Remote work, accelerated by rapid adoption during the pandemic, has become the new norm for some companies.
In industries that can accommodate remote work, cloud computing and real-time collaboration tools have replaced daily trips to the office and face-to-face interactions. Although this transition has helped countless companies and consumers cut their costs, it's also had a major impact on how well professionals work together.
In the absence of regular, in-person engagement, many departments and teams lack the cohesiveness that's necessary for ensuring superior outcomes.
Team building activities have long been used by companies to foster better communication, create a sense of community, enhance productivity, and more.
Fortunately, much like the ever-increasing number of business tasks that don't require in-person engagement, team building exercises can be done remotely with remarkable results.
The following exercises provide practical and cost-effective ways to inspire both unity and a sense of fraternity among people who may never actually see one another.
If you're leading a team that has never met in person before, the best team building activity to start with is a series of ice-breaker questions. Ice-breaker questions are lighthearted and aimed at getting people to relax. They're a trusted staple at workshops, seminars, and cocktail parties. Best of all, leading a round of ice-breaking questions takes less than ten minutes for small to medium-sized groups, and yet it can have a lasting impact on how your team members relate to and feel about one another.
Questions like, "What's the last movie you watched?", "What's your favorite book?", or "Who's your favorite musical artist?" can foster understanding, create a sense of camaraderie, and reveal shared connections. Ice-breaker exercises can be performed when new teams are created or each time a new employee is on-boarded.
To get your team members to loosen up, share details that help define their personalities, and encourage comfortable, confident communication.
Your usual video conferencing platform. Also compile a list of two to five questions that everyone must answer.
If you've got more time for team building, consider collaborative story-writing as an exercise in cooperation, creativity, and communication. With collaborative story-writing, all members of a group are given the same writing prompt but with limited guidelines for the expected ending.
Each person builds upon the details of the last until a complete and cohesive story exists. Collaborative story-writing exercises can be performed without the need to virtually meet up.
You can send your story prompt by email, have your team members pass the developing work from person to person, and then share the finished project during your next team meeting.
To encourage team members to take part in public, communal activities rather than working solely in a private capacity. Help team members overcome the challenges caused by the diversity of opinions and work styles, and show your team what they can collectively produce when everyone is working together. Collaborative story-writing also provides the very practical benefit of teaching team members how to use the file-sharing processes that your remote workers rely on.
Much like ice-breaker questions, photo contests are fun and engaging. They bring teams together, add a dose of humor to the day, and reveal important things about individual personalities.
You can make your team building photo contest a one-off event, or you can host these exercises weekly. Each week can have its own theme whether it's pictures of a messy desk, photos of pets, or images of each person's current hobby.
To help your team members get to know one another and their outside interests. Encourage communication and help remote workers establish a positive rapport despite the lack of face-to-face interaction.
● Digital camera or a smartphone. Images can be shared via email or during meetings hosted via virtual conferencing platforms.
Create Learning Circles
Ongoing learning shouldn't get left by the wayside just because your team is going remote. Create learning circles within your team or allow your team to function as its own learning circle. Each learning circle should have its own group development plan and each member should have their individual development plans.
Learning circles can complete online training together, read books or articles about industry-specific developments, or share podcasts and other resources that they've used independently.
To keep continued learning as a top priority. Learning circles also help team members motivate one another and share resources.
● Usual video conferencing platform
● Personal development software or talent management software
Virtual Happy Hour
Virtual happy hour is an excellent way to celebrate the accomplishments of a high-performing team, employee birthdays, and other important milestones. When team members never have the opportunity to meet in-person, things like retirement parties and holidays don't have to get swept to the side.
In both the traditional workplace and the remote working environment, these celebrations are an important part of boosting morale, fostering a sense of loyalty, and making everyone feel connected to the company.
Virtual happy hour works best for groups of three to 15. With fewer than three people, you won't have enough participants to engage in some of the most popular happy hour activities. With more than 15 people, not everyone will get adequate screen time and you run the risk of having some of your team members feel left out.
Choose a video conferencing platform for your virtual happy hour and then decide whether you want your event to have a theme. Next, decide which activities you want to include. Among some of the best games for virtual happy hour are:
● Water Cooler Trivia
● Virtual Murder Mystery
● Virtual Escape Room
Finally, make sure that everyone has snacks and the cocktail or non-alcoholic beverage of their choosing. This is best accomplished by sending out virtual gift cards to the restaurant of your team's choice or virtual credit cards that they can use to independently shop for happy hour treats.
To allow your team to relax and celebrate together. Virtual happy hour fosters stronger team bonds, builds loyalty, and boosts morale.
● Usual video conferencing platform
● Two to four top-rated virtual games
● Virtual gift cards or vouchers for team member snacks
Besides providing a number of important, practical benefits, team bonding exercises can be lighthearted and fun.
In addition to the above ideas, you can stream popular movies, play general knowledge quizzes on platforms such as Kahoot!, play Scavenger Hunt on video conference, and much more. These activities will give your group something to look forward to even as they continue to provide valuable insights, foster motivation, and drive productivity.