Jam sessions, corridor gossip go digital as WFH becomes new normal

Annapurani V Chennai | Updated on April 20, 2020

Online chatting

Companies repurpose tech tools to keep workforce chirpy

As employees embrace work-from-home (wfh) as the new normal, companies have started utilising video conferencing tools such as Google Hangouts, Houseparty and Skype for not just stand-up and team meetings, but also to make up for the missing corridor conversations and ‘Friday fun’ activities. The aim is to keep the workforce upbeat.

Swati Bhargava, co-founder of CashKaro, a cashback and coupons site, said, the company is planning to convert its ‘CashKaro’s Got Talent’ event that used to be conducted on its premises — where people sing, play the guitar, etc — into online jamming sessions every Friday evening. She added that they are also trying to find out what kind of online games their employees enjoy playing and are looking at introducing those, too.

“We always had Wednesday snacks at 4 pm that the company would pay for. But right now we don’t have that. So we are thinking maybe we could put a game instead and take that slot so that’ll be something that breaks the midweek monotony,” Bhargava said.

Great Learning, an ed-tech company, has introduced ‘GL TV’ over Google Hangouts, a platform for its employees to showcase their talents along with their family members.

Catching up

Hemant Vishnoi, co-founder of EnKash, a fintech company, said that they have been organising a virtual townhall every Friday evening.

“It is a general catch-up session, more like what we do over a cup of tea when we are physically present in the office. The discussion is followed by some virtual games like dumb-charades and pictionary. Every time we get to play some new game and that is the most interesting part. All of this lightens up the environment,” Vishnoi added.

Breaking the monotony

As people get accustomed to the rhythm of wfh using different tools and platforms to synchronise teams virtually and accomplish everyday tasks, companies are also doing their part to break the monotony and keep employees happy.

“When the lockdown started, the whole focus was on business. How do we bring business on track, are we going to be productive, how will we work together, how is our coordination…that phase is over,” said CashKaro’s Bhargava. “Now we are saying this is the new normal and let’s think about employee engagement in this new normal.”

From organising daily virtual tea-meets to weekly huddles for catching up on everyday little things, these firms are going the extra mile now to ensure their workforce do not miss the social element.

“It's fun laughing with each other, or sometimes even laughing at one another,” said Beerud Sheth, co-founder and CEO of Gupshup, a messaging services company. “It's amusing to hear how people are coping with forced housework such as cooking, cleaning and organising or how they dress up with gloves, masks and jackets, a little bit like a soldier, just to go grocery shopping. It's good to catch up with colleagues they haven't seen in weeks,” he added.

Published on April 20, 2020

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