11 Easy Ways To Encourage Remote Team Building
If a more flexible, remote working model is the future for your finance team, you will want to consider how to facilitate virtual team building to keep your employees engaged and connected, argues Kathryn Swan, Head of Professional Services, Morgan McKinley.
In tough periods, it’s vital that you look after your workforce. With teams dispersed across locations, facilitating remote team building activities is a way to boost morale and ignite spontaneous interactions which can decline when you’re not in the office.
If a more flexible, remote working model is the future, you will want to consider how to facilitate virtual team building to ensure remote employees are engaged and connected.
Why is remote team building important?
Keeping employees collaborating as a tight-knit team means you can all reap the benefits of good communication, constant support and shared goals - and you will likely see your retention rates improve as well.
If your remote teams feel a strong level of support, they will be much happier and more likely to work together in an effective way because they understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. When they need help with a task, there’s no back and forth as they know exactly who can do what - this effortless collaboration often leads to more exciting end results!
To make any team building efforts work for remote employees, the manager needs to encourage individuals to make the most of them - with more people willingly participating, the virtual activities will help your team feel like more of a community.
11 activities that help bring your remote teams together
1. Create a virtual office
One of the differentiators between working in an office and teams working remotely is the lack of spontaneous interactions. This can be recreated virtually by encouraging teams to work for an hour or so with their video on - it’s not a meeting so nobody is obliged to speak, but if you have questions, you can ask as if you were sat next to each other.
2. Have team coffee/lunch breaks and don’t forget the chit-chat
A virtual break room gives remote employees the opportunity to catch up and chat about non-work related things. These light-hearted conversations are important as they can really lighten the mood of remote workers who may feel isolated. Encourage each other to share small good news stories - what has made them feel happy in the last couple of days to celebrate these little moments of success or enjoyment together!
3. Ask your team members to give you a tour
If each team member gives the rest of the team a virtual tour of their ‘home office’, it will allow them to bond over any mutual interests. Do you have a dog or cat? Get them on screen. Is your toddler hammering on the door whilst you're trying to work? Let them in and introduce them.
4. Hold virtual company-wide events
Company-wide events are a great way of getting employees to mingle and interact - this shouldn’t stop because you’re not in the office!
5. Start a remote book club (or movie/TV club)
A virtual book or film club will be a welcome remote team building activity as it encourages critical thinking by getting team members to analyse the subject.
6. Celebrate achievements together
You know how important recognition is; it’s a key aspect of employee engagement and a contributor to high retention rates. When you can’t praise a team member in person, you need to think of ways to do so. Do you have a company platform where you could give them a shout out so employees can see the great work they’ve been doing? Encourage other team members to reach out and congratulate them - praise from peers is just as meaningful as it is from management.
7. Encourage light-hearted competition
We all have a competitive streak. Encouraging competition between employees brings them closer together. Set them up in groups and give them challenges - the winners get bragging rights! It doesn’t have to be work related - you could do ‘who can make the best cocktails’ or ‘who can clock up the most running miles in a week’.
8. Virtual icebreaker games
An activity could be some form of game - online Pictionary, office trivia or ‘imaginative’ games - like the desert island scenario game. Split your remote employees into teams and give them a list of items - as a team they can only choose three from the list that will help them when stranded on the island and they have to explain why they selected them. As well as being amusing, this demonstrates how working together helps achieve better results.
9. Get them to reach out beyond their ‘inner circle’
It’s natural to have ‘work-mates’, those colleagues who you are closer to than others. Whilst it’s great to have these close workplace friends, you should encourage remote employees to reach out to those who they aren’t so close to.
Randomly pair people from the business together and encourage them to have a 5 minute chat on video call everyday for the week, and then the next week change it up so they move onto someone else. This virtual rotating buddy scheme is a great way for remote employees to strike up relationships with those who they don’t know so well.
10. Send supplies to remote workers
Sending out a care package of supplies or treats to your remotely based employees shows that you, and the business, care for them.
11. Recreate the Friday feeling
At the end of a week you and your remote teams should all kick back and relax with your drink of choice. When you clock off on Fridays, set-up an video call where you can socialise and get ready for the weekend.
Whatever activities or methods you wish to use, virtual team building should help to boost morale, increase productivity and improve overall results.