Each year, disengaged employees cost US businesses billions of dollars. Team building boosts company morale, attracts top talent, and improves engagement. With more and more teams opting for full or partially remote offices, businesses are faced with the challenge of how to get employees engaged virtually. Remote team building activities should not be overlooked.
Working from home in separate locations only increases the need for a company-wide team building strategy. Remote employees have fewer opportunities to get to know their coworkers and engage as a team beyond the daily grind of workflows.
Teams that work well together and understand each other are more collaborative and engaged. When engagement is high, motivation and productivity improve, which is a good sign for your bottom line. Team building is an investment that’s rewarded with happy, engaged employees who enjoy their jobs and trust the people they work with.
In this post, we’ll discuss the difficulties of team building with remote employees and share ideas for how you can engage employees remotely.
Team building engages employees in their work. Businesses need to invest in team building for remote employees to boost morale and overall wellbeing. Now more than ever before, businesses need to prioritize the happiness and mental health of workers.
They should feel supported by the company they work with, and they should know their employer is invested in their health. This support will help keep morale stable even in the most tumultuous of times.
Productivity improves when employee engagement improves. A team that is engaged and has learned to work well together is able to get more done more quickly. Team building activities help build trust between workers, which means faster, more efficient decision making. It also means fewer misunderstandings and miscommunications that can get in the way of productive workflows.
Employee turnover is a huge expense that you may be able to avoid by investing in a team building strategy. Prioritizing team building brings your team closer together and illustrates that an employer cares about the wellbeing of the individuals they employ. Employees who are part of an effective team that trusts and understands each other are less likely to look for employment elsewhere.
Become the company that everyone wants to work for. Your employees will talk about their experience, and the more positive that gossip is, the better your talent pool will be next time you need to hire.
When employees work remotely, their schedules become more flexible. This allows each individual to work and take breaks when it best suits their work habits; unfortunately, that means it can be difficult to coordinate team building activities for remote employees.
To manage a variety of schedules, ensure you plan any mandatory team building activities with plenty of advance notice. Make your optional activities occur at different times to accommodate various schedules, and always ask your team what works best for them. You can create a Doodle calendar that allows employees to vote for their preferred date and time to ensure you choose what works for everyone or, at the very least, the vast majority.
Technology is the savior of remote work, but it’s also the demise. Remote teams have to rely completely on WiFi, software, and technological devices in order to function properly, and that applies to any remote team building activities as well.
Provide as much assistance as you can to your employees to ensure they have adequate internet and equipment. No matter how much you do to prevent technical downtime, it’s inevitable. At some point, something will go wrong—a lost connection, slow streaming speed, or a broken device. Be patient and work through it as a team. Consider it all part of the team building exercise.
Below we’ve outlined a bunch of different virtual team building options from quick activities to larger professional development sessions.
Lunch and learns foster creativity and improve technical skills across your team. They may be designed for traditional office environments, but there’s no reason why you can’t use the same concept for remote teams. You can run virtual lunch and learns that bring your team together for an extended video conference lunch. Set a specific topic—ideally, chosen by your team—and begin learning together.
Lunch and learn topics might include learning about:
Use the resources you already have built into your team. Ask if anyone has specialized knowledge or skills that they would be willing to share over a lunch and learn.
💡 Read ourGuide on How to Host a Lunch and Learn.
Today’s technology makes it possible to attend conferences from anywhere in the world, with some conferences providing virtual access to live talks and recorded events at no cost. Remote teams can participate in conferences that are completely virtual to keep up with industry trends and network with like-minded professionals and businesses.
Give your employees time to participate in a virtual conference together, or have one employee participate who relays a Zoom summary to the larger team.
Personality tests help teams better understand each other. They look at what makes each employee different to illustrate the unique strengths of each team member. The DiSC personality test seeks to enable greater connection and communication between individuals and teams. The more you know about how your teammates work, the more effectively you can communicate with them.
Enneagrams help people better understand themselves and those around them. When employees understand their own strengths and weaknesses, they are able to work more effectively on their own and with a team. Completing and analyzing Enneagrams in the workplace can improve communication and mitigate conflict.
Quick team building exercises are an ideal way to get everyone comfortable before a meeting begins, and they help ensure tech is working properly before you get down to business. Two truths and a lie is a quick little game that can break the ice at the start of any meeting. To play, say three statements about yourself, and ask your team to do the same. Two of the statements will be actual things that have happened to you, and one will be a lie. Once someone says their three statements, everyone else has the job of deciding which statement is false.
You may not be right in front of your teammates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage in a light rock paper scissors competition. At the beginning of a meeting, pair off and play rock paper scissors until you are left with one tournament winner. It may be challenging to coordinate timing for this game, but the practice will ensure all of your audio and visual tech are up to speed before the real meeting begins.
Promote mindfulness before a Zoom meeting by getting everyone to write down any grievances they have in that moment on a piece of paper. What’s bothering you today? Did anything go wrong so far? Are you worried about anything coming up? Did your child or pet wake you up early this morning? Big or small, write down what’s on your mind. If a few people want to share with the group, they can, but don’t make this mandatory. After everyone is done, have each person rip up the paper, cathartically leaving those grievances behind for at least the duration of the meeting.
It doesn’t have to all be about learning. Look for creative ways to engage employees virtually. If your team is interested, set dress up themes for your Zoom meetings. Halloween is the perfect opportunity for this, but you don’t need to wait until October 31st.
Dress up days could include:
This idea is Larry’s favorite! 🐶 Did you ever wish you could bring your pet to work with you? If you work remotely, this has already become a daily reality and dream come true. Bringing your pets to a Zoom meeting (or the start of one) will let all of those pet-loving employees ogle and awe over each other's fluffy, scaly, or feathery pals.
With the rise of remote work comes the rise of virtual escape rooms. You may remember participating in an escape room with a group of friends or colleagues in the past; now, you can have a similar experience online. Escape rooms offer numerous fun team building activities for remote employees since there are so many virtual rooms to choose from.
Virtual Escape Rooms:
Virtual escape rooms bring a team together around a common goal outside of the typical workplace problem. They foster critical thinking, decision making, and collaboration, all while giving employees a chance to think about something other than work.
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