Friday ‘work knockoffs’ look a little different these days but social connectedness among employees is still critical for business productivity and positive culture.

In response to new restrictions put in place due to COVID-19, organisations across Australia are using new media opportunities to unite those now working from home.

Hobart-based HARC Entertainment, which traditionally offered large corporate and event management companies live musical performances, has pivoted its business model since the onset of COVID-19. They now offer exclusive online performances with high-quality Australian musicians to clients eager to provide their hardworking employees with a morale boost during these difficult times.

Director, Angelene Harris, said workplaces are changing the way they nurture the needs of staff and the culture of the workplace through light and social offerings, such as these live online sessions.

“COVID-19 decimated the live music industry unexpectedly and almost immediately. Events which kept many musicians in work have temporarily disappeared,” she said.

Tasmanian musician Jordan Millar.

“Many corporate teams are now working from home and organisations are looking for creative ways to keep their staff engaged and connected so we altered our business model to provide acts for one-hour livestream bookings, ideal for team meetings, team celebrations, mental health breaks or virtual after work drinks,” Harris explained.

The artists take requests, encourage singalongs and engage and interact with staff working from home.

“This offers both staff and the artist a chance to forget about COVID-19 for an hour and connect over something joyous.”

Harris said it was important for HARC to support the industry— and artists whose work has been crippled— presenting a viable way for them to earn a living and do what they love.

Tasmanian musician Jordan Millar said many wouldn’t consider the arts an ‘essential service’, but music is an uplifting outlet for people facing uncertainty and stress during this crisis.

“This pandemic has forced the arts community to get creative in the way we engage with audiences,” he said. “This is a brilliant example of that creativity and innovation and gives us musos the chance to perform and do what we love, while also providing a much-needed income,” he said.

Multinational construction, property and infrastructure company, Lendlease, is one client reaping the rewards of keeping staff engaged during this difficult time.

Lendlease Group Head of Corporate Real Estate, Luke Greenwood, said the company had little notice prior to sending staff to work from home, and as such has had to alter its workplace engagement strategy to deliver it virtually almost immediately.

“It’s changed the way we engage our people and partners, and going by its success, elements will continue even when we’re back in our workplaces,” he said.

“Our programs aim to put people’s wellbeing first. We’re focused on maintaining and enhancing physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.”