These days, there’s one question you can always lead off with as a surefire Covid-19 conversation starter: Are you back at work? As the majority of the country has eased out of quarantine, many businesses are back to in-person employment, with certain precautions. Some, on the other hand, are continuing to operate at limited capacity, or completely from home.
As excited as (some) folks may be to get back to work, a certain awkwardness can come from regrouping with your co-workers after weeks apart. And even if things are business as usual on paper, social distancing measures and mask-wearing—though necessary—may create a sense of detachment and isolation from others at work.
In these strange times, it’s more important than ever to promote goodwill and a feeling of community at (or away from) the office. At CaterSquad, we’re all about connecting employees through food—but that’s not the only means of bringing people together. Here are some practical ways to keep staff members connected.
Send a hand-written note
Whether or not you’re back in the office, the postal service is still in operation—so a hand-written note can easily make its way to a co-worker or employee. (Or, if you’re back to work, slip a note into someone’s office mailbox.) Recognizing a staff member’s great attitude or efforts on a particular project in writing always sends good vibes. And when the pandemic keeps you from seeing people in person, don’t forget to celebrate milestones like birthdays and work anniversaries with a thoughtful card.
Share a funny weekly newsletter
2020 has been a tough year—couldn’t we all use a laugh? Perhaps a funny weekly employee email newsletter can lighten the mood and help you get to know your co-
workers better. Try sending out a weekly invite for anyone to share an embarrassing moment, submit a favorite joke, or divulge the off-the-wall thing their eight-year-old said this week. This one works no matter the size of your company.
Create a company charitable initiative
The unifying, community-building effects of charitable giving are undeniable. Survey your staff as to what causes tug at their heartstrings, then choose an organization to give to for a month, a season, or a year—with a financial goal in mind. There’s something magical about realizing you’ve raised an impressive amount of funds as a group.
Host a virtual (or socially distanced) happy hour
Okay, it might not be the same as hitting a favorite bar after work, but bringing people together for a virtual happy hour still reaps social dividends. Set a time for a Zoom call that’s purely for pleasure—no work talk allowed!—where everyone can kick back with a beverage in the comfort of their own home. Or, weather permitting, choose an outdoor space for a socially distanced hangout.
Organize a competition
We’re all motivated by a little friendly competition. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, research shows that people have more success hitting exercise targets when they participate in contests. Try boosting workplace wellness with a steps competition or weight loss challenge. When employees challenge each other to the top, they’ll not only connect with co-workers, they’re more likely to succeed with their fitness goals.
Create a club
If you ever watched The Office, you may remember Dunder Mifflin’s “Finer Things Club,” where characters discussed works of art and good books over Earl Grey and finger sandwiches. While this may not be your staff’s “cup of tea,” take stock of what type of clubs might interest people in your company—and then get organizing! Getting people together for monthly book club, a food-loving restaurant club, or a regular pick-up basketball game can create valuable relationships at (and beyond) the workplace.