Like most companies worldwide, in mid-March, we were forced to switch to remote mode completely. We had to organize 100% remote work just overnight. We worked from our homes for more than three months, and even though we faced this challenge and managed this huge change perfectly – from our blog post, you will find out how we did it – after the lockdown and lifting some restrictions, we decided to go back to the office.
How did we encourage our employees to work at the office again?
During the pandemic and remote work, team integration is much more complicated than in normal conditions. Over the last three months, we have been trying as hard as we could to ensure that our team does not lose the “thing” that defined us as Applover. Our employees often mention that one of the most essential factors for them at work is the atmosphere.
Here at Applover we have a friendly atmosphere and a lot of great people. Most of them during the lockdown missed the short meetings over coffee or lunch at the office.
The unique atmosphere of Applover
The decent atmosphere in our office is something we are proud of. We like our office, our terrace, our coffee, and Taco (our office dog) running from desk to desk looking for someone who will play with her. Our organization’s partnership relations and the unique culture, which we want to take care of and which unites our team – have always been significant to us. In March, all of a sudden, it all came to an end, and we went into a remote working model. It was a massive challenge for us, which we did pretty well. This success was greatly influenced by our approach to the possibility of team integration. It was extremely crucial for us because, at the time when we couldn’t meet in the office, we hired new team members and it was vital for us to integrate them with the rest of the company altogether.
Why did we do well with remote working?
It certainly contributed to the fact that we provided comfortable workstations for everyone. Our employees could take office equipment such as laptops, monitors, desks, and chairs. Their comfort was a priority for us. We ensured that each of us had constant contact with each other and time for integration (including the pub quiz, which we managed to do online, and it was awesome!).
After a few months of working remotely, we had a green light to come back to the office. That’s why we focused on making this process as safe as possible. We wrote down all the rules of working in the office, such as daily temperature measurement, disinfection. In those situations, it is better to stay at home, etc. After that, an idea for an event appeared – the one encouraging people to work remotely and to come to the office more often. We wanted the employees to be in the office at least twice a week. (Of course, if someone still didn’t feel like going to the office – they could stay home. We are flexible, and we respect their decisions).
One week of attractions in Applover
To encourage everyone to return to the office, together with the marketing department, we planned a whole week of attractions to convince our employees to return to the office and meet with colleagues.
Therefore, one week in August was filled with various attractions and we wanted it to be treated as one event. Employees could choose which day they want to come to the office to participate in selected attractions, none of which were identical.
The plan for our attraction week included:
Monday in Applover
Monday’s preparation of a section with gifts for employees in the form of personal disinfectants (liquids, wipes, etc.) and wristbands, which were supposed to indicate if someone prefers to stay at a distance or not, and delicious cakes and buns as a welcome back to the office. Monday’s Yoga, which was also a tradition – took place that day as usual. 10-15 minutes for the spine and a moment of stretching very positively affect employees’ well-being and health.
On Tuesday, we organized a photo session for all those interested. For a long time, we wanted our employees to have nice pictures which they will be satisfied with and could be used on our website. The photo session was organized with Brandkick – our friendly marketing agency.
Wednesday in Applover
For Wednesday, we planned to swap clothes, unnecessary books, or board games. Where did we get this idea from? We found out that each of us probably had plenty of time to clean up our closets during the quarantine. Why not use it?
We organized a clothing swap, which consisted of the fact that each of us brought books, games or clothes, good quality, which we had already dressed up, got bored with, or simply were not needed. The idea of the swap was to spend time together and give a second life to unused objects. Everything in the name of zero waste and the things that did not find a second home among our co-workers was donated to charity to support people/families in a difficult financial situation.
Wednesday has become part of the Applover tradition as a fruit day, during which we replenish our body’s vitamin deposits, so there was no shortage of delicious fruit in our kitchen on that day either.
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We have planned Thursday with the Applover gourmets in mind. For that purpose, we ordered delicious burgers for each of the people who appeared in the office. For many of us, it was the first typical lunch since the restrictions were introduced in March. On the same day, after work, we played the Pub Quiz, which became our favorite group game during the lockdown. The quiz was organized by the irreplaceable Michał Kukuł, who is the best leader of that game we’ve ever known. Each time he surprises us with new questions.
I can say that the pub quiz has already become such a tradition of ours. Seeing how everyone gets so strongly involved every time, whether in the office or online, makes me eager to come up with the new customized questions.
Friday, the culmination of a week of attractions in Applover
On Friday, a hackathon took place in our office, which was the culmination of a week of attractions. The hackathon lasted several hours, during which our employees were provided with all kinds of snacks, drinks, and pizza. The theme was to come up with an application that would further improve the integration of remote working – just in case a second wave and a second lockdown would come. The ideas turned out to be great, and eventually, the team that wrote the application to help organize the Pub Quiz online without having to connect through discord, hangouts, and other tools we used so far won. The winners’ prize was a joint trip to the go-cart track, which we went to last week.
Attractions week was a good reason for many of us to return to the office after many months of absence. Finally, we could meet again and have a nice time together.
Summary of attraction week in Applover
To sum it up, the main idea of returning to the office week was to encourage our employees who want and can return to the office. We made every effort to ensure that the office space is safe and that our employees can feel at ease.
Our office is still not as full as it was before the times of the pandemic, because we try to keep the recommended spaces and make all Applovers employees feel safe here. We can safely say that we have achieved our goal of encouraging our employees to work in the office at least twice a week, which has made the office a place to meet again, exchange knowledge and spend time together during lunch or morning coffee. And this connects our culture of the organization, which we care about very much.