20 April 2020 | 3 min read
Virtual Team Building
As more teams span, not only cities but continents, leaders realize the importance of team synergy. With people working from home, and projects being pieced together from locations all over the world, there has never been a greater need for virtual relationship building.
Team building sharpens critical team skills such as cohesion, collaboration, and trust. Studies show how it adds value to high-tech industries, small groups, and virtual teams. Leaders know team building is valuable, but it’s not always so simple. What was once accomplished by all staff meetings in the conference room has now become more of a challenge.
Below are a few tips to stay connected and build your team remotely.
FIND A CONNECTION PLATFORM
Zoom has gotten a lot of attention lately, and the hype is not misplaced. It’s a great free option if you want to have a group video call. But it’s not the only money-saving choice out there. Some of our other favorite free alternatives are HouseParty, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Cisco Webex, and RingCentral. Each option has different limitations for their free account, but most will let small groups (40 and under) meet for 40 minutes before they charge for the pro versions.
Check out the different options and choose a platform that will work best for your team. Keep in mind; younger generations might prefer the app-based HouseParty while older groups may lean toward easy-to-use Skype. There are also one-way connection platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube, where you can chat with your team, and they can leave comments.
SELECT A TIME/DATE
If your team already has a set weekly meeting, aim for that timeslot. It’s important to stick to routines as often as possible to make people feel comfortable and safe. If you don’t have a regularly scheduled meeting time, try to pick something that works well for the majority. Trust us, if you wait to find a time that’s perfect for everyone you’ll never meet. Not sure when to schedule your team conference? According to science, Tuesdays at 2:30 pm is the ideal meeting time.
PLAN YOUR INTERACTIONS
Now comes the fun part! It’s time to plan out your team building session. There are a lot of fun games and exercises you can do together online. And most traditional team building activities can be modified to work for virtual environments.
First, pick your meeting host. Most leaders take on this role themselves, even if they aren’t comfortable being the “game guy.” But don’t feel pressured to be the game host if it isn’t in your wheelhouse. You want this time to be fun and relatively unawkward. If you’re not up to the challenge, find someone on the team (or from outside) with high energy and put them to work—just a quick note. If you decide to pass this assignment on to someone else, make sure you stay active during the meeting and participate. Your team needs to see you engaged.
Next, select the activities. If this is your first team building activity as a group, you might want to focus more on “get to know you” exercises. You can play Virtual Bingo, ask Icebreaker Questions, or do a family-friendly version of Never Have I Ever. If you’ve been doing team building for a while, you can spice things up with team Scavenger Hunts, virtual Mafia, or even distance Karaoke.
Need a little inspiration on what to do? Museum Hack lists 51 fun virtual team building activities.
SLIP IN ENCOURAGEMENT
Remote work is difficult because of the lack of human element. The very purpose of team building should be to establish that human connection. Teams that trust each other and have a foundation of a relationship just work better.
Make sure you take some time to thank and encourage your team personally. Your staff and volunteers need to hear from their leader. Show them you care, you are there for them, and you are proud of the work they are accomplishing. You don’t have to make a grand speech. Keep it simple, honest, and heartfelt. Your team will feel valued, and you’ll connect with them on a deeper level.
As you practice intentional encouragement, your organization will soon develop a culture of celebration where members celebrate the small wins.