9 min read
After-work or "after-office" meetings, or virtual happy hours, are important for team members to get to know each other better, build trust, and ultimately solidify themselves as a group. The atmosphere of well-being and security within the team can transfer to the workplace, enhancing productivity and collaboration.
A person will probably find it easier to ask his or her leader for help if they were playing Among Us or having a beer and laughing together the previous week. Moreover, someone might be more inclined to use an hour of their day to help a colleague overcome a technical issue that's hindering them from completing their task, in pursuit of collective objectives.
After-work gatherings are essential for building a sense of belonging and trust, and for helping to relieve stress.
In this article, we will discuss what virtual after-work events are, why they are important, and provide examples of activities that can be done so that you can play with your team.
In this article:
At XOOR, on the last Thursday of the month we have a Google Meet to welcome those who have joined the company in the last 4 weeks and play a virtual game such as tutti frutti, escape room or pictionary.
The meeting begins with a one-way ping pong to get to know the new members: where they work, who they live with, what is their place in the world or the superpower they would like to have.
Then it's time to play! Sometimes the proposal is group-based, in other cases it is individual. We constantly try to vary the modality and the playful activity to motivate and entertain the collaborators.
The after-office is full of surprises! Sometimes there are prizes for the winners of the day, and on other occasions, we share a present that the company sends to our homes, such as ice cream or a coffee with cake.
Moreover, every two weeks we hold a #SelfieFriday to get to know each other better. We provide a topic, inviting the whole team to share a picture of a current or past moment, and to tell the context of it. For example, we ask them to tell us how good cooks they are, showing us the last dish they prepared; or what their first day at school was like, along with a photo. We also use special days to propose themes: on Motherhood Day, we invite them to tell us something about their mothers; or on Childhood Day, to replicate it with their sons and daughters.
The important thing is to continually search for activities that promote mutual knowledge and fun.
“After-office” or “after-work meetings” refer to informal gatherings that take place after the workday, and represent an opportunity to relax from obligations and strengthen ties among coworkers.
For companies that work remotely, it is necessary to develop strategies for interacting and creating bonds within the team. We don't have water cooler talks, or shared lunch hours, that can help build camaraderie
That's why at XOOR, we organize various online activities designed to bring our team members together and facilitate connections beyond work hours.
After-office events are important because they allow us to release the tension of our daily routines and get to know each other on a personal level, beyond work or professional matters. There are several benefits of after-work meetings:
Improve interpersonal relationships
Increase team motivation
Generate bonds of trust
Shorten the week
When most work exchanges occur through chat, it's easy to misunderstand the tone and meaning behind messages. Without knowing our coworkers personally, we may be more prone to perceive recommendations or suggestions as orders, view a simple comment as reluctant, or interpret a late response as a lack of interest.
However, if we get to know our colleagues in relaxed environments, we can gain a better understanding of their personality, background, and communication style. It can help us learn how they behave when making jokes, under pressure, or when speaking seriously. These insights can provide us with more tools to interpret the real tone of their messages and avoid misunderstandings and friction within the team.
At XOOR, we usually try out different games to find our favorites and impress participants with new and innovative proposals. However, there are some games that have become classics and never fail to entertain.
These are 6 options for you to try with your work team:
Tutti Frutti: the classic game we used to play in high school was moved to an online version. We use the free tool StopotS because its interface is very intuitive and nice. Also because it allows you to customize categories so you can invent some related to your company. For example, in XOOR we usually use "PM/QA/Devs phrases", "technology", or "Argentinian slang". Players will validate the answers and decide which are correct and incorrect, accumulating more or fewer points. At the end, the system shows the podium with the 3 winners.
Pictionary: we love Sketchful to display our artistic skills. Although the design of the page is not so pretty, it is accessible and easy to use. The system allows you to choose levels of difficulty, number of participants, time to draw, number of rounds, and to create categories. Players have 10 seconds to choose between 3 prompts (random, or previously written) and then, the time you have set to doodle with different colors and thicknesses. As the seconds pass, the machine gives clues. Meanwhile, the rest must write the answer in the chat. Whoever guesses the fastest wins the most points. We recommend being connected through a video call to be able to interact.
The Telephone Game: Gartic, with a beautiful and intuitive UI, allows you to choose between several game modes, but they all have the same base. One of the variants invites people to draw a picture and pass it to another for a few seconds, asking them to recreate that image. The procedure is repeated with several players and then it shows the result. Another option: the system asks each participant for a phrase and then assigns it to another, asking him/her to recreate it. A third variation is the “picture consequences” or “exquisite corpse”, in which players are asked for doodles and then they are used to create a story.
Among Us: the game that became a trend in the pandemic, is one of XOOR's classics. The system randomly chooses the role of each participant: crewmate or impostor. The former will have to fulfill a series of tasks to ensure the operation of the ship and try to identify and eject impostors. While the latter will have the mission of "sabotaging" those tasks and assassinating playerscrewmates. The app is available on Google Play or Apple Store, and it is necessary to have initiated a video call to be able to interact during the game and exercise persuasion skills on the opponents. It is a game that allows us to get to know other personality aspects of our team members.
Escape Room: it offers a variety of themed escape rooms for teams to compete in solving riddles. The team that completes the challenges in the shortest time is declared the winner. There are many options available, but we prefer Srunners due to its colorful graphics and varying degrees of difficulty for each task.
Uno: we enjoy playing the classic card game Uno on the website PizzaUno, as it is easy to access and does not require any downloads. Players aim to get rid of all their cards before their opponents by matching color or number. Special cards add excitement to the game, requiring players to draw two or four additional ones, change the direction of play, or skip their turn. To enhance our gaming experience, we connect via video call to communicate with each other during play.
It is important to point out that these are the games we usually play in XOOR, but there are an infinite number of options on Internet. There are also companies that offer paid apps to entertain teams virtually.
Companies that carry out online after-work activities face a big challenge: getting people to want to spend 1 or 2 more hours in front of a digital device for a recreational activity after 8 hours of work staring at a screen.
To overcome this difficulty, at XOOR we decided to include the monthly after-office within working hours. That way, people don't have to take extra time out of their day for work issues.
However, we encountered a new problem: collaborators often prioritize productivity over leisure time, and may see playing games or participating in after-work activities as a "waste of time." That's why it's crucial to communicate to leaders the importance of virtual happy-hours for building the company culture, fostering understanding among colleagues, and creating a positive work environment.
Another obstacle we face is defining a day and time when team members can participate. Since we are a large group and work on different projects, and even with clients who have a different time zone, it is difficult to find a time that works for everyone. We noticed that Fridays are not a good choice, because people usually want to finish their tasks and start the weekend; neither is a Monday because it is usually a day full of responsibilities. Our solution is to identify two or three options of days and time when most collaborators can participate, and alternate them every month.
Lastly, when scheduling tasks and estimating time and resources, it's essential to consider that internal organization activities, such as daily meetings and feedback sessions, as well as monthly team-building events like after-work activities, are crucial for project success. Calculating them as "busy" hours can encourage team members to be more engaged in after-work activities.
If you found this article helpful, you can share it with your team and keep an eye on our blog for future updates. We'll be giving more resources to explore these topics in greater detail, as well as other topics related to technology. You can also follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube!