Looking to Forge Bonds in the Era of Remote Work? Make Time for Play

Contributing Writer

We’ve been working from home for 10 months now, and while we may have created a new sense of routine and productivity, many teams struggle to recreate the organic moments of collision between colleagues.

Conversations over coffee and check-ins in the elevator are the kinds of in-person interactions that build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. When your Zoom happy hours fall flat and the GIF threads go unread, what can you do to bring your now-remote team closer together? 


Play at work might sound counter-intuitive, but at Move This World it’s been a huge boost for creativity and for team bonding.  Although we’re physically apart, incorporating elements of play into the workday is not that hard. 

Here are some ways: 

Team check-ins through creativity — Kick off a team meeting by creating a group poem or song together. Use it as an opportunity to check in with one another and your own feelings. Pick a word or feeling and have each member add what it looks like for them today. For example, “Stress today is____” or “Happiness today is_____.” You can use a collaborative doc and invite everyone to add their line to the shared document, or you can invite participants to write their responses on a piece of paper and hold them up to the camera all at once or read them to the group one at a time. Flexing your creative muscles together is an effective way to give your team an understanding of what everyone is going through.

Dance it out — Companies are driven by goals, and while many of us send one another congratulations for hitting goals, we should also give ourselves a chance to smile, laugh, and let loose. For example, you say: “Think about your most satisfying achievement this week. If you were to invent a dance move that illustrated the feeling of that success, what would it look like? We promise, this Zoom is NOT being recorded.” Embodying the cheer of celebration with a dance move or two helps everyone share the success, validate the achievement and have a laugh together. 

Take a page out of your high school planner — Remember your high school spirit week? Choose one day a month to let everyone show their company spirit, share their cosplay get-up, or reveal their unusual hobby. You’ll be surprised at who pulls out all the stops, creates a crazy Zoom background, shows off their pet garden snake, wears all their company swag or has a secret obsession with Justin Beiber or Chinese postage stamps.

Circle of Trust — Invite folks to identify how they are feeling in that specific moment, and then to reflect that feeling through a movement or gesture. We could be feeling a variety of emotions — stress, angst, excitement, but this exercise forces us to hone in specifically on one. Each meeting participant can share how they’re feeling through their embodied expression, and then everyone else mirrors that movement back. This cultivates empathy, fires mirror neurons, and allows us to understand what each person is bringing into the meeting space.

Frozen Statues — Have a big writing project that’s daunting you? Maybe if you could have any superhero power right now, it would be the power of creativity! Have everyone reflect on a specific challenge they’re facing, and envision themselves having the superhero power that would allow them to tackle that challenge. Then make frozen statues that reflect the superhero power that would enable you to move through that challenge. Take a look on the screen and observe some of the similar superhero powers we all hope to cultivate in ourselves and one another.

Letter Writing — We all can carry self-doubt when it comes to big challenges or new opportunities. Invite colleagues to write a letter to the personification of the self-doubt in their mind that is preventing them from reaching their full potential. This is a powerful, transformative exercise that can also generate lots of laughs as our self-doubts take on their own personalities. 

Incorporating moments of play intentionally throughout the day is a great way to stay in good creative shape, maintain a solid team atmosphere and generate new ideas, perspectives and ways of thinking.

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