Working Remote: 3 Ways to Make it Fun

Having been given a temporary break from the ‘time tax’ of pre-crisis commutes and the physical separation of a traditional office, my wife Sue and I have built time into our workdays for morning coffee and afternoon walks. On one such walk this week, she remarked, “We are lucky, aren’t we?” My initial response was a simple, “Yes,” while I continued walking, focused on maintaining appropriate social distancing measures to pass another couple. Not so easily deterred, Sue pressed me for a real response.

We discussed, with a profound sense of gratitude, how fortunate we’ve been that our kids and aging parents are safe, healthy, and navigating their own isolation as well as expected. My company is fiscally strong enough to keep everyone employed, even recently welcoming back a recently departed team member. And as a SaaS firm using our own planning, productivity, and collaboration tools, we readily adapted to working from home.

A Company Culture Chasm

Interpersonal interaction is what many of us draw energy from at work. With stay-at-home orders, much of that has been replaced with a dearth of video conference calls that drain vs. replenish energy. The buzz of morning banter as machines boot up has changed into the daily routine of commuting from bedroom to workspace, likely via the kitchen for coffee and a bowl of cereal. A community lunch has morphed into a re-heat of last night’s leftovers which are quickly devoured between calls. And watercooler chats are, well, simply put: gone. In the absence of so much interaction, how do we cross the chasm created by Coronavirus to keep company culture strong?

3 Proven Ways to Make Working Remote Fun (for All): 1. Repurpose Rituals

Take some time to structure and name your established company rituals. A hosted Tuesday Team Lunch, weekly Team Syncs, celebrating Planniversaries, and periodic Happy Hours were some of ours. Then, adapt them to a virtual setting. Our Happy Hours became Virtual Happy Hours and are now every Friday. Spontaneously, our team has adopted a theme for each week’s gathering — with the first being Fancy Friday — and a rare stretch of sunny days in Seattle prompting a Hawaiian Shirt Happy Hour. As a dog-friendly workplace, we missed the interaction with our ‘office dogs’ so each of us posted pictures of our furry friends, who are now referred to by many as coworkers.

2. Get into Gamification

Our team has come up with some gamified tactics to have fun with and generate insights into our new work from home reality. The first one formalized was Bingo. A card was created with fun squares like put on real clothes (with a button), kid made an appearance, and dog barked in background. And another game in the rotation is called Guess the Desk where a home workstation picture is shared daily, and team members try to decipher clues to guess who it belongs to. Other games we have queued include a virtual scavenger hunt consisting of finding items in the background views of colleagues on video calls and walking 1:1’s where miles are logged and accumulated across the team. In some cases, these games are contrived to intentionally legitimize what at first seems foreign. They also make light of natural faux pas of working from home – humanizing and normalizing

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