Having (Virtual) Fun: Our Guide to Remote Culture

Here’s how we’re staying sane and having fun from a distance

 

Here at Forager, we love a good get together. From holiday parties to team lunches, for some reason we really enjoy each other’s company at our company! We’ve had to find some fun and creative ways to stay connected (and sane) through literal isolation. Here are our favorites.

 

Company-wide Virtual Events

 

You’ve heard of virtual happy hours, but how about a virtual talent shows? We like to mix up our usual #ForagerFriday festivities by adding in new themes and activities to keep them fresh and interesting from week to week. Our favorite so far has been our virtual “talent” show where we learned how to shred on electric guitar, got a five-minute mixology class, and perused some interesting personal collections (one of which included a lot of taxidermized bugs).

 

A virtual meeting with a close up of a woman mixing a drink

 

It can be difficult to keep 40+ people engaged in a single Zoom chat, so introducing a little bit of structure here and there cuts through the noise and staves off virtual chaos. Or introduces some hilarity-ensuing virtual chaos if you play your cards right. Really the choice is yours.

 

 

Targeted Virtual Events

 

While it’s always fun to get the entire team involved in virtual events, it can be hard to get a word in edgewise when forty people with webcams and microphones all have something to say. For those looking to do more chatting and less spectating, we also host smaller, more targeted events for our team.

Recently we hosted a Wine Wednesday, complete with gift baskets and a bottle of red, where the ladies of Forager were invited to have a glass and come talk about their experiences as women in the workplace.

 

A picture of a wine and cheese basket

 

We’ve also promoted “unofficial” events organized by Foragers, like a game of Dungeons & Dragons that involved an all-clarinet cover of Despacito, and department-specific lunch and learns discussing the finer points of using Microsoft Paint in graphic design (the jury is still out on that one). We love supporting and promoting each department’s many and varied ways of staying connected, and it allows us to try out a wider variety of formats, topics, and activities!

 

 

Looping in Loved Ones

 

It can be a little tricky to do virtual happy hours if you’re sitting next to roommates, spouses and children who didn’t get an invite. So, naturally, we sent them one! The ForagerFriday +1 Happy Hour was an awesome way to loop in friends of Forager while also learning more about the Foragers we already know and love.

 

A screenshot of a virtual meeting that includes many smiling faces

 

Some people brought brothers and sisters, others pulled boyfriends and wives and a few very high-energy children into the fray! It felt like one big family reunion – minus the fights about potato salad and your drunk aunt Gertrude.

We recommended putting together custom invitations your team can easily forward via email. Not only is it fun to make custom invites (we use Canva), it’s easier to coordinate those who don’t use the same calendar app as your company.

 

Pursuing Hobbies

 

In addition to our usual slack channels about freight, freight news, and freight tech (we really like freight, okay?) we’ve created additional, smaller groups to celebrate the many hobbies and pass times our Foragers pursue after hours.

Whether it’s video games, books, pet pictures or sports – we have a channel for you to find your tribe and talk shop.

As a bonus tip, bust out Slack’s poll feature to kickstart some spirited debate guaranteed to engage the masses. As a bonus, bonus tip: use integrations with funny gif generators like giphy to make those arguments absolutely hilarious. Nothing adds to a conversation more than a well-timed gif.

 

 

Idle Chatter

 

Losing out on chatting around the coffeemaker was one of the worst blows to our daily socialization quota, so we’ve introduced a new channel to recapture the magic of shooting the breeze while filling your cup.

Our watercooler chat keeps other channels clear of random jokes/nonsense, while also providing a space where everyone has free reign to talk about anything at all! We also introduced a separate chat to talk about COVID-19 related news to prevent the main chat from being overrun. That way those who want to discuss announcements and share updates have a single, aggregated stream to reference. Similarly, those who don’t want to be inundated with coronavirus news can avoid it outright.

 

 

Home Office Upgrades

 

Gone are the good ole days of free cold brew and catered lunches, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep things cushy from home. As part of the transition to working remotely, we now provide every employee with a weekly gift card to spend on takeout. Not only does it keep our team well-fed, it helps support the local economy and the Chicago restaurants we love.

But food isn’t the only perk of working in an office. Making the leap to remote work can mean giving up top of the line equipment like ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and laser printers. To help the Forager workforce adjust, we asked every employee to tell us one thing that would make working from home better and they delivered.

 

A man smiling in front of a new standing desk

 

Not only did it boost morale (who doesn’t like getting free stuff), it also boosted productivity. It’s way easier to do work from a proper desk than from a lumpy family couch.

 

 

In Conclusion

 

There are a ton of great ways to keep your company culture alive, and this list barley even scratches the surface. If you have any excellent engagement ideas, feel free to drop us a comment below. If you take any of the ideas above and run with them, we’d love to hear how it went!

Above all stay safe, stay healthy, and try your best to stay sane.

If you’d like to join the team – we’re always hiring.