Tech advancements lead to creating virtual teams which are more common than ever before. And as more and more workers relocate their work space to home offices, the virtual team phenomenon is only going to grow in the years ahead.
But while “going virtual” has its perks for employees as to freedom and transportation savings, and to employers as to saved office space and less use of company equipment, it also presents some very real challenges.
Team building is especially challenging when all or a good part of the team isn’t even physically present. But here are 5 tried and true activities you can use to forge your off-site employees into a true and living team:
1. Virtual Conferencing
Invest in getting high-quality virtual meeting software to all of your employees and reap the benefits of a well-connected team that is on the same page even when not in the same building.
Schedule face to face meetings with each team member at least two to four times a year, and also schedule multi-party conferences with your whole team or a specific subdivision of it (depending on the size of your company and the capability of your software).
Employees you never see and who never see you or other employees tend to feel disconnected, but virtual conferencing can boost morale and disseminate important information at the same time.
2. Virtual Coffee Breaks
While working remotely can give you the freedom to set your own coffee break schedule, it can also get lonely and boring. Encourage workers to collaborate and set common coffee break times during which they can chat, video call, snack, or even drink an actual cup of coffee.
Even without being in the same break room, remote workers can time their breaks in accordance to the break time of their coworkers and interact with them. That way, they will feel more emotionally connected to the team.
3. Multiplayer Gaming
There are many WiFi enabled gaming opportunities that friends and family use to interact with each other even when they’re not physically together. And even strangers will meet each other in such multiplayer gaming sessions. Why not use it as a team building tool?
Gaming may not be for everyone, but it is extremely popular. And organizing a gaming session among coworkers can do a lot to build up team spirit. You may not be quite ready to make it “paid gaming time,” but it could be an activity ideal for your remote workers’ paid time off days.
4. Collaborative Book Reading
There are many books (and ebooks) you can recommend to your employees that will help them grow in skills related to their job. Create a company book list. Let everyone pick out a book to read and then share what they learned at a special video conferencing session. You could even have whole teams go through a book, chapter by chapter, discussing new knowledge as they go.
5. “Toy” Projects
The daily grind can get anyone down, in or out of the company office. Why not build teams and break up the monotony at the same time?
Assign a special “toy project” during the week before Christmas or during some “less busy” time of year. Let each worker research a topic or tackle a task, still relevant to your company’s needs, but totally different from what they are usually assigned.
At the end of the week, do a video conference or other interaction where the team members can share what they have learned and how it can benefit the company and their coworkers.
Building trust and emotional connections among coworkers is vital to any business’s growth. Combine these activities and create a working environment people would aspire to be a part of.