By Michael Kurland, who launched Branded Group in 2014, transforming the facility management industry with his vision to #BeBetter.
Remember the days when you could walk down the hall to the offices of your marketing or human resources colleagues and announce that it was time for a team-building event? Wheels immediately went into motion to begin the planning process.
Venues were rented. Fun activities were selected. Speakers were secured. Invitations were sent. It could take months for all the details to get worked out. Finally, your entire organization got together under one roof, laughing, talking and connecting in new ways. The staff photographer documented the occasion. Memories were created, and employee satisfaction stats skyrocketed after the event.
The New I In Team
With the onset of Covid-19, this once-easy task is now in need of a dose of creativity. Today’s team-building activities are unlike those of the past. Virtual happy hours, group chat rooms and socially distanced meetups, where applicable, are the new normal.
Even though we have to think differently about team-building events and activities, we still have to think about them. Just because we are not together physically does not mean that our efforts to strengthen the bonds with our employees go away. In fact, it’s actually more important than ever.
The age-old phrase “There’s no I in team” has actually been turned upside down as more i-team (internet team) events are being scheduled. Bringing remote workers together in an effort to recreate the office community is the new goal. With no more hallway chats or lunchroom banter, CEOs and human resources managers are having to put on their thinking caps for creative and authentic alternatives.
Company Culture Is Critical
Let’s face it. Many organizations that did not have a solid company culture prior to Covid-19 are struggling right now. Without a clear vision, mission, purpose and core values, some leaders may be hard-pressed to find the common thread that will gather their team members around the virtual conference room table.
With no one in the office to see the “words on the wall,” it becomes even more difficult to rally the troops to support a culture that was either weak or nonexistent prior to the pandemic. However, despite a wobbly culture, leaders can elevate their teams simply by injecting a dose of creativity.
Keep It Simple
When Covid-19 hit, my organization, like so many others, made the decision to send our entire team home. Our team-building activities consisted of daily phone calls, emails and video call check-ins. The goal was to ensure that everyone was safe, kept updated on company news and supported with the resources they needed to work successfully from home.
With our mission to “be better” firmly rooted in our team, we sought out ways to ensure our colleagues were cared for, personally and professionally. This holistic approach was welcomed, and our team recently noted in our annual employee engagement survey that they felt cared for as a “whole person.”
Get Back On Track
After we got our bearings, we hosted virtual happy hours, shared favorite recipes in virtual dining rooms, delivered lunch and created our #BeBetter breaks for team members. These fifteen-minute breaks pair two employees together and task them with getting to know each other better through a handful of ice-breaking questions.
As local guidelines permitted, we participated in virtual 5Ks and beach cleanups to give back to our nonprofit partners, recognizing that the needs of our community were still a priority. These events helped to restore a sense of normalcy within our organization when outside was anything but normal.
It’s anyone’s guess when our valued team members will be a few steps down the hall once again, but until that time, it’s vitally important that they still feel connected, cared for and engaged with the whole organization.
We will all get through this challenge. Our teams will emerge stronger than ever. If we continue to lead with empathy, putting our employees’ physical and mental well-being at the forefront, we can be assured that our teams will not just survive, but thrive.