Team building while working from home

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In these challenging times internal and company-wide communication is more important than ever.

Brittany Daniel

While many of us are still working from home we are relying on many platforms and apps to stay connected. While we spend time telling our colleagues “you’re on mute”, it’s also important to engage in relationship building outside formal meetings. 

It used to be part of our everyday work culture, whether it was lunch with a colleague or a quick debrief on a favourite TV show. This is the social aspect we are all missing while working from home.

Organisations with a high level of engagement report 22% higher productivity, reports The Harvard Business Review. It can also reduce staff turnover and increase our health. 

Team building now requires more attention to ensure we have authentic communication and engagement from home. This engagement might take place with your direct team, office or on a global scale. 

Here are the ways we’re sparking global relationships: 

Global engagement committee, activities and competitions

Hardie Grant Media and the wider Hardie Grant team have launched a global engagement committee. Previously this was limited to each city’s office. Now we have a chance to build stronger relationships with the team. Along with myself, we have representatives in the committee from Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco and London working together.

To improve employee engagement we started with a monthly activity organised by each office. This included ‘Social quiztancing’ (a weekly quiz), sharing our favourite travel snaps, photos of our furry colleagues and a food competition cooking recipes from Hardie Grant Books.

This healthy competition among offices was a great way to connect and learn more about each other from a distance. I now know where the team in London like to holiday plus who has the cutest pet! 

Internal change-management workshops 

Hardie Grant Media has an open and ongoing conversation about reconnecting. Following a company-wide conversation we moved to smaller groups to discuss returning to work and reimagining work in these challenging times. It was a great space to talk through concerns and learn from each other as to how we are all adapting. We discussed how we can find new, positive ways of working. These encourage open communication.

COVID-19 committee 

A COVID-19 committee was set up to clearly communicate changes and work through problems. The team is there to offer solutions and support for any working from home challenges. Government updates that would impact organising photo shoots, access to the office and so on are clearly communicated through this group. Having a committee means there is a central stream of communication plus we all know who to contact with COVID-19 related questions.

Company or team awards 

Company awards are another great incentive to celebrate hard work and success. Hardie Grant acknowledges two monthly ‘Top Dogs’ who have gone over and above, taking into consideration working from home, creativity and productivity. The winners are voted in by the team, creating a supportive environment.

The winner each month receives a gift card for their hard work and the satisfaction of being the current ‘Top Dog’. Earlier we had a shiny trophy to pass around the office, but for the time being it’s strictly virtual. 

Get creative and don’t forget the basics

Other ideas to spark relationships and engagement include virtual Pilates, dress-up internal meetings and sharing our workspaces, or should I say ‘desk goals’. 

While we can’t do our usual in-person morning tea to celebrate birthdays we can still make sure we are keeping up the usual office banter in some way. We now celebrate staff birthdays, holidays and achievements through our collaboration tools.

Online team check ins are also important. It’s great to see each other via video chat and find out how everyone is going before following into a formal meeting. This has definitely helped me feel more connected. 

Benefits of employee engagement

I think one of the biggest benefit of these initiatives is company morale. While working from home it’s important to keep our spirits high and to feel connected to the wider team. 

This will also spark better internal collaboration and teamwork, creating a more productive working from home environment.  

During this time there is arguably less work-life balance due to your working space and home space being the same. I have found this aspect difficult. It’s important for me to plan my days and schedule a lunch break away from the desk. Building global relationships and having fun activities has also helped the balancing act and is a great way to ensure the team are getting that ‘break’ away from work. 

Send us an email and let me know how are you staying connected while working from home. We would love to hear your remote team building tips and activities.

Brittany Daniel, publishing executive  

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