5 fun ways to fire up remote teams

We’re reaching the one-year mark since we had been made to make money working from home (WFH). With the adrenaline carrying off and far of the world nonetheless locked down, 2021 would be the 12 months we kick into cruise management. As enterprise leaders, now we have a accountability to cease staff from despairing, hitting partitions, and falling into isolation. 

Injecting fun into your office as we construct a brand new 12 months—and a brand new narrative—is an efficient adhesive to cease teams drifting aside, and to remind them that we nonetheless haven’t misplaced that sense of unity. We don’t simply have fun for fun’s sake. Artistic methods are identified to unlock dormant components of our brains and allow our greatest interactions and concepts.

The preliminary productiveness enhance from WFH is giving way to exhaustion, and the extra drained we’re, the much less we’re in a position to nourish our social self. With much less watercooler interplay, innovation is stifled. Nearly (*5*) discover it laborious to collaborate with their coworkers when working from dwelling. For a few of my purchasers, that disconnect means teams fall again on previous options, reasonably than construct one thing new collectively.


Proper now could be the time to carry contemporary options into the office—whereas we’re all nonetheless adjusting our eyes to our electronic mail inboxes after the vacations. I’ve used the science of fun on enterprise giants from Google to ESPN to unblock these bottlenecks, get individuals’s creativity flowing, and resolve issues in unison. So, take the following few weeks to carve out some digital sport time in your teams and nurture a way of unified identification, mutual belief, and collaboration.


Each good hero wants an excellent villain. One in every of our group’s favourite video games is tantalizingly named Supervillains. By dramatizing an issue right into a fictional villain, you make it much less intimidating, and provides your group a typical enemy to unite round defeating.

Right here’s the blueprint: maintain a video name, divide everybody into teams, get all of them to select an issue they’re at present dealing with at work—be it private or skilled—after which flip that drawback right into a supervillain (“actual” or made up).

If Batman’s nemesis Bane is your primary competitor elbowing their means into your goal market, your group (Batman) will want a specific set of abilities to cease him in his tracks. Get your teams assigning themselves new superpowers and devices worthy of the villain at hand. The Batmobile is usually a new advertising and marketing marketing campaign delivering free samples of your product to Gotham Metropolis. Robin is usually a strategic new associate serving to you dominate your market area of interest.

There’s one thing highly effective in these traditional film traits of timid schoolkids growing superpowers, and random medleys of rockstar superheroes banding collectively to carry down the unhealthy man. When individuals envision themselves in these eventualities, additionally they tease out some extra audacious or sudden qualities in themselves. And it will get coworkers weaving themselves into the identical narratives, in a means we regularly overlook to do throughout a challenge.


When it comes to attaining life targets, individuals have a tendency to undercut themselves, and intention for the center of the street. Everybody in your group ought to imagine that they’re creating one thing nice, serving to individuals lead higher lives, and they need to see themselves going all the best way. Shoot for Mars and at the least you’ll land on the Moon.


On this sport, everyone seems to be partnered up, and for 10 minutes every particular person takes a flip speaking about their skilled and private targets to their associate, who acts as their “hype particular person.” Their job is solely to encourage them, take their targets and make them 10 occasions greater, and drive their ambitions sky-high.

Afterwards, you return by way of these extravagant targets and think about what you may very well give you the option to obtain, albeit in a barely toned-down model. Encourage everybody to not fall again on their unique concepts and to broaden every one by a small or huge margin.

Different individuals are a part of every of our milestones, even when we get there on our personal. They assist us acknowledge our achievements, present us who we do or don’t need to change into, they usually profit from our successes. Reenvisioning your targets alongside somebody reminds us that our group members, coworkers, associates, and family members are all alongside for the journey, and that data will in all probability get us that little bit additional.


Right here, small teams are tasked with reframing one of many core issues of the enterprise. Every group must be assigned a special difficulty—a dip in gross sales throughout 2020, current backlash over a branding choice, and so on. That drawback is then retold as a nursery rhyme, or kids’s story.

This sport is so efficient in revealing the identical issues teams have been immersed in for months, from a special angle. When you flip a difficulty or occasion into fiction, the subtexts seep out, supplying you with a deeper stage of understanding as to what really occurred, and the way individuals had been affected by it. It facilities the group across the core points, and reveals them how to reapproach every drawback.

One consumer of mine wanted to work out how to align their product, advertising and marketing, and partnership group round a brand new imaginative and prescient for the product. We turned their scenario into the traditional story of a clumsy tween hitting puberty and turning into the cool child over the summer time. By means of this lens, we reworked a conventional SWOT evaluation right into a story about how the following model of their product could be like the child returning on the primary day of faculty. Everybody perceives you a method, however you’ve new abilities, new experiences, and new associates that make you means cooler. Getting to see the issue this manner introduced dwelling that we didn’t simply have a product difficulty. We had a popularity difficulty we had to overcome in shoppers’ minds, that might solely be solved with all departments working collectively to shift the narrative. 


Remote work has made our skilled lives extra airtight and chaotic than ever. We’d like ways to minimize by way of our dwelling isolation bubbles and embracing that disarray. By doing so alongside our coworkers, we will flip doubtlessly irritating conditions (like toddlers waltzing into your convention name) into moments that break down the strain—name it a surrogate for the numerous casual episodes now we have daily when working in an workplace.

One easy means of doing that is by bringing your child or pet, and even one thing that represents your ardour, like a current murals—to a few of your conferences. To show this into an precise exercise, the entire group has to then spend 10 to quarter-hour interacting with the child (don’t anticipate a lot from a pet) after which come up with an thought for the enterprise based mostly on what was mentioned.

Every dwelling bubble is an individual with pursuits far past work, and households to handle. These video games remind us that every particular person goes again to a wildly completely different actuality when the digital camera switches off, and we’re extra appreciative of their particular person natures, challenges, and private passions.


We wish to have significant connections with our coworkers, reasonably than purely transactional relationships. And even should you assume you’re not , it’s kinda higher for everybody once we do. You may speak extra overtly about inner issues and provide each other suggestions with out the sting.

Once more, we will’t underestimate the significance of these 10, 20, (60?) minutes a day spent chatting by the watercooler. As a pacesetter you have to be proactively bringing them again into the workday.


Pillow speak helps us make a deeper connection. We will’t assist however let down our guard a bit when snuggling a pillow. Every session has a subject—be it working in the course of the pandemic, psychological well being, working with disabilities, and so on. (let a special group member suggest a subject every time, you by no means know what’s troubling the following particular person). You then all merely burrow right into a pillow in your couch, mattress, or desk, and chat away. Is the pillow obligatory? No, however sure—it breaks down the official-ness of the assembly and flips the temper, even when only for half an hour. It turns into a protected area for sharing and with out judgement (you may want to agree beforehand not to share what’s been mentioned outdoors of the group).

In the intervening time, the stability is off—our work lives are totally embedded into our dwelling lives, whereas our private lives are excluded from the work surroundings. That might make many people extra guarded with our private time, slicing ourselves off much more from the group. (Which can also be why these video games shouldn’t be consuming into individuals’s free time, and be a part of the workday). Whereas it is smart for a lot of, it additionally slowly kills off cohesion, synergy, and takes a heavier toll on these coworkers dwelling alone. 

We’d like reminding, particularly on the flip of the 12 months, that we will nonetheless have amusing at work, create genuine connections, and are available up with radically new concepts collectively. We simply want to belief in fun, and use fantasy to discover real-life options.

Kenny White is chief creativity architect at Funworks, a artistic company utilizing psychology, neuroscience and fun to generate excessive collaboration and progressive design considering.