Rituals are any activities or habits your team employs to foster culture, collaboration and connectivity. Below are just a few of our favourite rituals developed by Cosmic Centaurs and our community.
It's so easy to get caught up in using every virtual interaction to chat about work. This ritual will ensure you make time once a month to connect over all-things unrelated to work! #TeamTime is a space for coming together, whether that is to have casual conversations or for a fun activity (e.g.: Virtual mystery room, Pictionary etc). This can help in creating strong bonds among team members as they spend more time getting to know who they are outside of work, what they share in common, where they are different and create a human connection among them.
Sharing good news!
On a Centaur Stage episode, Dr. Constance Noonan Hadley, a researcher and speaker on the future of work, psychological safety, loneliness, well-being, team dynamics, and inclusive cultures, shared that her favorite ritual is “Sharing Good News”. At the beginning of every standup, everyone shares good news, not necessarily related to work. This ritual celebrates success, giving everyone bragging rights and allowing team members to learn more about what’s happening in each other’s life outside of work. It's a great way to create stronger empathy and connection
Playing online Pictionary is a great way for remote team members to have a fun time together! Thanks to the whiteboard feature on Zoom and random word generator websites, it's very easy to play this game virtually. Get into two teams, each team gets a word from the random word generator, and has exactly one minute to draw it on the whiteboard.
Stand ups are short, focused, sharp daily meetings that usually last about 15 minutes where all team members answer some variation of the below 3 questions:
- What did you accomplish yesterday (victories)?
- What do you plan on accomplishing today (goals)?
- What is getting in your way (impediments)?
They are meant to help team members stay focused on their goals, understand each other's constraints, manage risks, and share knowledge or best practices.
Many of us have felt the shared excitement of seeing a teacher roll-in a television to a classroom. Who says we can't have that while distributed? All you need is a shared movie platform and 10-15 minutes to arrange this activity. Agree to watch the same movie during the week or during class time. Challenge students/team members to share and compare their feelings about what they saw. Share your own review and get requests for the next movie night selection! Source: Hygger Blog
Community, Onboarding, Remote Learning
Guess The Desk
The main idea of this online game for remote employees and student to get everyone organized about their workspace! Teachers or managers request all individuals to take a photo of their desk, arranging all items in a 'flat lay' and upload the photo to a presentation. Individuals can guess who the workspace belongs to and share their 'must-haves' in terms of remote work and learning accessories. We all know that a clear physical environment can mean a clear mind, leading to better performance overall.
Picture of Your Life
Ask team members to take a picture of something important from their private life. It can be their family portrait or a photo from the last vacation, a shot of daily activity or a new pair of shoes they have recently bought. This pic should reflect one of their interests and passions.
Ask everyone involved to post the picture during an online meeting. Each person should take a turn discussing their choices. It's great way to get people to share their important stuff without making them feel nervous and can help introduce new joiners to a team. Source: Hygger Blog
Stretch it out
Sitting at a desk all day can leave you feeling achey and sore. One easy way to promote more active team participation and comfort is to lead a short 1-2 minute group stretch. Add music to encourage movement, combat fatigue and promote healthy blood flow.
Critical Thinking Starters
Begin each online meeting with a single question for employees/student, activating their critical thinking skills. This question should be relevant to the topic of the class/meeting, adding to the conversation and not distracting from the objective or purpose. Everyone can either share their response to a single question, or leaders/instructors can share a number asking the group to guess what that represents or stands for. It's a great way to get a group engaged before diving into the content of a meeting.
Random Virtual Coffee Breaks
Every week send random coffee break invites to employees that are not part of the same team. This will help create new connections inside the organization and allow people to discover what other teams are working on.
You can use this ritual to celebrate an important milestone for individuals or teams in terms who have really delivered for the company. By pinning a symbol of the company onto the individuals' clothes you welcome them into the circle of trusted employees. Be careful of this ritual becoming a way of excluding people if badly managed.
Show your company's commitment to giving back by allowing employees to dedicate a day to a volunteering activity.
Beyond our work titles, we are all humans with families, friends and hobbies outside of work. Check-in and ask questions about colleagues who are expecting kids, getting married, moving into a new home or going through a hard time. These lifecycle transitions are meaningful, easy ways to connect with your colleagues.
Weekly To Do's
On the first day of each week, schedule repeat meetings for the team to all speak over Zoom and go over the priorities for the week. Note down every intention your teammates set for the week ahead. This meeting may take longer than usual but it will be worth it!
