Re-imagining the office social scene

Jo Deal at LogMeIn explains why workplace socialising needn’t be dead just yet

The office social scene has been one of the biggest cultural casualties due to the pandemic. With hybrid work here to stay what will come of those moments we have missed for over a year, and how can we reignite them in a world of permanent remote work?

Since the first lockdown, companies nationwide have been trying to spark new ways of reliving the spontaneous watercooler moments we once had. It is therefore critical for businesses to develop a robust remote company culture to retain and attract top talent.

Bring the little moments back

When reminiscing over the old days of the office, what many of us have missed the most is the random hallway run-ins or trips out to the coffee shop with a colleague to catch up; moments that have become distant memories during the pandemic. However, it only takes a bit of creative license to bring these moments back.

Many of us now start our meetings with a quick check in question, similar to the kind of small talk that would happen in a conference room while we waited for everyone to arrive. We have a check list of questions, a document anyone can access and add to and the topics range from the trivial (favourite breakfast) to the memorable (best ever concert) to the thought provoking (if you were a potato, what kind would you be). You’d be surprised what connections form amongst those with a penchant for parmesan truffle fries.

Often it can be the small moments that add up, giving us a boost to our day, an opportunity to connect on a more human level and ultimately feeding into our generall happiness and likely, our productivity too.

Facilitate out of office activities

A huge part of the office culture is the various recreational activities that employers facilitate to encourage team bonding and collaboration. Given many teams will be spread across the globe even when we get back to the office, collaborative technologies and virtual team building will remain central components of our working lives.

In addition to internal social activities, we have also made a concerted effort to keep up our volunteering efforts over the past year with the addition of virtual options. Whilst in-person opportunities will be resuming, the resounding success of virtual options means we can continue to include employees who may not be near an office, providing team building moments with the opportunity to do good within our local communities.

The numbers of companies that can help assist on virtual volunteering, combined with a game or an online activity has grown in the past year and the great feeling that comes from doing good for others goes a long way to building strong cultures.

Much more than chatter

Collaborative technology has proven to be a great ally in this mass remote work experiment, and has proven to be an effective tool for connecting colleagues. We have actively encouraged employees to set up channels that can help bridge the divide between professional and private lives.

For instance, we now have group chat channels for just about anything, from dog and cat lovers, groups dedicated to sharing the best Peloton workouts, to channels for employee resource groups where we can share challenges in a safe space, as well as opportunities, book suggestions, resources and more. One of our employees kicked off Dad Joke Friday in one of the channels recently and the toe-curlingly bad jokes people from all around the world were sharing with each other was really fun to watch.

We also encourage employees to use the status features of internal communications platforms to tell the rest of their colleagues what they are doing. And this isn’t simply busy or not busy, but things like “Walking the dog,” “coffee break,” “working out” etc.

This may sound trivial on its own, but it’s one of the small ways that we can open the conversation around the importance of striking a work/life balance. People shouldn’t be ashamed if they need to step away to take a break, and statuses are a great way to open this discussion. Life became work and work came into our homes; showing the honest reality of the juggling act many employees are undertaking has been a great way to reinforce the need for balance.

Plan for success

Companies who do not plan for the permanent switch to flexible work will be left in the lurch. Employees are demanding flexibility and the convenience work from home brings but not at the expense of a work social life. Creativity is key to be able to bring teams together remotely. Those that implement a strong cultural programme will reap the benefits of increased employee happiness and productivity.


Jo Deal isChief Human Resources Officer at LogMeIn

Main image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

© Business Reporter 2021

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