Team building is one of the most effective investments that organizations can make in their people practices. For one, it definitely augments engagement in the workplace which has a direct impact on productivity and performance. Statistically speaking, 75% employers rate teamwork and collaboration as very important, which is a direct outcome of team building. At the same time, 86% employees believe that a lack of collaboration is what leads to workplace failures. While there is no doubt that team building is vital for organizational success, the transition to remote work is definitely adding challenges in the way. Thus, most organizations today are augmenting their capabilities to spearhead and run virtual team building activities in an attempt to ensure seamless collaboration and engagement, albeit remotely.
Virtual Team Building: Where to Start
Initially, the shift to a remote workforce was considered to be a temporary measure and organizations did not brainstorm on virtual team building activities. However, now it seems to be the new normal and increasingly organizations are realizing that normal video calls may not be the most effective tool to drive team building. More often than not, normal calls end up as a buffer time for employees to finish other chores on mute and video off, putting in almost negligible effort towards virtual team building. In the same light, there are a few practices that organizations can explore to make virtual team building a possibility.
- Everyday Rituals
The morning chit chats on reaching office before one gets down to the business of the day were one of most effective means to boost team building. It gave the employees a chance to learn about their coworkers beyond what they do at work. As a part of virtual team building, many organizations are setting up these simple everyday rituals which include an early morning interaction before work. It includes discussing ‘what they cooked last night, or which series or show they are binge watching or which is their latest read’. The idea is to have regular touchpoints beyond work which prompt bonding.
- Virtual Icebreakers
Icebreakers have been a fun tool for organizations to encourage employees to get to know one another before working together. With the rise of a remote workforce, virtual icebreakers are gaining weight. These are important to facilitate virtual team building and prompt strong workplace relationships. Virtual icebreakers can include activities like two truths and a lie where employees share three statements about themselves, two are true and one is not. Others have to make the right guess. At the same time, there can be rapid fire questions or other activities like clicking a picture of your work desk, among others. Such icebreakers would help employees overcome the awkwardness of engaging with one another and encourage them to explore mutual interests.
- Gaming Tournaments
Another effective tool for virtual team building is hosting gaming tournaments. Organizations can invest time and effort to create virtual teams and have gaming sessions of Ludo, PUBG or any others that employees fancy. This would promote teamwork and collaboration in an unconventional manner. At the same time, hosting virtual scavenger hunts can be fun. Employees will have to work in teams and navigate their way to the final treasure. It would be a good idea to add greater incentive for participation by showcasing winner rewards.
- Fun Sessions
While most organizations are investing in conducting virtual training and knowledge webinars, hosting fun sessions can also boost virtual team building. These activities could range from Zumba and dance to origami. At the same time, hosting stand up comedy or live music concerts can boost team engagement. It would actually be a good idea to leverage inputs from icebreakers to identify the interests of your employees and plan sessions that would generate curiosity. Not only will this add to the entertainment quotient, but will also strike conversations and relationship building among employees who have an affinity towards the sessions conducted.
- Aliens Have Landed
One of the final virtual team building activities that will not only promote engagement between employees but also a greater interest and affinity towards the organization is Aliens Have Landed. On a simple level, it is a group activity where a few employees come together and pretend that aliens have landed on Earth. They have to explain the organization to these aliens and have exactly 5 minutes. This will spark conversations among team members, for greater collaboration. At the same time, this would prompt delegation of responsibilities as some would focus on creating the pitch, others would focus on the design and pictures, and some others would deliver the pitch. On the one hand, it will boost collaboration. On the other, it will help you understand how well your employees understand the organizations, its values and goals.
Virtual Team Building: Need of the Hour
It is not surprising that virtual team building is the need of the hour. It is increasingly becoming one of the top priorities to boost engagement, keep the motivation high, prevent departmental silos and ensure that employees don’t feel lost, in the face of ambiguity. It is imperative that organizations place a large onus of such virtual team building activities on managers who can drive this agenda in their teams and facilitate participation. The above activities can be a starting point for organizations that are new to remote work, and you can keep adding on from there.