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Creating a culture of belonging is paramount to building a team where people feel valued. This is why companies invest so much into their office space. It’s a place where individuals from all business units can collaborate and be physically close to one another. So, what happens when a pandemic hits and teams are forced to be apart? How do we act as a team when we are physically by ourselves?

This conundrum has created an accidental realization that physical location isn’t always necessary. There are many aspects that are missed; but, we can still get our work done from the comfort of our own homes. But, do we need to sacrifice those relationships we once craved? Absolutely not!

I spend my days creating a remote sales strategy for our clients, so now I shifted to creating a remote team building strategy. Time to get creative for our Q1 team building event. A little friendly competition for a bunch of people in a sales company is always appropriate, so we decided to do a play on the cooking show “Chopped”. Being the wannabe party planner that I am, I figured out a way to make this work over Zoom. Chopped PondLeap Cocktail edition was on!

The idea of “Chopped” (for those who don’t know) is that you get a baseline pantry which is the great equalizer. Everyone can utilize these basic ingredients throughout their dishes. Each round, they are given three odd ingredients that MUST be used in their dish and they are deducted points if they choose to forego one or more. The judges score them on taste among other things.

I took Addy to Binny’s (Mom of the year) where we gathered up a ton of travel-size bottles of liquor and a few items for our pantry. I then wrapped the three surprise ingredients per round and placed them in a black velvet pouch – no peeking – labeled “1”, “2”, or “3” for the associated round. Each round had a corresponding alcohol. We sent Christina her box in the mail & dropped Mike’s off at his condo. The night of our team building event, we all logged in to a Zoom.

Each person had a scorecard for each round and enough ingredients to make their cocktail as well as the cocktail everyone else made! (that’s how we were able to score the others). We unwrapped our pouches together and had 10 minutes to create our drinks! We then made each others drinks and scored based on taste, creativity and rank amongst the others (we didn’t score ourselves). We did this for three rounds total and then did a master scorecard to tally the winner (let’s just say that if Christina had used that baby food in her Bailey’s, I wouldn’t have won by .5 points – ha!).

It was a really great time and such a fun backup to being with one another in person. While we will all be vaccinated soon(ish) and won’t have to do team-building virtually forever, it’s important to get creative for the time being! Some of these pandemic learnings (like remote work) will continue, and culture is one of the major draws for employee’s to stay at and work hard for a company. So…. what have you done with your company or friends during this pandemic to stay connected? I have some ideas in mind for the next one, but, I’m eager to borrow from others!