Written by Pari Adams and Lauren Greenhough

Albert Einstein once said “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

At Wavemaker North, we strive for that daily through an initiative called #wmbrainwaves.

What is WM Brainwaves?

Brainwaves is a team-building initiative which has been running at Wavemaker Manchester for two years. Now, as the agency finds itself working from home, it means more than ever as it acts as a glue to keep us interconnected, even though we are physically apart.

Brainwaves started back in 2016 (the MEC days) and was originally called ‘Brain Games’. The office had just seen a big desk move, and what a better way to encourage new ‘pod’ members to collaborate together than with a bit of healthy competition. The simple aim of the initiative was to encourage the agency to be curious, try new things and develop new perspectives. Each quarter, a list of curiosity-inspired challenges were set. Because we are the most competitive bunch of people, there of course, had to be a leader board!

‘Brain Games’ took a mini hiatus and went on a gap year to ‘find itself’ – cue 2019 and find itself it did, and #wmbrainwaves was born. Being curious is important both for our careers and our personal-development. Curiosity remains the core pillar of the Brainwaves initiative, as it makes us more self-aware, helps us become better problem solvers and introduces us to new passions.

A way to stay connected

This year, things are a little bit different. Originally planning to launch in March, Brainwaves needed to adapt in order to create a set of challenges which could work from home and be social-distance friendly. The initiative has been especially valued throughout the pandemic, as Covid-19 may have forced our everyday office chit-chat to change, but our sociability hasn’t disappeared: it’s simply moved onto a different platform. Unlike typical office conversations, however, the photographic element of Brainwaves has allowed for a new form of familiarity with one another.

Brainwaves’ challenges range from the cultural – as we share great book titles, new recipes, and binge-worthy series – to the inspirational, which we’ve seen through meaningful quotes. We’ve also observed one another live through the joys – and challenges – of working from home – for #invasion, we’ve seen the likes of energetic toddlers, kittens, and other video conference intrusions. We’ve also observed each other connecting to our wider communities by going out of our way for our neighbours, donating to charity, and clapping for our NHS. Many of the challenges, such as ‘sharing your morning routine’ (#goodmorning) and ‘taking part in a group video call’ (#teamgoals) are not meant to be hard, yet they lead us to document our activity and share with one another. While others challenges, like ‘trying a new hobby or tutorial’ (#letitgrow) and ‘writing a book review for a new book’ (#bookworm) are meant to push us by partaking in something novel or unfamiliar.

The initiative has allowed us to stay connected as an agency and helped maintain a degree of healthy competition and fun to our work-life dynamic. Much of the pandemic has left people feeling uncertainty in multiple facets of their lives, and Brainwaves has been an opportunity for us not only to share the exciting and heartwarming moments but also some of the ‘everyday’ that makes up our lives. It’s helped us retain a feeling of normality which is currently up in the air in so many ways. Brainwaves has ultimately allowed us to get to know one another better, and importantly, has motivated us to keep growing together, even though we’re separated by distance.

What our Wavemakers think

#WMBrainwaves reminds me to be a bit more curious each day.  It prompts me to break the routine and to experience new things. And it’s all wrapped up in a healthy bit of competition which always bonds us as a team! Never have these things been more important than over the last six weeks of lockdown. #WMBrainwaves has been a great way of keeping us connected as a team outside of the daily grind of video calls and discussions about what’s for tea! It’s also given us little excuses each day to move away from our screen and let our minds wonder.

Kate Bradbury

#WMBrainwaves has been a great way for us share a little bit of us outside of work during this very very strange time. I have loved seeing everyone’s images of families, pets and interests. With our workloads as busy as ever, it also gives us a reason to chat about something else and have a giggle when we need it most. With tasks such as new hobbies and recipes, it has also prompted us to try out new things during our extended time at home – perhaps I’ll even venture outside the safety of banana cake and try baking something new!

Justine Dash

Brainwaves definitely made a welcome return at the right time as we started lockdown. It’s always good fun and the healthy rivalry side of things help us feel connected as a group of people. It also reminds us that despite the current restrictions we can still create new experiences!

Martin Slater

So be sure to keep an eye on our future Brainwaves challenges by following the #wmbrainwaves hashtag on Instagram.