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Tips for Leading an Effective Virtual Team Building For Your Remote Team

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies and even governments have opted to remote work as much as possible.

Virtual Team Building

Remote work is great and essential. It allows flexibility, diversity of ideas, engagement, and a more efficient use of time. When your team is never in the same room together, you have to take a different approach to building your company culture.
Nevertheless, remote employees need to have the same emotional connection as they had during conversations about water coolers and cigarette breaks.
Remote work teams that don’t have strong bonds can make employees feel undervalued. This can hinder productivity and prevent team members from contributing effectively.

A study by Harvard Business Review states that “close work friendships increase employee satisfaction by 50%. It further states that “people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged in their work”.

That’s why scheduling a virtual team building is a fantastic and easy way to boost your employees productivity, happiness, retention and engagement.

What is RemoteTeam Building?

Remote team building or Virtual team building is a method of bringing remote teams together and creating a work environment that mimics a real office environment.

It allows the entire team to get to know each other and create meaningful relationships that leave all your employees feeling more engaged and satisfied.

It’s just like regular team building, except that you are not in the same physical space. In a virtual team building activity, each team member is on his or her computer and the team interacts using tools connected to the Internet: chat, video conferencing, etc.

Many traditional team building exercises, such as coffee breaks and even team lunches, can be adapted to accommodate remote workers or teams that are entirely remote.

In short, virtual team building is the practice of organizing online activities and spaces that give remote employees the opportunity to socialize and connect with colleagues they rarely meet in person.

Why virtual team building is important

“Remote workers have some unique struggles to work through: Loneliness (21%), collaborating and/or communicating (21%) and distractions at home (16%) are the biggest struggles of remote workers.” report Buffer in his report State of Remote Work 2018.

Employees who work together in an office naturally build relationships through face-to-face interactions, meetings, lunches and office events. However, remote teams don’t have the benefit of being able to meet face-to-face to build these relationships, so companies need to facilitate these interactions virtually through team building activities and games.

Virtual team building games and interactions help remote workers feel included and connected to their teams and the overall culture of the organization. These activities result in happier, more productive employees, more effective teams and a stronger company.

Benefits of Remote Team Building

According to TeamBonding “65% of remote workers say they have never had a team building session”.

This means a lot of companies are failing to do an easy task that can have massive benefits.

The physical distance of remote work can quickly turn into emotional distance, so it’s important to create a comfortable team culture that virtual workers can rely on.

Remote team building consists of several strategies, games and activities that are meant to bring more human interaction to remote work.

Virtual team building creates a support system for remote members. It also improves the onboarding process by making new team members feel welcomed and excited. Many of the remote team building games give teams a chance to collaborate on tasks, which is essential for innovation, productivity, and efficiency. Collaborating and problem solving is also a great way to build an atmosphere of trust between team members, meaning stronger relationships and higher employee satisfaction.

Team building is not only enjoyable for employees, but it’s fun for you too. Through virtual team building games and activities you are able to better understand each employee’s strengths and weaknesses. This makes managing and delegating tasks more efficient. You are also able to build a relationship with each employee and learn what each employee needs from you as a leader.

Remote team building not only improves team effectiveness, but can also induce laughter and comic relief to the workplace.

How To Create Remote Team Building Activities

Surely you’ve heard about the benefits of team building. It’s time to apply this method to the place where we work and communicate the most: Digital Workplace. One of the biggest challenges for companies is to make online collaboration and communication fluid and natural for their employees. And when you do it right, the results in terms of productivity and quality of work increase dramatically.

What Do You Need For Virtual Team Building?

  • Select a leader

It is necessary to designate a leader or facilitator that should be chosen to facilitate internal communications and especially team-building exercises, such as a project or team leader or you must hire an internal communications manager. This person must encourage team members to participate and must clearly communicate the tasks and activities that will take place. This person will be responsible for managing the tasks and events that will take place.

  • Save the date

Allocate time for virtual team building. It is crucial that each member gives their full attention during team building activities so that members do not appear disinterested or uninvolved.

  • Use a Collaboration Tool

It is very important that you have a collaborative tool that will allow you to share screens and collaborate with remote team members. This way, you can guarantee that everyone can be present and contribute to remote team building activities.

23 Remote team building activities and games

Managing distraction is a major priority, and it’s easier to deal with this challenge for people who work in remote teams.

A recent Stanford study showed that the flexibility of remote work may be the key to increased productivity. The research showed that remote employees work more hours because they have shorter breaks and less sick leave. They also stayed with the company longer and reported a higher level of happiness. In a study of Fortune 500 companies, employees who worked from home reported “higher levels of job satisfaction and reduced levels of burnout and psychological stress.”

However, not all remote teams are the same. There are different structures that require different types of communication and different remote team building activities.

Here are some remote team building activities on how to bring your employees together remotely, putting them at ease to communicate and collaborate online.

  1. Create a random chat

Be sure to create a chat room or space dedicated only to random conversations and exchanges.

All remote workers can share things like stories, photos and quotes. This is a natural way for teams to engage in conversation and for teammates to get to know each other’s personalities and lives.

