Boosting team togetherness in a pandemic

Here’s how Board of Innovation held its people together during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Want to catch a glimpse of what agency life looked like during the pandemic? Immerse yourself in the story of how we kept the spirit of team togetherness alive during the COVID 19 crisis. We’ve also prepared a cool inspirational list for you to use, even after we put the pandemic behind us. But heads up, the story isn’t all peaches and cream. Find out all about it below!

Want to experience first-hand how that team togetherness really feels? Make sure to check out our job openings. You’re just one application away from joining the team!

Togetherness, Board of Innovation’s trademark

One of Board of Innovation’s key forte has always been its exciting team spirit. That unique drive you get by bringing together a diverse, vibrant group of high-achievers. Our 27 different nationalities adds additional spice to the team dynamic which is inriched by so many unique perspectives and past experiences.

Ask any one of our team members: it’s what makes our work culture so rewarding. That creative atmosphere serves as a hub of ground-breaking ideas and trendsetting methods. 

Corona: wait, what?

And then, out of nowhere, along came the coronavirus. Suddenly, international travel ground to a halt. Our offices in New York, Antwerp and Singapore got cut off. There were no more physical meetings, brainstorming sessions or client visits. No more Funky Friday Food or legendary office parties. 

From bustling agency life packed with cool collaborations and intercontinental travel, we shifted to screen-based meetings, digital innovation tracks and countless emails. 

Here’s what we did. No sugar-coating.

So, how did we preserve that unique team cooperation that attracted talents to work with us? Let’s take a closer look at Board of Innovation’s tips on how we kept our team together during a pandemic.

First, a word of caution: we won’t be sugar coating things. What you got on your hands here, is an honest take on the experience we went through. Even though it might hurt just a wee bit sometimes.

From bustling agency life packed with cool collaborations and intercontinental travel, we shifted to screen-based meetings, digital innovation tracks and countless emails. 

Yes, we could have done better in some instances…

Let’s start off with what we could have done better. Needless to say, the global slow down of businesses caused a great deal of stress and anxiety with out team. Looking back, we should have immediately drafted plans to boost morale and engage everyone. But for a moment in time, the bonding that we take so much pride in started fizzling out. To be honest, the pandemic caught us off-guard. But: you live and you learn, right?

… but that didn’t stop us from doing better

Progressively, our workflow picked back up. We found a renewed focus on what made our company so unique: our people and the chemistry between them.

Next step: finding ways to boost team togetherness across all our global offices – fully digital and remote. And here’s where the fun came in. Because innovating when situations are most challenging, is what Board of Innovation does best. Here’s 10 ways we came up with to keep our people closely knit.

10 (mostly) remote creative ways to boost team spirit

1. Morning Rave with the whole crew

If the people can’t go to the party, let the party come to the people! When we first introduced our Sober Morning Raves, people didn’t really know what to expect. But when the event kicked off – around 8.00 am – each BOI’er was happy and awake in their home office, with an open mind and loads of enthusiasm. We danced to the best music of the moment, for which we collaborated with London-based Morning Gloryville. A great way to jumpstart the day, with loads of fun and acceptable craziness! To be repeated!

2. Online games

Boosting competitiveness and togetherness through online gaming together: yes, it can be that simple. To bring together each office from the different region’s we operate in, we turned to The Box Company, a business that creates custom-made games to boost team morale and stimulate team work. And believe us, it got competitive! 

3. Meditation track - part of BOI Academy

We launched the Board of Innovation Academy to train our focus on important topics. For a period of three months, our teams really delved into the topics at hand. First up: a Meditation track!

Through the meditation track, we helped BOI’ers to stay sane during uncertain times. This track was focused on distancing yourself from work when continuously working from home, and offering balance to avoid anxiety and a sense of overwhelming. Breathing exercises through the Moonbird tool helped us keep our cool and calm, and relax a little. 

