Celebrating with your team: the why and the how

Christmas and summer are usually the stars of the team event season. Why not add Halloween, Mental Health Month or Baking Day to your list of celebrations?

It makes sense to celebrate at the end of the year: you can summarize team results, make plans for the new season and dance. A Christmas party sounds completely logical. A Halloween ball or a Valentine’s Day party might seem a bit too much. But why? Every event doesn’t have to be a big gala – you can also find simple ways to celebrate with your team, with equally memorable results!

Why celebrate?

Celebration activates greater well-being in the brain. In addition to personal well-being, celebrating together also benefits the whole group: mirror neurons in the brain reflect the emotions and mood of those around us. If someone close to us practices gratitude, for example, it starts to have a positive effect on our own well-being too. Subconsciously mirroring the celebration of others, we feel the same joy ourselves. In addition to the feeling of well-being from the same good mood, mirror neurons also help us feel closer to our peers. Isn’t it good to be part of a team where you feel well-being and closeness with your colleagues?

Now that the big reason is known, you can consciously start looking for events, anniversaries and theme months with which to train the habit of celebration. Soon we will share a calendar we created, where we will highlight both well-known and curious theme days and months with ways to celebrate them!

How to celebrate?

First, think about what you want to achieve. Is it enough to create a pleasant atmosphere, do you want to achieve better cooperation, or do you want to make new plans in addition to the celebration? Sometimes the combination is beneficial, because the good energy from celebrating creates a nice vibe for setting next steps. However, celebrating is valuable on its own as well, so think carefully if it is enough, or if it is worth combining the celebration with other activities.

How do you decide whether to just celebrate or do something else? If it is, for example, birthdays or an achievement in someone’s personal life, then simply celebrate! Nothing else needed. However, if there is reason to celebrate good results in the team or in the whole organization, then it makes sense to link the celebration with setting new steps so that good results can be celebrated again soon.

What to celebrate?

For instance, on Baking Day, you could simply all meet in the office kitchen and bake something together. It doesn’t take much time or money to put some cookie dough in the oven to then decorate the results with fun faces or your team values. Or, do something good by compiling healthy recipes to send to Food Bank clients with our Recipe for Kindness.

Before Valentine’s Day, you can make cards together. Yes, just like in art class at school, but with your own approach! Instead of regular cards you could make origami animals for each other or your loved ones and write down how you appreciate their fox-like smarts or their hedgehog-like wisdom.

Halloween, however, offers the opportunity to decorate the entire office with skulls and spider webs (just make sure they’re not the real ones!) In addition, you can  increase team spirit with fun games like Quickfire Halloween or Haunted House, which we offer in both online and live versions. You can also order the skulls and other curious decorations from us!

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Neliviim-JoogarC3-1-TU7i-1024x768.jpg

And even though October is officially Mental Health Month, it’s definitely one topic you can work on year-round. To open up the mindfulness and mental health topic you can use our Wellbeing method, which invites participants to present their favorite yoga poses, create healthy recipes and write down good thoughts, so that on every random Tuesday there is a good idea to take from the team gratitude jar!

We will soon introduce the whole year’s calendar with awesome theme days and months with ideas on how to celebrate them! Keep an eye on our pages on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram! Of course, you can already start by celebrating your company’s birthday and making plans for a Christmas event. For the latter, you can get ideas from our client event in Tallinn on November 6th. We will be discussing ideas for celebrating Christmas together! You are most welcome (provided we all survive Halloween…) if Estonian is your working language. Or let us know if we should add an English event too.

How to read 44 books in 1 year

1st, be a bit curious. 2nd, let your curiousity grow as you read. 3rd, read some more. Easy-peasy! Granted, it helps to have a few ideas of which books to read. 2 books out of my 44 were fiction, 42 to were non-fiction. The previous year there was no fiction on my list and some years I have only read fiction (like the wonderful worlds of Murakami). I hope this article acts as an inspiration to pick up a book (or two) about something you are curious about!

1. Be a bit curious

Note to self: curiosity did not kill the cat! It was worry, if anything at all. So stop worrying – as that might actually kill you – and get curious! Reading a book when not interested can be hard. We all remember books we had to read for school that didn’t really speak kto us. But reading because you are curious about a topic is a whole other story (pun intended).

