Virtual Team-Building: How to Improve Remote Work Relationships

remote work relationships

How to Improve Remote Work Relationships

Remote work relationships have become a thing over the last few months. It is no longer news that most companies around the world have embraced the remote work policy. This is largely due to the coronavirus pandemic and the need to keep safe while still delivering on one’s assigned duties. Some of these companies have even decided to continue with remote working even when the virus eventually gets curbed. This is because analyses have shown that considerable cost is saved when employees work remotely. Every now and then, measures are being put in place to improve remote working relationships through virtual team-building practices. Ordinarily, the collective office environment would have easily taken care of some of these. Let us look at some of the measures.

Group chat socialization

Usually, when people arrive at the office, there will be good-morning greetings flying everywhere. Those who are closer than just hi-friends, go on to know how the night went and how their families fare. When you work remotely, there is a possibility that everyone just focuses on work and forgets about the usual greetings even if on personal chats. It is not only about the greetings but other regular chats that go on in an office environment. To make sure this continues even with remote working, the organization can create a group chatting platform where everyone visits every day to have chats with colleagues. It helps to ensure that the bond is not broken and members of the team look out for one another even when not collectively at the office.

Allocate time for social interaction outside of work

Improving remote work relationships can also be done outside of work. It doesn’t always have to be during work hours. Just like if you were working from the office, and the team decides to engage in some social activities after work. Examples of activities for social after-work gatherings that can be done remotely, as SnackNation points, are games like icebreakers or virtual escape rooms. They may look difficult to plan, but they are realizable. Having the time to spare and plan these team-building activities may be difficult for the employer. As the company’s Chief Operating Officer, you can work towards reducing activities on your schedule. An example is employing PEO services to help with hiring new employees and some other human resources duties. This will avail you and your HR team more time to plan different team-building activities.

Have online lunch dates

One of the few disadvantages of remote working is the inability to come together as a team to do fun things together. I mean meetings can easily be done virtually but what of things like the team going out for lunch? There is some improvisation in place nowadays which may not be as fun as everyone being present physically, but it sure creates something close to the feeling. Having an online lunch date for the team has to be planned. This is because the food for each participant has to be ready before the video conferencing call commences. You could order your food or cook something at home. About 60 minutes would do. You can even do this for coffee breaks too.

Expand professional skill sets together with learning circles

When working from home, it is easier to forget about sharpening your skills on the job or even acquiring more skills to help broaden your knowledge. This is most probably because you are not in the office to deal with banters in that regard. It could prove unprofitable for the organization in the long run if something is not done about it. Learning circles can help. Employees can be grouped into different learning groups or circles. There should be a veteran or two in each department. The younger employees will be encouraged to ask questions relating to work which can be answered by the more knowledgeable employees. The veterans of each circle can also offer occasional virtual pieces of training to help the others acquire new skills that can be used to improve work productivity.

Create times for physical meetings once in a while

While it is good practice to embrace remote working, it is necessary for team members to meet physically at times. It could be every quarter or twice a year. This helps improve the bonding with one another. If it is done twice a year, the first one can be on a workday while the other can be on a weekend. When team members meet, some tiny details that can not be deciphered during virtual meetings could become evident. For example, one could tell if a member of the team is passing through some tough times. It could also be the perfect time to iron out some remote working misunderstandings.

Final Word

A lack of motivation when working from home can affect the employee as well as the company he works for. Some employees usually don’t find it interesting when having to work alone so they still go to the office anyway. The reasons are not far-fetched. For someone who had been having a lot of fun with his or her colleagues when going to the office, it could be very difficult to adapt when working remotely. This is why there should be virtual team-building practices and measures put in place to improve remote work relationships. You get to save costs as a company and still be more productive. Your employees also have more time to spend with their families.

 

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Best Virtual Team Building Exercises

virtual team building

Virtual team building can be very challenging since workers are working from different locations. Yet, it is necessary for building work relationships that bring about team harmony, improves communication and collaboration, and ultimately, productivity.

