Making Remote Work: Celebrating our 75th Monday Call!

December 21, 2021 by Suma EP

In May 2020, we started our Monday calls. By then the pandemic had hit and the first lockdown was in place. Just like you, we didn't know how long all this would last.

So we decided to meet weekly on Mondays as a team at noon.

"You mean like your weekly project sync or standups?" 

No, a Zoom call just to meet each other and be there for each other through these times of uncertainty, fear and hopelessness. And to maybe create hope for each other at Niswey.

remote team building activities


That was the intention. And 75 calls later, Monday calls have come a long way. Somewhere down the line we made it non-mandatory to attend Monday calls, yet we see 80% attendance on an average. This Monday, we had a call to discuss why.

"I come for the breadth of topics we cover"

This seems to be the reason why we have high attendance. We have covered a range of topics in our Monday discussions. Here are some that stand out

  • Learning to define our own parameters of success
  • What social media does to our confidence levels
  • How to overcome fear at the workplace
  • How we can give feedback to our team members
  • How to be prepared for COVID19
  • Self-assessment of one's life across various parameters (physical, mental, emotional, social, etc). This threw up some rude shocks and had people taking tangible steps to improve their wellbeing
  • How to enter the state of Flow
  • How to practice gratitude
  • How to get unstuck in your goals journey
  • What are you most proud of this week?

And if that list makes you think, oh it's all so serious, here are some of the fun remote team building activities we have had

  • Storytelling based on some random images given
  • Speed networking
  • Creating a magazine cover about the future of Niswey (one team took us to Mars!)
  • Inverse pictionary
  • 20 Questions

While we like to have planned all our Monday topics well in advance, we haven't been terribly consistent with that. And often we are still debating on Sunday night, what we will cover the next day!

"I come to listen to the points of view of others"

Most Monday calls are facilitated discussions. We have a topic, and a set of questions to explore, and there's room for sub-topics to emerge and be explored. One of our team mates says that he comes to listen to others and see how they think. He says it helps him get a sense of their context and background, and thus helps him understand them better.

In general, we get better at listening to others.

remote team building activities


"Monday calls kickstart the week for me!"

We have heard this over and over again, not just from the team, but also the interns we have, especially our summer interns. At Niswey, we try to look beyond Monday blues and hope that everyone looks forward to Mondays. While Monday calls were not designed to overcome the blues, they seem to have done just that. 

"Some weeks begin on the wrong note. And even when I don't feel like it, I show up for the call. And just listening to people sharing their achievements or just seeing some happy faces lifts me up," says one of our team leads.

Listening to others, being engaged in discussion or some team fun activity, pulling each other's legs—well, these seem to be some good ways to kickstart Monday.

"I get to learn!"

Many of the calls are designed for learning. But just by attending the calls, some of our team people have improved their communication skills. "I could never imagine expressing my opinion to 25 other people. But now I can do this without any fear," says one of our developers.

Some of us have learnt to overcome fear through visualization. Some of us have realized that we are not the only overthinkers in the team, and we have got some good tips from the badass do-ers on how not to get paralyzed by our thoughts.

"I can now be vulnerable in front of the team. And I have seen some others be vulnerable too," says one of the team people who has had a really rough year.

Does that mean our Monday calls have become a safe space for the team? That's a big goal to achieve, but it certainly does sound like we are well on our way towards that.

Some outsiders drop in too

We have started inviting some people from outside Niswey to come and address the team. We have had Prakhar Bhartiya from the Indian School of Democracy sharing his really inspiring journey of giving. We also have our mental wellbeing partners, The Mood Space, run some sessions for the team. So we get some different points of view as well, and not just talk Niswey's.

remote team building activities - Prakhar Bhartiya


Keeping a team going, and thriving, in remote or hybrid setups is hard, probably the hardest thing facing companies today. And like all other companies, we have tried many things and seen some success and many failures. But the Monday calls? Oh, that's a sure fire success.