Begin meetings or brainstorms with one question everyone needs answer. These 'Jeffersonian' conversation topics can be your most embarrassing story, or the best piece of advice you have been given, or even your favorite quote. These activities establish common ground, create a safe space and evoke a sense of psychological safety, nurturing stronger team trust.
Appoint an individual to carry out mid-week 'Intention Checks'. These encourage team members to be more mindful and set weekly intentions. Those responsible for checking in promote accountability and act as a gentle reminder to stay on track.
community, onboarding, culture
Our Cosmic Centaurs game makes for a great team building ritual! We created this prompt card game to inspire more meaningful, interesting and fun conversations with your team. This game is designed to make teams learn more about each other, their work habits and work preferences. Use it in your daily standups, to facilitate retrospectives, onboarding and in team time.
This ritual ensures you ceremoniously send off your departing colleagues. During a team time, host a graduation ceremony animated around a virtual white board where colleagues can share memories, parting thoughts and advice to each other. First, you will need to create a virtual whiteboard (we use Miro) with 2 fields; one to be filled by the team and the other by the departing team member. In the first field, colleagues share the person’s greatest contributions, things they love about them, and their superpowers. In turn, the team member leaving will fill in their field with the most important lessons they learned, their favorite moments as well as advice to the team. It’s a great way to show appreciation for their contributions, create a space to document aspects of your culture, and send your colleague off on their next adventure
Celebration Video Call
Has your team reached a goal or target? This calls for a celebration! It's easy to get so caught up in work that you forget to take a moment and appreciate how far you've come, but it is important to make time in a team to feel happy together, and proud of one another. Invite your team members to a celebratory video call when it is the right time, and just let yourself experience this joy together!
Meet the Pets
Our team has a slack channel called 'CosmicKitties' where we post photos of our pets (those who started the channel happened to all have cats at home). One quick, easy ritual to create a more cohesive team is to dedicate a channel or thread for people's pets. It's a good way to get to know who is keeping your colleagues or classmates company at home. And let's face it - everyone loves sharing photos of their furbabies so this ritual will create a time and place for it making sure that the WhatsApp group isn't spammed with photos of your manager's parrot Ruby.
Community, Remote Learning
Ask students or colleagues to share 3-5 unusual facts or fun stories about the city or country they are from that are not commonly known. It is a good way to learn something new. You will improve your understanding of the place and cultural environment where your team members and students are from/live. You may also ask them to prepare and share a one-page slide or short presentation that will include a map of their favorite places in their place and relevant pictures.
Two Truths & A Lie
This activity is a great ritual to wrap up a busy week, start a workshop or introduce a new joiner. The idea is simple, ask people to come prepared with three facts about themselves, two of which are true and one is a lie. When it is a person's turn, the group has to guess which of the three facts are false. Individuals will get creative and share something about themselves that others may not learn otherwise.
Highlight good work or valiant efforts of your team members on a praise wall. This can be a slack channel or a weekly email thread commending employees on their achievements. A Praise wall will uplift morale, encourage performance and support a positive, nurturing work culture.
A Personal Welcome
A simple and easy way to make new employees feel at home is to send a short and personal welcome email. Sent before they join or on the eve of their first day, these messages are a great way to show you care about new joiners and that you are excited about having them on board.
HubSpot hosts an annual #GrowDay for customer-facing employees. These teams spend a full day disconnected from their work and instead, invest their time in personal and professional development. HubSpot hosts sessions for employees to learn about and up-skill themselves in areas such as negotiation, consulting and inclusive leadership. This year, the remote off-site was orchestrated around 25+ time zones from around the world!
A great way to make sure we learn from both the great and not so great aspects of our teamwork is to have a bi-weekly retrospective where the team can share the best and worst parts of working together. A good framework for this conversation is to list the things that as a team we should stop doing, start doing, or continue doing with clear action points for the next cycle. Check out our insights for more on retrospectives.
Welcome New Employees
Find a special way to welcome new employees, beyond the usual introduction email. Assign a buddy to help them navigate the company. Invite team members they will need to interact with to a (virtual) lunch on their first day. Send them a t-shirt or a plant to make them feel part of the family.
Ring a bell
Remember to celebrate when something positive happens. A project being delivered, a new client, a milestone reached can all be good occasions to celebrate. You can do that by literally ringing a bell or you can design a proprietary emoticon that you use in your slack channel to make a happy announcement!
Lunch & Learn
Lunch and learns are a great way to promote knowledge sharing and improve presentation skills. The idea is simple, a team member creates a presentation about any idea and presents it to teammates. Topics can be related to the nature of work, or of an entirely different subject.
Pass the Mug
Each week, an individual with the 'mug' invites another team member for a virtual coffee date. The catch? These two individuals don't know each other very well. The invitee is then tasked with asking someone else they do not know very well for a coffee or tea.
