[Updated 5/10/23] Easily build employee engagement and team build during your next virtual meeting with our help. One of the difficulties of remote teams is the lack of a water cooler. A place where people can casually chat about non-work subjects while grabbing a coffee or a snack. To help fill the gap left when we all left the office for the virtual space, we began experimenting with our interactions on Slack and in our daily team huddles. Here are our teams favorite ways to help build engagement, get smiles, stay in touch, and dig deeper than the work.
Our solutions and ideas use a combination of Slack, Zapier, Zoom, and more to get smiles.
Idea 1 – The Virtual Dance Party
Our team uses Slack as our primary communication method. Once our team member Eunice introduced us all to Giphy on Slack things got way more colorful. Our CEO at FireFly Team Events created a channel called Virtual Dance Party. Anyone at Firefly can call for a dance party. Once it’s called everyone posts their best animated gif via Giphy depending on what is being celebrated. Wednesday there is a mandatory dance party. The rest of the time team members can celebrate all manner of reasons to dance from successes to recognition of failures. Everything goes in the Virtual Dance Party.
Idea 2 – Lightning Round Question Generator for Meetings
Okay, we are cheating. This one is not specific to Slack. But if you huddle on Slack this can be used during your huddle. We started asking random rapid fire questions during our morning huddles. Some mornings we choose one person to answer 3 questions (nose goes!). Or we might each answer one question. The questions are easy to answer, quick, and don’t slow down the work. They also give us a fun way to find out more about our team members. To make it easier, the team created the Rapid Fire Question Generator. Every time you click the button it pulls up a random question from our bank of questions (about 300+). You can use it at huddles, mid meeting on a break, or even sneak questions in on client calls. Please steal this and do awesome things. Click here to use the Rapid Fire Question Machine
Idea 3 – Awesome Bot
This one is a bit nerdier to get up and running and requires the use of Zapier to connect to Slack. Awesome Bot is a chat bot that picks a random team member each day to either challenge or compliment. If you are chosen for a challenge it is completely voluntary. Here are some samples of the challenges that Awesome Bot might sling your way.
- Ask @everyone in #General what you should have for dinner.
- Post the following message in General Chat: The last person to type “fluffy” in this channel is a goober
- Please tell someone on the team that they smell fabulous today.
- Share one piece of personal history with the the next team member that posts
We relied on Zapier’s Formatter to power the selection of random things needed to make this work. If you want to build your own Zap and would like to pick our brains, please reach out, we’d be happy to help.
Idea 4 – The Stoke using Workflow Builder
Workflow Builder is included with your Slack subscription and we love it. The simple explanation is that it lets you automate messaging and other processes without any code. One of the ways we utilize this is with The Stoke. Everyday at 9am a form is posted to our General Slack channel that asks, “What are you stoked about right now?” Only one team member can answer the question per day. It’s become a fun little contest to see who can answer it first. The answers are posted in a Stoke channel for the team to see and soak up the positive vibes.
We also use Workflow Builder to post our huddle link daily, remind us of our core values, etc. It’s a great tool to use with static information that you want to automate like weekly reminders. There are far more complex uses of it once you start adding some of the Slack Apps into the mix. Here’s a screen shot of this action in Slack’s Workflow Builder.
Idea 5 – Water Cooler Chats
We realized that outside of our daily huddle there was never any socialization that happened at team level, face to face. All day we chat and have fun on Slack but there is still a HUGE value to looking at someone and using your vocal chords instead of a keyboard. We instituted the random Watercooler Chats. these are a 10 minute video call hangout. The rules are:
1. Attendance is Optional
2. No work talk allowed until after the official end time.
3. Whoever scheduled is responsible for choosing the next host before the call ends. The host picks a random 10 minute slot and invites everyone.
We like to pick non-standard start times like 2:37 for the chats. Music is a huge plus (much easier to pull off on zoom). On a recent meet Paul shared out a Google Jamboard(shared whiteboard) for everyone to doodle on. The end result was a David Hasselhoff collage… no idea how we got there.. but it was epic. Team building with virtual groups doesn’t have to be elaborate. There is value in simply hanging out with your coworkers and talking about non-work topics.
Idea 6 – Non-Standard Slack Channels
We mentioned the Virtual Dance Party but we do have some other non-standard channels that boost moral and engagement. Here are some of ours to give you ideas on expanding your channels on your Slack.
- Random – exactly what it sounds like. Random memes, photos, etc get posted here and usually have nothing to do with work.
- Weekend Warrior – Post your photos or fun stuff that goes on in your life when you’re not at work.
- Screaming – The rules are you can go in this channel and scream but you aren’t allowed to rant or give context. This is just catharsis.
Idea 7 – Slack Bot
Did you know you can have Slack listen for a keyword in all the chats and post a pre-typed message to the same channel it heard the word in? At FireFly this has never been used in a manner that is productive, only for entertainment. You have to be careful though. For instance if your CEO “allegedly” makes the keyword your Sales Manager’s first name… that gets said far more often than you realize. Having a Slackbot message pop-up every time Michael is mentioned can be annoying and disruptive to critical conversations.
The cool thing about this feature is you can input a list of random messages for Slackbot to post. You could choose the phrase “job complete” and have slackbot choose a random congrats message from a list you provided anytime that phrase is typed in. To add your own slackbot message go into Workplace Settings and find Customize Your Workspace then select the Slackbot tab. Have fun! Here’s a tutorial
These are some of the ways that Firefly Team Events keep the mood light, the staff engaged, and morale up while planning awesome virtual and in person team building events. One of our core values is “Everybody Plays” and each of these ideas/tools help us live that value. If you have creative ways that you use slack or other tools to stay engaged, please share with us we’d love to hear from you. You can email James at email@example.com and nerd out.