In a typical year, the team at Locust Point-based technology agency Mindgrub would take some time away from their screens for the annual Mindgrub Olympics to get active in a series of events. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, getting together for some physical challenges is among the many things that had to be sidelined for this year.
Still, Mindgrub’s leaders wanted to keep these events that build team bonds and company culture alive, so they’re continuing initiatives that can get folks together and raise spirits, albeit from a distance. And the physical element is still important.
So instead of the Mindgrub Olympics, the company is running an initiative called Games for Good in this final quarter of this year. Running over six weeks through Dec. 17, the Games feature a step challenge, with competition which ultimately leads to raising funds for local nonprofits.
With employees splitting into four teams, competitors are walking toward a collective 10 million steps over the duration of the initiative. Along with coming up with creative team names and giving folks a reason to encourage each other, there’s also a health and wellness element, providing a reason to get up and take a walk while working remotely.
“If we can encourage through team building that type of activity, then everyone wins,” said Mindgrub Chief of Staff Kim Paradise, who also heads of the company’s charitable giving committee.
Along with helping employees stay connected internally, these also raise some funds for local nonprofits working in the Baltimore community, as the step unlocks donations from each team for Code in the Schools, House of Ruth, CLLCTIVLY and Improving Education.
“In the end we’re all doing this because we want to help our community,” Paradise said.
Along the way, they’ve also built in themed days that incorporate a childhood photo challenge, Pictionary and a chance to show some company pride.
To get the program up and running, one important element was a tech platform to run it on: The team is using mobile platform GivHero, which tracks both the steps and team activities, as well as providing the platform for charitable giving.
It’s an example of a team getting creative with culture. Mindgrub has brought on about 40 to 50 new employees since March. While leaders acknowledge it’s a fortunate place for the company given the wider economic downturn, it also leaves them navigating new scenarios for the team’s processes.
‘We’re hyperfocused on the fact that when we have new hires coming onboard and they’re not getting a chance to experience the typical culture,” said Paradise. “It’s forcing us to be more creative.”
As they plan each activity, leaders are also mindful of employees’ time as folks are already balancing work and home life in a new way. So they don’t want the activities to take up too much time.
“That’s the key: Finding the balance of keeping connected, having fun and bringing that company spirit, but also not adding too much more to their plate,” she said.
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