Another lesson from school is reading to find specific answers. This lesson is two-fold. On the one hand, it’s great to read when seeking out specific answers to questions. If the questions are too specific, however, it can make us virtually blind to any content that is not directly related to the question at hand. So be curious and keep an open mind!

My general question is “how do teams work” which opens up a lot of directions: how do individuals behave? What does good leadership look like? What makes us like some people and not others? How to stay motivated and inspire others? Having one big question and several smaller ones allows me to navigate my way through a vast landscape of books ever written while leaving me lots of options.

Having options can be paralizing, but it also brings joy knowing that I always have a choice. It helps to have my own tsundoku pile!

2. Don’t stress about the books you haven not read (yet)

An example of my tsundoku pile aka books I haven not read yet. Currently 60+ books waiting to be read and before you ask: it does not stress me out at all!

Don’t stress, but care. If you don’t care at all, it will be tough to motivate yourself to read. But stress, leave that to others (like the movers who have to transport all my books when I ever change homes!) In Japan, there is a beautiful word for the books you have bought but not read (yet) – tsundoku. For some, this connects to hording (and I guess from a certain point it might be the same), but for me it connects with joy: whenever I finish a book, I have this delightful moment of deciding where to turn my attention next.

There’s a saying that when you choose your outfit for a day, you essentially choose who you want to be that day. With books (at least the non-fiction kind I read), it might be more about who we want to become. As every book has the chance to change our thinking, our opinions, our behaviour. This is why you should also be careful with the books you read. Check the authors, check the reviews, and find your book-tribe. If a book doesn’t speak to me, I set it aside. But I pick it up again at least a few times. Why? Because with every book I read and every experience I have, I grow. Something that does not speak to me today, might speak to me tomorrow, next year or even further down the line.

3. Build a structure

Just like having bookshelves is a good way to systemize the books you own, so does structuring your day allow for more reading time. If reading is a priority, treat it accordingly. Years ago when I was deciding which path to take in life, I marked down something I wanted: to have 1 hour every day to read quality content. As part of the work day! Not a nice “light some candles, brew some tea and cozy up with a novel” kind of me time, but hardcore reading like I mean business me time to develop myself and bring new content to whatever work I do. That was before starting my own business. As I applied for a great job and mentioned this intention, I encountered some raised eyebrows and got the job!

I buy a lot of my books second hand and I always visit bookshops when travelling: like this old church converted into a bookshop that made us drive all the way up to Inverness, Scotland

Reading an hour a day may seem a lot. Or it may seem a little. It all depends on your perspective. And your perspective depends on your goals and systems. My goal is to support amazing teams becoming even more amazing and having a huge positive impact in the world. I could build a system around a single idea and never alter it until the idea goes out of style or I go out of business. Instead, I build my team development systems on iterating and growth: this means seeking out and implementing concepts from neuroscience, psychology, behavioural economics and other fields. This means adapting and adjusting to both the new info I encounter as well as the specific teams I work with. To that end, reading an hour a day is not a lot. Which is why I often read more than that.

What does my reading structure look like? I wake up and after excercising and meditating I sit down with my morning coffee and my morning book (when reading different books at once, the morning book is usually one that gets me excited and energised while the evening book might rather help me wind down and make me sleepy). Bringing reading to the start of my day prepares me for the day ahead. It also sparks my own thinking and creativity which I need to build my training programs and run them with maximum effect.

I might pick up a book again during lunch or with my afternoon coffee. In the evening, I might read again. What helps me is a general rule of not picking up my phone in the morning before I’ve had my coffee and of putting it down in the evening at least an hour before bed time. This opens up time that would otherwise likely be filled with mindless scrolling or random car videos. (This is not a typo: I am more into cars than cats!)

So build you structures for reading, find your book-tribe, and keep enjoying reading! If you’d like to join a reading club with fellow readers, reach out and let’s see if our book-tribes have enough overlap! You can reach me directly on LinkedIn, Facebook or email.

Rest in July!

July was charmingly quiet at EnterTraining. We organized 5 team events and rested a lot during other times. Fortunately, the events also took us to exciting places in Estonia, so there was no shortage of adventures!


