Office life away from the office – Keeping the RB spirit alive in the pandemic
January 2020. We had just started the new year and colleagues in the office are already drafting the plan for a few months' worth of team events. The biggest office-hosted board game night yet in February. The Bi-annual Corporate Football League through March and April. A 2-day team building session across the border, in Bulgaria, in May. All of it complemented, of course, by the supporting cast of Happy Fridays & Breakfasts, office birthday and life-events celebrations and daily roundtable debates at coffee or lunchtime.
It's safe to say 'office life' was one of the first things everyone mentions when asked what they enjoy most about Roland Berger. Naturally, the potential lack of it represented a major concern from a work life perspective at the beginning of the pandemic. However, as we became accustomed to the new reality, we looked for ways to reinvent the office spirit in a virtual environment and, in typical consulting fashion, defined and implemented a series of initiatives towards this goal :)
1. Virtual coffee sessions/ lunches
It's as simple as it sounds. Set recurring virtual meeting slots for coffee/ lunch and inevitably, a different mix of colleagues will always show up – just like it used to happen in the office kitchen. Working from home, we remain consistently in touch solely with project team-mates. Having a slightly formalized way to catch-up from time to time, with whomever is available, goes a long way towards making people feel connected to the office life again.
For the arrival of our new colleagues in October 2020, we altered the format and organized dedicated virtual lunch sessions between the joiners and one project team at a time. This way ensured our new team-mates were not overwhelmed by the number of faces (and/or voices) they would meet and of course, organizing each project team in a separate call made the usually troublesome task of aligning schedules far easier.
2. Online board game nights
As mentioned in a previous blog post, for all the camaraderie and unlimited support on display during project work, the competitive nature in us, must be regularly quenched with team-building exercises involving, in some form, a contest. Doing this remotely turned out to be easier than initially expected, as the 'fan favorite' board game night smoothly transitioned to an online format, supported by the large number of resources made freely available by the internet community since the start of the pandemic.
The concept, again, is straight-forward. The participants are grouped in two teams, which battle out across 3-5 games in an attempt to score most points, get the bragging rights and bag the prizes. Some games are 'individual', with members winning points for their teams, courtesy of their rank in the overall classification. Meanwhile others are 'team-based', with the points allocation dependent on the game. Charades, Pictionary and the RB Kick-Off-inspired TypeRacer were among the most popular and hotly contested so far, but the possibilities are endless and so is the fun and the potential for memorable tales! For Halloween, we went one step further and added a 'costume' component to the final scoring. As seen below, everyone took winning very seriously :)
3. Secret Santa (with the help of Mr. Claus himself)
For Christmas, we managed to continue one of our most beloved office traditions and run the secret gift exchange between colleagues. Moreover, to minimize the risks and maximize the Christmas spirit, we had our very own Santa taking over and delivering of in-person presents by our dear team-mate Stefan:
It goes without saying the final virtual internal meeting of the year was also among the most anticipated, with everyone taking turns to open the gifts from their Secret Santa and with the ever-growing RB kids crew also joining in with the Christmas carols.
These are the activities that worked best for us thus far, but we are looking to expand our range further in the near future. We have thought of trying a virtual escape room concept and possibly an online pop quiz, though we are still figuring out the logistics required for this. Until we can return with impressions on this 'second wave' of initiatives though, we hope the ones we shared here can also help your team and keep everyone connected until we can meet again and prepare the celebrations to mark the end of the pandemic :)