Alone together: Keeping your team connected during lockdown

Keeping teams connected during lockdown

Many businesses were forced to radically adapt in the first few weeks of lockdown. Changes that would, in any other time, have taken months to implement were rolled out in a matter of days as business owners grappled with the challenges of protecting staff and serving customers remotely.

Despite the difficulties of the past few months, it’s been inspiring to see the ingenuity, creativity and care that many business owners have employed to keep their teams motivated and connected through this period of continued uncertainty.

While we’re no longer in complete isolation, the majority of employees are still working remotely. What’s more, there’s an increasing number of stats and reports that it’s starting to take its toll – so it’s more important than ever to make sure your team’s wellbeing is being prioritised.

Read on for some examples of great ways to keep up team morale.

Team building

If your staff usually enjoy regular social events, they may have found the transition to remote working particularly difficult, particularly as the weeks have turned to months. Luckily, there are now several virtual activities which you and your team can try.

Wildgoose is a company that usually provides hands-on outdoor team building for businesses. Since lockdown, they have had to pivot into a virtual business, quickly developing three online experiences – The Daily Kick-Off, The Team Quiz and The Virtual Away Day.

“To find these ideas, we took what we know most engages people about team building – that sense of collaboration, fun and staying connected – and looked at how these essential elements could be delivered remotely,” says Jonny Edser, Founder and MD of Wildgoose.

“The resulting products are simple to use and help companies to reinforce bonds and keep staff motivated and connected at a time when morale is so important.”

If you’re feeling creative, you can take a leaf out of PR agency Fieldhouse Associates’ book and come up with your own bonding exercises. “Every Tuesday and Thursday we have a Good News Digest in all sorts of formats,” says founder, Cordelia Meacher. “Talented members of the team have done wonderful things such as written and sung a song on the piano, penned a poem, created a screenplay, published a print-style online magazine and shared good news in the form of a children’s story.”

The Fieldhouse Associates Office Manager has also been going the extra mile, baking cookies and sending them, individually wrapped, to each staff member’s house.

And, in fact, we got our own surprise delivery from Fluidly just today from recipe kit business The Spicery.

Communication

Uncertain times can breed anxiety and insecurity in staff members, and these feelings are only heightened by isolation. Keeping employees in the dark may seem like a good tactic when your business is going through a rocky patch, but more often than not, being frank and honest is the better approach.

Jade Thomas, Office Manager at Pure Commercial Finance, recommends that business owners stay upfront about the challenges they face during lockdown, “If things are going well business wise, then communicate this so that employees aren’t kept up at night wondering what the next day has in store for them. If it’s not so good, communicate this also so that it doesn’t hit quite as hard as it would if they weren’t prepared.”

Keeping up a general stream of contact is also fundamental for morale. Regular morning calls are a great way to catch up with your team, check that work is being split fairly and ensure that everyone is moving towards your company goals. You can also use the call to have a more personal chat with your employees and find out how they are coping.

“Our 15-minute morning calls as a team are a great way to touch base and get us started” says Scott Jones, Managing Director at Illustrate Digital. “There isn’t an agenda as we mostly focus on random facts, banter and finding out what we got up to over the weekend.”

Some companies are taking employee communication a step further. Timo Boldt is the CEO of recipe box company, Gousto. “Gousto has a unique culture. Dream, Deliver and Care are our ownership values which we expect of ourselves and each other.

“These core values are at the heart of being able to respond to an unprecedented situation like this and ensure we can continue serving the nation. It’s so important to stay connected and keep team morale up during this period of remote working and we’ve started lots of new initiatives in order to do this.”

These initiatives include scheduled assessments to ensure all staff are comfortable in their home workspaces, a weekly ‘pep talk’ from the CEO, free meditation sessions and a ‘Feel Good Friday’ call where employees share their talents – from singing to DJing.

Collaboration

For teams that are used to working collaboratively, remote working presents a particular challenge. Without the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, some team members will find themselves struggling to gain the inspiration they need to work creatively. Even with the help of cloud collaboration tools such as Slack and Trello, the lack of face-to-face contact can be a hindrance.

Rosanna Falconer and Rachel Arthur are the founders of FashMash, a global members-only network for professionals in the fashion industry.

“Our business’ mission is to encourage open conversation and sharing of ideas to help move the fashion industry forward,” says Rosanna.

“Faced with lockdown, we had to think laterally about how to fulfil our role. We knew we couldn’t go quiet on members when conversation is more important than ever.”

After cancelling their usual networking events and monthly speaker sessions, Rosanna and Rachel decided to launch a fortnightly remote lunch with key founding members from their community. The learnings from these collaborative lunches are later shared with the full FashMash following on Instagram Live.

As with any normal event, the lunches have rules. Everyone must bring something to eat and drink so that the meetings feel like more of an occasion. The event is chaired by Rachel and guests must raise their hands to speak to avoid talking over one another.

Before each lunch, participants are sent an email which includes the theme of the discussion, a list of those attending and a link to a helpful article which explains the reasons behind their meeting guidelines. In this way, Rosanna and Rachel ensure that everyone knows what to expect and that meetings are kept inspirational and productive.

What we’re doing at Fluidly

You might be wondering how the Fluidly team have been keeping our spirits up during lockdown. We’ve launched several initiatives, some more official than others, to stay upbeat and connected during these difficult times. These have included a book club, “HobNob o’clock”, virtual Friday drinks and our latest Haxball World Cup, a virtual gaming tournament that has sparked some fierce competition.

In the current climate, reaching out to colleagues has never been more important. Connecting to your team members, whether that means sharing a virtual cup of tea with your old desk mate or taking part in a Zoom dance off, is crucial for your mental health and the health of your business.

Even as we adjust to working in such a different way, it’s comforting to remind ourselves we really are alone together.