The end of summer is a tricky time. The days get shorter, the weather dies down, and there can be a general lull as your team’s spirits start to slip. Factor in the C-word (Covid!) and all the problems and challenges that come with it, remote working in particular, and you have yourself a difficult position to be in as a team leader.

So, how do you lift your team’s spirits at a time when you’re limited in terms of what you can do? After all, it’s not currently feasible to arrange any physical activities, teambuilding events, or bring everyone together for a coffee?

The key is to get creative—use your ingenuity to develop fun virtual activities and events that will give your team a much-needed emotional boost.

Here are a few ideas of our own:

1. Enjoy a Morning Coffee Together

In an office setting, it’s easy to take the little things for granted. One of these little things is the simplicity of a strong morning brew while chatting with our colleagues. Now that we’re all based out of our homes, however, this has stopped for most people… but it doesn’t need to be that way!

Plenty of companies have introduced virtual coffee mornings that are voluntary for their employees to dip in and out of as they wish, and with great success. Although attendance tends to be limited at these events, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gives the people who do attend the opportunity to be more directly involved in the conversation. This is something that can be difficult to do during congested Zoom calls—as I’m sure many of us are now well aware…

2. Introduce Virtual ‘Office Hours’

The concept of remote working is one that’s alien to the majority of us. And unfortunately, it’s very much the case that some people have adapted to it better than others. While some employees will thrive in their new home-based working environments, others will struggle with the “new normal”, particularly when it comes to communicating with team leaders and managers.

Some of your team members may well be shying away from speaking to you simply because they don’t want to feel as if they’re overcommunicating or interrupting something more important. Unlike in an office environment, it’s difficult to gauge whether colleagues are tied up with something else and this can cause people to actually under-communicate, which itself can cause their work to suffer.

To help alleviate this worry among your team and encourage people to speak to you, which in turn can lift morale, host virtual office hours where people can drop in and chat with you informally.

3. Create a Comprehensive Slack Environment

Another great way to boost your team’s spirit while working from home is to create a comprehensive Slack environment. By that, we mean creating a Slack environment that facilitates all types of conversation and collaboration through the use of different Slack channels.

For example, you can create casual Slack channels with topics such as gaming, cooking, exercise, and other topics that cater to personal interests. These help to maintain team morale and encourage colleagues to speak to one another about more than just work. You could also go the extra mile and give your team members the ability to create their own channels as they see fit! Slack channels are amazing and work well because they give team members the opportunity to speak when they’ve got extra time to do so, without the need to plan their entire days around virtual meetings and team building events.

As a manager, this is a great opportunity to use the knowledge you have of your own team and their interests. Take the time to create channels that you know will interest people and always be looking to post something to keep people involved in the conversation. Whether it’s about the news or a reaction to what somebody else has posted, there’s always something to say!

4. Host Occasional Special Events

Zoom isn’t just for meetings. It’s the perfect platform for hosting the occasional special event or conference. But don’t overdo it—there’s a fine balance!

As a platform, Zoom is fantastic because it helps to boost engagement, something which can start to drop over time in text-based communication environments such as Slack. One possible reason is that people can naturally feel tired and fatigued when they’re not able to interact with people in the way they’re used to, i.e. face-to-faces, which causes people to become disinterested in chatting through instant messaging channels.

While there’s currently no way to interact with people in person for an extended period of time, especially in large groups, there’s ample opportunity to try new things with virtual events and hangouts to get people interested in socializing with one another again.

These can take the form of anything from regularly scheduled digital team building events to talent shows and miniature keynotes with guest speakers from your industry. The key with them is to create something that’s laidback, casual, and low pressure enough to encourage team members to participate.

5. Recognize a Job Well Done

There’s nothing quite like somebody noticing and appreciating your hard work. It’s a fantastic boost to morale and when you’re working remotely and unable to receive praise in person, it can have an even greater impact.

As a leader, never pass up on the opportunity to recognize your team for a job well done. Not only is it a great way to remind team members of how their work is contributing to the bigger picture, it also reminds them just how valuable they and their work are to the success of the company.

Recognition and appreciation always go a long way to boosting morale and keeping spirits high, no matter where in the world you’re working from.

Bringing Teams Together During Covid

Working from home can be difficult and put a strain on team morale, as we’re sure most managers have now realized. However, there’s a lot that can be done to support team members.

Whether It’s through a quick coffee and a chat in the morning before work or a laidback virtual pub quiz on a Friday night, the only limit is your imagination!