Last year after a month of remote working, Chief Information Officer Martin Bernier realized that the hours of his workday would fly by in online meetings, without a break. Knowing others were likely in a similar situation, he started scheduling virtual coffee breaks with his team. In celebration of one year of virtual coffee breaks with over 150 staff and students, we are sharing reasons why we think you need to schedule a virtual coffee break now.
Scheduled breaks: Planning an online break with others gives you (and them) a short reprieve from shoptalk and allows you to engage in casual discussions. Think of it as a break room meet-up.
Wellness: Use a virtual break to check in on others, learn more about their working situation, or just to get some stretches in. Show your team that you are there for them professionally and personally. We’ve had breaks that included Zumba hip-hop, steps challenges, and a ‘Let’s move virtual break with Martin’ to incorporate a little physical activity into the day. We’ve even incorporated games; our holiday get-together had virtual Pictionary, trivia and puzzles.
“I see many benefits to taking a coffee break (pause) and fervently believe it can help promote wellness at work. I recently had a great experience taking a break and doing some exercises with many colleagues during the workday. The experience was so pleasant that many of us posted about it on social media! The positive outcomes are enough that we should try and take breaks regularly. Enjoy your breaks!” – Dominic Wong-Fortin, Application Manager
Connections: Don’t let physical distance prevent you from connecting with colleagues. Informal breaks offer opportunities to build relationships outside of day-to-day tasks and encourage other ways of team-building. Many are looking for opportunities for social interaction; one of our first events had over 100 participants!
Relationship-building: Get to know colleagues on a more personal level. There have been unique opportunities to see coworkers’ home offices, meet family members (including some of the four-legged furry kind), learn about hobbies and celebrate a year full of birthdays. We have gained new insights into our colleagues’ interests, qualities and values.
“I started a year ago and never really got to work face to face with a lot of people before we all started working from home. I loved it [coffee breaks], it was a great way for me to learn some names and how the University worked together.” - Felix Larrivée, Security Analyst
Maintain workplace culture: Maintain team spirit and interactions. Information Technology staff worked hard to create an engaging and interactive workplace culture that was facilitated by a collaborative workspace on campus. Through some creative scheduling, employees continue to connect with others that they may not interact with otherwise.
For employees by employees: Start something new. Employees have taken the initiative to organize their own breaks and events to share photos, personal projects, gardening tips and even do start a fundraising campaign.
"I discovered a very geeky and passionate side to some of my coworkers through the home automation group. Diana's (Wittman) gardening community gave me the desire to make my own little patch of land greener. The virtual year-end party made me want to party with Khalil (Chamoun) in person. The many informal exchanges I’ve had in a small group setting make me want to connect each morning and say hello to this small virtual world that uOttawa IT has become! All these little moments make us feel like we’re part of something so much bigger which helps us work better together and understand each other more." – Mathieu Bertrand, Information Risk & Compliance Specialist
See the benefits for yourself, connect with others and schedule a virtual coffee break today! Let us know about how you’re engaging with your colleagues while working remotely, share your experiences with us.