Companies are continuing Friday night drinks traditions - just from their homes. Picture: iStock
Companies are continuing Friday night drinks traditions - just from their homes. Picture: iStock

How to keep workplace culture alive while remote

WORKERS are not letting social distancing stand in the way of social time during their workday, with teams adapting to ensure workplace culture is not a victim of the pandemic.

They are holding virtual coffee catch-ups and online gaming sessions and hiring sport stars to make guest appearances in video conferences.

Almost a quarter (22 per cent) of 1000 Australians surveyed on behalf of project management platform Wrike say they have increased virtual social interactions with colleagues, friends and family to remain connected.

Wrike Asia Pacific regional manager Fintan Lalor says in times of uncertainty, employees' mental health must be a priority.

"While casual remote working has its benefits, being disconnected and isolated from each other for too long has negative consequences," he says.

"When they can, I think organisations should replicate virtually their usual office social events, such as celebrating birthdays or sharing Friday drinks."

Teams mix it up with novelty Zoom backgrounds during conference calls. Picture: Supplied
Teams mix it up with novelty Zoom backgrounds during conference calls. Picture: Supplied

WeWork Australia and New Zealand general manager Balder Tol says the key is to focus on physical distancing, rather than social distancing.

"People are increasingly connecting with each other virtually, jumping on the WeWork member app, using Slack and Zoom to maintain our sense of community," he says

"Already we're discovering creative ways to come together, from hosting virtual daily team 'Lunch & Laughs' to online HIIT or meditation classes as part of our regular Wellness Wednesday programming.

"We have also recently introduced virtual 'Think it Thursday' brainteaser sessions and 'Fun fact Friday', where members share something interesting and beneficial with others."

WeWork Australia’s Balder Tol says it’s physical distancing, not social distancing. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
WeWork Australia’s Balder Tol says it’s physical distancing, not social distancing. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

Similarly, parcel delivery company Sendle's team holds virtual lunch and games sessions on Wednesdays; document software company Qwilr has implemented "Qwilr FaceTime TV" during which employees do anything from play remote trivia games to give guided video tours through their makeshift home offices; and instant messaging platform Slack is continuing its happy hours while remote by enjoying a beer or wine virtually.

Head of Asia Pacific region Matt Loop says Slack is a tool used by many organisations for remote work so it makes sense for them to lead by example in demonstrating how teams can stay not only organised and productive while remote but also connected and human.

Car Next Door’s Will Davies says it’s important to keep workplace friendships while remote. Picture: Supplied
Car Next Door’s Will Davies says it’s important to keep workplace friendships while remote. Picture: Supplied

Car sharing company Car Next Door also runs a fortnightly Hangout, with employees taking turns to choose the activity - showing a favourite YouTube clip, talking about their hobbies outside of work, running a quiz or playing virtual drawing and guessing game skribbl.io.

Chief executive and co-founder Will Davies says talking about things that are not strictly work related helps people deal with stress and prevents the loss of workplace friendships.

"The light stuff is a good way to get to know your co-workers better - especially when life around you is tense," he says.

Meanwhile, online sports star marketplace PickStar recently launched a campaign calling on athletes to donate their time to join remote meetings and discuss motivation and resilience as well as revisit some of their most memorable moments.

PickStar’s James Begley says sport stars can inspire teams during conference calls. Picture: AAP/Mark Brake
PickStar’s James Begley says sport stars can inspire teams during conference calls. Picture: AAP/Mark Brake

Influencer marketing platform Tribe kicked off the campaign with PickStar chief executive and former AFL player James Begley and World Champion and Olympic cyclist Caroline Buchanan meeting 30 staff members during a video conference.

Begley says the aim is to help businesses tap into the mindset elite athletes have mastered to give hope, joy and inspiration.

Tribe founder Jules Lund says it is a great way to keep teams engaged and energised with a fresh perspective.



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