“Tough times don’t last, tough teams do,” motivational speaker Robert Schuller once said. 

These are tough times indeed. We’re grappling with fear and anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic which has forced us to work from home and put our normal lives on hold. 

How do you look after yourself and stay connected with your teams during these difficult times? There is an overload of information on the internet on how to practice self-care and focus on our well-being. 

So, instead of writing about what we can and must do for ourselves, I decided to highlight some fun and easy ways to extend care to others around us because “teamwork makes the dream work” (I promise that’s the last cheesy quote).

At Harappa, we are a tight-knit community, an eclectic mix of individuals from across the country. On a typical day at work, the office is buzzing with energy, excitement, and enthusiasm. I personally draw a lot of my daily motivation from the dynamic nature of our environment, i.e., the physical space we work in. 

So, at a time when social distancing is the norm and the closest living thing many of us have in the name of a co-workers is a plant, it is crucial that we do our bit to reach out and remain connected during the lockdown. 

Basic communication and checking-in aside, in the field of behavior science, rituals are also known to play a role in reducing stress and anxiety, especially when dealing with uncertainty. 

Rituals can be defined as symbolic behaviors people perform before, during or after a meaningful event. They come in various shapes and forms, from religious rituals to personal rituals that are part of our morning routine or rituals we follow before we prep for a big event or interview. Rituals can play a role in building and strengthening bonds in communities. 

Here are some rituals we’ve kept going at Harappa despite the lockdown and some new ones we started:

1. Our weekly Friday 5 pm get-together, very appropriately named Collabor-EAT, has now become the even more appropriately named JANATA Webinar. What makes it unusual and fun is the host of creative, often hilarious Zoom backgrounds. We also try to switch things up by occasionally playing Antakshari. 

2. One of our team heads introduced us to games app Kahoot which has some fun, interactive games. A daily call turned into an enjoyable game of team-related trivia questions. It was an instant hit and is definitely going to be a regular feature on our team calls going forward.

3. Our office WhatsApp group is abuzz with everyone’s favorite work-from-home memes and jokes. This was something that was consciously initiated to keep spirits up and humor flowing. It has also become a lockdown ritual of sorts.

I’ve also had friends share how teams at their office now celebrate virtual birthdays, with surprise ‘Happy Birthday’ songs being strummed on a guitar and co-workers singing on video calls.

Try out these fun activities and games at your workplace or even with your family. Make them a regular occurrence and they become rituals to look forward to, that ground us and can help tide us through these difficult times. Make them a habit. 

Varalika Singh is Manager, Behavior Analytics with the Product Team at Harappa Education. She has a Masters in Digital Media Design for Learning from New York University. She loves trying different kinds of coffee and enjoys listening to podcasts and TED Talks in her free time.

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