The exceptional situation that Covid-19 has forced us to face is undoubtedly a huge challenge for all of us, as people, as professionals, as a society and as humankind.

One of the immediate and most radical consequences we have had to face from day one was the switch to the global working from home. From going to the office every day to our home office, often without the comforts we are used to. When we say comforts we do not only mean comfortable chairs, standing desks, good internet connection and fresh fruit but also being close to our colleagues, being able to share our thoughts, a problem or doubts with our coworkers. 

This is why Stuart’s HR department has come up with various initiatives to liven up our workdays, to stay in contact with each other and share our feelings during these uncertain times. We will also make the most of this opportunity to get to know each other better, to have an excuse to break the monotony and to share our workday with our colleagues. 

Staying connected to each other

We deeply believe that all the activities we’ve been encouraging and proposing are key for a successful remote working experience for all our employees. So, we thought we could share our new rituals with all of you.

Here is a list of the activities organized so far: 

  • Daily photo challenge
  • Yoga and cardio classes
  • Virtual coffee breaks
  • MTV Cribs - Stuart WFH Edition 
  • Online cooking classes
  • Stuart Quiz
  • Self massage session
  • Time management workshop
  • Psychological assistance

These activities might need a bit more explanation... Sure most of them seem quite self-explanatory but what you don’t know is that we’ve added our little twist to each one to transform them “Stuart Style”.

Daily photo challenges

This is not your average daily photo challenge! What is it about? Well, we encourage our teammates to have a space where we can just have a laugh and take our mind off work for a bit. So, we created a system that makes sure every participant has a chance to win and therefore be in charge of the challenge for a day! Every day the winner of the previous day suggests a theme in our dedicated Slack channel and everyone is welcome to post a picture or video related to the current subject.

The great thing about this is that none of us know what to expect! Around 4 pm, we get to vote using theme-related determined emoji - It’s 2020 afterall - for our favorite interpretation of the day’s theme and the winner of the challenge can proudly choose the next day’s subject! Thanks to this challenge we’ve discovered we have some pretty talented photographers amongst us! Some of the challenges presented below were: “Quarantine needs”, “What’s for lunch?”, “Share a travel story”.

Virtual yoga and cardio classes

Every week we organise two fitness classes to help employees stay fit and relax at home. It’s a great way to deal with the quarantine and reduce stress. We also enjoy having this opportunity to share some downtime with our coworkers, to chat and catch up on who’s watching what on Netflix!

The yoga class initiative came from our very own aspiring yoga teacher who works in the Support department in our Barcelona office. She now runs company wide virtual classes on a regular basis! Being her first experience as a teacher, she’s learning along with us, we get cool yoga classes and she gets to train her teaching skills - it’s a win-win situation. What better way to try teaching for the first time than from the comfort of your own living room, with friendly faces through a computer, right?

Virtual coffee breaks

Since being at home, we miss that opportunity to bump into our colleagues in the kitchen to have a quick chat about how our day is going over a coffee or a snack. So we organised a virtual break via Hangouts for half an hour every afternoon, for each individual office, where we can just talk about whatever is on our mind, related or not to work. The idea initially came from the HR team and each office manager sent out a Google calendar invite with a unique link for their office!

MTV Cribs - Stuart WFH Edition

Every Wednesday and Friday, we invite one volunteer to give a virtual live tour around their home! Anyone who wants to join the call and be nosy is welcome to get involved and interact with the homeowner and their tour. It’s a great opportunity for anyone who feels comfortable to share a private part of our personal lives that others may not usually get the chance to share with our colleagues who work in other countries. We’ve seen fridges full of beer (and nothing else...), many cats, and even an indoor tree trunk in Sam’s flat that sparked questions in everyone’s minds as to how it ended up in his living room! Tash put on a great interactive show during her tour where her girlfriend miraculously appeared in every room by sneaking behind the camera, acting out a scene relevant to each room of the house - reading a book in the living room, making dinner in the kitchen and lounging out in the garden. We’re having a lot of fun with this activity and we are bonding with each other in ways we never imagined we would be able to! 

Online Cooking Classes

Thanks to the initiative of one of our employees, Leo, we have been able to organize 2 cooking classes so far: Italian lemon scented meatballs with tomato sauce and Moroccan tagine and chickpeas soup. Leo is American and Italian and used to live in San Francisco but spent years in Italy when he was younger! It goes without saying he’s a lover of traditional Italian food, and just eating in general, like all of us! He’s always talking about food and cooking so after his team suggested he ran the class, he organised it himself. We all gathered together via Hangouts and our master chef coworker showed us these two very delicious recipes. Some of us were cooking together with him and others were just taking notes and enjoying a glass of wine. One thing is sure - we had a great time and now we all have a couple more dishes up our sleeves to show off when we can have dinner guests round again!

Stuart Quiz

This is our take on the traditional pub quiz, but executed Stuart style, adapted to our company’s story and values. It’s a time for us to have fun after work together with a beer but also for us to unleash our competitive spirit and see who has the best general Stu-knowledge!

Massage session

Thanks to this initiative of The Vital Touch Barcelona (the wellness company that provides us great In-Company massage service) we learned how to give ourselves a relaxing massage to improve the quality of our daily routine. We did this via a 30 minute zoom call with the external company and any Stuart employees who wanted to join. Who doesn’t need a relaxing massage after a workday? And what if you can do it by yourself? Taking care of ourselves is the first step to being happy!

Time management & stress workshop

As part of the Mental Health Program, we launched the time management workshop that was initially taught as individual in-person sessions. We have now adapted it to interactive virtual sessions done via Hangouts. This workshop is for anyone who is interested in gaining skills and knowledge on how to be more efficient with their time and how to self-manage to handle the stress they sometimes feel.

Psychological assistance

Employees are welcome to book appointments for therapy sessions with our private health insurance companies in each country, should they need any psychological support during these difficult times. We also have internal therapy sessions available that are organised by one of our employees who is a qualified psychologist, offering sessions virtually via Hangouts or Zoom in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

What we’re planning to organise next

  • Netflix party - a new way to watch Netflix together for whoever wants to join a group chat to chat throughout the film or series and enjoy watching it together virtually, as if we were sitting next to each other sharing popcorn!
  • Stuart’s Got Talent - a virtual talent contest where volunteers would prepare a song, dance, act or performance of their choice to showcase to the Stuart audience!
  • “What is this thing?” game - Every day one of us will share a super zoomed-in image of something and the rest of the team has to try and guess the object, based on the macro shot provided. By the end of each day, the assigned photographer will reveal the answer. It’s a real brain teaser!
  • Mindfulness session - Thanks to this initiative from The Vital Touch Barcelona, we'll organise a 30 minute mindfulness session via Zoom. The aim is to give our employees the chance to gain new skills in order to relax, deal with stress and improve their daily life quality. 

Waiting to see each other for real

In the end, this is just a reflection of the bond that we all have together, ain’t no river wide enough, right? We don’t consider our job a 9 to 5 obligation, we enjoy going to work - or in this case, pretending not to wear pyjama bottoms in our morning meetings - and seeing each other. We are more than just co-workers. They say you don’t choose your family, well we chose this one. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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