Let’s talk about the elephant in the (online) room

Stephanie Lunn

Global People and Culture Director



If your employees still mostly WFH, you may be struggling to create an emotional connection with them. You are not alone – this challenge is troubling many fellow HR minds.

The age-old dilemma whether you should promote collaboration or competition in your company culture has been replaced by a more critical question.


How to ensure that employees feel connected and belonging, when their only experience with the company is through a screen at home?

Hiring, onboarding, and working happens remotely. There aren’t many after-work socials, kitchen chats, lunches with colleagues - everything that used to create emotional bonds. No more “who took my yoghurt from the office fridge”, no more going to Patricia’s desk around 3pm for something sweet.

But it’s more complicated than that.

According to Mercer’s Talent Trends 2021 report, the biggest issue for HR in 2021 is employee fatigue. We all feel it now – too many online meetings, bad internet connections, too often “you’re on mute”.

Virtual can never really replace physical – even if Mark Zuckerberg et al want us to believe that.

(TOP) Employees of BDO UK attempting the record for the fastest time to balance a bottle on the head in relay (team of eight) from their homes with GWR hosts and official adjudicator Glenn Pollard
© 2021 Guinness World Records Limited

(BOTTOM) Employees of Guinness World Records during an internal online company challenge while working from home
© 2021 Guinness World Records Limited

How about trying to solve this challenge with well, a challenge?

Guinness World Records (GWR) has been organising employee engagement activities with record breaking for the last decade. For employees coming together on an away day or during an internal conference to bring CSR initiatives to life, boost team morale, or simply have fun.

Because of you-know-what, this has moved online. GWR’s Company Challenges redefine employee engagement – this is different from any other team-bonding activity. Your teams have probably already tried virtual cook-outs, tastings, quizzes, cocktail competitions, but have they tried to break a world record?

Ask the accountancy and business advisory team of BDO UK. They attempted records with props easily found around the home or office. Colleagues were split into teams and one team even set a brand-new record – for the fastest time to balance a bottle on the head in relay (team of eight).


Marie Broad, Citizenship and Wellbeing Manager, BDO UK, said:

“GWR ran a very engaging online event. The game show set-up was highly impressive and slick, the balance created was perfect for wellbeing, with an expertly-hosted session that everyone could relax into. This resulted in brilliant camaraderie and energised teamwork.

The finale was nail-biting, with a team achieving a genuine world record live in front of colleagues. We then celebrated on our internal and external social media with everyone involved, feeling incredibly proud.”

Before offering these emotional virtual experiences to the world, GWR tried and tested them internally. For a second year in a row, we are holding our global book launch and staff awards entirely online, with people from different offices competing and celebrating together.

So, the new answer to the question about competition vs. collaboration is celebration. Celebrate everyone, everywhere. Celebrate their successes, their failures, their hidden talents.

Your very own Company Challenge will not be an online meeting that could have been an email.


Online company challenges for your employees

Together, individually, or as a team – our record challenges engage and entertain like nothing your team has experienced before.

Find out more

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