By now, you’ve probably seen several posts on how to transition into a company-wide work from home situation. Companies like Trello and Zapier are extremely familiar with distributed teams and have shared their tips and tricks to adjusting to this new way of working.

Something that has been top of mind for me is, how do we continue to bond as a team? When I arrive at work each day, my morning typically consists of some desk chatter, grabbing coffee with a coworker, and a collection of conversations with people in the halls. How do we keep up with this while we’re in our homes?

Here are a few things my teams and I have been trying out that you might enjoy, too.

1. Welcome to the portal!

The portal is what we’ve nicknamed our morning/afternoon/anytime virtual hangout. Someone will post a link to Zoom, then people drop in and out as they can. We talk about our coffees and smoothies, show off our pets, and share whatever else is on our minds. We’ve enjoyed using Zoom (rather than our usual Google Meet) for the better tile view and the ability to add virtual backgrounds. If you really want to spice up your effects, Snap Camera is compatible with most video chatting tools.

Some fun backgrounds on the portal

That’s one way to hang out and check in regularly, but it’s also important to check in with work friends on other teams, too. A few weeks ago, we all saw the standing brooms craze across Twitter, Instagram, and maybe even TikTok. As it turns out, standing up eggs is a thing, too, so some friends and I set up time to attempt it together before we knew we’d be working from home. Well, we had to see these eggs stand up, so we hopped on a call and did our best, and honestly… the results were good! As goofy as this may seem, it was nice to step away from work to have a few laughs.

The eggs do stand up! 

2. Lunch ‘n’ learns

I’ve seen a lot of lunch ‘n’ learns over the years, but they usually focus on tech topics. Over the past year or so, ActiveCampaign has adopted Quick Take Tuesday, which has really allowed participants to expand their talks beyond tech, into things that they want to share with their peers, such as the weather, tea, Ghana, or book clubs.

Personally, I’m very big into cooking, but to pull off a cooking based quick take Tuesday, I’d have to find a recipe that works well in an office…until now! Last week, I hosted a couple of bread baking demos to share something I love, but also in the hope of giving people a simple recipe they could feel proud of. Apparently everyone across the country is also getting into bread baking right now — and I support it!

Teaching bread baking

One of the results! 

3. Game nights

At this point, I bet Jackbox Games is seeing a huge jump in usage across their suite of games and apps. If you haven’t tried it already, I’d highly recommend playing one of their multi-player online party games with your distributed teams (especially since they’re on sale). Only one person needs to purchase the game, and everyone else can join from a browser and their device of choice. Drawful has been our favorite so far!

Playing Drawful via Jackbox Games

4. Happy hours

Nothing can stop a good happy hour, not even remote work circumstances. We all know this, but it’s a great time to unwind from the week and just hang out. Since this past week was our first fully remote week, our happy hours were just another great check-in to see how people are adjusting their daily routines, hear about any new hobbies, and even meet some of their family – it’s been great to meet some kids, pets, and significant others!

Team happy hours must go on — even virtually

5. Up next: Show and tell

A few months ago, one of our designers introduced us to a meeting called Design Digz. Each week someone will “host” and give us all some sort of fun prompt. We’ve played with modeling clay, shared some of our design influences, and watched an episode of Abstract, along with many other activities. Since it’s our design team, the prompts have leaned into creative interests, but you could definitely change this for your team. This week the prompt is a simple show and tell – show us part of your home, some art, really anything you wouldn’t be able to share if we were in the office.

Obviously, I can’t share a photo of what’ll happen, but I’m looking forward to seeing some homes, pets, and furniture.

I hope this helps you all find a way to adjust to this new way of working and hanging out with your teammates. Don’t forget to drink water, stand up once in a while, and stay safe!