Burn The Argument
If an argument between team members breaks out and is resolved, those involved write their feelings and sentiments on a paper. The wider teams comes together to watch them tear up the paper and discard of the argument, putting it in the past and focusing on a way forward.
Virtual Book Club
Take a break from work-related banter (unless of course, you work in publishing) and invite your colleagues to join a monthly book club.
Spray some perfume
Sonal Bahl, an experienced HR Director and a Career Strategist, shared her favorite ritual on a recent episode of Centaur Stage. Sonal keeps a perfume bottle on her desk and when preparing for important meetings or planning to host a live webinar, she sprays a few spritzes. The smell uplifts her mood and consequently, helps her show up happier and motivated.
Conflict Resolution, Performance
Clearing the Air
If your team has not been performing as well as it should be, because of problems having to do with trust, it might be the time for a call to clear the air. It can be difficult to approach trust-related topics, so we suggest that you start the call with some ice-breaking to ease up tensions. Then, you can set the issues at hand, and have the team recognize what is the root problem. Each member should openly talk about how they feel about it, without any interruption. After that is done, the team leader suggests a path forward to unanimous agreement, and offers everyone a last change to disclose their feelings. This ritual is helpful with settling passive conflicts, as it allows team members to own up to their mistakes, have/give transparent feedback, experiencing relief instead of bottling up emotions, and improving empathy to one another.
Whenever there's a new project presented, you can have as a ritual as debriefing session where the "why" behind the project is explained. You outline the task list, share thoughts, and come up with an action plan where everyone knows exactly why they have the role they have, as well as the purpose of the project.
Remote Learning, Community
If we're being completely honest, Karaoke is best enjoyed in-person, but there can be something very creative about virtual karaoke. Assign a song to every participant or let them choose their own. Everyone should record an individual karaoke session singing the best they can. Let them get creative with backgrounds, costumes and props. Each team member should send the clip to the karaoke organizer, who will run a virtual award ceremony showing the best songs and awarding prizes. This is particularly relevant to theater students who are learning remotely. Source: Hygger Blog
During an onboarding exercise, or at a team building workshop, give each team member 3-5 minutes to think about a few important things they would love to do in their lifetime. Then, everyone shares the list. If some people have overlapping activities, you can ask them to play together. For example, two participants want to attend 10 professional courses in 2020. Your aim is to challenge them to do it and support each other. Hold them accountable by asking about their progress. Source: Hygger Blog
Gaming - But Virtual
Companies around the world began to add bean bags and video games to their offices, creating space for employees to play, connect and take a break from work while in the office. This is easily replicated at home, whether it is a Words With Friends game or a Call of Duty tournament, this in-office ritual is super easy to create and helps employees with shared hobbies connect outside of 'working' hours.
Remote group work sessions can be extremely productive, but also a little tiring. Recently, our team had one of those and we broke out into a dance party to lighten the mood and take a step away from the slides. A few pets got involved and the endorphins that good music brought were a huge help in getting us re-energized for the hours of work ahead!
Begin each class or meeting with a short exercise to encourage mindful participation. This can be a short meditation, a moment to enjoy music with eyes closed or a quick intention-setting exercise. These rituals will result in a more concentrated, intentional approach to work and learning.
On the first day of an employee assign people from different teams to take them out to lunch (or to join for a virtual lunch). This will allow your new joiner to start building relationships with people from outside their direct team.
Prompt employees to nominate a peer that they feel embodies the values of the organization by creating an online submission form or adding a functionality to your HR software.
Set up a way to collect innovative revenue or cost management ideas from all employees, create a committee to select some of these ideas for implementation, and provide a small budget for each idea. You never know which one ends up being what helps you grow or save the business.
Thank God It's Thursday
"To ring in the weekend, our team hosted a small TGIT (TGIF) celebration. We hosted a game/activity or invited an internal/external guest speaker. These were usually friends or acquaintances who are happy to share their story, adventures or cause. At the end of this session, we brought in lunch for the entire team which was a great way for colleagues to gather in the canteen and socialize."
- Submitted by Rami, KSA
Appoint a team member in charge of sharing the successes of a team in a single Slack post or e-mail thread. Keep it short and sweet and be sure to shout out any special all-star performers.
Create a slack channel or e-mail thread for recommendations of books, movies, series, recipes and activities. It's an easy way for individuals to get to know each other a little better and learn about what they may have in common.
If you want your team to innovate, it's important to show them that failure is part of the process. A weekly session where people can share their failure of that week and help the team learn from it is one way of doing that.