Zoom yoga, Netflix parties and doughnut meetings: 10 ways Aussie businesses looked after their remote teams this year

Cynch Security

Cynch Security founders Susie Jones and Adam Selwood. Source: supplied.

Businesses overcame profound changes this year using creativity and ingenuity, with many industries shifting to remote work without losing sight of the wellbeing of their teams.

Arguably, the most originality happened on Zoom, where morning meetings turned into wellbeing check-ins and teams enjoyed virtual drinks and yoga sessions.

But the inventiveness did not stop there.

Businesses shortlisted in the People category of SmartCompany’s 2020 Resilience Awards developed a host of creative ways to take care of their employees as national and state-wide coronavirus health restrictions played out.

Here are 10 ways these businesses took care of their employees this year.

Zoom check-in meetings

For businesses whose staff were living under lockdown, Zoom meetings became a way to check-in with their teams on a personal level.

Melbourne-based cybersecurity company Cynch Security used its daily video meetings to check-in with everyone’s mood.

“Every call starts with everyone rating how they’re feeling that day out of 10. When the number is low, we know that person may need extra support,” Cynch co-founder Susie Jones told SmartCompany.

Flexible work hours

In 2020, the concept of ‘flexible working hours’ took on a whole new meaning, transforming the traditional eight-hour work day.

Working parents with home schooling commitments at Versa Agency and Work Healthy Australia could choose to reduce their hours or work into the night if they needed to spend parts of the day with their children.

“We supported those with families by providing flexible work hours and continued our four-day working week initiative from the physical office into the remote working world,” Versa Agency owner Kath Blackham explained.

Versa Agency

Versa Agency founder Kath Blackham. Source: supplied.

Food deliveries and care packages

With pizza Fridays no longer an in-office option, some businesses kept food flowing by ordering goodies from delivery services.

From weekly breakfast deliveries to care packages of chocolates and cheese, there were plenty of options.

Businesses even timed food deliveries with social events so staff could eat while playing trivia — or in some cases drink a miniature bottle of champagne.

Awards and prizes

To boost morale, some of the shortlisted businesses gave out awards to celebrate outstanding performance and cooperation among employees.

Communications agency Versa created the ingenious ‘Taco Awards’ whereby employees could give up to five virtual tacos a day to their colleagues.

At the end of the week, whoever had won the highest number of tacos got to spin the ‘Taco Wheel’ for a prize.

Buddy programs

For businesses onboarding staff remotely, Zoom breakout rooms and virtual exercise sessions were a way for new employees to get to know each other and stay healthy.

Buy-now pay-later operator Payright implemented ‘ClubPR’, which saw each team member randomly assigned with a colleague to catch up virtually to chat, walk and run during the national lockdown.

“Collectively, the team travelled 5,000 kilometres and loved cheering each other along in Strava,” Payright co-owner Piers Redward told SmartCompany.

Payright

Payright co-founders Myles Redward and Piers Redward. Source: supplied.

Zoom yoga

Corporate yoga had its virtual debut this year, with some businesses using online yoga sessions to further support the wellbeing of their remote teams.

Versa Agency owner Kath Blackham said Zoom yoga allowed her team to “clear and reset” their minds.

Virtual drinks

Farewell parties and casual Friday drinks also shifted online, allowing teams to make up for not being able to meet in person.

Victorian-based Work Healthy Australia, which won the People’s category in SmartCompany’s Resilience Awards, combined the occasional virtual drink night with interactive games.

Work Healthy Australia

Work Healthy Australia founder Dr James Murray. Source: supplied.

Netflix parties

Employees who missed the latest episode of Tiger King or Ozark on Netflix were able to catch up at work Netflix parties.

Instead of leaving their staff to watch television alone under lockdown, businesses like Versa Agency made the most of the Netflix Party extension, which allows multiple viewers to simultaneously stream programs.

Wellness and counselling

The businesses on our Resilience Awards shortlist also adopted new wellness and counselling services for their employees to help them manage their wellbeing while living under public health restrictions, or in the case of Victoria, multiple lockdowns.

Melbourne-based Payright established an employee assistance program that provided online counselling to staff members and their families.

Doughnut meetings

Finally, these businesses also found new ways to foster for social conversation, after chats by the microwave and watercooler were no longer part of a regular working day.

Social media company Linktree ran virtual ‘doughnut meetings’ so that two staff from different teams could chat about things unrelated to work.

Linktree

Linktree co-founders Alex Zaccaria, Anthony Zaccaria and Nick Humphreys. Source: supplied.

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