Since the beginning of the pandemic, most offices have shifted to working remotely. Ready or not, it must be challenging for the majority of people to work virtually and stay motivated. It is particularly difficult to connect with everyone in your remote team, especially for new employees. However, economic expansion and technology have refuelled virtual work, allowing employees to work flexibly and stay in touch while being geographically dispersed.
While working from a brick-and-mortar office space, employees had the privilege to socialize at cafeterias, office desks, or work events. However, with the rise of remote work, communication and bonds between colleagues are slowly becoming strained. Therefore, organizations need to keep their virtual teams aligned with company culture while ensuring their productivity. Virtual team building activities are a tremendous way to do this.
As Steve Jobs said, “Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people,” corporations must organize activities that leverage team empowerment and employee engagement. These include weekly activities, happy hours, online game sessions and fun challenges.
In this article, I will talk about some tips for virtual team building activities.
Why does it matter?
Adapting to working in a remote-first environment and without face-to-face communication can be a struggle sometimes. In order to maintain relationships and trust with your employees, virtual team building is a necessary process for your team.
According to Gallup research, “Virtual team-building exercise leads to an increase in employee performance rate, claims 41% lower absenteeism and 21% higher profitability.”
There are servals benefits from virtual team building as well:
Why does virtual team building matter? (Designed by Dana Barakat)
1) Build stronger relationships
It brings employees closer together, allowing them to build trust and teamwork. Also, getting to know each other better highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each other.
2) Combat Loneliness & Isolation
The transition from office-based working to working from home is a big change. Virtual team-building makes employees feel more valuable to their company. By coming together at least once a month, employees learn that they are valued by their company, and this gives them more job satisfaction.
3) Innovation & Developing skills
Fun virtual team-building activities also help in reducing stress and taking care of employee’s mental health. In addition, virtual team building helps prevent conflicts among team members. If team members don’t communicate well with each other and share information in an honest way, it can cause conflicts and arguments. But when they gather together at least once a week to discuss issues or while partaking in online activities, it helps prevent conflicts.
4) Wallet Friendly
As working from home, companies don’t have to provide items such as office rent, utilities and transport fees etc. And therefore, companies can focus on expenses that are important to each employee and can cut down expenses used for commuting, etc…
Suggestions to keep your virtual team engaged & increase the personal bonds
1. Virtual escape room
It will bring everyone closer as they collaborate to solve challenging puzzles.
2. Happy hour
It’s nice to catch up after a long day’s work. Happy hour will provide a chill environment to your employees to talk about themselves rather than work.
3. Virtual wine tasting
Since the pandemic impacted a large portion of our daily lives, we might not be able to go out to have happy hour as usual. It’s not a bad idea to have a wine tasting with your team. Invite a professional wine taster to teach your team about wine regions and talk about body, acidity and pairing the wines with food.
4. Typing speed race
TypeRacer is a fun little challenge game for everyone to play online. Imagine you make a board for your team and have a different top scorer on the board each week. On top of this, it is good to build up your typing skills and speed.
5. Among us
Among us is a more entertaining game to play with your colleagues. The game is designed to focus on communication and creating teams.
6. DIY baking
Just because everyone is cooking at home, it doesn’t mean you have to cook alone. Try to order the same cooking kit and cook with your team, it will be a fun, practical, and at the end you get to eat something (hopefully) delicious.
Other ways to improve virtual teams (Tips)
1.Establish consensus team guidelines
As mentioned before, there are very few opportunities for face-to-face communication with virtual teams, unlike face-to-face communication that can obtain enough information and timely feedback. Therefore, at the beginning of the establishment of a team, it is necessary to discuss and formulate team guidelines with all members. This set of guidelines includes the team’s work objectives, responsibilities and division of labour, communication mechanisms, communication channels, information sharing mechanisms and so on. In short, a virtual team needs such a set of behavioural norms to guide the daily actions of all members, otherwise such team characteristics will greatly increase the difficulty of management and create a situation of “self-government”.
2. Importance of “one-to-one” communication
“One-to-one” communication between managers and their members is what all managers need to do. For virtual teams, although face-to-face communication is not happening most of the time, you can still communicate individually through telephone or video. Such “one-to-one” communication is not only to follow up the work progress of members in different places, but also to understand their current status and ideas and suggestions for the future work of the team. At the same time, this is also an opportunity for managers to deepen their understanding of members. If employees need help, managers can also respond in a timelier manner.
3.Establishing standardized work processes
A good, stretchable process control can help employees be more flexible when responding to emergencies.
It is lucky for us to live in this generation as having such developed technology that brings us closer to each other. And therefore, we are able to use the internet to overcome geographical challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many workers to be suddenly shut off from most forms of social interaction, leading to a decrease in mental health and wellbeing, and as a result, productivity. Introducing engaging virtual team building activities can be a great way to combat this and get everyone feeling more positive and more connected.