Multimedia Reporter

Social distancing has become the norm for the general public these days– and unfortunately, it’s creating more than just physical distance. The lack of physical interaction among employees may create a strain in their relationships, thereby challenging the dynamics and productivity of organizations.

Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for this lack of contact. Angeli Recella, startup incubation manager for non-profit organization Makesense Philippines, shares five kinds of activities that your team can try.

1. Weekly alignment

To help set goals and track past results, set a weekly alignment with your team. Before you start, put up a public Objective and Key Results (OKR) board for everyone’s awareness and appoint at least one OKR “shepherd” for the meetings. They will be accountable for making the meetings more efficient every time you hold them.

Your team can try holding quick meeting—composed of all updates without explanation—based on the Scrum method, especially if you’re already applying it. “They will just say, ‘This is what I’ve done, this is what has not moved, and this is what I need help in,’” said Recella.

She also suggests using EOS Worldwide’s GWC form, when delegating tasks. GWC stands for “Do they get it, do they want it, and do they have the capacity to do it.” 

“This is a good time to nurture people and make sure that they grow within your culture and capacity,” Recella said. “And how I translate that is that if operations are on a halt, or if it’s slowing down right now, this is a good opportunity to upscale or rescale your employees.”

2. Online game nights

As they say, work hard, play hard—and that definitely doesn’t stop just because there isn’t any outside nightlife to enjoy after work with colleagues. Following this tradition, online game nights will help your team relax from work and get to know each other better.

Before every session, assign a game master who will pick a game—such as these which work well on video-calling apps—and organize the logistics. This includes setting the time, which Recella suggests to be around two hours sandwiched between operational work hours.

“Now more than ever, you cannot separate the individual from their work, because they’re literally working from their homes,” she said. “If you want to get to know each other, this is a really good time because it mixes the work and the personal life, and you see them in a very different context.”

3. Virtual coffee chats

In lieu of the “water cooler conversations” in a physical office, holding virtual coffee chats can help your team forge new work relationships. Choose two random employees who could be from different teams or departments, provide them with some discussion points, and leave them to chat for 45 minutes up to an hour. These sessions can be held twice a week or just every other week, depending on your team’s time and capacity.

As a manager, it’s also a good time to conduct a stay interview among your employees, which will help you find out why they’re still with your company. Recella suggests using EOS Worldwide’s Delegate and Elevate form. “This usually gives you a good gage on how well [your employees] align with not only their jobs but also the overall mission and vision of the company.”

4. Pre-meeting icebreakers

In case you can’t afford to hold virtual coffee chats, pre-meeting icebreakers are a great alternative to stay updated with the team. Before getting down to literal business, each team member will be given a minute to answer a question, which can be taken from websites such as this one.

“When you do this before you start the meeting, it reconnects you to the people that are actually behind that decision-making process,” said Recella.

It also helps iron out any conflicts between teammates. “I always remind people this: Conflicts are not bad. There are healthy conflicts, and most of the time, you really have to get through conflicts so that you can breed creativity and increase employee buy-in.”

5. Disconnect hours

These uncertain times have bred adverse effects on mental health and productivity, “[These are] usually because of information overload and something that is now being called ‘moral fatigue’: The usually relatively smaller decisions that we used to make before… now more of big decisions to make because of the context,” said Recella.

Because of these factors, it’s more important than ever before to set boundaries for work and personal life. She suggests mandating employees to disconnect from the internet for a few hours a day. “You can just watch TV, cook your own food, read, or bake… This is really just for you to have a clearer mind before you restart for work.”