5 Ways Storytelling Helps Our Team Stay Connected In Quarantine

by Ted Burnham

The coronavirus has forced so many of us to separate ourselves from family, friends and colleagues – and that includes Team Avanoo. But even though we’re physically apart, storytelling is helping to knit us back together.

We’ve been using our StoryApp over the last month to share about how we’re adapting to the lockdown and how each team is continuing to make progress in our work. Sharing stories through the app isn’t quite a replacement for the small daily touchpoints between team members who usually work at our Boulder or San Francisco offices, but it’s close. And because about half our team has always worked remotely from cities around the world, it’s giving all of us an opportunity to connect more deeply with far-flung colleagues.

The result is that despite all the fear, uncertainty, and isolation in the world right now, many of us are feeling a stronger sense of connection and belonging than ever before – which is ultimately supporting our performance as a team.

It’s a safe bet your team could use that kind of support right now, too. That’s why we’ve made StoryApp available for free through the end of May. Sign up for a virtual town hall or schedule a 1-on-1 demo to learn more.

To give you an idea of how workplace storytelling can support your team right now, here are a few of the ways we’re sharing our stories to help each other thrive through the pandemic.

1. What have you learned about yourself since the lockdown started?

One of our team’s guiding principles is that every challenge is an opportunity for growth, and this pandemic is no exception. Our stories are revealing that for many of us, it’s been an opportunity to discover the depths of our own resilience – our ability to stay calm in a crisis, to confront and move through our fears, and to adapt to the uncertainty by focusing on the things we can control. Those are lessons that will serve our team long after the lockdown ends.

2. What’s a favorite memory from when you were together in-person with another team member?

A bunch of us have shared memories of bonding at annual team retreats, when our whole team gathers at a rustic lodge in the Rocky Mountains. We’ve also reminisced about ping-pong rivalries, meeting each others’ children, and the time we chose to fill a sunny south-facing office with as many potted plants as we could find to bring a sense of light and life into the depths of the Colorado winter. Especially for those of us who miss being together daily in the office, sharing these stories is a great (if slightly bittersweet) way to sustain a feeling of camaraderie.

3. What motivates you to be your best self every day?

Sustaining motivation is a common challenge for remote work, and the pandemic is only making it worse. One of our team members shared that he stays on track with the daily mantra “Keep It Simple”. (He leaves off the last S, because life’s hard enough without negging yourself.) Others draw inspiration from favorite poets, family members, or simply by noticing small daily indicators of personal growth in themselves or the people around them. The important thing is for each individual to be mindful of what works for them and build daily habits that support performance.

4. What are your favorite childhood memories of Passover or Easter?

During the spring holiday season, our team told stories about cherished traditions like Passover Seders and Easter Egg Hunts, boat trips with grandparents and planting spring bulbs with mom. This gave us a welcome glimpse into each others’ lives and backgrounds, and emphasized a common theme – the importance of connecting with family – which is something we could all use a bit more of these days.

5. What’s a failure that helped you learn and improve this week?

We’ve always believed in celebrating failure as a stepping stone to success. Our team shares about failures we’ve learned from in each of our weekly team meetings, and in the StoryApp too. One recent example from our sales team was about a virtual event that went disastrously, horribly wrong – and how the team came together to analyze their failure, rethought the event structure, and the very next day held their best event yet. Stories like that remind us that no matter how hard things get, we’re always in control of our own destiny.

Bonus: StoryApp is becoming our virtual watercooler

On top of everything we’ve learned about each other and our work, building a daily storytelling habit through the StoryApp has also brought our team closer in ways we might never have experienced in the office. We’ve had moments of “show-and-tell” over treasured baseball memorabilia, watched each other’s pets fail hilariously to perform tricks on camera, and shared a few smiles at what self-isolation has done to some of our colleagues’ fashion choices. It all adds up to a feeling of connection and belonging that’s a direct antidote to the anxiety and isolation the pandemic keeps throwing at us.

Our stories are helping Team Avanoo feel stronger and more unified than ever. And by adopting these storytelling practices – made easy with the Avanoo StoryApp – you can do the same for your team.

(Feel free to steal the five story prompts above, by the way. And you can find even more story ideas in our ebook: Using Stories to Support Connection & Belonging During the COVID-19 Crisis.)


—Ted Burnham, Avanoo Lead Content Marketer

About Ted

Ted Burnham loves the power of words – to tell stories, explain big ideas, and help people connect. He is a writer, editor, multimedia producer, storyteller, and “professional combobulator”. Ted’s work has appeared on NPR, Popular Science, and elsewhere.

About Avanoo

Avanoo brings together the world’s oldest artform – storytelling – and the world’s newest technologies – AI, machine learning – to support teams in experiencing more connection, belonging, and performance. Our app makes it easy for employees to share and listen to each other’s stories wherever they are, and our insights dashboard makes it easy for leaders to understand where and how stories create lasting impact on their teams. Learn more: Avanoo.com
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