For engaged teams changing the world


Go Team, The Big Picture


Narva-Jõesuu ja Toosikannu


Nearly 320 clients from two organizations

The main methods of this summer were also represented in July: Big picture and Go team treasure hunt. While one takes the participants to various exciting places, the other focuses on the team itself and opens up the values ​​and vision of the team or company through creativity and cooperation.

We were able to spend most of the summer in July in a wonderful place with an unparalleled sandy beach and fascinating architecture. The Enefit Power teams were able to discover them as well as the lighthouse, bathing arches and several spas during a meaningful treasure hunt. Namely, the team events took place in Narva-Jõesuu, where we were awaited by excellent summer beach weather and very great active teams.

We also had a great summer on the shore of the lake in Toosikannu, where the awesome team of Tallinna Vee put together a particularly impressive picture of the Great One! The big picture creates a good opportunity to think about the company’s values ​​and to create something truly outstanding together with colleagues, which will remain for the participants to enjoy even later: the assembled Big picture arrives at the company’s office, factory or customer office to continue to remember the charms of good cooperation and a powerful team.

And that’s it, the rest of the month we prepared the next events, but also rested. We probably went through almost the whole of Estonia!

If your team has another summer event in mind, be sure to get in touch! Of course, the Estonian summer lasts until September, so we will definitely be able to organize something nice, inclusive and useful. Send us a message right here on the website or write directly to: info@entertraining.ee

11 team events in 22 days!

In June we organised eleven team development events, from one full training day with several methods to a combination of four events over 9 days. We had adventures in Tallinn and Harjumaa, in wonderful Ida-Virumaa, and we made a quick trip to the archipelago of Southern Finland. And somehow it all fit into three weeks, so that there would be time to celebrate Midsummer – an important summer holiday in the Nordics!


For engaged teams changing the world


Human Bingo, Global Innovation Game, Go Team, Knowing Me Knowing You – Work Styes, IBuild, Networth, Chain Reaction TableTop, Beat the Box


Museum of Coastal Folk, Küla Villa Harjumaa, Pangodi South-Estonia, Alutaguse Ida-Virumaa, Kadrioru park Tallinn, Ravintola Saari Helsinki, Zoom!


nearly 560 participants from seven organizations

Awesome ones were invented in the Innovation Club

We had our 1st event in June on June 1st with the youthful team of Postimees Group in Viimsi. To start off the training event, the participants got to know each other’s interests, hobbies and fun childhood stories during Team Human Bingo. Next, ways of working with their differences and similarities were uncovered using the Workstyles method. We then discussed the possibility and necessity of innovation in a strong team while playing the Global Innovation Game. The training day ended with an adventurous treasure hunt in Viimsi to get to know local stories and test the teams’ collaboration skills.

June continued with online events: we supported the “Work In Tech” project run by Smartwork in Estonia by introducing participants to the etiquette of screen presence. As large parts of work and communication has moved online, we often have to present ourselves and our ideas on screen, both when applying for a job and when already at work. Therefore, it is worth thinking about how we are seen and what impressions we leave, as well as what others see and hear through the screen. We are especially happy for the encouraging feedback, such as Karin’s comment after the event: “Very good presentation of the topic and a great speaker. It was a joy to listen to everything. Very good energy! :)”


Inventive visual solutions. Photo: Raul Mee

This good energy continued, and we were able to introduce two new methods of team development at two very inspiring meetings! First of all, we used visual storytelling at Estonia’s first HR inspiration festival, where the participants could use visuals to present their journey so far and jointly create a vision of the future, where everything runs so smoothly that HR people can just rest under a palm tree. While this seemed like an impossible mission for some teams, some participants found creative ways to reduce their own roles. The new leadership generation is really here!

HR people solving tangram puzzles

Then, celebrating the end of the PARE season in the beautiful Kadriori Park, we tested our ability to think differently by solving tangram puzzles and creating completely new perspectives! Tangram gives a wonderful opportunity to think both divergently and convergently. If convergent thinking helps us solve tasks with one correct answer, divergent thinking can be more useful when solving problems in everyday life. In the case of the latter, there may not be a single right answer. By creating different connections and looking at the question from several angles, unique and inventive ideas emerge. A tangram puzzle allows for both kinds onf thinking: the pieces can be assembled back into the square from which they were cut, or used to create an image of a cat, submarine or a colleague instead. A fun brainstorming session that’s perfect for ending the event season in PARE as well as starting a brainstorming session at your next strategy meeting!