4. ThisIsMe: introducing the newBOIs

ThisIsMe presentation from Gayathri

Most Fridays around 5.00 pm CET, we end the week together. For newcomers, there’s a ‘This is Me’ section, where they can introduce themselves to the group. Crazy trivia first! Key moments of their life, hobbies pursued during their free time or insights into what makes them tick… Anything goes! One member of the team started playing the piano, someone admitted they didn’t like taking showers, and another one turned out to be a caretaker at an alpaca farm. Who knew!

We’ll be repeating it this summer, re-introducing the colleagues that have been on board for years. You see, at Board of Innovation there is a second chance at a first impression! Even for our CEO, who will be re-introducing himself this summer.

5. Walkie Talkies

Walking turned out to be the COVID-proof way of getting together in real life. Our Walkie Talkies injected a fun-element by not revealing who would join the walking party until the very last moment. Oh, and it was the first place where new starters could finally meet their co-workers in real life! The first one was such a success that it became a monthly event.

If you’re wondering: how can walking be an exciting event? Rest assured, we spiced it up with some goodie bags and fun activities such as a scavenger hunt and a kubb game to boost friendly competition.

6. Donut calls

As a way to replace the watercooler moments in a digital way, we drew on the help of a bot, Donut, in our Slack, to set up 30min casual calls with random people across the organization. The talks went from everything to ‘what’s your biggest fear’ to ‘what did you do for mother’s day’. Thank you bot!

7. Sporty April

Every Tuesday in April, we organized yoga sessions. On Thursdays, everybody could join a more intense digital work-out. It was quite the challenge to launch the concept to include every regional office.

As a global agency, differing time zones can throw spanners in the works! But we succeeded and encouraged people to accommodate it into their schedule too. The best thing is, since working out is not just about physique but also fostering mental health, this initiative was warmly received by the team! We saw several faces coming back each week. 

8. Board of Innovation Lunch Club

Move over, Breakfast Club! Our team has always taken great pride in its thirst for great lunches. Just getting together, bonding, eating, enjoying – the works! From the moment it became possible again, we implemented our Board of Innovation Lunch Club, from Singapore to Antwerp and New York. This one turned out to be a huge success, showing that our teams still love meeting up whenever it’s possible.

In groups, according to local Covid rules, we went out and hit the town – lunch style. It’s a recurring thing and does wonders for team morale. The bars and restaurants in the vicinity of Board of Innovation’s offices are quite happy too! 

9. Work hard, playlist hard

We made a public vintage Board of Innovation playlist to use at our home offices, discovering new jams and tunes selected by our own unique spirit animals and got it into one surprising playlist.  The Spotify list comprises songs about these animals – think: Beastie BOI’s! And to highlight our company values, we threw them into the mix as well. We were on the lookout for songs symbolizing: Raise the Bar, Help Others, Be Entrepreneurial, Make it Matter – Board of Innovation’s core values. 

10. Two Truths & a Lie

Forget boring organizational charts. Why not spice it up a little? We included get-to-know-me cards in our organizational chart, for each BOI’er to fill out. We included Two Truths & a Lie,  where every co-worker would share three statements about themselves; two cool – and true – trivia, one big blatant lie. By talking to each other, you could find out which was which! A nice way to kick-off non-work related convos, which would eventually lead back to work-related talks in the end.

Where are we today – and what’s next?

Like everyone, we just can’t wait to get back to a new normal. Meeting up with our colleagues in person, implementing challenging ideas and concepts on-site with our clients, and re-establishing the creative atmosphere that makes Board of Innovation so unique. Oh but don’t worry, we won’t forget the lessons learned. Our people are the true value of our agency, so being there for each other – whatever the circumstances – will remain the guiding principle in our way of working. 

To jumpstart this, our annual and legendary Summer Office will take place this year again. Some time together to genuinely connect with each other and prioritize interpersonal experience sharing. One week during which our team members get absolute priority. At the beginning of August, we’re set to meet at a charming location in beautiful Italy.

And, of course, we can’t wait to see our colleagues swinging open the doors of their New York, Antwerp, Singapore or Amsterdam offices again.

Do you want to learn more about what it’s like working at Board of Innovation? Filter our blog section on ‘About Us’ or check out our jobs and culture.

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