Since March of 2020, a significant portion of the global workforce has been thrust into remote work without notice or preparation. While most workers have successfully adjusted to their new remote work settings, they are experiencing issues that come with remote work. Remote workers are feeling isolated, unseen and unheard. They are yearning for in-person interactions with others. All this is adding up to cumulative stress for remote teams. Most managers and business leaders know that cumulative stress affects employee engagement and productivity. Managers and leaders also understand that they have limited time and methods of impressing stress relief onto their remote team workers. Therefore, it is necessary for management to adopt quick and easy stress relieving activities for remote teams.

Quick and easy stress relieving activities for remote teams come in an array of forms. Some of these stress relieving activities are physical in nature. Some such activities are mental/intellectual in nature. And yet others are a hybrid of physical and mental activities.

These activities need to be implemented as part of remote team meetings. They can be implemented as icebreakers, breaks between long meetings, and team building games, etc. Better yet some of these stress relieving activities can be practiced by remote team members when they are working by themselves.

Physical Stress Relieving Activities

Stretching

There is no better way to start a meeting than with a quick one minute stretch. Stretching loosens up tight muscles, helps with blood circulation, improves mood, improves posture and reduces achiness in the body.

Managers can ask employees to stand up stretch according to a script. Alternatively, employees can stretch in any way that they are comfortable stretching. It is also a great idea for employees to stretch midway between meetings or breaks. Remote team members can easily incorporate these one-minute stretches into their daily work routines.

Dancing

Nothing can bring joy to a lackluster meeting more than a minute of fun, freestyle dancing. Remote team members can easily dance to a tune. This activity can be turned into a dance competition with prizes for the winners. Dancing is a good stress relieving activity for meetings that fall on birthdays or around holidays.

Exercise Competitions

Remote teams can partake in short exercise competitions in order to encourage healthy habits. Physical exercise helps with mental as well as physical well being. Competing for completing the most number of squats, calf-raises or seated leg-raises in a minute are quick and easy activities. Easy, exercise competitions can stimulate a bit of healthy competition and wake up the sleepiest remote team member.

Playing With Pets

Pet owners can introduce, play and talk about their pets for a few minutes. It is probably easier to bring in pets at the beginning or end of meetings to minimise disruptions. Most people enjoy watching pets interacting with their owners. Interacting with pets is joyful and stress relieving. Just watching such interactions betweens pets and their owners (even if some employees do not own pets) is quite a pleasure in itself.

Mental Activities

Quick Fun Puzzles

Answering quizzes about general topics such as the news, pop culture, geography or history can liven up remote work meetings. The quizzes need to be easy, entertaining and interesting so that the quizzes do not feel like an exam. These non work related quizzes can help to break the seriousness of work meetings. An activity that breaks the seriousness of work is a welcome stress relief for remote team members.

Sometimes work related puzzles and quizzes can switch things up in monotonous meetings. For example, small crossword puzzles or short true/false quizzes can be helpful in reinforcing work related rules and company values. The puzzles and quizzes need to be short and simple. This will ensure that employees are happy and eager to participate and answer.

Games

There are other types of games besides puzzles and quizzes that employees can play to relieve stress during remote team meetings. For example, Brightful is an organization that provides games that promote team building and engagement between remote employees. They have ice-breaker, conversational, card, and drawing games. It is very easy for anyone on a remote team to host games from Brightful. The host can easily send links to other remote team members to join the game. Invitees do not have to download or sign up to play the games. Brightful games work with all video conferencing software.

Icebreaker games are great to use during the beginning of a meeting or when introducing a new team member. Conversational games are great for beginning, endings and break times. Puzzles are great for grabbing attention during the middle of the meetings. This ensures that people do not tune out but remain engaged during meetings.

Emotional Activities

Bonding Over Similar Life Phases

Sometimes it is a great idea to bond for a few minutes over non-work-related things. Employees who have pets, or employees of kids of a similar age can laugh and bond with each other over their pets and kids. Talking to team members about things you have in common builds familiarity and a sense of trust. Feeling like you are interacting with trustworthy people is stress relieving in itself. It is nice to bond before/after meetings or at break time.