We helped the bullying-free school team integrate a new team member and prepare the whole team for the summer. Our own Networth method helped emphasize the value of quality contacts and mutual understanding in team communication contexts. To promote communication, we continued with one of our favorite methods from our good colleagues in Switzerland: ibuild.

A great little ferry ride with suitcases and the team down to the side of Helsinki to the island where the Saari restaurant spreads out with amazing sea and city views.

We also had the great privilege to help out our Finnish colleagues with a nice Beat the Box game in a cool restaurant located on a tiny island next to Helsinki. While a large ferry is a frequent means of transport for trips back and forth, this tiny ferry was quite a unique ride! Among our favourite Catalyst teambuilding activities, Beat the Box is definitely in top three when it is important to create a sense of collaboration and belonging in the team and reduce competitiveness.

While there was a lot of travelling in June, we most fequently visited Alutaguse sports and recreation centre in Ida-Virumaa. If the team is large and not everyone can get together at the same time, it may happen that different sections of the team gather for a similar event as many as four times! This is exactly what we did for the Enefit Power team at Alutaguse: on one rainy day, we created a fun Chain Reaction, and three sunny days took us out on an engaging Go Team treasure hunt, where, in addition to exciting thought exercises, participants could find a local tree dog and learn about adventure trails and disc golf in the area. Not to mention the team getting to know each other better.

If you are still thinking of getting your team together for an event, get in touch! There are ideas for inspiration here, as well as on our seasonal events page. Or reach out directly at info@entertraining.ee to start putting a plan in place. Summer here lasts until September!

Goodbye April, Hello May!


for engaged teams changing the world


Orchestrate, hackathon for developing team culture, Haunted House Online, Ibuild, Beat the Box, Focus managment


Tallinn, Narva-Jõesuu, Helsingi, Tartu


nearly 280 participants from six organizations

Teamwork like symphony

We have over 200 different methods for live, online and hybrid events. And there is only one Orchestrate. There are team development solutions that have a wow effect and those that bring long-term benefits. Then are those that are a complete pleasure to carry out and those that are a project management master class. All this is combined in Orchestrate: one of our highlights in May!

Sometimes a client comes to us with a very clear wish. Having a musical background, the representative of the ALSO team knew that Orchestrate was the one and only method for them. Fortunately, both while planning and experiencing it all with their team! In just a few hours, each participant learned to play the violin, viola, cello, trombone or percussions to perform a real masterpiece together. The result was truly impressive! With such an experience behind them, any future challenge will seem less daunting.

Working together

We had another challenge in May: one day, two events in different countries. Fortunately, we already had collaborators for one of them: if Estonian, English and Finnish are everyday languages in the EnterTraining team, events in Russian allow us to cooperate with good partners from our great network. People really are the best part of our job: the teams we can support, our own EnterTrainers and the network we can work with!

Culture hacking

It is especially exciting to work with teams that are highly motivated. We are grateful to our long-term partner, Hype, who invited Tiina-Katrina to mentor LHV’s corporate culture hackathon. Such bursts of inspiration, fresh ideas and passionate people are not commonplace, but we saw a lot of the above in two days!

A ghostly Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th worked out well at EnterTraining: we gathered Katana’s global team in a virtual haunted house, from which only the most determined teams escaped. Fortunately, it was a particularly fierce group, so no one was harmed during their ghostly tour and everyone escaped the haunted house to keep moving towards their goals.

Staying focused

We finished May in Lake Peipsi. Yes, in a lake! Tiina-Katrina had a chance to conduct a focus management workshop for Enterprise Estonia in a room in their Tartu office called Lake Peipsi. Of course a dip in the actual lake was in order later on. While nordic swimming helps some of us stay focused, in the workshop we discussed less extreme options like goal setting and taming our monkey brains.

Of course, in addition to the ongoing events, we also need to prepare the following ones, so we planned and organized our June events as well. But more about them in the next overview! Meanwhile, enjoy your summer and if there are any team events that still need planning, check out our seasonal page for inspiration.

