As with many companies, at Tooploox during the COVID pandemic, we’ve decided to #stayathome and completely switch over to remote work. Fortunately, it hasn’t been a problem for us, because we already have a lot of experience in working remotely. But not every company is in such a good place.
The Global Workplace Analytics mentions that in 2018 only 3.6% of the employees in the USA worked at home for half-time or more, and 43% of workers did their job remotely sometimes. But about 56% of the workforce in 2020 could work from home and 80% of all employees in the US want to work from home at least some of the time.
We are lucky that for seven years Tooploox has provided support for every employee who’s wanted to work off-site – either full or part-time, as well as provided remote teams for our clients. So yes, we are really good at remote work, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be better or that this situation is perfectly comfortable for all of us. It still isn’t. Mainly because we just love to spend time together and we seriously miss each person from our office.
Online Social Interactions Examples
Tooploox, as a company, attaches great importance to the relationships between its employees. We really care about how people feel in their teams. “Social interaction at work” is not only an empty phrase or KPI for HR. Plooxies (this is the name we give ourselves) love spending time together and they create a lot of internal initiatives.
So how do people at Tooploox – who view office life as more than just workspace and people who they work with as more than just coworkers – handle a situation when they can only meet their friends online?
Every Plooxies calendar has started to show 10-minute slots for coffee meetings with their coworkers – just to see each other and talk for a while, and not just about work. But when people work in the office they often don’t plan coffee, sometimes they just want to go to the kitchen, grab a mug and chat with somebody. And this is also possible in a remote environment!
At Tooploox we use the application Mirror – an employee can just click a link and join to hang out and, as in a real-life kitchen, might meet someone there. Some teams have also started to use the Donut app, which randomly shuffles coffee companions. It pairs those who have expressed an interest in a meeting and finds time for coffee and a chat in their calendars.
Eat, Share, Like
Eating together is an important element of Tooploox’s work life. We often eat big breakfasts in a common kitchen and every Wednesday we have Lunch&Learn – initiative during which we order food and then share not only time, while we eat it, but also our knowledge. One Plooxie gives us a prepared talk about her or his work interests and then we can discuss it in an informal way – like with friends in a restaurant.
We don’t want to lose it simply due to remote work. Our Slack channel, which was previously used to order food, during the lockdown looked like a platform with recipes – as Plooxies shared their ideas for food and photos. And we still meet online to share knowledge, and some of us often eat during these calls, to continue the tradition!
But Tooploox employees not only love to eat but also love to help. We organized internal fundraising to buy meals for hospital staff. Together with our local restaurant, we funded 150 dinners!
Hobbies in the Office. Without an Office
In Tooplox we are not coworkers, we are friends and we spend a lot of time together even after work. In a remote situation, we had combined technology and social interactions, and with this help found a way to share our hobbies online.
Unfortunately, we still can’t sit together in our office, watching movies on the big screen and eating popcorn, but we can discuss films. The organizer of our film club chooses some movies from various streaming platforms and shares the list on our Slack channel. Thanks to that, we can still chat about movies and share our reactions.
Dungeons & Dragons
At Tooploox we have a few fellowships which face dangerous monsters between coffee and coding. And as most RPG fans know “you must gather your party before venturing forth,” so naturally these daredevils can’t continue their adventures alone. They’ve decided to switch their meetings to online platforms, where they can see and hear each other, thanks to which they not only meet friends online, but also improve their team building, English language, leadership, and problem-solving skills.
Many employees at Tooploox like to spend time on crafting handmade things – baking, knitting, sewing. You may think you can do this alone, but it’s so much more fun to do it together. That’s why, on our slack channels, Plooxies can share their inspirations and progress on their personal projects.
Culture & Entertainment
As much as we love spending time together, we love good entertainment! On company Slack we’ve created a channel where we share information and discuss remote cultural events (streamings from museums or galleries, performances or concert broadcasts, online workshops, etc.)
In the past, some people thought the effect of technology on social relationships would be catastrophic – that because of computers, we will be social withdrawal and more alone. But in the time we have to keep social distancing, the internet is the thing which makes us close to each other.
During the pandemic it is easy to feel stressed and lonely, that’s why it is so important to try to keep to all our daily activities, even if their form is a little bit different. For us, at Tooploox, the most natural thing is to be together, so all the initiatives mentioned in this article are crucial for our mental health, mood but also efficiency. We’ve all worked in IT for years, but now the positive effects of technology are even more clear to us!