It also allows teams to connect without having to spend time building virtual teams. Think of it as a team building activity that remote employees have constant access to it.

  1. Schedule a virtual coffee break session

Remote team members rarely have the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of the office: lunches, coffee and team meetings provided by the company.

Typically, workers often interact in a coffee shop or break room in a physical office.

Team members can designate 15 to 30 minutes of video chat to meet virtually while each of them enjoys a coffee of their choice. This gives the impression that a team meeting is taking place in a specific location outside the “office” and can allow remote employees to experience some of the benefits often enjoyed by office workers.

Encourage the participation of all workers and try to present them as open and fun discussions. Friendship and respect can be built virtually, but such opportunities need to be available for this to happen.

This strategy is a great way to show employees that you appreciate their work.

  1. Organize Virtual Team Lunch

Start organising a team lunch session similar to meeting lunches, only thing is that you and your team have lunch with your remote employees.

  1. Share a live view of your offices

Most companies have a cam in their offices for security issues. Setting up an address where your employees can view and remember their offices is a good idea to activate the emotional side especially to refresh memories to remember their achievements.

  1. Capture Important Company Events

One of the disadvantages of remote teams is that virtual team members cannot attend all company events.

Virtual team members can feel excluded and it can be difficult to see how their work contributes to the business.

Take the trouble to create videos of company events and post them on the employee channel.

For example, broadcast a live video showing virtual team members what is actually happening.
If you have great success or establish a significant partnership at the event, make sure you celebrate it on the video and congratulate the team members attending for their work.
This will allow employees to see the work and progress taking place in the company. It also brings an element of excitement and reward to the remote workplace, and can boost team morale.

This strategy is not only applicable to large business events.

You can provide a post-call debriefing with a client, a video summary of a face-to-face meeting, or make a video describing significant changes taking place within the company.
Videos are a great way to connect your team with the company’s goals and objectives and remind team members why they are doing the work they do. It also allows the entire team to stay informed, which is beneficial for productivity and communication.

  1. Create a birth map

This activity consists to share a world map with your remote team. Afterwards, ask all members of your co-workers to put a sticker on the map to indicate their birthplace. Then encourage everyone to share a short story about what they like most about where they were born so you can get your employees to tell a few childhood memories that may reveal their personality traits. This can help you to identify the personality of each of your team workers and can create human connections between them that can help you break the feeling of isolation at work.

  1. Celebrate birthdays

Celebrating birthdays at work is very beneficial to the company. In fact, it’s all about showing your remote workers that they are important to you. This proof of attention will motivate them even more, which will boost productivity. Still, be careful to treat your team members as equals.

  1. Guess Who I am

Personal fact guessing is a great way to learn about each other’s interests outside of work.
Here’s how it works: A sheet containing a list of personal facts is sent to each employee. Next to each personal fact is a blank column where each employee must guess which team member the fact belongs to. This game is a great way to develop cohesion and camaraderie within the team.
Once all the guesses have been submitted, a key to the answer will be provided so that team members can see how well they guessed.

This activity can also take place in a group video chat.

The facilitator will have the sheet open on their computer and share their screen while the staff members try to guess the answers. As each answer is guessed, the facilitator can fill in the blank column.

  1. Remote Storytelling Workshops & Training

Storytelling is a useful skill for a wide variety of roles, from marketers to sales representatives, human resources, managers, executives and many others. These training workshops will help your staff achieve higher levels of productivity and performance, and will even give you ideas for remote team meetings for your organization.

  1. Picture of the week

Ask each team member to post a photo of something from their life. It can be anything that tells a story about who each member is, what they do, or even things that make people laugh: They can post their baby photos …

Ask them to share the story behind their picture. Then allow your employees to vote for the best photo of the week to be published on the company’s social media and collaborative spaces.

This challenge allows employees to get to know each other better and create a relaxed atmosphere we needed for the digital workplace.

  1. Aliens have landed

This remote team building can be useful for teams made up of distant participants with differences in language and culture. Tell your coworkers to imagine that aliens have landed on Earth and they want to know more about your company. But since they do not speak English or understand your product, it should be explained using five symbols or pictures. Ask each participant to upload five simple images that best describe and communicate your company’s products and culture. Take a few minutes and look at all the images.

  1. The Deserted Island Scenario

In this virtual team building game, team members are put in a situation where they are stranded on a desert island with seven objects, but they can only choose three. These objects must be made as obscure and strategic as possible so that the members are challenged to really think and plan.
Next, divide the team into groups and allow them to collaborate on the objects they want to choose. Once all collaborations are complete, participate in a video team discussion and discuss the results.

Such activities naturally make team members feel like teammates and can create pride, healthy competition and enthusiasm within the team.

Such games also show how working together can lead to better results and can help virtual workers learn to collaborate in a virtual setting.

  1. Scavenger Hunt

Create virtual teams and send each team an identical list of tasks to complete. Team members can then divide the tasks among themselves and stay connected during the hunt by instant messaging and talking. Each task to be completed must be accompanied by a photo of the team member who completed it. Ask all teams to submit their photos to the company’s focus group.

