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How can startup founders help their team successfully reconnect after furlough and lockdowns?

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by Startacus Admin

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Craig Bulow, founder of the Away Days Group shares his tips and insights to help teams reconnect as we emerge from lockdown restrictions

pexels-photo-7551466.After all the months of remote working and lockdown restrictions, returning to the workplace and reconnecting will be an exciting moment for startup teams. Face-to-face connection is an important part of our working lives and has been sorely missed by many of us. However, it is important to be mindful of the fact that, as with any significant change, you may find some people feeling apprehensive about coming back to the office.

In addition, some startup founders may be considering restructuring their teams’ working patterns by, for example, having fewer days in the office on an ongoing basis, potentially creating a cultural shift. Clearly there are positives to this, but there are some negatives, for example a lack of social interaction and connection which are important aspects of our work life.

So, how can these potential downsides be mitigated? By implementing wellbeing initiatives which bring people together in a social environment. This will help maintain and strengthen relationships especially when organised around ‘fun with a purpose’.

Here are three steps to implement:

1) Organise a ‘Welcome Back’ away day

A ‘Welcome Back’ away day can help rebuild connections, introduce new people to the team, help smooth the transition to new ways of working, changed work schedules and being apart from colleagues.

By specifically organising a day with a wellbeing theme, you can address many of the remote working/return to work concerns that people may have in a safe, relaxed environment. An event or adventure away from the office, something that team members would happily choose to do themselves at the weekend is ideal.

Involve everyone in choosing the sort of day they want and the activities they’d like to take part in. This will demonstrate that the day is about them, not the business.

pexels-photo-3861962.A really effective Away Day is the type that we’d be willing to book for ourselves at the weekend. So, if you can choose an event, that staff will willing give their time to, then you’re on to a winner. These events help to inspire and engage. They create a collaborative and social atmosphere as the excitement starts to build in the office before the event.

Studies show 90% of people say a fun environment is a very or extremely motivating. (Source Psychology Today.)

Providing you choose activities that are fun, and not just ’let’s talk about work and how much more we can do’ then an Away Day can also be a great way to say thank you. Perhaps you could round the day off with an evening dinner where spouses are also invited.

2) Put in place a wellbeing plan

An effective wellbeing plan for any start-up should be a shared document of information, that everyone has read and has access to. It should reflect the ethos and culture of the practice.

The wellbeing plan details how your startup looks after its employees in addition to the traditional benefits such as gym memberships and holiday days.

For example, it could include a list of events funded by the practice that employees across the workplace can attend. Choosing activities that focus on wellbeing can have a hugely positive effect. They build morale, embed the culture, help develop and strengthen relationships, and ensure that employees are looked after, as well as knowing how to look after themselves and each other. These events work especially well if the experiences / activities are engaging and fun – rather than always about work.

photo-1556911073-a517e752729c.A good wellbeing plan will boost morale, create a more engaged workforce, increase productivity and improve company performance. The added bonus is retaining and attracting the best talent, saving on recruitment costs and reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, stress and anxiety - especially after the impact of the pandemic.

Although wellbeing is very difficult to measure and some benefits are intangible, an effectively delivered wellbeing plan can improve many areas of the business. Start-up founder should make sure that a log of the improvements is kept; some will be measurable, some anecdotal. But success is a motivator, being back together after 15 months or so is something worth celebrating.

3) Set up wellbeing events for the year

Bringing in regular, enjoyable, wellbeing-themed Away Days, perhaps on a monthly basis, that everyone can benefit from, can help keep communication alive, relationships fresh and engagement high. Over time, the boost to morale will have everyone on board and working towards the goals and visions of the business, making it not only more productive but an employer of choice.

The scheduled events can be worked to create cross-selling and information sharing between teams, whilst strengthening those internal relations around the activities. Mixing fun and work creates a relaxed, open environment where ideas and creativity are more likely to flow and where they can be easily shared by individuals.

For example, an Away Day could involve a cookery school where participants create and prepare a new dish that is then shared. Add a tasting competition at the end, with a reward for the winners. Perhaps the losers have to cook the meal when everyone sits down at the end of the day for some wine tasting and hearty dinner.

Perhaps combine this with a work-themed music creation or corporate video made with fun ideas from the Away Day, which will help to sell or promote a product or service, and can be used on your website. Make sure you include an additional videographer to film your team filming, to show new recruits and the whole company the fun you have with work.

By taking these three steps you’ll be able to help your team to reconnect and also build and maintain camaraderie. With strong working relationships and ongoing wellbeing events in place your startup and it staff will thrive.


Craig BulowCraig Bulow is the founder of the Away Days Group. Corporate Away Days are a corporate wellbeing events company delivering engaging, inspiring and exciting events focussed on Mindfulness / Wellbeing and Reward / Recognition activities. Corporate Away Days also creates, designs and builds corporate wellbeing policies and provides leading experts for interactive workshops, seminars and talks on improving mental health and overall wellbeing.

Every Corporate Away Days event and activity is chosen with wellbeing as its focus, helping to encourage employee engagement, foster connections and build relationships within the business.


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Published on: 4th June 2021

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