Staying sane whilst in lockdown – part 1

20th April 2020

We are a remote company, we work with our clients remotely and almost all our work is done in the cloud. So when we were all sent to work from our kitchens and living rooms in March we thought we were well prepared. 

We soon realised that working from home is just not the same as going into the office. 

The Secret Source Team 2020
Our team just before lockdown

Workwise, we are just as productive and our clients have even said they haven’t noticed a difference. But we’re missing the social side, the real person to person interaction. Our team is very close and we didn’t want the current situation to have any negative effects on any of our team members. So since the lockdown was announced we have tried to replicate as many of the advantages of working in an office at home.  We have trawled the internet, attended webinars and chatted to remote experts around the world and implemented the best ideas in our day to day running of the company.

Over the next few blog posts we’ll share our findings, good and bad and hopefully help a few other companies in a similar situation to ours navigate these tricky times.

Our first initiative was a morning meeting combined with a game.

We wanted to check in with everyone every morning, see how they are and give people a chance to say hello, we didn’t want a normal video conference so we thought of playing a fifteen minute game every day. So each day a random member of the team is nominated to organise an activity. The only conditions are it has to last 15 minutes, involve everyone and be fun, here are some of the things we’ve done so far …

Pictionary

There are many online tools but we used https://www.pinturillo2.com/ It’s a little tricky with the mouse but it’s pretty fun. In 15 minutes about 15 people get to have a go. 4/5

Typing races

Everyone types a set text as fast as they can and it moves a car along a race track. The idea is great and it is a lot of fun. There are plenty of websites that offer races but none of the ones we used worked so well. 2/5 but would be more if we could find a tool that works.

Jigsaw puzzle racing

Using the breakout rooms function in Zoom we split our teams into groups of five and each group had to complete the same online jigsaw as quickly as they could. We used the private game function in https://jigsawpuzzles.io/ . It worked really well and was good for team building too. 4/5

Charades

Each person has to act out a movie title. It was a nice activity where everyone got to participate. 3/5

Name that tune

One of our team played the first 15 seconds of a song from a film and the first to answer in Slack got a point. It showed up who the film buffs are but didn’t allow full participation 3/5

Justdance

Just Dance at 9am!

There was a mixed reaction to having to dance to Black Eyed Peas at 9am. Some enjoyed it, some didn’t – I think it depends on your team. There was talk of doing a choreographed dance like this but (surprisingly) no-one ever organised it. Phew! 2-4/5

Morning workout

One of our cross fit mad developers got us all stretching for 10 minutes. Mysteriously some of the teams’ cameras stopped working mid workout! If you’ve got an active team this is probably a good activity, if not, I’d stick to the keyboard based games. 2-4/5  

Mouse click racing

Similar to typing racing you have to click your mouse as quickly as possible. Those of us who grew up on early PC games and knew the techniques wiped the floor :). 3/5

Emoji films

Can you name this eighties film? 

One team member puts films as emojis in a Slack channel and everyone guesses. Good fun, especially as they got more and more obscure. 4/5

We’ve also done a show and tell, surveys using mentimeter and head/body/legs.

Four weeks in and we’re still doing the morning meeting from 0900 to 0915 every day. It has proven to be a great opportunity to catch up and see team members that we probably wouldn’t have seen while we’re in lockdown. The games are also a good way of integrating the shier members of the group. If you’re thinking about doing this activity yourself try to keep the games short (less than 15 minutes), try to make them as inclusive as possible so the quieter members of the team can participate and test the technology beforehand! For technology we use Zoom and the breakout room feature and Slack for chatting.

We’re running out of ideas now and will probably be reusing games soon so if you have any ideas please let us know.