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Alone together: 5 new ways creative agencies can connect apart

Alone together: 5 new ways creative agencies can connect apart

Posted 06th October, 2020 by Sarah

Just as it looked like some semblance of normality was about to return to the working world, plans to reopen offices up and down the UK have officially been squashed.

With the latest government advice stating that those who can should continue to work from home for up to six months, it looks like we’re all facing winter on our own.

This will no doubt come as a blow to a huge number of employers, employees and clients. Despite all the benefits of working from home, recent research from Cardiff University and the University of Southampton suggests that less than half of us enjoy it enough to want to do it full time.

Furthermore, a study carried out by Totaljobs last month found 46 per cent of UK workers have experienced loneliness while working remotely.

While there’s no quick fix to curing feelings of isolation caused by working from home, there are an increasing number of ways businesses can help their teams connect and communicate remotely.

So, if you’ve taken part in one too many Zoom quizzes and you’ve decided virtual happy hours aren’t worth the hangovers, give some of these innovative collaboration tools a go…

Play Lunch Roulette

One of the things a lot of people miss from the office is chance encounters with people they don’t work with on a daily basis.

You might not ever have a need to send a certain person an email or jump on a video call with them, but if you were in the office you’d find yourself bumping into them in the coffee queue or catching up over lunch in the canteen.

Lunch Roulette tries to recreate those moments in order to strengthen communication and enable a holistic team culture.

It’s a Slack plug-in that creates groups of randomly-selected co-workers and arranges a time for them to go for lunch. While it has been designed for real-life lunches, you can use it to organise virtual ones, too. You define the size of the group, and the clever algorithm does the rest.

Give new starters a Donut

If you work for a growing company, chances are you’ve had a few new faces join you since the office closed back in March.

If you found yourself muddling through an unplanned remote onboarding process and thought ‘there must be a better way of doing things’, there is.

Another Slack plug in, Donut makes it easy to give new starters a warm welcome. It pairs them with an “Onboarding Buddy” to help them acclimatise faster and create an instant sense of belonging.

You can also use it to set up remote job shadowing, so that team members can share their knowledge and expertise. Finally, it prompts new hires to put goal-setting sessions in their managers’ diaries.

Share feedback with Red Pen

There are a million and one different tools out there to help designers collaborate and share feedback. The problem is, a lot of them try to do so many different things that they can become unnecessarily complicated. The brains behind Red Pen wanted something simple and easy to use – so they created it.

The tool has been designed for maximum efficiency. Rather than trying to cover all elements of project management, it focuses solely on visual collaboration. You simply click somewhere on a design, and leave a comment. It’s that easy. Think of it as the virtual equivalent to someone popping over to your desk and discussing your designs on-screen.

Schedule mindfulness breaks with Headspace

At the Ignite 2020 IT Pros conference, Microsoft announced a few new features for Teams, which are being rolled out later this year and at the start of 2021. One of these aims to improve the mental health of remote workers.

As part of a new partnership with Headspace, you’ll be able to schedule mindfulness breaks and meditation sessions in your Teams calendar. Microsoft envisions these being used to help employees focus before a big presentation or de-stress after a long meeting.

For introverts, especially, this dedicated downtime can really help you to recharge and have the energy to better connect and collaborate with colleagues throughout the working day.

Recreate office chatter with Voiceroom

Six months into full-time remote working, it’s safe to say Zoom Fatigue is a very real thing. One of the reasons we find traditional video calls so draining is the fact we’re required to be “always on”. Only one person can speak at a time, and everyone else has to give them their full attention. You can’t just break out into a side conversation with the person next to you, like you often do in an office environment.

The founders of brand-new app, Voiceroom, recognised a gap in the market and launched a tool designed to make virtual interactions more realistic. Their product USP is “Spatially-aware voice chat, where your audio feed intelligently adjusts as you move around the room.”

With Voiceroom, multiple simultaneous conversations can happen in one room, and you'll be able to hear both the immediate conversation around you as well as other conversations in the background. You can flit between conversations, like you do in a real room. Check out the demo to see how it works.

Words by Samantha Shillabeer

Categories: COVID-19, Small Businesses

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