Nona Blog

How to keep teams connected during the Pandemic (or just remote in general).

We’re living in crazy, uncertain and unprecedented times and they have brought with them a multitude of new challenges. One such challenge I’ve been grappling with is how to maintain a feeling of connectedness with the people close to me. We are having to re-learn how to connect with not only our friends and family, but also our colleagues and teams. To the very extent that “You are on mute” seems to have become the quote of 2020 for all remote workers. 

Fortunately, Nona adopted a hybrid remote culture shortly after the water shortage in Cape Town in 2018. We have therefore had a little more time to grapple with some of the challenges that come with working remotely which has meant easing into the fully remote model has been less of an adjustment for us. That being said, experimenting with new ways to stay connected has been a learning experience for us all, so I thought I’d share a few things which are working for us.

What’s working for us?

The Business

Message from the CEO: At the beginning of each week our CEO shares a quick 3 min video with the team over WhatsApp & Slack. It’s a great way to start the week and reminds each and everyone of us to set intentions for the week. 

Connectedness to the business: Every Tuesday we have a 15 minute Company Wide Stand where our COO updates the team on current project status, upcoming projects, financial progress and interesting personal and company news. This bird’s eye view has been hugely beneficial to the team, allowing them all to have a greater vision for where the company is headed, as opposed to a singular focus on their own projects. 

Individual Teams 

Pair Programming: Pair Programming is a technique we believe has huge benefits for both individual and team development and growth. We have found this to be far more imperative while working remotely. 

Monthly team lunches: This is an absolute favourite of mine, what is better than stuffing your face with delicious Steers chips while ‘shooting the sh*t’ with your colleagues on a Friday afternoon? Each month, every team has a virtual lunch together courtesy of Uber eats. We all catch up and “break bread” (or rather your Uber eats meal of choice) together. 

The Feels 

Mental Health Matters: There is no denying that mental health awareness is especially critical in a time like this. At Nona, we have created a slack channel where team members are encouraged to share some of their experiences during this time. This is completely voluntary and no pressure to share, but I have been blown away by how open and vulnerable our team has been with each other. 

Events & Activities 

Organised events: Our Leadership team have been stellar at keeping the culture alive when it comes to virtual events. Sure, it doesn’t replace our usual zip-lining adventures or kayaking with dolphins, but these events have been loads of fun nonetheless. 

In this past quarter, we have held two ‘pub’ quizzes and one Murder Mystery night – all which have been a huge success. Our next virtual team event will most likely be centred around a cooking class or chocolate & wine pairing – there are so many options out there. 

These events are encouraged, but not mandatory, and team members are welcome to bring their partners along. 

Unofficial events: Everyone is into different things! So at Nona we have fostered an environment where we encourage all team members to organise their own smaller events and activities. This has been rather successful at Nona with events such as poker nights, chess nights, online gaming and even poker tutorial nights. This allows our team members to connect while delving into the topics they are really interested in. 

A few things to note:

Understand where others are coming from! As a project manager, I connect with my teams, relevant clients, leadership team and potential new clients all on a daily basis. This fills my calendar with a bounty of meetings which allow for continuous connections. However, this is not the case for everyone. A few of my colleagues are working on more isolated teams. So be aware and take note of your team members who are more isolated. You might want to keep your meetings short and sweet, but for your colleague it might be their only interaction for the whole day. Take the time, reach out, listen. 

Being connected doesn’t necessarily mean more meetings, but consider taking that extra 5 minutes after a stand up to chat to your team or just pop a colleague a slack to check in on them. 

We are always looking to improve and grow, so I would love to hear more about your experiences, ideas and success stories on staying connected in such an uncertain time. So please reach out but until then, happy remoting! 

Nona helps funded founders accelerate their software projects. If you’d like to soundboard your tech or your team, book a consultation with Dr Carl Thomen, our Chief Customer Officer.  Or, download our free ebooks on the culture mistakes every founder should avoid, and the things every founder should know about successful fundraising

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