Just like all the other companies that went remote in March, here at Mad Fish we had to rethink a lot of our day-to-day interactions. We went from an office full of people to everyone working from home. We changed our in-person meetings to virtual and worked through early struggles to figure out the right amount of communication and how to collaborate differently. 

It is important to our company’s purpose that we help our employees stay connected to each other. Now more than ever, teams need an environment where they can count on each other for good work and support. After all, companies that have a positive company culture find their employees have increased productivity and communicate better, resulting in a higher likelihood of retaining workers. 

Collaborating and being genuine in our interactions are company values that we have easily leaned on throughout this year. However, how we go about creating spaces to connect and foster communication between our team falls under one of our lesser known but very important values – Fun-ish.

We get a lot of questions as to what we mean by fun-ish. Fun-ish means “we know when and how to have a good time.” While in the office, we had a good mix of fun-ish activities to foster team building. We had quarterly themed potlucks (Superbowl foods, Thanksgiving and our personal favorite grandma recipes), game days, happy hours at dive bars around our neighborhood, cookie swaps every December and our annual Treat-Yo-Self bake off.

Keeping fun-ish top of mind, we have created some great alternative ways to keep the team connected virtually. Below are some of the best virtual team collaboration ideas we have put into practice. 

Creative Catch-Ups

Every two weeks we pair two employees together for a creative catch-up. Those two people then find time on their schedules for a 30-60 minute chat. These can be casual conversations over morning coffee, lunch break meetups, or end of day happy hours. There is no real script or agenda, just a time to get to know each other and have those random conversations that may have occurred naturally in the breakroom or common spaces at the office. 

Digital Birthday and Anniversary Cards

For years, we sent cards for birthdays and anniversaries discretely through the office. Moving remote, we had to get creative on how to celebrate and show gratitude to our fellow employees on these special dates. Now we send around a Google doc, have everyone write a message and have our design team create a PDF themed to that person. These cards have featured plants, astrology, Twilight, frisbee golf – a wide variety of themes to fit our diverse set of personalities.

Illustrated birthday cards30-minute Morning Coffees or Lunch

We now host one or two morning coffee or lunch sessions each month. These are not required and anyone can join depending on their schedules. We have employees on the East and West coasts so what might be morning coffee on one coast is lunch time for the other. Sometimes we have a conversation prompt but most times the conversation flows naturally as we share the latest twitter meme going around, home project underway or doggie updates. 

Virtual Games

Group games have always been a part of Mad Fish. In the office we have a cupboard of board games or we would play a round of Betty White. Going virtual has definitely flexed our brain muscles on the types of group games we can play. Trivia has been one of the easiest but we’ve also tried Catchphrase using this word mixer, Family Feud and Quiplash.

Innovation Day

We’ve had two innovation days while being remote. We take half the day and break our employees into groups of 4. We give them a topic, they put a presentation together, present and then we vote on the best solution. For the first prompt we gave everyone a chance to be creative. We asked them to “Come up with an app that would solve a real world problem.” The second prompt was much more company focused. Each year we do strategic planning and wanted to hear from the team what was important to them. The topic was “What is the biggest opportunity for the Mad Fish team in 2021?” These innovation days have been a huge success and give energy to the team. 

Cultivating Even Better CommunicationWednesday All-Team Presentations

Mad Fish has had Wednesday presentations for the last few years. Each Wednesday one of our teams (Content, Design, PPC, Client Strategy and Sales) presents to the rest of the company. Topics can be anything – industry trends, updates to processes or services, what’s worked and not worked for clients or a time to brainstorm and collaborate. We end nearly every session with “Guess that team member.” The presenting team throws up 3 fun facts and we all try to guess which team member it is. This always prompts a bunch of questions and more sharing from the team. These all-team presentations are a great way to foster cross team collaboration and see everyone mid-week.

Virtual backgrounds

Every 3rd Wednesday we have a zoom themed background day and spend the first few minutes of our Wednesday presentation discussing our background. Themes have ranged from favorite food or restaurants, to where you want to visit or your favorite charitable organization. It gives the team a chance to know each other better and learn about new things.


We use Slack as our way to communicate daily on work topics. However, we also have different channels to bring our team together. 

  • #Celebrate-the-win: a channel to give shout outs to our fellow team members for doing a great job
  • #Fun-ish: This channel is a place for our office banter. Random polls like taco vs burrito, the latest and greatest Tik Tok video, or just generally funny things we’ve seen
  • #Dogs: While in the office we allow 2 dogs a day so now this channel has turned into posting your dog (and cat) sleeping or doing cute things
  • Random channels: We have lots of random channels where team members can connect on different topics: #Recipes, #bachelornation (for those fans of the bachelor and bachelorette), #true crime and #ripcity for our Portland Trail Blazer fans

What fun-ish activities would you bring to the team? Mad Fish Digital is looking for more great leaders and experts in design, content, strategy and paid media. Check out our career page to learn more, ask questions and apply.