One month, 3 EnterTrainers, 8 team events

April 2022 was an exciting month for EnterTraining. It has been a few years since we had many more live events than virtual ones in a month. Clearly spring is finally on its way to Estonia and the pandemic is beginning to recede. Here is a little overview of the methods, combinations, collaboration, and also some mishaps from April. If you are planning events for the upcoming months, get in touch and let’s discuss how to make it truly memorable. Team development workshops can really make a difference. We all deserve some entertraining!


for engaged teams changing the world


team development sessions Virtual Global Innovation Game, Team Human Bingo, Wellbeing, FreshBiz, Beat the Box, Go Team and workshops on Focus Management and Motivation


a virtual event in Switzerland and Brazil, physical events in Hamina, Finland and in Narva, Tallinn and Laitse in Estonia


Changing perspectives can help discover new aspects about team mates!

nearly 250 participants from 8 organizations

For some events a combination of several methods works best. For the OP Corporate Bank team day, we combined Human Bingo and Wellbeing methods into one smooth combo. PS! Wellbeing which is built as an online event, was run fully live as a GPS-based activity for the first time in Estonia (and probably even in the world). Using the Go Team app in tablets, we guided teams from downtown Tallinn to the Telliskivi Creative City. All the way, participants made choices on which topic to focus on and only found out their final destination once there. In a cozy yoga studio we continued with a great Human Bingo session which introduced fun facts and stories about team members while bringing out some unexpected creativity and skills!

Another Human Bingo took place shortly in Narva Fortress with the international team of Fortaco. As the team met for the first time that day to kick off a cooperation project, building strong ties by sharing stories and laughing together was just the right fit. Since 4 events (!) were planned for that day in EnterTraining (and one of us was out with a spot of food poisoning…), we were especially happy to be a part of a great network of team development experts to collaborate with. Just like we use Human Bingo to connect and engage event participants and team members, we connected and learned a lot from each other as well.

While our great network offered help when we needed it, so could Tiina-Katrina help out partners at two different events in April. She was invited to a virtual Austrian-Brazilian joint event to talk about everyday innovation and to facilitate one of our favorite methods, the virtual Global Innovation Game. In Finland, however, we ran an engaging live Go Team Treasure Hunt based in a lovely little town of Hamina. While helping our partners create the activity, we learned a lot about the place ourselves. Did you know that Finland’s largest flag is waving in Hamina? And it really is a big one! Discovering new places is a great side effect of creating any new Go Team track. Did you know you can ask us to build a fun treasure hunt anywhere? We are just building the next one in Viimsi.

Need to move a mountain? Start with a great team!

Sometime, things do not go as planned. Sometimes, working remotely can have its challenges. Alas, so can working in close quarters! In April, we were preparing for an event that was postponed due to Covid. With three people working from different locations, it was quite last minute that we realised a bit of a challenge to overcome. Overcome it we did, and thanks to a generous buffer we plan into our schedules, everything was arranged on time. Beat the Box got a team working on a tight timeline as well so we were all on the same page.

In order for each event to run ever more smoothly and to have more knowledge and skills to share, Tiina-Katrina went to school again. After exciting discussions with the lecturers and fellow students from very diverse backgrounds, a course on Coaching Principles in Change Management has been completed. Now, the next changes are once again a more exciting challenge, as there is new knowledge to test and apply. This will surely be the focus for May 2022 – trying out our new know-how in how we work.

Although our work can be quite challenging, it is also a joy. Especially with such wonderful people involved: our team, our clients, our partners. Because of who you are, we keep striving to be better! Sometimes it means listening more, sometimes speaking up. A conversation is where it all begins. So do get in touch. With over 200 solutions in our toolbox, we can draw on the experience of our favorite solutions as well as discover new and exciting ways to enrich events and create truly engaging experiences. All you have to do is tell us what’s on your mind!

Rest: why and how

As the holiday season is upon us, it is a good time to talk about rest. In order to make it count, it is wise to be deliberate about our holidays and breaks. If a full-on holiday is out of reach, the same ideas can be applied to a night off.

