Team building via cupcakes

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WHEN a company’s employees are stuck at home and all communication is virtual, how can managers keep their team’s spirits up? Why, by getting them together (safely online of course) and icing cupcakes.

Customer service outsourcing company Telus International Philippines, with the cooperation of M Bakery, held a cupcake icing class last Oct. 20, which employees and some members of the media attended.

Most of our team members are actually working at their homes and have been there since the beginning of the pandemic. One of the most important things we’ve learned is to actually establish connection,” said Carlos Giammattei, Brand, Marketing and Culture Director at TELUS International Philippines. “We continue to develop programs for our team members to help them cope with the current situation, feel a sense of safety and security at work, and allow them to continue achieving the goals they set out for themselves.”

Thus, the classes. There are fun classes of this kind which encourages entrepreneurship, but there are also classes and programs for effective homeschooling for parents, mental health, foreign languages, and social media use. According to Mr. Giammattei, over 1,000 team members have signed up for the various programs. “All of these are geared towards making sure that team members are strong and prepared.”

That afternoon, the class participants were sent a box of vanilla cupcakes, icing bags and tips, and every child’s dream: bags and bags of rich buttercream frosting. One of M Bakery’s icing experts talked about how to make a hydrangea, a daisy, a rose, a magnolia flower, leaves and vines, and a cupcake inscription, all in buttercream frosting. The hydrangea was simple enough with a squirt then a pull to make the shape, except I exerted too much pressure on the icing bag and decided to eat the resulting disaster instead. The same can be said for the rest. This was all done with my camera turned on during the webinar as the icing experts wanted to see our progress. They did reassure me that the M Bakery signature swirl takes 40 hours to train for, so I was not to worry. The perfect roses on my screen from the other guests were enviable.

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“With our icing classes at M Bakery, we are helping people learn the art of designing cupcakes that will prove a useful skill if you’re a baker or homepreneur looking into catering, gender reveals, or even theme parties,” said Stewart Ong, managing partner of Phil Jacobe Ventures, Inc., M Bakery’s franchisee in the Philippines. “Prior to the pandemic, we’d usually hold a class every Saturday. It’s open to everyone. Kids or adults are welcome to join. We also do private icing classes for groups of four or five people. Sometimes we get invited to kiddie parties. So we go there and it’s a fun activity during the children’s party. We also do that.”

“To share this experience through different courses has been the key to keep our team members happy and engaged even while not at the office,” Mr. Giambattei said.  JLG

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