A cohesive remote team means your employees effortless working together, having great relationships, and good communication. But creating a harmonious and efficient team requires extra effort when colleagues are not based in the same location. Without the chats over coffee or passing the time of day, it’s harder for team members to get a beat on who their co-workers are and the best way to relate to each other.
Traditional team building, designed to take workmates based in the same office or factory out on a trip to do something fun or engaging, can be very effective. But this approach is not possible in the remote workplace.
It would be easy to think that because your team may never meet physically, that relationships and bonds are less important. But setting up a business is more than financial and logistical. Yes, you need to get a business license and have a business plan, but you also need a group of people who can work together. It is as crucial for productivity and profit as premises and products. But remote working means taking a different approach to team building.
Planning Your Virtual Team Building
As with any event, good planning leads to a good result. It’s important to consider who your team is and what is likely to appeal to them. You could even send a list of possible activities to choose from and get your team engaged and interested ahead of time.
Give some thought to whether you need a live event or if team members in different time zones might be more able to participate in their own time. Research good conference call companies and ensure the communication will be as smooth as possible. It’s also good to think about an ice breaker - just as you would with an in-person event. It could be a brief ‘hello’ from each team member or a short fun activity.
It’s good to have a mix of practical and fun activities. Working alone in your home can be lonely, and remote workers worry that their hard work is not as visible or quantifiable and, therefore, not as valued as their in-house colleagues. It’s great to think of some work-related challenges, but games and puzzles that are just for fun, are equally useful in making people feel connected.
When choosing games, think about activities that require teamwork and collaboration rather than individual competition. Divide large groups into several teams, and think ahead about the mix of people you will put in each group. Make sure all the tech people or creatives aren’t on one team; have a fair distribution of abilities and talent.
With topics for quiz questions, make sure you cover a broad range of interests. Don’t assume everyone likes sports or movies. It’s also good to think about different personality types. Not everyone is an extrovert, so activities like karaoke or anything that involves mining or acting can make some people uncomfortable. Make sure there is scope for everyone to join in without feeling exposed or put on the spot.
Let’s look at five brilliant virtual team building activities that will work for any team.
Image sourced from thrill.com.au
1. Games and Quizzes
For games to work well in a virtual setting, make sure you have good internet conferencing technology, and ensure you can divide the group into teams, and allow them to talk amongst themselves, as well as speak to the whole group when they need to.
Think outside the box with quizzes, don’t just go for the general knowledge Q&As. There is a range of fantastic online quizzes where teams match logos to brands, music clips to songs, or anagrams to cities. It’s also more interesting if the quiz involves looking at images, film clips, listening to sounds, and reading text.
Consider the international mix you may have in your team. Make sure quizzes are fair. It will be fun to have virtual rewards too. Don’t make them all US or Europe-centric if your team is based largely in Asia or the Middle East. Include a broad range of subject matter. Lastly, there’s no point in playing a game if you can’t see the score; make sure you have points and scores on screen so that team members can see who is winning.
Image sourced from financesonline.com
2. Personal Facts
Team-building involves fostering connections and bonds that positively affect everything from workflow automation for efficient virtual teams to productivity and lowering staff turnover.
Relationships are key. Although a virtual team may already know each other’s names and job functions, team building is a chance to allow colleagues to know a bit more about each other on a personal level. After all, in work emails and calls, there is little chance to talk about hobbies or home life.
Gather information about each team member ahead of time; play match the hobby, favorite book, song, movie, or pet to the person. Play a true or false game where team members have to embed a lie about themselves in a short speech. Allow the other team members to work together to figure out the lie.
Always respect privacy and cultural sensitivities; not every person will come from a background where they are comfortable showing photos of their home or sharing too much about their private life; remember to think ahead about what will be appropriate for your particular team.
Teams come together effectively when they have to put their brains together to face a challenge or solve a problem. Challenge scenarios such as playing detectives to get to the bottom of a mystery, or getting out of an escape room, are great fun and provide plenty of opportunities to work as a team.
These days some companies offer to host and run such activities, and many can be done online. The graphics and visuals are of a similar standard to computer games and can be immersive and engaging.
This approach to getting employees to put their heads together to meet a challenge is not only fun; it’s practice at flexing the muscles a great team needs to do their everyday jobs. But fun shouldn’t only be confined to team building, there is a range of fun team meeting ideas that can be great as an ongoing approach to helping your team work together.
Image sourced from Zippia.com
4. Creative Activities
Creativity is a key part of any successful business. Every post requires a degree of creative thinking; your tech team might come up with a new ad hoc testing example, or your marketing colleagues might brainstorm original ways to get your brand message out there. Creativity is something to foster and encourage, but as well as being a powerful business tool, creativity is also a lot of fun.
Working together on a creative challenge is also a great way to encourage team members to listen to each other and take on board their colleagues’ ideas. Some good examples of creative activities are: writing a story together, coming up with a movie idea and pitch, or planning an imaginary event. To inspire your team, ensure they get prompts, examples, and plenty of visuals and even sound effects.
This is the kind of activity that could rapidly expand into a huge task, but there are ways to keep the task manageable. You can set a time limit, give team members a structure and steps to follow, and encourage employees to think fast.
The ability to solve problems is vital in any business setting and it’s particularly important in digital workplace management. Problem-solving activities can also be great fun when it comes to team building.
The challenges you set for the team need not be work-related. Hypothetical situations often work much better. For example, you could set the team the challenge of transporting themselves and a series of objects across a ravine, laying down rules for what they can and cannot do.
Alternatively, you could strand them on an uninhabited island and get them to plan strategies for surviving and escaping. The important thing is that teams must make unanimous decisions and talk through as a group which strategy to adopt. Make the challenges as real and interesting as possible and give them visuals to inspire and encourage ideas. Image sourced from financesonline.com
It’s critical to gauge the success of your team building; one idea is to send out some employee satisfaction questions after the event. This way, you can get an idea of how your employees felt about the experience and if it was enjoyable and worthwhile from their viewpoint. Use this feedback to shape and plan future events.
Since the idea of team building is to foster communication and form working relationships, ensure you set up channels that facilitate chatting and socializing between remote colleagues after the team building has ended. If colleagues highlight any issues with communication, look at setting up a cloud-based business phone for your company.
Team building should be a feel-good activity, not a chore, so be mindful that the most crucial aspect is that employees connect and have fun. When moderating, give attention to smiling faces or those looking uncomfortable; make sure each person feels included and valued and ensure that even quieter individuals have their voices heard and feel able to partake.
Written by Grace Lau
Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO, Artificial Intelligence Customer Service, and Ops teams to build and nurture content.