How We Maintain Our Team Dynamic While Working Remotely

This event was the last time the OpsLevel team saw each other in person before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

OpsLevel is a great place to work. I love the product, the values…the snacks, but most importantly, the people. Our team isn’t large, but our size makes us extremely tightly knit. We eat lunch together, play lunchtime foosball, chat about things like kids and mortgage rates, and play after work video games (mostly Rocket League) almost every day. It’s a great way to build relationships and let off some steam. Work/life balance is a very important part of working at OpsLevel. Because of this, whenever it is inconvenient to come into the office, or if you want to save the commute, working from home is not a problem.

While it’s one thing for individuals to work from home, it’s an entirely different thing when at the drop of a hat the entire company goes fully remote. With all the recent developments regarding Covid-19, our company, along with many others, was forced to go fully remote. Luckily our company is fortunate enough not to be impacted in terms of productivity, as we were able to move most of our interactions online. There are plenty of great tools that make remote software development and collaboration possible. What worried us most was how to keep the same team dynamic we had when coming into the office everyday. The problem wasn’t so much about communication, it was about relationships.

When you are in an office, you don’t just talk about work 100% of the time. You go for a coffee and talk about evening plans, cool things that you learned, etc. You also talk to people who you aren’t directory working on a project with. When working remotely, you usually reach out to people whenever you want to talk about work. We needed to remedy the lack of interpersonal communication somehow.

Early into OpsLevel going fully remote, our CTO suggested we should partake in some after lunch online games to try and foster this broader type of communication. I love party games, so when this was mentioned I made it a goal to set up a nice environment for team gaming.

The first thing we did was set up a Discord server. We use Slack for work, but Discord has some nice streaming functionality for when we need to stream a game from someone’s computer with audio (such as JackBox games). Once our online gaming setup was finished, we needed to find some games. There are plenty of good team games out there, below is a list of games we’ve been enjoying at OpsLevel so far:

With the lack of social interaction these days, lunchtime and after work games are something I always look forward to. They’re totally optional and people can just drop in if they’re able to, have time, or are feeling like it. They have been a great way to keep the team tight and talking (and not just about work). It’s also a great way to relieve that social distancing stress that I know many people are probably starting to feel now. If your company has been forced to go fully remote and you want to maintain a strong team dynamic, give this a try.

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