During the COVID-19 outbreak, everyone’s focus is naturally on the physical health of themselves and those close to them. But what about the wider impact of social distancing and its impact on mental health?

With Government advice saying workers who can work from home, should, you should bear in mind the potential effects working from home could have on your team’s wellbeing.

Office-based roles are full of interactions beyond the meeting room, from casual chats to 10am tea breaks.

It’s these environments where friendships flourish and strong working relationships are built, so how do you maintain them and keep your staff connected during an outbreak?

Video conferencing has really come to the fore since social distancing measures were announced, with platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams creating a virtual office floor where projects can progress, and teams can see what everyone is having for lunch.

But, perhaps more importantly, staying in touch with your team during these unprecedented times also fosters a sense of purpose and connectedness that helps maintain good mental health by feeling a little less isolated.

So, what are the tools you can use?

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft’s own hub for teamwork, Teams is described as “working remotely without feeling remote.” Part of Office 365, Teams is a virtual office space where you can have group chats, private chats and video calls, as well as work together on the same documents. Find out more.

Slack

Like Teams, Slack brings teams together, no matter their location. It can take the burden off your inboxes too, with its instant messaging feature keeping all important chit-chat to the app (whether it’s on your desktop or your phone). Find out more.

Zoom

Zoom’s popularity has, well… zoomed, recently, thanks to its easy-to-use nature and the fact that everybody and their dog have been invited to a Zoom chat. Its free tier allows 40-min video calls (either in an app or in-browser), with paid options available for heavier users. Be wary of security and privacy concerns, though. Find out more.

FaceTime

If you own an iPhone, you already have a video conferencing app ready-to-go: FaceTime. Up to 32 people can be on a FaceTime call at any one time, but they do need to all be using an Apple device – perfect if that’s what your company phones are. Find out more.

WhatsApp

For those not using Apple devices, WhatsApp is the next best thing. Available across all devices (including desktops), WhatsApp allows video calls for up to 16 people. Want any more? Group audio calls allow you to invite up to 32 people. Find out more.

Google Hangouts

The search giant’s own conferencing platform, Google Hangouts comprises of two apps: Google Hangouts Meet, a video conferencing platform for up to 100 people using a basic G Suite account, and Google Hangouts Chat, an instant messaging platform. Find out more.

Cisco WebEx

A long-standing video conferencing platform, Cisco WebEx has powerful features that larger companies may need for video calling, including allowing up to 100,000 people on a call – perfect for conferences or larger events. Find out more.

And more…

Discover more video conferencing platforms in our free Software Essentials guide.

And how can you use them?

We’ve seen businesses across Wales already making ingenious use of video conferencing platforms. Whether it’s setting up virtual gym classes or holding an online pub quiz, there’s nothing to stop you doing what you want with them once you’ve set things up.

As for office-based staff? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Virtual lunches or coffee breaks
  • Daily catch ups
  • Team meetings
  • Work together on projects
  • Stay in touch with clients

We have webinars available to help businesses affected by COVID-19. The series will cover key topics considering COVID-19 and your business. Click here to find out more.

You can also find more tips and advice in our Information Hub or register for future Superfast Business Wales support.

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