Image: Mark Roberts RGD and the team at Davis Agency during their Design Drop-In & Drinks.
Virtual potlucks, weekly puzzles, Zoom coffee breaks... In part two of our new article series, we're sharing insights from RGD Members on how you can boost your and your team's morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Missed Part 1 of our series? It covers ways you and your team can stay connected while working remotely.
We hope this series provides you with inspiration and support!
2. How are you keeping morale or motivation up for yourself or your team?
With over 20 designers it can be a challenge keeping morale up in the best of times. So far we’ve been having individual chat sessions as well as a weekly “Design Drop-In & Drinks” where we simply log on to a Zoom video chat and talk about anything — workload, WFH issues — and have a drink.
— Mark Roberts RGD, VP Creative at Davis Agency
We have twice-a-day coffee breaks through Zoom where, those who can join, have a moment to chat and catch up (the new "water cooler”). We also use Slack to instant message the entire team, departments or individuals. We have a lot of fun on these channels and the posts can be pretty inventive. Anything from people’s lunch, pets, work stations, etc.
It’s difficult times for sure, however everyone seems to be getting used to the new set-up and staying connected in new ways. Sometimes more so than before!
— Nelson Silva, Creative Director at The Works Design Communications
We do weekly puzzles every Friday afternoon using Slack and Zoom. One person is the Puzzle Master, and they post puzzles they have found or made during the week to the #fridaypuzzles channel. Everyone sends their answers to the Puzzle Master using the DM feature on Slack, and the goal is to be the first person to get it right. It's a friendly competition and always fun.
I've started leading weekly 30 minute yoga sessions on Wednesday mornings using Zoom. I am an aspiring yoga teacher, and am always looking to spread my yoga love. It's a great mid-week pick-me-up.
We've also started doing monthly mental health check-ins, where the whole team is on a video call (we're a small team, so this is at most 16 people). Everyone is encouraged to report what their mental health status is (using the green-yellow-red traffic light system), explain why they are feeling that way, and answer a few other mental health questions (such as, what is something that made you happy or made you smile recently?). If you don't want to participate, that's fine, or if something is triggering you negatively, you can turn your video off or leave the meeting. We find it's a nice way to connect and bond as a team, and it's a gentle reminder that everyone is dealing with some sort of crap. You don't feel so alone when you realize other people might be feeling the same way, or dealing with similar things.
— Ceri Higgs Provisional RGD, Graphic Designer at Techboomers.com
We’re constantly sharing good news videos, articles and funny GIFs with each other. Some of us have kids, so we’re also sharing resources and ideas to help keep them busy. We’re always offering to pick up any provisions, if one of us is on a grocery mission (we don’t live very far from one another). Our virtual meetings usually start with asking how everyone’s mental health is doing, then story-time, laughs, and we fit some talk of work in there too. For myself and my family, sticking to a routine has given structure to the day. We’re privileged that we’re able to work from home, and keeping that perspective is important. Also coffee…and wine.
— Sarah Prouse RGD, VP Creative Possibilities at Fusion Design Group
Everyone is setup with iMacs and new office desk chairs to ensure comfort at home. Before COVID-19, we rushed through Monday morning workflows. Now, we reserve additional time specifically for healthy non-work conversations to start the week. We also try and get together for virtual drinks using video conferencing every now and then!
— Will Hum RGD, Principal & Creative Director at Clear Space
Potlucks are a team favourite here at Ove, so we’re looking into planning a virtual lunch potluck in the near future. Publicis usually has a “last call” hour of snacks and drinks on the last Friday of each month—this was done virtually via Instagram as a new format last week. We celebrate our successes via email threads; just today a major microsite was launched for BMO that the Ove team worked on, and everyone piped in to share congratulations and thanks to our amazing team members who worked so hard on this.
Sometimes, just the simple things make a difference, like sending a personal thank you email to show someone you recognize that they worked really hard, found a really innovative solution or supported their team in a big way.
— Caroline Bruckner RGD, Director of Design Strategy at Ove Brand | Design
We're not expecting anyone to be working at normal capacity right now and asking that they take care of themselves in any way that works for them, such as taking longer breaks, getting outside and connecting with video or phone calls. In fact, we've been talking about how we need to prepare for a marathon here as we don't know how long this new normal will be so to take care of ourselves, our families and our community each day is what's important. People first is what we care about right now.
— Wendy Millard RGD, RGD President and Director of Design Services at Empire Life
This team has been doing really solid work, finding great creative solutions during a very challenging time and under very tight timelines. Noticing, sharing and celebrating that work is more important than ever. We’ve also been building a list of recommended webinars, articles and other resources in case we find ourselves with any downtime.
— Nancy Mullin, Graphic Design Manager at BDO
Stay tuned for the next series instalment on how RGD Members and their teams are separating their work and home lives.
Interested in contributing your insights for this series? Send an email to Rebecca at with the subject "RGD Article Series" for more information.