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Virtual Rituals: Creating Certainty in Uncertain Times

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COVID-19 has changed how we approach our work, and for most of us this has meant a drastic reshuffle of how we approach our days. With the majority of us working remote now, we have lost those daily activities that we didn’t know we would miss – the morning walk to the subway, that daily coffee or lunch with colleagues (or candidates, for those of us in the recruitment world), the post-work gym class (or wine!) with friends. 


I didn’t realise, until now, how much I took those little rituals for granted, and how little effort it took to incorporate them into my day. It’s certainly no surprise to us now that those daily activities and breaks in our day are so imperative to our productivity, and more importantly, our mental health. They also help us solidify our relationships and our community. So how do we maintain those rituals in our current virtual world?


In reaction to this question, Elliott Scott HR recently partnered with Arcadia Consulting, hosting a Webinar training session on “Virtual Rituals”. The session was hosted by Daniel Spira and Catherine Frels, who provided advice and tips for our clients and candidates on ways to recreate those rituals in a new format.


Catherine and Dan provided practical tips around how to help structure our days, and I’ve found these tips to be particularly helpful for trying to avoid that ‘groundhog day’ mentality – feeling like your whole week has been one long endless stretch of time. Some key takeaways included:


Before the Workday

  • Schedule in extra time to relax – I have been trying not to roll out of bed to my first work call, and instead give myself 30 minutes to an hour to eat breakfast, read, or stretch (this replaces my morning subway ride, where I would slowly wake up by reading or listening to music or a podcast).
  • Most important task of the day – Write out your highest priority task for the day, this can help give you a sense of accountability for the rest of the day.

During the Workday

  • Know your chronotype – early bird or night owl? 
  • Schedule meetings strategically – I’m much more productive earlier in the day and so have been trying to do most of my calls between 10am-3pm and then have the afternoon to do admin and any emails or other tasks. Our Elliott Scott US team have also been doing team check-ins every morning at 10am, to kick off the day.
  • Take breaks from the computer – I have fallen into the trap of playing around on my phone when I’m taking a break from my computer, but this ultimately doesn’t help with that sense of fatigue from being on screens all day. Instead I’m trying to eat lunch with my roommates, read a book for 15 minutes or go for a walk.

After the Workday

  • Define clear boundaries -“It’s time to log off!” – cooking dinner, or doing a workout class at the end of the day can help set these boundaries and transition you into rest time. 


Another key theme from the session was around fostering connection and community as a remote team. Losing that ‘dead’ time with your teams, in the elevator, in the kitchen making a tea, or that after work beer – all of these little things help to build trust within a team, and it can be very difficult to recreate these moments in the current climate. One tip that I found really resonated with me was the following:

Virtual meetings are not just about getting stuff done.


Taking some time to ask people what is going on with them personally, to chat about movies, hobbies, plans for the weekend (anything non-COVID related, please), it helps remind us that we are all in this together and enables people to feel supported, and therefore feel more emotionally stable (and ultimately do better work).


If you attended this webinar, I would love to hear your thoughts. We are also looking to hold future webinars, in partnership with Arcadia, and so are always open to new ideas. What kinds of topics are you interested in hearing about? Please don’t hesitate to reach out at pkd@elliottscotthr.com.


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