With most companies changing the way they're doing their daily work after a pandemic that struck the world unexpectedly, working remotely and practicing social distancing has become the norm. Zoom (and other video conferencing technologies) have quickly become a vital tool in workplace culture. What used to be a convenient way of doing a virtual call or check-in is now a necessary means of communication.
What sometimes gets lost in the translation of this way of working is the normal, social interactions that occur in an office. A sense of community can get diminished and we end up feeling less and less connected with our peers than ever before.
This is an unfortunate side-effect of how we're forced to do business nowadays. The antidote to this, or at least a start in the right direction, is that we could all use a little fun and lightheartedness in our daily or weekly meetings.
While we social distance ourselves during this time, here are some creative ways to make zoom a little more fun:
1. Roll Call
At the start of each meeting, once everyone has logged on, take a moment to go down the list of attendees and call their names, allowing for any response from them to make themselves known as being present. This might include a "yeehaw", "Yup!" "Here!" or the old school, "present!" or it could even include an array of fun sounds or woots, etc. Whatever noise the team wants to make, let them go for it.
2. Look around the room
Some preschools do this at the start of each day to get the students present and ready for their day. Why not take a page out of their book and take a moment to get situated? Ask each attendee to look around the virtual room and notice something they'd never seen before. Or look around their own room and spot something of interest. This should only take a few seconds per team member, but it's a handy way to get their attention more focused on the room and the meeting itself.
3. High fives
Get each attendee to "high-five" the person to their left of the screen. This will take a moment for everyone to figure out how to do that, especially since left and right can sometimes get switched, depending on your video settings. This will also require some cooperation on the part of the person who is being high-fived.
4. Game time
Set aside a lunch-break game time or a once-weekly meeting where you spend an allotted time just playing online games together. There are a bunch of games you can entertain yourselves with; rock-paper-scissors, trivia games, background contests, whiteboard games, themed dress-up days, read-a-longs, fun fact sharing, dad joke contests, funny youtube video of the day sharing... the list is endless.
Take a much-needed break and use this opportunity to fill in the empty space that used to be office community time. Think about how much time we spent chatting with our colleagues in the hallways, or at the water cooler.
5. The Dundies
In an episode of "The Office" they took a day dedicated to the annual Dundie Awards. While their categories for each award were comedic and kinda silly, who's to say you can't have some fun with your own office staff and create your own awards day? Who is always best-dressed? Which team member always has the funniest stories? Who has been the most productive this past month?
This activity serves two purposes. 1. It gives us all a moment to have a laugh and relax into the fun and community we've been missing, and 2. It allows us to recognize our fellow professionals.
Recognition and acknowledgment is an area that could use improvement in most offices. If the team is doing a great job, why not surprise them with their favorite pizza delivery for lunch one day? Or have individual trophies mailed to them with their "employee of the month" award?
Making your zoom calls fun and engaging is a challenge when day after day after day it's the same old same old and it can all get a little dry and uninspiring. But adding some spice and some lightheartedness once in a while can really amp up the sense of community in today's virtual office.