This year, the month of March is colored by a whole new occasion – the one-year anniversary since WHO’s declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. For many working professionals, it marks a year of employment changes, the transition to work from home, redefining organizational needs, restructuring, or simply adapting to the rapidly evolving world.

COVID-19 has pushed nearly every enterprise to their limits, halting operations in early 2020 and significantly impacting business for the foreseeable future. Yet, it has also encouraged us to approach our individual careers, offices, company culture, and colleagues in a new light. More than ever, we have had to make consolidated efforts to reconnect. Working from home has meant the intermingling of our professional sphere with our home lives. We have virtually invited colleagues into our kitchens, living rooms, and office spaces, privy to the occasional yet unavoidable disturbances from our newest little coworkers, our children, and pets.

After an expected adjustment period, our team at Axxel-Bromelin took to working from home and virtual teamwork adeptly. In April 2020, a survey of our employees and consultants found that, sociality notwithstanding, respondents felt more productive and efficient, and significantly less stressed after transitioning to work from home. These findings motivated the Axxel-Bromelin leadership team to redefine its contracts, enabling team members to work from home even after a return to the “new normal” while opting for a smaller physical office for those who might desire a flexible work environment.

This unearthed a new challenge: how do we braid together a team wanting to work from home indefinitely while fostering social connectivity and group cohesion?

Prior to COVID-19, we were a tight-knit group that ate weekday lunch together, celebrated birthdays with cake and games, and enjoyed summer BBQs and holiday parties. Evidently, there was no way to recreate these social gatherings in 2020, given the necessity of social distancing. So, we rolled up our sleeves and got creative.

Simple practices that could work for you:

  • Overall, enthusiastic employees that collaborate well together directly results in greater success for your enterprise! Investing in your company culture through teambuilding and training workshops is an investment in your achievement.
  • We adapted our unique suite of Philanthropic Team-building Workshops to fit a virtual format. Employee engagement supports well-being, productivity, and your business.
  • Team building activities don’t have to come at a high price tag – from Helping Hands to Solar Buddies and our unique Performance Edge Training Programs, we offer workshops for teams of all sizes and resources.
  • Reserve weekly time within working hours for your team to connect. Even a half-hour at the end of the day goes a long way to invigorate motivation, teamwork, company culture and, ultimately, commitment to the success of projects.

TEAMS BUILDING ACTIVITIES

Wine O’clock

We most certainly are not the only ones who miss idle chats by the coffee machine in the mornings or late afternoon banter with the team. To recreate social connectivity, we have encouraged all our employees and consultants to join our weekly Wine O’Clock – a protected hour at the end of each Thursday reserved for trivia games, gossiping, and sharing photos of pets and family, and guarded by one rule: No. Work. Talk.

“One of my favourite times of the workweek is when our team gets together for our regular « Wine O’clock » meeting. It helps me feel connected to my coworkers, especially as we are all working remotely.” – Kristina Ganten, HR Manager

Virtual team activities (Paint)

To beat the February blues, we engaged a third party to facilitate a virtual paint party for the team. This can easily be done with or without hiring an accredited company, though having the 2-hour session animated contributed to the energy and spirit of the event! A couple of paint tubes, canvas, brushes, and a creative spirit are all that is needed to get your team bonding whilst tapping into members’ artistic sides and, for a rare instance of abandon, creating an original work of art in front of their screens.

« Events like these allow us to take a break from the day-to-day and we get to do something completely out of the ordinary with our colleagues. Always fun to get together, have a little drink and see who has hidden painting skills. » – Karl Pavone, HR Generalist

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Solar Buddies

Solar Buddies has been one of our most popular philanthropic team-building workshops of 2020! Our clients love how easy (and cost-effective) it is to build a solar light together over video conference. Aside from the humanitarian component, this workshop provides even greater value as it seamlessly pairs with some of our other training programs at Axxel-Bromelin, such as Effective Communication Skills. The addition of Solar Buddies to other programs seamlessly transforms a training workshop or business meeting into an engaging teambuilding activity that includes ice-breakers, lessons for improving inter-communication, and the opportunity for team members to refine skills and help a child in need! Our facilitation of the workshop accentuates the importance of Solar Buddies and translates into a memorable experience for the team. We all participated in Solar Buddies as an Axxel-Bromelin team-building activity and it was a very rewarding, heart-warming event. Click here to watch and learn how Solar Buddies is helping children in developing nations!

“It felt great to laugh and engage with my team whilst we built solar lights together to be gifted to a child living in energy poverty.” – Jeff Mignault, Director of Sales and Operations

Team-building and Onboarding

One opportune outcome was that team-building efforts helped with the virtual onboarding of our new staff members hired during the pandemic without the opportunity to meet the leadership team or their colleagues. Joining the team in November 2020 as Sales Administrator, Lexie Bilhete explains, “I was afraid that the virtual onboarding experience would be lackluster and that I would miss those new-job butterflies and connection opportunities with my new team. However, it could not be further from reality! Our weekly wine o’clock hour and doing fun activities like Solar Buddies after business meetings really allowed me to bond with my colleagues. Even more so, I feel like I work efficiently with them because I’ve had such high exposure to each of them through team-building initiatives. We work like a well-oiled machine, and I credit this to the investment in team workshops!”

Looking forward to a post-pandemic world, many businesses are now exploring options for hybrid workplaces and flexible employee schedules, as well as updating employee handbooks and contracts to reflect pandemic-era legislation and safety measures. With all this change, however, we will retain both the new levels of appreciation excavated during the pandemic for those with whom we work every day and a sound commitment to a healthy company culture and team unity. We are all stronger together and have learned with irrefutable conviction that a strong and supportive company culture and connection between colleagues is key to the success of your enterprise.