As an engineering company involved in everything, from field services to small cell design, you can imagine that we are a tight-knit group of people who like to spend a lot of time together. We regularly bounce ideas off each other, share expertise and collaborate on projects.
With the emergence of COVID-19, however, all our personal interactions in the office were cut off, and we had to devise other ways to stay in touch and remain productive throughout the day.
Nearly a year later, we are happy to report that our remote working experiment has been a success. Some people have enjoyed spending more time at home and less time commuting. Others, who had to stay at the office, liked how easy it was to concentrate in a quiet environment.
A frequently cited downside of remote or distributed work is the absence of social interactions. It is said that people often feel isolated, start working too much and burn out more easily. At Encepta, we took these dangers seriously and managed to avoid them as much as possible. We think that any company can do so as well.
How? Just follow our six ways of socializing and having fun in a remote environment — feel free to adjust them to your circumstances as you see fit.
When we are working at home alone, it is easy to stay seated all day. While focusing on a task in front of us is great, it is also important to move around and stretch.
During normal times, our office has a fully-equipped gym, which all employees can use to exercise. At home during COVID, we support setting up a timer at regular intervals (e.g. every two hours) to stand up from the desk, do a yoga break or step outside for some fresh air. Not only are regular breaks healthy for our bodies, they also stimulate our minds and allow us to look at anything we have to do from a different perspective.
Last year, our engineer Kiko even led a deskercise routine over Google Meet, where anyone could join and stretch out muscles especially affected by sitting in front of the computer.
In the office, having lunch used to be one of the most social times during the day. Having lunch at home, however, is usually defined by eating in front of the screen. Not healthy!
One of our employee tips, especially during the summer, was to switch up places where they have lunch. Did they have a patio or a balcony they could use? Could they go to a nearby park and (local COVID restrictions permitting) meet up with a friend?
Changing your environment feels refreshing and helps set a completely different tone to your day, breaking it up into well-defined time blocks.
Even though all of us might be doing similar work, it is likely that the way we approach it is quite different. Someone likes to Get It Done in the morning, before anyone is in the office. Others prefer to ramp up their day with meetings and then have their most productive work session in the afternoon.
During COVID, the circumstances for each employee are again different (whether it’s kids, homeschooling, etc.), which makes knowing the most productive hours of your coworkers even more important to maintain the overall productivity of the company.
We call this Power Hours — the time when you are capable of being the most effective. Now, working remotely, we encourage everyone to share how they see their ideal day with their team, so they can align and coordinate accordingly, thus increasing happiness and productivity for all.
At the same time, we stress the importance of taking vacation or days off for mental health if someone is feeling stressed or down for any reason. The whole team also stays active in the digital “watercooler” on Slack, ready to meme on any occasion.
COVID has definitely not been kind to all, and it is possible that members of your coworkers’ families have also been affected.
When it came to our attention that someone from our team was in need of help, we decided to run a Helping Hand Auction — encouraging everyone to sell a service or product to the highest bidder (within the company) and donate all the proceedings. We had everything, from beer to restaurant gift cards to snowshoeing adventures being donated, and Encepta matched the resulting sum in the end.
We found this activity of coming together really important. Not only did it bring us closer to each other, it also made someone’s life a little easier during these difficult times.
Predicting who will win the Stanley Cup is an annual tradition at Encepta. It’s exciting but also encourages a lot of socialization as hockey teams go through the playoff series. And what else do you do while stuck at home?
We usually place a voluntary bet ($20) at bracketchallenge.nhl.com and split the total 50/50. Half goes to the winner, and the other half we donate to charity.
Once in a while, we organize company-wide quizzes, which can range from something serious and necessary, such safety protocols, to something fun, like Halloween. The quiz itself could be completed using a smartphone app and is very interactive. Winners usually receive a gift card.
The interesting thing we have noticed is that once we started encouraging these fun ways to stay connected during COVID, our team members picked up on the trend and self-organized much more frequently. For example, our design team had Themed Meetings, where the best costume would get a prize.
Over the past year, this fun approach to remote work has shown us just how important it was to focus not only on the work itself but also on all the social aspects around it. In the end, increased socializing has not only benefited our morale but also helped us execute and stay on track of company goals better than ever.
Let us know what you are looking for and a member of our client services team will get back to you within one business day.