COVID-19 shifts workplace hobbies online

The pandemic flipped life on its head figuratively and literally, changing daily routines and habits. In terms of workplace hobbies and recreation, COVID-19 digitally altered how Kiiltonians exercise and interact given the current situation and various gathering restrictions. Despite this challenge, Kiilto promotes outdoor activities and hosts virtual sessions to get people moving and grooving, ushering in a new era of inclusiveness within the company. 

New forms of hobbies

Awarded the Most Active Workplace in Finland twice in the last five years, Kiilto is no stranger to movement and implementing quirky, new hobbies like desk yoga. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put a temporary hold on workplace shenanigans due to pandemic-related guidelines. In order to hit the play button yet again, Kiilto needed to develop creative and inclusive ways to keep the Kiiltonian spirit healthy, alive and well-connected.

“We were faced with a new situation in this respect, as well. We needed to develop safe opportunities for exercising and engaging in hobbies during the pandemic. At the same time, we were offered the opportunity to try out new ways of engaging in hobbies that were no longer tied to a certain location,” describes Executive Assistant Tiina Niemi, who is responsible for the practical implementation of workplace hobbies at Kiilto.

Anyone can participate in remote hobbies

Some hobbies were easier than others to move online, such as Kiilto Yoga and Kiilto Choir. Sadly, Kiilto Floorball required more than just a video connection.

Even so, virtual gatherings made it easier to invite more Kiiltonians to participate in workplace hobbies.  

“Thanks to the changed situation and remote connections, we were able to provide all Kiiltonians with the opportunity to engage in hobbies regardless of their location,” says Niemi.

For RDI Manager Virve Töyrylä, Kiiltonian remote yoga was a completely new form of exercise:

“It was great to get to know it remotely in the peace and comfort of my own living room. I liked ending the first workday of the week with body conditioning exercises and relaxation before doing whatever I needed to do that evening. At first, we had some technical difficulties, but the instructor handled the situation well and also guided us verbally, as it’s quite difficult to look at the screen during some of the asanas.”

Application encourages remote workers to exercise

Traditionally, Kiilto has incorporated exercise throughout the day, whether in the form of standing desks or lunchtime walks. However, remote work tends to decrease exercise and increase stress, as back-to-back digital meetings interrupt natural breaks and common time with co-workers.  

To overcome this problem, Kiilto recently introduced the break exercise application Cuckoo Workout to Kiiltonians and their everyday work schedules, placing greater emphasis on refreshing the mind and body. By sending daily reminders, Cuckoo Work prompts Kiiltonians to choose a 2-3 minute exercise video from nine categories, such as mindfulness, brain challenges, posture, and lower back.

“I’ve been really pleasantly surprised by the wide selection of exercises offered by the app and especially by the reminder feature. The app has helped me find many new exercises for the breaks,” says Mirkka Marjanen, Marketing Specialist and promoter of sports at Kiilto.

Remote harmonies

Compared to individual-based hobbies, community-focused hobbies that require a sense of togetherness were challenged in reaching the same levels of live interaction and connectedness prior to COVID-19. Members of Kiilto Choir experienced this phenomenon first-hand, wondering if there was no substitute for the real thing. Their voices usually fill a room and seamlessly intertwine in harmony, but when singing remotely members felt more disjointed and off-beat than before.

Luckily, as they say, practice makes perfect.

“I was surprised by how important it is to be able to sing together in the same space. To me, it’s the most empowering aspect of singing in a choir,” describes RDI Assistant Päivi Jokinen, after which the other members of the remote choir confirm the importance of the sense of community provided by the choir.“During the pandemic, the choir members have mostly practiced independently. They have recorded separate videos and audio tracks that have then been edited into music videos. I have also provided the choir members with private singing lessons,” says choir conductor Maija Halme about the practices of the remote choir.

Overall, the Kiilto Choir quickly adapted to their new musical instrument – Microsoft Teams – and enjoyed unforeseen benefits. Members experimented with different music video projects, capturing both harmonious sounds and valuable Kiiltonian moments with each note and visual. Nowadays, the Kiilto Choir has found a happy medium between the old way and the new way of singing by rehearsing together outside while respecting safety distances.  

Attend a free Kiilto Concert at