One of the main challenges during the coronavirus lockdown is keeping our team members connected and feeling part of Birchall Blackburn Law. We see our work colleagues almost every day of the year and (believe it or not) they will be missing you, each other, work and routine.
It is an uncertain time for everyone and contact with work colleagues provides some continuity outside of home life and reassurance that we’ll meet again.
You will have members of your team working from home and some will be furloughed. You will need to keep all of them connected and communicating. It doesn’t have to be about work or the coronavirus updates. In fact, if you can avoid those two subjects for the most part it would be beneficial.
We’re more than a month into the lockdown and you may well already have some of the following up and running, but we thought we would share a few ideas and suggestions on how to maintain the team spirit.
Set up a WhatsApp group specifically for your team members (working at home and furloughed). A lot of you will have already done this but if you haven’t it’s a great way to stay in touch. Stress that the group is not to be used for work related content. Keep it light-hearted and informal with film, TV, book and podcast recommendations, jokes, memes, and photographs.
Use Zoom to set up a regular group video call. It is an easy and free platform – and anyone who is furloughed can use too. It’s best to put a 30 minute time limit on the call initially and give the virtual get together some structure. This can be done with something as simple as asking each person to give an update about how they’re getting on in lockdown or ask them for their tips for dealing with being at home.
Gill Graveson, from the Family Law Team, says: “The Family Team have kept in touch with those in the team who are furloughed. We enjoyed an after work/end of day drink social get together on Zoom a couple of weeks ago and have another scheduled for this Friday. All the team connected with a glass of something bubbly in their hand and we enjoyed a couple of hours catch up.”
Instagram is also a quick and easy way to keep in touch with your team – a picture speaks a thousand words. If you just want your team to receive particular posts then you can set them up as a ‘close friends’ group and choose to share your story just with the team.
As you and the team get used to using video call software then it is worth getting creative with your communication ideas. For example, you could hold a quiz night, bake-offs, book clubs and even wine tasting with a little shopping coordination.
If your team members have an obsession with a certain television programme or film then organise a viewing party. If the show is available on Netflix then you can set up Netflix Party, which synchronizes video playback and adds group chat so you can link up with friends and host long distance movie nights and TV watch parties (www.netflixparty.com). Or, just all get in front of your favourite soap and start texting.
A little more left-field is online computer games. There are servers full of video games that family, friends and colleagues can play and explore as a group. We know of a group of fathers who have used their children’s Minecraft game to meet up to build stuff and enjoy a virtual beer. From word and number games to shoot ‘em ups and The Simms, there is scope for all. And even if you don’t want to take part yourself, you can facilitate and encourage other members of your team to meet up in a virtual world free of the coronavirus.
Wish you were here
Or get connected the good old fashioned snail mail way. Send a card, postcard or write a letter! The only things we get through our letterboxes these days are bills and catalogues. It is a real treat to receive a handwritten letter, card or postcard with a bit of light-hearted news. It shows you’ve taken the time to think and write to the person. You never know, they may write back.
It is important not to put pressure on people to answer to messages or posts immediately or at all. Some people just like to read and listen, and know that people are there if they need them.
Keep the communications roughly the same time and regular. It could be once every couple of days or once a fortnight just to check in.