21 Office Experiences for Your Distributed Team

7 min read | by Raj Singh 
Distributed Teams

Remember when it was 5PM at the office and you could open your favorite board game, gather some team members into a room, and play? Or maybe every Thursday evening when the food trucks arrived and you'd go enjoy some tacos with your team? Today, much of that may seem like a distant memory, but the spirit of these office rituals does not need to fade like the office has. Rituals are more critical than ever to stay connected with your distributed team.  With this in mind,  I’ve aggregated a list of various work rituals from some of our customers and partners.

Here are some ideas to consider for your team -- in no particular order, choose 1 or more and start doing it, regularly!

🍱  Hold virtual lunches

Some teams we spoke to paired this with a watch party and funded their employees’ Doordash accounts to make this seamless. Another group invited their families which made it more personal. That said, any opportunity to have non-office chit-chat is a win!

📷  Share a photo of life at least once a week

Slack is perfect for this and it’s a fantastic way to lighten the mood. It gives team members a glimpse into your life beyond work and will almost always spark some conversation. You can even make it themed each week (e.g. pictures of pets).

🧘🏿‍♀️ Zoom meditation or yoga sessions

This may sound a bit out there but some teams were already doing this pre-COVID. This activity over Zoom is perfect and really easy to facilitate.

🎧 Live DJ on Fridays

Having attended a few of these, it’s fun to just watch someone spin on Zoom as you wrap-up your week. Chat between team members is a bit difficult but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

Person Cooking in Front of Computer
A Virtual cooking class can be fun and can help bring your team closer together.

🍜   Virtual cooking and drink lessons 

Cooking together as a team can be both exciting and meditative.  We haven’t tried this ourselves yet but we are planning to engage with one of the number of companies that offer virtual cooking classes including Airbnb, The Chef & The Dish and Eventbrite.  The services give you a shopping list ahead of time and/or order it for your team via Instacart. 

👥 Encourage hyper-local meetups

Given shelter-in-place, this may be a bit difficult right now. But as things start re-opening safely, this is a critical way to bring distributed teammates together in similar regions. Be sure to fund coffee, drinks or meals for them and to encourage them to meet on some regular cadence.

🐇  Arrange a quarterly magic show

Magicians have done a great job adapting a lot of their routines to Zoom as well as getting the Zoom audience involved. This is a great way to have some laughs together and support magicians while their main venues have been shut down.

🍕 Virtual brown bags or show-and-tell

I’m sure this came with free pizza when held in the office but keep it going when virtual. It allows those who don’t normally get to present opportunities to present + you can pair it with your weekly team lunch. Also, it doesn’t just need to be about work, just have someone share a skill or unknown talent (eg how to make sourdough bread :)

🎮 Online gaming sessions

This might be the most obvious and at Loop Team, we rotate through a few games regularly. Check out the list and if you know of any others that we should play, please let us know. We are eager to try!

🎩  Do escape rooms

Whether you use Puzzle Break or Ryptic or The Escape Room, escape games are a ton of fun and a great way to collaborate with teammates. We have found different escape room companies to take different approaches to which makes it even more interesting. For example, we’ve played some games where you primarily interact with a virtual book and another where you move a real camera around in a physical room to find clues.

🔎  Try a home scavenger hunt

This may sound corny but what if I told you to find the most expired item in your house or anything in the color of pink. These can actually be a bit more fun than you might anticipate and some of the items people retrieve will definitely spark some interesting conversation.

🔥Wednesday family-friendly bonfires

Yes, this may sound crazy but we heard a team that set up a bonfire in their backyard and they did a virtual camping trip with their team. It might be a good opportunity to have “watercooler chat” while you play with the virtual lighter app on your iPhone :)

🗣 Start some recurring meetings with ice breakers

Each week, choose a new ice breaker question and lead with it. It’s a great way to learn more about teammates, especially those that work across teams that you don’t normally interact with. Our team most recently played Two Truths, One Lie and it was a great way to break the ice!

Kids Listening to Music
Try having fun with shared playlists because who doesn't love music?

🎼  Collaborative music playlists

Lots of different options like Sonos to make this happen but it gives different team members the opportunity to be DJ for the day

🌅 Meme/GIF and/or Zoom background battles

It seems Instagram celebrities have also picked-up on this and custom Zoom backgrounds are now a business!  We started a list of tools here.

🐘  Host a white elephant gift exchange

Yes, this is the same game you may already play over the Christmas holidays but do it with your team virtually. Once you finish, have the gifts shipped out.

☕  Virtual coffee chats

On Slack, you have great plugins like Donut but take this a step further and make it live. Each week randomly pair with someone you don’t work with closely that you can chat with for 15 minutes or more. It’s a great way to connect and gain empathy with other teams in your organization. It might also be fun to pair with Range Icebreakers which will guarantee that you learn something new about each other.

🎸 Host an office jam session

Not all teams may be musically inclined, but there have been some great videos shared across the web of teams ‘getting the band back together’ while distributed.  Here’s one from our friends at Cape Analytics.

📘 Book club

With less commute, many of us have more time to read. Create a recurring event to chat about recent books and share.

🏁  Start a challenge

Not everyone may be up for a fitness challenge but simple, out-of-box challenges can be helpful each week to build camaraderie. For example, one team recorded jumping jacks done each day. Another team used Slack notifications to remind everyone to do pushups every 3 hours and to post.

Above is just a sampling of ideas we’ve curated from our customers and networks. The beauty of rituals is that they are unique to your team and culture and in this fully distributed environment, more critical than ever to make your team more connected.

Originally Published by Raj Singh on Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 16:23 | Updated On Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 17:12

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