When someone says ‘team building’, I automatically think about Friday’s lunch in the pub together, or a bowling night or doing a team quiz or something along those lines. In our case, it is more complex, as we are a fully remote company and we are working from 5 different countries. It’s almost impossible to organise something where we all can present physically, and even for those working from the same country, it can be challenging to meet up.
Working from home can make you feel isolated.
So what can we do to get our daily dose of human interaction?
We always encourage people to hop on video calls instead of chatting which makes the whole thing more personal.
The main rule is to turn your camera on. Every time you hop on a meeting, just make sure the camera is on. Being able to see each others’ reactions makes it easier to connect. Of course, there are situations when someone turns off their camera, but in our meetings, it is a rare occurrence.
Morning Social & Friday Lunch
We have an optional, daily short morning coffee meeting where you can just drop in any time if you feel like it. Usually, we talk about everyday stuff, games, movies or funny things that have happened to us since the last time we met. Just like you would do that in the office.
We also have a Friday lunch gathering for a very similar reason. We sit down in front of the camera and eat together and talk about – most of the time – not work-related subjects.
What Didn’t Work
Little after the Covid lockdowns (the first ones in 2020), we have decided to play together every fortnight, on Thursday nights. As we all like video games, we thought the most straightforward would be to play something we all like.
The way we tried was democratic, both finding out the best times and games; however, it turned out that we have very different tastes when it comes to games. It was almost impossible to find a single game that all the participants liked or wanted to play.
The process became slow and boring and despite the initial excitement, it turned out that playing twice a month was too much – especially for those who didn’t really like the genre we chose.
Social nights like watching Sony’s PS games showcase together and discussing it while having a drink or dinner.
Quiz nights were fun, too, for the same reasons. Discussing the fun facts and answers always sparked conversations and laughter.
But neither of those was the winner.
What really worked for us was playing online board games. I’m not talking about Monopoly or other traditional games, but ones make you laugh almost continuously. Like games where you continue others’ drawings or when you need to draw something by someone else’s sentence.
Lying games were also hilarious when you drop the fact into a bowl of lies made by the others.
Another recurring event we have is a weekly D&D night, in which, we play with a few people outside of the company. It is fun, it had a steep learning curve, and I’m planning right now to use the experience and knowledge I gathered and run a monthly D&d event solely for my colleagues.
Meeting in Person
Fortunately, it happens as well, but usually once or twice a year. These are like Christmas dinner together (usually in Hungary) or the team rents a place for a week and works from there.
Covid prevented these meetings for a good two years, but now it seems that everything is getting back to normal, finally.
Socially connecting in a fully remote company isn’t easy but doable. Sponge Hammer has existed for almost six years now and the connections in the team are solid as it was always. I hope we will be able to maintain this cohesion in the future.
If you have any comments, ideas or personal experiences, feel free to share with us. We are curious to hear new ideas, solutions, and perspectives regarding the above. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media!
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