So, how do you go about doing team-building virtually? The best place to start is to aim at addressing the challenges that come with working with limited physical interactions. For starters, remote workers want to feel seen and heard. They also want to beat isolation and loneliness that often leads to disengagement from the team. When thinking about team building activities, they should mitigate such issues and encourage workers to form social bonds that make them feel like a part of the greater picture.

What you need for effective team-building activities

For virtual team building to be effective, you need to have a few things. One, you need reliable video conferencing technology. It should have features such as telecommunication, screen sharing, and collaboration abilities such as instant messaging. In addition, every member should have the skills to use this technology. As a leader, you should have strong facilitation skills to ensure that each member stays engaged throughout the exercise. Most importantly, you need the right people who are cut out for remote work. You can work with a reliable PEO services provider to help you hire the best team. Besides this, a good PEO services provider also helps with managing the HR department for your remote team to ensure that you are compliant regardless of where your workers come from. This goes a long way in improving your market expansion strategy in that you are able to focus on other important matters once the HR department is taken off your plate.

Now to the best virtual-building activities for your team:

Fact guessing game

Building trust requires people to connect with each other from a personal level. This activity gives each member a platform to share his or her personal information with the rest of the team. This can be great when the team members don’t know each other well or when a new member joins the team.

What happens is that each person writes 5 facts about him/herself, including one that is a lie. Once they are done, the facilitator asks them to read these facts out. The rest of the team can then start guessing which facts are true and which one is not. Alternatively, you can compile these facts in a single document with an empty column next to the facts. Share the document with members and ask them to fill in the names that they think the facts belong to. Share the right answers after each member is done guessing.

Icebreaker activities/happy hours

Icebreaker moments at the beginning of a meeting can be overlooked, but they contribute greatly to making individuals feel connected. Regardless of how long they have been working together, there will always be something new to learn about each other.

Before kicking off a meeting, start with icebreaker questions that let the team share a little bit about themselves. You can ask questions such as which music they are currently listening to, what they love about their parents, their best childhood memories. You can also ask them to share what has been going on in their lives recently, the challenges and what they are doing to overcome them.

In addition, you can have virtual happy hours where members chat virtually over a drink, coffee, or lunch.

Blind origami

Besides building relationships, this activity teaches the importance of listening as well as asking for feedback. What you need to do is put participants into groups and then appoint a leader. Send origami instructions to the leaders of the groups. The leaders can then guide the group members through the steps. All this should be done with the cameras off, so the guidance can be done via a messaging app or phone call. The aim is for members to create an origami structure with the instructions shared. Here, you expect a lot of questions for clarification. When all members are done making the structure, turn on the cameras to see who got it right.

Non-work related chats

It is not all the time that you will have your whole team together for virtual activities. This is especially true where the team features people from different time zones. Non-work-related chats don’t have to be real-time. You can have a dedicated channel for non-work discussions. You or any member can start a chat on any topic and the rest can contribute their views and opinions. Team members from different time zones can join in when they log in or when they have the time. The trick here is to keep the conversation going and to encourage the team to make it fun.

Weekly trivia contests

Most people love trivia quizzes. Making it a contest makes it more enjoyable and hooks every person to it, and have them looking forward to it every week. Choose a day of the week to post the trivia. Give your team time to compile their responses. After each member has sent in their responses, you can send the results. The aim of weekly trivia contests is to trigger fun conversations among the team members. These conversations can be ongoing throughout the week, which is important in bringing everyone together.

Conclusion

Virtual team building can be hard, but it can be done with creative ideas. Start by ensuring that you have everything you need to hold virtual activities. Empower your team with the right skills and tools necessary to make it happen. You can start by holding icebreaker moments before meetings or happy hours. Include games such as fact guessing, trivia contests, or blind origami. Keeping non-work-related chats going at all times also helps teams stay connected. Check out this article on managing remote workers.

 

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