Most of us have been working from home now for almost a year, and this doesn’t look to change any time soon. Some have created new office spaces in their homes, adapted to a new remote work life, and some are simply enjoying not spending time on the early morning commute to the office (bye bye traffic and public transport!).
There are definitely pros and cons for individuals working from home for both employees and employers but what about the team as a whole?
While remote work obviously means the team are physically apart, a lot of us have now become masters at using video conferencing tools, such Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc, for virtual meetings and other communication platforms such Slack, Google Hangouts etc, to stay connected while working remotely.
By simply communicating via these tools, we may be led to believe that we are working well as a team in this new virtual environment but don’t be fooled - now, if not more than ever, we must keep team building a priority.
So why is team building in a virtual world important??
1: Human Connection
Even though we may sit through multiple virtual team meetings on various video conferencing platforms every day seeing other employees on a camera, these conversations tend be focused on a certain topic and sometimes not everyone will be engaged. By having virtual team building activities you allow co workers to relax and give them an opportunity to actually engage with each other, it reduces the feeling of just being virtual team members and feel more like co workers.
Simple - improve team motivation! Being motivated is super important in the virtual environment as we face new distractions as remote workers. It's a good way to focus your team's attention, being motivated as a team helps in completing tasks and reaching the common goal more efficiently.
3: Better Communication
Team building allows participants to get to know their co workers better, which in turn should help with better communication amongst team members. In some teams not all co workers work directly with each other, therefore if they are not in the office, they can lose those opportunities for ‘water cooler moments’ and may not communicate at all with each other in the virtual world. Reconnecting the team as a whole virtually and regularly will help everyone to stay contacted.
When introducing new remote employees, hosting a quick 30 minutes virtual team building with a range of icebreaker questions for co workers is a fun way to help new recruits connect with the team and help establish good communication.
4: Company Culture
A starting point for building a strong company culture while remote is definitely through virtual team building activities, adapting the virtual activities is a good way to share the desired culture and educate staff in a relaxed environment, which can not only be a fun way but could be more effective than a internal newsletter.
5: Sharing of ideas and knowledge
From my experience, the best new ideas and excitement for new projects has always been over a beer with the team after work on a Friday. When we are all chilled and having fun, suddenly ideas come flowing. This might not be the same with every team but since we have lost the ‘after work drinks’ option with the virtual world, it is worth considering scheduling some time in your team’s calendar regularly for a quick and fun activity such as a virtual happy hour to finish off the week - you never know what it might inspire!
In short, regardless of team size, making time to connect with your remote employees with a range of virtual activities is a great way to improve how your team interacts and works together. There are a variety of different options for virtual team building activities such a virtual happy hour, online office games e.g virtual trivia, virtual murder mystery, virtual bingo, tiny campfire.....and so many more.!