Create New Customs to Fit in a Redefined World of Work

Posted by Kristin Arnold on November 17, 2020

Since COVID has hit, our world has been turned upside down.  Most of us are experiencing the awkwardness of working remotely, in different locations, developing new habits, virtually interacting with friends and family, and creating new ways to stay connected.

Over the years, when faced with an uncertain situation, many of us found comfort in recreating what made us comfortable previously.  Well, there may now be scientific evidence that following regular routines actually work.

Keep in mind that following a convention or routine that may have worked in the past is not a replacement for solid preparation and practice. However, I have seen many successful people engage in not-so-logical behaviors in these situations, often referred to as superstitions.

Rituals date back thousands of years with the ancient Egyptians. Theirs was a culture steeped in traditions. Eating, drinking, bathing, hunting, and burying the dead were a succession of rituals. Even today, people engage in rituals because they believe it will determine a better outcome.  Whether it is to enhance performance in a sports competition, complete a successful sale, or develop better relationships.

Research now suggests that rituals might be more logical than you might think.  Studies show that even simple rituals can be extremely effective.  Rituals performed after experiencing losses do alleviate grief, and rituals performed before high-pressure tasks – like speaking in public – do in fact reduce anxiety and increase people’s confidence.

Business teams often have a number of customs, traditions, or rituals that define who they are as a team, reinforce positive behaviors and contribute to the team’s culture and philosophy.  Rituals often celebrate exceptional contributions, promotions, and retirements from the team, or even the accomplishment of significant milestones.

Newer traditions include casual Fridays, potluck lunches, pizza parties, birthdays and holiday celebrations, team outings, and other activities that the team anticipates on a regular basis.  Over the years, in my different roles, I have set up different traditions to bring the team together.  But, why am I talking about this now?

Because COVID has turned our world upside down, and now most of us are just finding our way as we are working under totally different rules.  We now need to create new rituals that fit with this redefined world of work.

I know that many of you have already started doing this, but, I just wanted to summarize a few ideas that people have shared with me.

A few ideas for new rituals:

  • Start with a (working remote) morning ritual. One organization I work with now has a team ZOOM check-in at the start (or end) of every day or week. This replaces the old meeting at the coffee pot.
  • Another person I worked with would come in each morning with his joke of the day.  It was corny, but people looked forward to it. We can do this on ZOOM just as easily.
  • Take the time to get to know one new person each week (on ZOOM) at a deeper level.
  • Create guidelines on what hours are acceptable to send emails and call others on the team.
  • Explain to the kids that you are going to work and cannot be interrupted until certain times.
  • Create a home ritual.
  • Get up, shower, dress, eat, walk the dog, whatever you did pre-COVID to start your workday.
  • If both you and your partner are working from home, use separate spaces to work, then meet up for lunch.

The best ZOOM meetings are the ones that have a pleasurable component to them: Make it fun, so that people feel better for having participated.

And finally, be sure to check your technology each morning, and please, please, make sure you put your pants on before logging in.

My question for managers this week:

What rituals are you creating for your team that encourage your employees to stay connected and helps them feel part of the overall team?


Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF,

Global Speaking Fellow

International Business Transformation Specialist.


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Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash


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