Virtual Team Building (Part 3) - Ideas to Maintain Remote Work Relationships image

Virtual Team Building (Part 3) – Ideas to Maintain Remote Work Relationships

Staff Squared date icon27th January 2021

Tag iconManaging staff

In part 2 of our virtual team building series, we looked at some fun and effective activities and exercises to get your team feeling more connected. In the final installment, we take a look at ways to maintain remote work relationships once the foundation has been set.  

Icebreakers and games are a great way to say goodbye to any awkwardness, get the team involved and foster better work relationships. But you need to continue that hard work to ensure that those relationships thrive. 

Read on for 12 great ideas to cement deep connections amongst your staff.  

Virtual Team Meetings 

Thanks to the technology available to us these days, meetings can be conducted from anywhere there’s internet connection – regardless of whether the participants are in the same room or spread across the globe.  

Since team meetings are integral for any company (irrespective of where or how they’re held), it makes sense that they would be recognised as a team building tool for building team cohesion, empathy and commitment as well as the typical business as usual conversation. 

Remote workers don’t have the opportunity to take part in other natural team building scenarios (i.e. coffee or lunch breaks), so it’s really important to recreate that environment as best as possible.  

Unsure how to incorporate team building into a virtual team meeting? Why not try asking each team member a few questions at the end of the meeting to get an authentic conversation going? 

Three great questions to start with are: 

  • What one thing do you feel has been going really well recently? 
  • Is there anything that you feel could be improved? 
  • How are things going for you outside of work? 

TOP TIP: Make sure that the team leader or manager also answers these questions, as it creates the feeling that all team members are equal. 

Asking these types of questions offers employees an opportunity to discuss and improve team effectiveness while also allowing virtual teams to share a little about their current lives and to feel a connection with others on the team. Just make sure that they are given some time beforehand so that they can give some thought to their answers. There’s nothing worse than being put on the spot and that could have the opposite to the desired outcome. 

TOP TIP: Suggest that each employee grab a coffee, tea or another beverage of choice to the online meeting so that it feels more like a coffee break! 

Live Remote Office

It can be hard for virtual workers to feel like they’re part of an actual office. This can, in turn, affect their workflow and lead to a lack of motivation. So the question is how do you help staff to feel like their in an office environment – without physically being in an office? 

It’s actually a rather simple concept. The first team member to clock in starts a video chat that any team member can join. As other members come online, they can join the video and, essentially, join the workspace. 

The video chat room mimics an office as it’s a place where team members can log in and start diligently working on their own tasks. 

Now, that might seem a little… pointless? Why sit on a video call when all you’re going to be doing is your own work? Well, the benefit to this live remote office is simple. Team members are distributed across remote locations and are otherwise unlikely to actively work alongside their colleague. This way, remote workers get to see their teams working hard and are more likely to maintain focus and productivity.  

Acknowledge Company Events and Milestones with Staff

While remote working has it’s up-sides, one of the downfalls of having teams spread across locations is that they aren’t able to attend, witness or otherwise be involved in company events or exciting milestones that they might have had an insight to if working on location.  

Of course, it’s unlike that the whole team would always be involved in an event, especially if it’s a client meeting or an important call. But not having a first-hand account of at least part of the process can leave remote teams feeling left out and wondering what’s going on in other areas of the business.  

There’s a really simple and effective resolve for this, though. Involve your staff. If your company has a business stand at a networking event or one of your team is attending an event as a keynote speaker, capture it on camera – either have someone record it and link it up to a shared space or set up a live stream so staff can feel like they’re right there with you.  

Video streams won’t always be possible, especially where big meetings are concerned, but make sure to keep your staff in the loop in regular all hands in meetings.  

If members of the wider team have had some level of involvement in an important advancement in the business, make sure to celebrate it on a video call and congratulate the contributing team members on their hard work.  

By doing so, you can show your staff have their work contributes to the overall success and progression of the company. It also fosters an element of excitement, reward and comradeship in the remote workplace. 

A Big (Remote) Office Night In

It’s great to establish connections in work time, but when you gather your team in a non-work environment, they’re more likely to relax and open up to each other.  

Why not host a movie night? It’s a fun way to get the team ‘together’ away from the virtual office to just let off some steam. It’s super easy to do – just pick a film and stream it through a video conference room and keep Teams open so everyone can comment during the movie.  

Everyone gets to kick back in the comfort of their own home with their snack and beverage of choice while being able to hang out with their workmates.  

Destination: Coffee Shop

Try sending your staff a gift card to a coffee shop and encourage them to take some time away from their office away from office to work from their favourite Costa for the afternoon. Why? Well, for one, it gets them out of their bubble and out into the world for a couple of hours and, two, it provides the perfect opportunity for a coffee cup selfie which can be shared in a general chat channel.  

You could even take it one step further, and schedule everyone’s coffee shop visits at the same time and host a team meeting. This way, you’ll all feel like you’re grabbing a coffee together – without actually being together.  

This one is obviously not so easy to do right now, but be sure to try it out once the COVID-19 pandemic is a thing of the past! 

Have a Joint Calendar Separate from the Work Diary

Think of all the things that have happened in your personal life since you’ve worked remotely that your colleagues don’t know about. Would you have been inclined to chit chat with them about such things if you were physically together at work? 

Create a shared calendar where the team can enter personal matters such as a child’s first day or a big sports tournament.  

There are several apps available, such as TimeTree (which is free to download) that offer a joint calendar combined with a chat feature where users can swap messages and photos for each event entered. Team members can use it to communicate personal motivating messages of congratulations, and may even realise that they have more in common than they thought. 

Other Great Ideas…

These are just a few ideas to keep work relationships on top form, however, there are so many more brilliant ways to keep a remote team actually feeling like a team, including:  

  • Sending gifts to each other – put everyone’s names into a hat and draw one person for each team member to send a gift to. Set a price limit and away you go. It could be arranged as a Secret Santa at the end of the year, or just as a random bit of fun.  
  • Set up a general chat channel – have a channel that is dedicated solely to random conversations and sharing.  
  • Pair up staff who don’t normally work together – if you have different teams who never get to work together, pair them up and set small side projects to get them talking. 
  • Arrange in-person meet-ups – it could be anything from a pizza night at the office or a trip to the local escape room You could even organise a weekend retreat.  
  • Online games – jump online with the team to play a game of, well, anything!  

Written by Clarisse Levitan

Marketing and Customer Relations Advisor - Staff Squared

Clarisse works as the Lead of our Customer Care Team to provide our customers with the very best care and guidance when using their HR software and is responsible for our day-to-day marketing activities and strategies.

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