meant I couldn’t delay. So the Forming, Storming and Norming phases of our new team were all being done online – not really the optimum environment. Couple that with the results of pulse surveys talking about meeting fatigue, difficulty distinguishing the boundaries between home and work, and it becomes all the more important to find the fun side of working together.

Two of my direct reports took the initiative to organise a team day, with a focus on fun, but all of the activities had a purpose. We had planned to do it face-to-face, but lockdowns 5 and 6 here in Melbourne had other ideas. Rather than postpone for a third time, we decided to go online. As this was something new for us and actually worked quite well, I thought I would share what we did.

There was a bit of pre-work, which involved:

  • Taking a Myers-Brigg style test and sharing your result
  • Providing a quirky fact about yourself
  • Writing an elevator pitch for your role without using the words in your job title.

The first activity (after we had acknowledged country ) was People Bingo. All our quirky facts were put into bingo cards via Bingo Baker and then we used the free version of Spatial Chat to all be in a room together virtually. We moved around, asking each other questions to find out which facts fitted with which people.

Once someone had called Bingo, we headed back to Teams, where the pace changed and we had a session on resilience and self-care with one of the trainers from our Corporate Training team. Peter was a great trainer and he really encouraged us to think about how to recognise the physical and mental signs of overwhelm.

After a short break, we split into breakout rooms to plan a picnic. Each team (of 4 or 5) had a mix of personality types in it. We worked together to plan a picnic, taking notice of the different approaches people took.

The final activity was elevator pitches – each pitch was read out and we had to guess which team member it belonged to.

Every activity was lots of fun – several at-home spouses commented on the howls of laughter coming from home offices across Victoria! But they were all purposeful as well. We learned more about each other as individuals, we understood clearly how people work differently and those differences can be a benefit, providing a stronger whole. And we got to know a bit better what the different roles are in the team and how they interconnect.

We’re all determined to keep this lighter side of virtual office life. We’ve now started a Coffee Roulette idea – each week you are teamed up with a different colleague to catch up with, and there’s only one rule – NO WORK TALK!

What are you finding is keeping the connections going with your team?

Published by Antonia

I'm a British citizen and European Union official, who lives in Brussels again after 6 years in London and 8 in Melbourne. My blog(s) reflect my interests in the EU, yarncrafts, organisations and dog ownership.

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