Virtual sanity




Remote working is very much the norm for many in the digital product studio industry so when BoJo advised folks to work from home, we all packed up our laptops and plonked ourselves on our respective sofas. But what about the magic that only happens in the office? From the desperate pleas to turn the music down to the queue for the only toilet not to mention the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink – good times. Working alone can genuinely be tricky for some, whether it’s a case of struggling to maintain focus or figuring out how to make the trips to the fridge more exciting. One way we can lessen the tedium of mandatory remote work is by putting together various things to do to keep ourselves entertained and so I present to you:

Neverbland’s Ten Commandments of Keeping in Touch with Each Other and Preventing Boredom from Setting in During Lockdown (we’re working on the title).

1. Morning conference calls

If you set your alarm for 9:28, you have just about enough time to splutter yourself into sounding awake enough for the daily 9:30 company wide morning calls. Some of this entails a little briefing on work related matters, but most of it consists of something along the lines of telling everyone what we all had for dinner the day before. Most of us don’t have our webcams on, I assume because the majority of us are still in our pyjamas, or as I like to call it, The Lockdown Look.

2. Lunch conference calls

Given the majority of us would usually congregate for lunch at the office, it’s important to try and replicate this remotely. Now because I’m an introvert and exercise freak, I tend to spend these sessions flailing around on my yoga mat at home. Some of us go out for government approved runs instead, but the rest of us awkwardly watch each other eat food via webcam on a daily basis. I heard there’s a service in Japan where you can pay someone to eat with you via the internet, much like our daily lunch calls – what a time to be alive.

3. All the Slackbots

Now if you’ve seen any of my work, you’ll know I love to build bots for Slack. Usually I ensure they automate as many tasks as possible in order to streamline internal workflow. But enough of the fancy words because the reality is I love nothing more than a bot that’s totally and utterly useless. I was inspired by my colleagues attempt to get Slack to tell everyone what day it is each morning. Instead he got Slack to tell us the words “what day it is” each morning, which I found deeply moving on a spiritual level. After being asked to build a bot to achieve this, I helpfully created a bot that not only regularly tells everyone the words “what day it is”, but also shares my colleagues love for peanut butter. I hope he’s grateful for the hard work I put into creating this masterpiece.

All your base are belong to us

4. Friday conference calls

Our Friday meetings at work have now been replaced with Friday calls where we present our achievements of the week via the medium of a shared powerpoint presentation – technology. Naturally this means everyone ends up drawing all over the screen whilst the person talking at the time attempts to maintain composure as best as they can. Also: gifs galore.

5. Nominations

Weekly nominations have always been a thing here at Neverbland, but they’re hard to do when no one’s in the office. Sometimes someone will be nominated for their hard work during that particular week (boring nom) or someone will be nominated for building an incredibly useless bot (great nom). Remote noms require skill and creativity during these tough times, for example coronavirus gets an anti-nom obviously. Take that, covid!

6. Random questions

Keeping the natural flow of conversation can be tricky for those of us who lean heavily on reading facial expressions and body language in order to communicate. Our way of overcoming this barrier and maintaining good chitchat is by asking each other totally random questions. Recently featured was the all time classic “what breed of dog are you?” which returned some interesting results. One of my colleagues is apparently a Jack Russell. Make of that what you will.

7. Pictionary

One morning we all decided it would be great fun to engage in an online version of pictionary, which is a wonderful game to play with people who either can’t draw or are purposefully obtuse like myself (I drew an angry crab on a beach for the word “ocean”). The most notable drawing though was someones expert depiction of a wasp that looked like a badass praying mantis. We harbour some truly talented artists here at Neverbland.

8. Arty farty time

And speaking of artists, some of us go above and beyond just drawing wasps/praying mantes (yes I did have to ask Google what the plural of mantis was shut up). There’s been some art therapy style stuff going on such as vibrant colouring in, but also some sweet self-portraits like the one below. Check out our team page and see if you can guess who this guy is!

The mystery man

9. Pub quiz

What lockdown would be complete without a remote pub quiz? Our quiz master skilfully constructed a very comprehensive set of questions, kicking things off with a “Trump or Boris?” quote round. This was followed by a multitude of other categories such as guessing NHS facts, which was enlightening given current times. Also some advice: always be prepared to completely fail the music round if you’re a metalhead – as a seasoned but also terrible pub quiz attendee myself, I have learnt this the hard way. Oh and here’s a screenshot from the quiz featuring what looks like my colleague’s very large forearm:

Featuring my unimpressed face

10. Tiger King

And last, but not least: watch Tiger King god dammit! Ok so this bit isn’t really Neverbland endorsed, it’s more me endorsed. Seriously have you seen this show? It’s crazy, right? I feel like I need to watch it all over again to really understand what I even saw. I mean what the actual fuck. Trust me, check it out. You’ll thank me later.

Carole f*cking Baskin!

So there you have it: Neverbland’s guide to staying sane during these crazy times. Now remember kids: look after yourselves and your loved ones and for goodness sake keep washing those hands. Happy quarantining!

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