by Eduard Schaepman, on 23 Jul 2020
The coronavirus is far from gone, but the worst of the first (and hopefully the last) wave seems to be behind us. What a mistake we all made in that shitty virus. The impact it has had, and still has, on the world is enormous. But this time I don't want to talk about all the misery. The fact that it's enormous is self-evident. The impact on the economy, the jobs that have been lost worldwide, and of course all the sick and dead: it's horrible. But I don't have to tell you that. I want to talk about something positive this time: as a team we got something very nice out of the corona crisis (and yes it almost feels 'bad' to put it on paper like that, but it really is!).
Thanks to the corona crisis we form an even closer team. You can imagine that with colleagues at locations in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany it is not always easy to see and speak to each other. Especially when things are going well, you don't need each other that often, and even if you text and call, there is still a physical distance. As soon as the locations became empty, and we all had such an 'end of the world' feeling, we decided to schedule digital coffee breaks. Not only to prevent isolation, but also to be a kind of mental support for each other. After all, it was an uncertain time!
Every day at 11 o'clock we drank that virtual cup of coffee with each other. First in small groups, with rotating schedules, so that you could talk to someone else every time. Sometimes it only lasted 10 minutes, sometimes half an hour or more. I loved to see it: you can really ask each other how the other is doing, what he's struggling with, or just joking and laughing. After such a social call you were ready to go again, even when you were working all day from home.
Of course, we quickly made the arrangements at the office - the Blue Zone Offices, with plexiglass, signage, thermal camera, and so on - so that we could meet physically again. But according to the guidelines, not yet in large groups, so we continued with our coffee calls. Since quite a few members had already returned to our adapted offices, we adjusted the coffee calls. No longer every day, but 3 times a week, with all colleagues in one call. I don't know if you've ever tried to have a decent conversation with 32 people, but you can't do that. So, we quickly appointed a 'conversation leader', who managed to bring a bit of structure into the chaos. Still great to see everyone, and to stimulate each other to stay positive (and we succeeded, with an absenteeism rate of 0%, and that in this period of time!!). Alternated with a few jars of 'I'm going on holiday and I’m bringing’, or ‘eye spy with my little eye', every time a great success.
As soon as the measures in each country were reduced bit by bit, more members came to offices, and meetings were booked again. So, we had less to tell each other in the calls. That's when the fun initiatives came! From now on we do the call once a week, on Thursday afternoon. We've had several Tribes quizzes: from 'Guess the tribe' with Lindsay Garin to 'Guess the Colleague' of Sander Sierhuis and Friso Beks (with our colleagues baby pictures, really!), but also the general knowledge quiz of Philip Kranendijk. Jerrel Ceder taught us how to make mocktails, and Sebastian Velez gave us a lesson in Spanish dance: great! Mike Rutgers and Melle Verhorst came with a game of goose board (and then of course a real Tribes edition) and Jennifer Andringa and Eline Hamelijnck came with the Wheel of Fortune. Every week there are colleagues who make it a party again for the rest, and those few minutes (at the Wheel of Fortune the sentence was already guessed in 6 minutes) give us a feeling of connectedness. And we keep doing that digital cup of coffee or tea, even after corona!