During a weekly team meeting this morning, our group leader kicked off the conversation with a “5 questions” segment. We were meeting virtually, of course, using a video meeting app, and he shared a mini-PowerPoint deck that he then flipped through with one question per slide: Meal choice? Mexican or Italian? Movie choice? Rom-com or superhero? You get the idea.
We all answered one by one and had some fun — a brief bit of silliness, if you will, during this shelter-at-home stretch of time.
We’re a small team, and our workloads are typically always heavy. But being in the office together allows the chance for levity and lightness as we banter back and forth and chat with others across our small open office. I think we’re all sorely missing the comradery that comes along with working in an office.
But more than that, today’s “5 questions” exercise was a reminder that, as the proverb tells us, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Dull isn’t a desirable attribute for, well, anybody, but certainly not somebody who is working to help propel a company forward through today’s bleakness. We need an open flow of ideas, innovative thinking, and collaborative brainstorming now more than ever. I’m no expert, but I have to think that working heads-down, alone, in a little corner of our own homes for a prolonged period of time such that is taking place now could have an adverse effect on all of our psyches.
The little things — that unexpected five-question pop quiz — well may be what makes all the difference in how engaged employees will be while sheltering at home. During that same meeting, for example, we all also played around with the virtual backgrounds that had just become available through our video meeting tool. Back of my mind, I figured one of our team members would select a sci-fi background, and she did. But that another would select a hipster-style Silicon Valleyish background? That I hadn’t foreseen.
Lifehacker editor David Murphy wrote
about the need to break up the monotony in a recent post, too, because here’s the thing, as he put it: “Even though it’s easy to slack off when working from home … it’s just as easy to keep working, and working, and working, and forget to take any moments for yourself.” (How dull!)
In a normal office setting, this isn’t a problem, he continued. “You’d walk out to get lunch, take a lap around the building while waiting for your coffee to cool, or wander over to talk to your favorite colleague about new Animal Crossing strategies or turnip prices. You aren’t chained to your desk eight hours a day, nor should anyone get mad if you act like a regular, social human being every now and then.”
The same is true while working digitally. “You still need to shoot the shit with your teammates, because they’re normal people, too—possibly even your friends.”
His tip for improving workplace morale is using a bot within your team collaboration app (he uses Slack) to remind everybody to take a “watercooler” break. “Whether this is once an hour (yes!) or a few times a day (still fine!), getting your team to put down their not-critical work and engage in some delightful social banter, even if it goes longer than the ‘allowed’ break time, can do wonders for everyone’s morale.”
So, I wonder, what are you doing to bring a little joy to the workday… for yourself or your teams? Share in the comment section below! (And in case you’re wondering… Mexican OR Italian, but not at the same time, and rom-com — definitely rom-com!)