1. Why rest


After an intense workout or a physically demanding day, we mostly realise the power of quality rest. Somehow the value of resting diminishes when our work shifts more into the white collar mode. After all, who needs rest after just thinking, talking and typing all day? Obviously we all do! While physical strain makes our bodies so tired that our brains slow down quite voluntarily, it might be a whole other challenge to switch off from work mode when most of our work happens in those very same brains. Just like giving your body time to recover, our brains need time to recoup as well.

Being deliberate about our resting time becomes ever more important when work seems to be omnipresent. Being able to switch off from work and make your holidays and breaks count has become especially important during remote work and working from home. The wonderful thing about deliberate rest is that it is a skill like any other. Why is that great? It means we can learn it, practice it and perfect it as we experiment with different kinds of rest. 

2. How to rest

So how do we hone our resting skills? You’ve made a great start – by thinking and reading about it you have already opened doors in your brain. Now, keep reading to decide what you let through those doors and what info you will act upon. You can also pick up a book about it or invite us to help your team approach rest more deliberately. Here are some tips to get you started.

2.1 Rest mindfully

Mindfulness is spreading like wildfire through the western world and with good reason. Being mindful of what you are doing brings your attention more fully to it allowing you to enjoy it more fully as well. This applies to your holidays and evenings just the same. If you rest mindfully, you get more out of it. Pay attention to moments of rest: being bored can be a wonderfully rewarding thing! Just let yourself be. Whether it’s waiting for the light to change, coffee to brew or date to show up, enjoy these microbreaks. Leave your phone behind and your hands free for a while and just breathe in the sensations, thoughts and movements that appear. If you manage a proper holiday, really switch off from work and focus on the holiday and the activities it involves.

2.2 Rest actively

A distinction is made between active and passive rest. The first implies true involvement while the second allows very low levels of engagement. Perhaps surprisingly it is the first kind that really counts. Passively scrolling through social media or the news has a higher likelihood of increasing anxiety and stress than bringing relief against the very same culprits. Being actively involved in your holiday may sound obvious, but is not always the case when we consider our evenings on the couch. Choosing activities that keep you engaged will allow your brain to stop focusing on anything work related. Meet friends, read books, visit events – do things you enjoy and let them truly occupy your mind.

2.3 Plan ahead

There is something incredibly satisfying in waiting for a well planned ahead holiday. By planning ahead, you don’t have to have every detail down. You might not even know most of what you’re going to do. But even if you have an idea for an outline of a holiday, you can enjoy the wait

2.4 Switch off

Switch off from work and switch off from devices. To truly rest, work thoughts should be kept to a minimum. A difficult way to do it is by checking your emails every time you get bored. An easier way to switch off from work is to also switch off from devices. Having a separate device for your travel and holiday related things could help – I use my kid’s tablet! This is also the only device I manage to read e-books on. No emails, no calls, no work. If you still use your work devices, at least switch off all notifications. And, once you get back to work, keep them off! Decide on a time you check your emails or social media and don’t let notifications from any of these run your life. Own your holiday, make the most of your micro breaks and you will come back with more energy and fuller batteries.

Support your team working remotely

Remote work is a double-edged sword. It can bring a wonderful boost in productivity, but it can also drain us of energy. Being a part of or even in charge of a remote team brings with it its own unique set of challenges. How do we know who is working on what? How do we avoid burn-out? And how to balance it all? Here are few tips from a remote worker with 15 years of experience!

1. Where are you going?

I am sure you know the saying from Alice in Wonderland that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Henry Kissinger added even a better ending: …every road will take you nowhere! Being on the move might feel fun for a while, but it tends to wear us down if we are not quite sure of our destination.

It might feel tempting to blame the pandemic for our inability to set clear goals, but let’s consider what has changed in terms of goal setting. Did we ever know what was going to happen tomorrow? We might have felt more confident in our projections, but we never truly knew. If we take that as a baseline for usual goal setting, it takes the pressure of the current situation! So, we do not know which way the situation will unfold – consider a few scenarios and plan for those. If the situation changes adjust the process or the goal itself.

Try thinking from big to small. What is the vision of your organisation? What is your team’s role in reaching that vision? And what results should you reach by the end of 2021? From there, keep distilling the smaller goals until you are all clear of where you should get to by the end of next week! Once these start falling into place, the next logical step is to check the frameworks you have in place to support reaching your goals.