For example you can ask your team to do a yoga pose, take a picture of your reflection in something other than a mirror or window, wearing a funny hat during each task, etc.

Bringing laughter to a remote workplace can be difficult, especially when team members don’t know each other. By adding a comic to the team, not only will your team enjoy the work more, but team members will feel closer to each other.

This activity can allow team members to collaborate with each other, while allowing them to delegate tasks and use each other’s strengths and skills.

  1. Create Weekly Online Game Sessions

Every week, the organizer sends out a poll where people can vote for the game they want to play this week. The choices change regularly.

Anyone who wants to participate shows up in the chat room at the scheduled time to register.

Usually a draw will be made for people who show up each week to play.

The results will be posted on a dedicated space and a tournament with a ranking for each game can be chosen.

  1. Let’s sing it

This activity consists of preparing a random karaoke playlist. Then, each team will designate one or sing it together. A recording will then be voted on by all the employees to know the winning team.

Another challenge can also be launched if there are beautiful voices and each employee submits a song. All you need is a YouTube playlist to showcase all the songs and a survey tool to collect the scores of each one.

  1. Create a Virtual Dance Party

One of the fastest and easiest team building activities for remote workers is the Virtual Dance Party. You can either schedule an event for a virtual dance challenge, or add it as a quick activity during a weekly scheduled team call to boost employee’s energy.

  1. Remote Blind Test

This game is very simple, listen to an extract of music and the fastest team who announce the name of the artist and/or the name of the song.

You can also try with the movie titles or series…

Let’s compete your teams against music and make some noise 😉

  1. Collaborative playlists

Create collaborative playlists that anyone on the team can listen and help feed them . Try creating a playlist that suits your remote workers

  1. Virtual office fitness challenge

The principle of this activity is very simple. Each employee is given an exercise goal that can be tracked and the one who succeeds best wins a prize.

  1. Movie night

You can broadcast a movie via videoconference and keep an instant chat room open for your team members to make comments and remarks during the movie.
Then allow them to share reviews and get requests for the next movie night selection.
This type of experience allows remote employees to be more connected.

  1. Gif Championship

This game consists in launching a competition between your remote employees in .gif by choosing a specific theme in advance. Then you will use Giphy.com or Google Images to find a .gif file. Once everyone has submitted their gif, you cast a vote for the best proposal. At the end, the person who wins the most votes will be crowned the ultimate gif champion.

  1. Virtual Team Building Gift Exchange

Sending gifts not only shows remote workers that they are appreciated but also allows team members to bond and feel grateful to each other.

Giving a gift is always beneficial to the company and facilitates internal communications and collaboration between remote employees.

This team-building activity involves asking each employee to share a wish list in a spreadsheet and then encouraging colleagues to send each other these gifts at random. This is very nice and rare these days, and it makes you feel thoughtful and appreciated by your team.

This activity consists of setting up a recognition system between teammates.

The gifts exchanged during this virtual team building activity are not simple objects, they are part of the life of any remote worker. Thus, each employee strives to strengthen the appreciation of the recipient while allowing him/her to get to know the sender on a more personal level.

The company should get involved in this activity, whether by buying a large proportion of the gifts exchanged or by creating an à la carte store.

At this moment of containment, gifts can be either subscriptions, gift cards, movies or online games.

  1. Dress a SWOT analysis

This program will help your team understand each other so that they can better understand each other to improve team dynamics. Of course, everyone has different opinions and analyses.

A SWOT analysis consists of drawing up a matrix of strengths and weaknesses on the one hand and opportunities and threats on the other.

This analysis can be applied to the personality of your employees, the work process or your product.

This exercise allows you to establish a diagnosis of the problems encountered and try to find solutions to move forward. Discussing it is an opportunity to help each other, to collaborate and to further strengthen the feeling of belonging to the company.

This program is not only an opportunity for evaluation and for participants to understand each other, but it is also a practical workshop where everyone leaves with a plan in place to use their newly acquired skills.

Navigating conflicts, communicating effectively, contributing to a team, solving problems and capitalizing on one’s strengths are all skills that will be honed during this program. There are no extra points on the assessment for laughter, but it’s definitely encouraged!

Let’s summarize:

Adopting a remote team-building strategy is very effective in bringing people together and accelerating the socialization process. It helps to understand colleagues, their thoughts, motivations, and insights that can facilitate communication and collaboration. This increases productivity, reduces stress, and provides a closer connection to work, which can sometimes be a bit lonely.

As you adopt these and other remote team building activities in your company, check to see if you have the right communication infrastructure set up. Is your team too big for your current video conferencing service to host a virtual happy hour? Will your office work for icebreaker sessions? No one will want to participate if technical difficulties are a constant part of the activity.

Everyone wants to feel like their work is valued. For some, a private email will suffice, while others might desire a small gift. You should know how your remote team likes to be appreciated, and customize your team building activities according to their needs.

Does your company practice remote team building activities? Share them with us!

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