BENGALURU: As work from home becomes the new normal, city-based companies are looking at ways to reinvent employee engagement. Many are hosting virtual activities involving music, comedy and fitness. According to Tina Garg, the CEO of the design and communication agency, Pink Lemonade, the idea is to bring back something that’s missed the most by professionals: Water-cooler moments.
The company has now ramped up its culture of incorporating fun into its work structure to a daily one-hour occurrence, from their previous monthly routine. “We have conducted breathing exercises, a zumba and bhangra workshop, tambola evenings and concerts by in-house artistes. We are organising fun activities that would appeal to everyone,” explains Garg.
Anmol Baid, who works with the digital agency, FoxyMoron, says such initiatives have been keeping her spirits high. The 25-year-old recently took part in a virtual zumba session organised by her company. “For someone who is not from the city, you tend to miss your colleagues a lot,” she says. “The session had about 180 of us and it’s fun to participate in a dance fitness routine with your account director and business head,” she adds.
Agrees Garg, who says she now sees her team in new light. One of the activities conducted by them was titled ‘Life In Focus’ and required employees to send a picture on their WhatsApp group about what life at home was like. The result was 50-60 photographs of team members’ pets, their makeshift dining room office, flatmates, or cooking. “It was an overwhelming experience to get this window into their lives, showing how unique each of us is,” says Garg.
According to Tanima Dhawan, HR director at FoxyMoron, about 80 per cent of their total workforce has turned up for their Friday sessions. Some events aren’t limited to the company’s employees, but extend to their family as well. For instance, Khushboo Ahuja Mehta took part in her company’s online zumba session with her husband, who works for a different firm. “His company doesn’t have any activities, so he danced alongside me. Another colleague had her child with her,” says the key account strategist at Pink Lemonade.
Some firms like Schbang are getting together employees on Sundays. “We usually take part in pub quizzes together. This time, we conducted a Harry Potter and Friends themed quiz through a video call. We will vote for a new show for next Sunday,” says Hitika Chandan, a creative strategist at the company. She adds, “At least I have something to look forward to during the weekends now. Sundays are more special.”
A new reconnect ion
Leading tech firm are turning towards online stress-busting initiatives too. Sachin Sethi, the India channel leader for services sales at Dell Technologies, has conducted two virtual happy hour sessions, wherein his team got their own beverage and snacks, and discussed non-work related matters to unwind. The video call had team members from Mumbai and Gurugram, along with Sethi’s senior director from Chennai and manager from Singapore, join in. “Earlier, we met in person once in six months. We’re trying to do things differently now. Unlearning and learning new ways of working is the mantra now,” he adds.