2. Set your play-area

Photo from Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

A study was conducted by landscape architects about how kids play in different play areas. If there was a fence around the playground, kids would use up all the space and climb on the fence effectively testing their boundaries. If, however, there was no fence, the kids would huddle up and only play in the centre of the area. Without clear boundaries, they would feel unsafe and unsure of how far from the group they could safely venture. 

A similar often subconscious behaviour is common to all of us. If we lack clarity on where we are going and what are the frameworks we can safely operate in, fear takes over. And once fear settles in, there is little hope for great creativity and collaboration – keywords for knowledge work we are mostly involved in these days.

Having clear working hours and an office to commute to has provided us with these much-needed boundaries so far. Work used to be mostly confined to the workplace. Now, working remotely, we are always at work. Unless we set ourselves and our teams some frameworks, that is! A great place to start is with boundaries for communication. Remember, we can’t always be on.

3. Connect!

I have divided this section into two “ions”: communication and emotion. In the first half, the focus is on actual communication practices and in the other, rather on the emotional reasons for effective communication. Let us start off with a term that all remote workers (should) know by now: asynchronous communication.

Communication: Synchronous vs Asynchronous

When you walk into your colleague’s office or call them on the phone, that is synchronous communication. It happens between people in real time. If we are both online and merrily typing away in any messaging app, it is also synchronous as it happens at the same time. If you then leave your device to go make coffee, it stops being synchronous as I am still engaged in the conversation while you are not. The same applies to emails, voicemails and written notes that are not written and read or recorded and heard at the same time. These are examples of asynchronous communication.

There is a case to be made for both types of communication. What is crucial, is understanding the benefits and pitfalls of both. It might seem like a wonderful thing for a manager to be able to shout out a question in the open office and get quick feedback from everyone there. Time spent by the manager is perhaps a few minutes so if the overview of the answers is the most crucial thing for the company at that time, then it is surely their time well spent. For everyone else though, this 2-minute disruption might mean up to an hour of lost time trying to get back on track with what they were previously working on. Instead, an online poll with a clear timeline sent to everyone’s email might have done the trick without disrupting the whole staff.

Agree upon a communication structure

For any kind of communication to work effectively, clear goals and commonly agreed upon frameworks are needed. If you skipped over the first two chapters of this article, go have a look at them now. If you have followed along, this is where you tie it all together. Sit down with your team (this is a metaphor and can also take the shape of a virtual walking meeting) and decide which communication channels you will use for which goal. Agree upon a structure. For example, sharing pictures of cute cats (or cool old cars) to boost good emotions should happen asynchronously. Use a separate Slack channel or Messenger group. Remember to snooze notifications for things like that! (And invite me to the group if you do set one up for old car pictures!) For going over important team decisions, a meeting in real time would be best.

Even if your team works in different time zones, create time to work together in real time. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of Basecamp have devoted a paragraph on this in their timely book from 2013, “Remote – Office Not Required”. 

“Thankfully, there are lots of enjoyable work-life schedules outside the regular 9am to 5pm. Embrace that. Ironically, you’ll probably get far more done when only half of your workday overlaps with the rest of your team. Instead of spending the entire day dealing with Urgent!!! emails and disruptive phone calls, you’ll have the entire start (or end) of the day to yourself.”

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, 2013

Emotion: why we communicate

Now, once the structures around communication are in place, let us look at one of the reasons for communicating with team members at all: emotion. Whether we are introverts, extroverts, or ambiverts, we all need some time spent with other people. The duration and the intensity might vary, but we are all need to feel as part of a community. Your team can be a great source of positive emotions if you allow space for it. 

Having a voluntary coffee morning or informal virtual lunch once a week might be just what is needed to vent, celebrate successes, and connect as human beings discussing weekend plans, the joys of home schooling or your cooking experiments. Adding some well-designed team development activities, self-development workshops or peer-learning sessions can elevate the emotional connection even further. If done well, these experiences build trust and enhance collaboration, which are hallmarks of a strong team culture. With a strong team, your goals become far more attainable! So, come together, set those goals and frameworks, and connect meaningfully to build a successful remote team. And reach out if you think we can help!