15th December 2020
2020 has been a year for the books. We’ve all had to muck in and do our bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and a huge part of that has been for many companies to adopt a remote working culture at the drop of a hat.
Some were fortunate to have already implemented a working from home policy, allowing their teams to effectively transition from office to home. But not all employers were in the same boat and were pushed into making impromptu changes to the way their entire business works.
I don’t know about you, but pre-COVID, I used to dream about having a full-time remote position. The thought of getting an extra hour in bed of a morning or being able to stay in my pyjamas on a cold December day and skip out on the cold commute was my idea of heaven.
But the reality of working remotely hit hard when I figured out that while I did get to sleep in and my wardrobe options became a lot more relaxed, there is much more hadn’t considered.
Collaborating on tasks becomes more complicated when you can’t physically be in the same place as the people you need, response times from colleagues become longer and at times, you can find that you’re missing certain resources that make your job easier.
However, none of that comes close to the isolation that remote working implicates. We’re all guilty of taking the social aspect of working on-site or in an office for granted, but when that’s gone, you miss it deeply. That’s why virtual team building is so important for remote workers.
What is Virtual Team Building and Why is it so Important?
It may seem like an obvious answer, but virtual team building is the process of creating and maintaining bonds between employees, even if they aren’t able to be together physically.
Before long, the physical distance of a remote team turns into emotional distance and, in turn, isolation – and when staff start to feel isolated, they can begin to feel uncomfortable working with their colleagues. And worse yet, lose motivation to get their work done at all.
That’s exactly why it’s just as important to create a happy and comfortable team environment for remote workers as it is to do in the office.
So, “what can I do to get my virtual team building on?”, I hear you ask. We’ll get to that in part two of this three-part series. But, to give you an idea, virtual team building consists of several carefully designed strategies, games and activities that are meant to bring more human interactions to remote working that otherwise feels completely un-human at times.
What do I Need to Get Started?
You don’t really need much get the ball rolling, but there are some surefire requirements for optimal virtual team building efforts.
A Team Building Spearhead
Like most official tasks, you need a leader to charge your team building forwards.
Choose someone authoritative, yet respected by the team to facilitate the team building exercises. It’s best to choose someone like this as they’re a figure that the whole team can recognise and no one will wonder who’s in charge of the operation.
What’s more, a manager can put their leadership skills to good use by explaining the exercises to the team in a clear way and motivating people to take part.
Set Time Limits
There’s no point in going through with any team building exercises if your employees don’t give them their full attention. Setting aside designated time to take part in a group activity ensures that nobody comes across as uninterested or uninvolved.
What’s more – setting a limit on the amount of time spent on an activity helps to make sure that some actual work still gets done.
Video Calls & Screen-Sharing
There’s absolutely no way around virtual team building if you don’t have the tools in place to see and talk to each other.
It’s essential that you have a tool (i.e. Zoom, Skype or Teams) available to the whole team that allows you to screen share and visually collaborate with team members online – that way, everyone can be present and contribute to virtual meetings.
Who Benefits from Virtual Team Building?
With countless companies now working from home, employers across the world have quickly come to understand that managing a remote team comes with its own set of challenges.
The biggest benefit to gain from virtual team building is the boost it gives communication and collaboration amongst staff. At the end of the day, when teams can’t physically work together, they lose the opportunity to socialise and build a healthy rapport with their peers, which can have a devastating impact on their teamwork, mental health and productivity.
Other benefits of virtual team building for staff:
- It creates a support system for remote workers.
- New team members are made to feel welcome and connected to the rest of the team.
- Staff get to build health rapports with one another.
- A friendly working environment is established – essential for innovation, productivity and efficiency!
- Higher employee satisfaction is achieved.
Team building activities don’t just benefit staff, though, they’re also great fun for managers and help team leaders to:
- Better understand individual strengths and weaknesses in their teams.
- Delegate tasks more efficiently.
- Build relationships with each team member.
Managing remote teams can sometimes be tough for virtual team leaders – but it isn’t impossible! And with the right team building activities, getting everyone on the same page will be a breeze.
Check out part two of this three-part series for some great virtual team building activities to try with your staff!
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.