Virtual coffee breaks: An effective way to boost remote productivity

As workforces across the world are practicing social distancing and working from home to contain the spread of the global pandemic, it has become imperative to design creative ways to maintain productivity and professional relationships in virtual workplaces. Companies need to work on employee engagement so that their staff can take advantage of a collaborative and innovative environment while working remotely.

Taking short breaks from work to meet up with colleagues has been proven to be effective for boosting employee productivity. While we cannot meet up in person, video calls to take breaks and socialize can replace physical coffee breaks. Dubbed ‘virtual coffee breaks’, these sessions are an excellent way of ensuring employees are relaxed and focused on their work.

Read this blog to learn how you can utilize virtual lunch or coffee break times to help your employees keep in touch and boost productivity.

At a time when interaction between employees is restricted to digital communication channels, you might run the risk of these sessions becoming mundane exchanges of facts without any interpersonal aspects. Such bone-dry interactions can hamper team- spirit and contribute to the loss of motivation.

Virtual coffee breaks can also be applied in academic settings to refresh the minds of students pursuing online courses. These sessions can mimic and replace the casual conversations between the students within classrooms and can also help in developing crucial interpersonal skills and empathy, essential transferable skills for the corporate sector.

Tips for hosting a successful virtual coffee meeting

Virtual meetings can contribute to substantive conversations compared to casual texting sessions. For one, it takes less time to speak your mind than type it in a text. Secondly, interacting with someone face-to-face, even in a digital format, is much more emotionally fulfilling than conversing over text.

Although there are no strict rules and regulations for conducting coffee or lunch sessions in a virtual work environment, ensuring a few things can improve the quality of your interactions substantially. Read on for a few pointers for holding a successful virtual break.

Initiation through text

Coffee breaks at your workplace or college mostly happen spontaneously, often when you see a friend or an acquaintance free. While it can be easy to ascertain the availability of your friends in real-life settings, doing it virtually can be difficult.

Sending a request through a text can be an appropriate way of asking if the other person is free. If they are, you can set up a 15-30 minute video session with them. If they are busy, you can conduct the session another time.

Dress up

Although working or studying from home often provides the flexibility to dress casually and comfortably, dressing up for a video session with your colleague can provide you with some purpose and increase your excitement for the break.

If your background is visible in the video frame, select a place in your home that provides the tidiest background. You can also opt for a green screen or blurred background option if you expect a lot of movement behind you.

Banter

Most lunch and coffee breaks in real-life start and end with casual conversations to build rapport - do not leave out this part just because you are on a video call. Casual conversation and banter is important for building personal relationships and rapport with your friends and colleagues. Casual conversation is all the more important in the present scenario as it can act as a stress buster for the anxiety stemming from your isolation at home.

Food and drinks

Food and drinks often form the crux of breaks and casual meetings in real life. Although video calls aren’t the same, having something to eat or drink by your side can help in relaxing the environment and coaxing both parties to open up.

As we all adapt to new ways of working and studying, virtual coffee breaks prevent our academic or professional relationships from hitting the wall and prevent us from reeling from the side-effects of isolation.

The Toronto School of Management understands the constraints of these unprecedented times and their impact on the psyche of students. That’s why, it offers online courses that are designed to maximize the interaction between fellow students through group projects and assignments.

Click here to learn more about the courses offered by TSOM.