COVID-19 has temporarily changed the ways in which we are able to meet and interact. This has caused the mass cancellation of in-person events and led to an increased interest in digital engagement as companies struggle to find new ways to exchange information, trade and keep employees engaged and productive while working remotely.
For the first time, we have seen people onboarded in companies without ever meeting their colleagues and starting work in isolation within teams they are unfamiliar with. While business as usual continues with weekly coordination meetings on Zoom or Google Meets, these limited interactions are not enough for newbies to build rapport with new colleagues. Moreover, existing staff feel bereft of their usual social interactions can start to feel isolated. A 2020 survey published in the Lancet found people had more “anxiety, depression and concerns about social isolation” than they did about the Coronavirus.
With little experience in this field, many companies are struggling to adapt to these conditions. But our experience at Sardines is that it is certainly possible to build meaningful connections with colleagues digitally. It is instructive to look beyond platforms designed to enhance the digital work environment, such as Zoom and Microsoft teams, to those that put leisure and social interaction at heart.
The online gaming sector has had little to fear from Covid if industry trends are to be replicated and lockdown has accelerated many trends and etched itself into the personal habits of millions worldwide. According to games market analyst, Newzoo, the global gaming market was predicted to generate $159.3 billion in revenue in 2020 – on track to exceed $200 billion by 2023.
Ethos Partner and avid gamer, Joel Escayg, helps host virtual digital engagement events at Ethos, he says,
“As one of the organisers of the very successful Ethos online Christmas party, and being a gamer myself who manages a 500 member online community, I was able to help transition our online event to a platform many had little experience with; Discord. Discord is an app, generally used by gamers, that allows for free communication via voice, video and instant messaging through both one-to-one chats and in shared servers. While it was created to fill a need for gamers to communicate, it is a great alternative to other platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams and allows for organisations to create a common space that their members can always interact with. Discord bots supply a variety of extra features tailored to your needs and server personalisation can provide extra opportunities for branding.”
Annabelle Lambert, Ethos Partner and involved in all things People says,
“As an organisation 20 years ago we began with building online communities. We can’t really remember how we did that before the mass of technological enablement and social media options that exists today, but we did. We have always worked as a virtual organisation and we had always valued our regular monthly physical meet up on the First Wednesday of each month. We would meet, drink and eat together, it was a really important part of our organisational life. We are inherently social animals after all. So when the Covid pandemic hit we had no choice but to put that on ice. We missed it and we absolutely can’t wait to get back to it. However, in the past few months we have introduced our first virtual social events with Elisa and the Sardines team at the heart of that. The impact has been huge, we hadn’t appreciated how much we had really missed it and as an organisation with “phun” as a core value I think the future will be both physical and digital”
Elisa Tuijnder, founder of Sardines Digital Engagement and Ethos Partner says,
“I have been looking at digital engagement and building online communities ever since founding Sardines Digital Engagement to make conferences and events more sustainable and accessible. Since the start of the pandemic, with the pivot to solely digital events, I have built many social activities to enhance digital conferences and events. With the continuation of the global health crisis, multiple partners had never met face-2-face within Ethos. I spearheaded an initiative to launch a monthly digital team social. Which has enabled the partners to network and to get to know each other differently. Building on Joel’s expertise with Discord we made the move to this platform seamlessly and it has given us an easily accessible free alternative to the traditional video conferencing tool that puts enjoyment at the centre while giving us a wealth of new applications.”
With Sardines Digital Engagement we are looking to the online gaming sector to reproduce and learn from some of their successes to build a better experience for all.
Does this sound like something your team needs?