When COVID-19 hit, our company, like most, shifted to a work-from-home structure. That transition was met with many challenges, one of which was a lack of daily interaction with other employees. When not addressed, that can lead to a break in the strength of internal relationships and overall team atmosphere.  

One of the steps our company took to help maintain a positive culture was starting a monthly contest.  The goal was to find a way to make it easy for employees to engage with one another, laugh together, and interact in a fun way, outside of normal day-to-day work.  And of course, win prizes!

We made it easy for employees to submit their entries digitally.  Everyone could then review the submissions and vote on the winners. In addition to creating a fun way to engage with one another, it created an opportunity for employees to learn more about each other through personal interactions that we may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience.

Some of the contest topics included things like taking pictures of winter decorations, workplace selfies, costume contests, etc. One month, we ran a contest where we put our own captions on images.  Most of the fun came when we looked at what others submitted and laughed along with them.  This time spent connecting is important and helps people learn how to work with one another better, even when physically apart.  

As an employer, offering opportunities for team building in fun and creative ways shows you care about your staff, and creating those types of interactions between employees helped strengthen the team environment during a time when we were unable to interact in person.  While this idea came up in response to the challenges from the past 18 months, creating an atmosphere where employees feel happy and connect with one another is always important.  Because these contests were so popular, we decided to continue this team-building activity even after we return to our office setting.

While this is just one way our company found to help create positive interactions, there are many other ideas of activities you can do to show you care and appreciate your employees.  As employees, we can do our part by participating!  I’ve found that when people who didn’t participate in the first few contests finally did, they realized it wasn’t a lot of effort and ended up having a lot of fun…especially for those who ended up winning!  It also showed their co-workers they are part of the team.  As managers, being part of the action is also an important way to engage with your team and lead by example.

With the shift to more work-from-home situations, team building is proving to be more difficult, but it’s extremely important for the health of your company.  Encouraging positive employee interaction should always be at the top of everyone’s list.