If you’re like millions of other Americans right now, you may find yourself working from home for the first time. While many people are settling into their new reality, it can still be difficult to stay connected as a team. Everyone is dealing with their own unique stressors. Maybe your team members are trying to homeschool their kids. They may have spouses or partners who are out of work. Perhaps they’ve been sick themselves or know someone who has. Our new normal is anything but, and as we all try to navigate this difficult time, it’s important to remember that staying connected with people is vital.

Whether you’ve always been part of a remote team or are doing this for the first time, we’ve come up with a list of ideas that you can use to keep up your team’s morale (as well as your own)!

Netflix Parties

The InventoryLab team has been utilizing Netflix parties as a really fun way to connect after hours. We vote on a variety of different movies and figure out a day and time that works for the majority of the team. It’s super easy and a great distraction to look forward to every week!

To add Netflix Party to your laptop or desktop browser, go to Netflixparty.com and click on Install Netflix Party at the top right of the page. It’s that simple!

Once the extension has been added to your browser, you’ll see NP at the top of your screen near the address bar.

Designate a person on your team to run the party. At the agreed upon date and time, that person can sign into their Netflix account, cue up the movie, and click the NP icon. A URL link will appear that they can send to anyone they want to invite to the viewing. Once the invitees click the URL, it will bring them directly to Netflix. After signing into their own accounts, they can then click NP at the top of the screen and it will automatically add them to the party! From there, everyone can not only watch the movie together, they can make comments with the chat feature provided.

Just Remember…..

A few things to keep in mind if you choose to have a Netflix Party:

Know your employees. Don’t choose any movies that you think would offend or upset anyone. If you aren’t sure, just ask. It’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Be flexible. Remember that everyone’s personal lives and schedules are different now. Try to choose a date and time that works for the majority. You may not be able to please everyone, but a good option is to do what we do. Give your team a choice of movies AND dates and times. You’ll likely find out pretty quickly which days of the week and times of day are going to work best most of the time.

Keep it fun. Be sure to emphasize that after-hours activities like this are strictly for fun and completely voluntary. No employee should feel pressured to participate. If they do it defeats the purpose of boosting your team’s morale!

Regular Video Meetings and Hangouts

There are currently a lot of options for virtual hangouts. Some of the most popular are Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting, and FreeConference. Virtual meetings are a great way for teams to connect “face to face” while social distancing. It not only allows a team to catch up about work issues but also personal updates. It’s also a way for everyone to share experiences and stories about social distancing so that no one feels so isolated or alone in this.

Share More

If your team communicates using team/project software such as Basecamp 3, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Drive, Trello, etc., you already know that you can share a lot of information in one place. Create a project for your team to share photos or videos of themselves or their families (pets included)! Ask them to post uplifting or inspiring news stories. Encourage everyone to share their tips for staying grounded and less stressed during a difficult time.

For a great pick-me-up, check out John Krasinski’s web show SGN (Some Good News). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you might even see something amazing (spoiler: it involves the entire original Broadway cast of Hamilton).

Encourage Mindfulness

At InventoryLab, we were each gifted a year subscription to the mindfulness app Calm. The app itself is free, however, the subscription provides full and unlimited access to their library of resources.  Calm offers daily meditations, stories, advice on reducing stress levels and getting more restful sleep, and overall improving mental wellness.

You can also tell your team about some great free apps that are available such as Headspace, Aura, Stop, Breathe, & Think, and Insight Timer.

Donate As a Team

Looking to make some kind of contribution to healthcare workers, first responders, or the less fortunate in your communities? Make a donation in your team’s name to the following organizations:

Covid-19 Response Fund – Created by the United Nations Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, the Covid-19 Response Fund supports the WHO (World Health Organization) in their global effort to assist at-risk countries and provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), testing and vaccine development, and track the virus.

CDC Foundation – Created by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this foundation’s purpose is to give to local health departments, global response efforts, provide protective gear for medical workers, and general response.

Feeding America – According to their website, Feeding America is “committed to serving communities and individuals facing hunger across America, wherever they are. Every dollar raised from the COVID-19 response fund will be used to get food and funds to local food banks across the U.S.”

No Kid Hungry – Many kids in the US rely on their schools for several meals a day. With schools being closed nationwide, No Kid Hungry makes sure that kids still have access to free meals by providing grants to local food banks. They also communicate with families to let them know where they can find hot meals for their children until schools are reopened.

You can also donate to your local food banks, churches, and homeless shelters. Be sure to contact any organization first to find out if they’re accepting donations and what protective measures they currently have in place.

Have another charity or organization in mind but not sure if they’re a good choice for your company? Check with watchdogs Charity Navigator or CharityWatch to see if they’ve been vetted.

We hope you and your team are able to use this information to have a little fun while social distancing. But above all, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay informed!