With a vast number of organizations asking their employees to stay at home following the coronavirus outbreak, many of us are now working from home. While remote working is not a completely alien concept and some of us are already used to remote working, there are a lot of others struggling to acclimate to this new way of working.
There are a vast number of pros for remote working, but one of the downsides is that remote teams have fewer opportunities to socialize and really get to know their team members. This can easily lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from team members, and even worse, may lead to team conflicts and reduced productivity for some.
We all know how important it is to maintain happy and healthy working relationships with your team members. Every day your work requires you to solve problems together with your colleagues, collaborate on projects, and be able to communicate clearly and openly. Hence, it becomes necessary to have strategies to build effective virtual teams.
There are numerous team-building exercises you can choose from, but you need to have clarity on your purpose and goal before selecting which one to go with.
So, the first step is defining the objective. Do you want to introduce your virtually placed teams to each other and get to know each other better, build trust between teams, improve communication, improve listening skills, or increase productivity? This is important to think through so that your outcomes match your objectives.
The next, most obvious step, is deciding on the platform you will use to connect. Organizations are increasingly using remote communication tools for calls & videoconferencing, to allow team members to talk in real-time and to connect with one another, and share data in real-time. Our article Using Technology To Keep Employees Engaged, Satisfied, And Motivated During A Crisis talks in detail about how you can use technology tools to collaborate with your teams and keep them engaged, satisfied, and motivated.
Here are some of the most popular team building initiatives & strategies that you can consider: –
Ensure face time with video meetings
Having face time with your team is a very important component of developing effective teams. When operating remotely, video conferences are the only means to ensure some face time with your team members. Organizing such video conferences will establish familiarity, alliance and trust between team members.
Make your video meetings interesting sessions for the participants by using positive body language and tone for effective communication. Remember not to ignore the importance of maintaining soft eye contact with your participants.
The objective here is to encourage your team members to use videoconferencing routinely, as this makes them communicate more openly and effectively with one another.
Bond over casual chats
Working remotely certainly cuts down on your physical movement. When you work from home, you obviously do not get a chance to go to your colleagues’ desk and have a casual conversation with them, there are no water cooler chats, no lunch table discussions or tea/coffee breaks with your team members. Various studies have proved that such small chat sessions are very important for our mental well-being and increases bond between co-workers.
Hence, it is advised to have casual chat sessions for all the team members where you can have all kind of discussion likes movies, sports, books, anything except work. Plan a weekly virtual breakfast/coffee meeting, you can also consider having a virtual lunch once a month. This not only improves mental well-being, but it also helps to know your team members better.
Connect over health and wellness sessions
Another interesting and relevant area where virtual teams can connect and focus on is health and wellness sessions. You can plan virtual health challenges for the team focused on fitness challenges and games. To make it more interesting and keep the participants motivated you can also keep scores for each participating member.
Encourage employees to share videos, photos, conduct live sessions and tutorials with your employees about how they can keep themselves fit and healthy. Focusing on team members’ well-being is a good way to foster care and compassion. Ask employees to volunteer to teach something they are good at to other employees. Such initiatives drive high engagement as the trainer/presenter is someone from their own organization.
Create virtual fun clubs
Teams that play and laugh together, innovate together. Fun and casual settings ignite easy communication and collaboration.
When working virtually, the way we communicate with each other changes as we are looking at each other through screens, incapable to gauge body language, tone, etc. Having virtual talent and fun clubs in your organization is a great way to encourage people to come forward to share their talent with others in the organization. Also, it provides a medium to the employees to relax and do what they enjoy most. Make various groups in the club like dance group, music & singing group, painting, gardening group, cooking, and book lovers’ group, etc.
The idea of having fun clubs is to make people step out of their comfort zone, speak their mind, have proactive listening skills, improve focus, build trust, and attain the ability to make each other look good, and not to forget a whole bunch of laughs!
Conduct virtual training sessions
Working remotely does not mean you have to miss learning opportunities. Employees can have a profound learning experience remotely also, with a virtual trainer. Use the right technology to deliver a classroom like experience to the trainees.
Organize training sessions focused not just on work related subjects but lot of other interesting subjects which might interest your employees.
Building and maintaining a virtual company culture
When teams are operating virtually, the company culture tends to be ignored or in some cases, completely disappears. In the absence of a physical office, creating a team or organization culture may be a little challenging.
Organizations (HR and managers) need to take out time consistently for remote team building and maintaining organization culture. You can do this by talking about your organization values frequently, creating a sense of ownership within teams, encouraging a culture of innovation and sharing ideas, frequent communication from senior management, promoting an organizational culture of learning, and lot more. For a complete guide on Building and maintaining a virtual company culture, read our blog on Building and Maintaining Organizational Culture with Remote Teams.
Integrating team-building initiatives into your virtual team will pay enormous surpluses both in terms of lifting the state of mind and improving company culture. Hence, businesses must be more innovative and creative in maintaining a sense of organizational culture virtually.
As workspaces and teams become increasingly virtual, focusing on remote team building activities present an excellent opportunity to leverage engagement. Virtual team-building exercises are a great way for improving communication, building trust, enhancing creativity, reducing conflict, and helping your team members to understand each another better.
If you are facing any challenge regarding virtual team building, virtual hiring or any other staffing related challenges, feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and our experts will be happy to help you.