Giving Moral Support Over Similar Challenges

Sometimes remote team members are going through similar challenges in life. For example, two different employees might have experienced the death of loved ones due to coronavirus. Or two people are experiencing similar health or work/life balance issues. Just checking in on each other before/after meetings or at break time can help diffuse the stress that remote team members are experiencing.

Spiritual Activities

Meditation

Meditation is fast gaining a reputation for being a stress/anxiety relieving activity that costs no money. According to a study from John Hopkins University, meditation can be just as effective as some medications in treating anxiety and depression. Meditation fosters, mindfulness, concentration and calmness. It is a great idea to start all remote team meetings with a five minute meditation and breathing exercise. Meditation is a hybrid of mental and physical activities.

Religious

Sometimes employees can share hopeful and uplifting words/ messages from religious sources that make sense universally. The messages or words must not offend other team members. A simple, meaningful quote (and not a sermon) about hope, empathy or kindness to all may lift everyone’s moods. This is ideally done at the close of a meeting as words of goodwill to others.

Social Activities

Hobbies

Quick chats about shared hobbies such as cooking or sports can help remote team members to bond during breaks or before/after meetings. Having common interests that have nothing to do with work encourages direct engagement between remote team members. Increased engagement between employees builds trust and likeability. This reduces the stress and the workers might feel around each other during remote team meetings.

Community

Employees can bond over their concern for the welfare of the community. Employees who volunteer or even do the same type of volunteer work may feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves or what they do for a living. Sometimes the entire team can brainstorm and organize some type of community/volunteer activity. Maybe everyone on the team cleans up trash from a nearby public park and shares pictures and stories at a future meeting. Communicating about such activities help employees to feel connected to each other.

Environmental Activities

Decluttering

An organized work space helps people to stay focused on the task at hand. It is a great idea to start a meeting by asking people to clear off unnecessary or distracting things from their table. A quick one to two minute decluttering activity will help reduce stress and anxiety during the meeting. Employees can incorporate decluttering in their daily routines to have a clear work space whenever they are working.

Reorganizing

Sometimes just the setup of the home office can create stress and hindrance for remote team workers. Managers can provide tips and guidelines to help employees stay organized. For example, repositioning one's chair away from distracting pictures/televisions/sights can help reduce the stress from not being able to concentrate at work.

Occupational Activities

Best Work Practices

It is essential to remind remote team workers of  best work practices on a regular basis during meetings. Reminders help employees to be mindful of  things that they may have forgotten about. For example, using the appropriate channel of communication for interacting with remote team members. Do not set up a Zoom meeting to ask a simple question that can be answered via text or a phone call..

Newly Discovered Tips

It is a great idea to discuss or encourage remote team members to share their own hacks for working efficiently. Sharing such information during team meetings can help others to follow better work habits or routines. If newly discovered productivity hacks are helping individuals greatly, then these tips should formally become part of the best practices at work. Findings new ways to manage the stress of remote work helps with positive employee motivation, engagement and

Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the holy grail of physical wellbeing at the workplace. Sitting and typing ergonomically helps relieve physical distress. It is always a good idea to start a meeting by asking everyone to ensure that they are seated correctly. It is essential to remind remote team members about proper posture, correct chair/desk heights, typing speeds, etc. Physical distress resulting from poor ergonomics translates to mental distress. Mental distress interferes with the ability to focus and be productive at work. Therefore, being mindful of ergonomics every single day can help to relieve remote team members from stress.

Conclusion

While remote work has its perks, it brings with it a unique set of challenges. A sense of isolation and disconnectedness can build up stress in remote team workers over a period of time. Sometimes it is not easy to recognize when and how the stress amps up to unmanageable levels. The best way to manage stress that builds up from remote work settings is to follow good work practices, use proper ergonomics and stay engaged with fellow employees.

This article mentions many ways by which remote team members can incorporate stress relieving activities both during and outside of meetings. The main thing to understand is that the tips mentioned in this article are quick and easy stress relieving tips for remote teams. These tips are easy to learn and implement. Most of these tips can be adopted into the daily routine and in meetings for free. These tips can be used by both remote and non remote workers respectively.