Team building is the cornerstone of effective employee teams in an organization. In recent years, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, companies around the world had to reorganize their work forms in favor of remote work quickly. Belonging to a team is one of the key employee needs. When working remotely, it naturally becomes significantly reduced. Virtual bonding among employees poses a difficult but not impossible challenge. A strong team, positive relationships as well as a friendly atmosphere are the basis of any organizational culture. Therefore, the challenge of remote staff integration is worth the effort.
Team building – table of contents:
- What is team building?
- Types of integration activities
- Remote team building ideas
- Is virtual team building an opportunity or a threat?
- Check out our software for team work
What is team building?
In business practice, team building is defined as a form of integration of employee teams. The purpose of integration is to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of group members, to define roles and places in the team as well as to cooperate effectively. Team building includes various forms of activities that enable the establishment of lasting relationships, building an atmosphere of trust and friendship. Integration among employees who meet every day in the office is much easier.
Certain behaviors happen on their own, from a conversation over coffee to a spontaneous outing for a beer after work. Keep in mind that a lack of integration can lead to ineffective communication, an inconsistent organizational culture, unhealthy rivalry, overgrown bureaucracy and high employee turnover.
Types of integration activities
Employees view remote work quite positively. Studies have shown that remote workers are more productive and can maintain a healthy work-life balance. However, one of the most frequently cited factors for dissatisfaction with this form of work is poor team integration. When working remotely, employees integration activities fall into several key areas:
- Routines including coffee conversations, group meal ordering, and taking a break together.
- Rituals strengthened by holding joint celebrations related to company activities, holidays or individual anniversaries, cultivating internal traditions.
- Professional development through group training, seminars, courses, etc.
- Reports summarizing the work of the team organized periodically, such as once a week.
- Competition based on various sports competitions, games, or quizzes aimed at introducing the principles of healthy competition.
- After-hours entertainment, joint outings for bowling, billiards, beer, and others; organized officially by the employer or unofficially by the employees themselves.
In principle, we can transfer all of the above areas of integration to a virtual environment with the use of appropriate IT tools.
Remote team building ideas
When organizing remote work, it’s easy to divide tasks, hold online meetings and develop a form and method of reporting. However, taking care of proper virtual team building is no longer so simple. To build a sense of togetherness and an atmosphere of trust, it is worth implementing some proven integration methods and ideas. Online integration varies because of the nature of the tools used. During virtual team building, it is more difficult to keep employees engaged. Therefore, the exercises should be shorter and the rules simpler than in the case of stationary counterparts. Some of the most popular integration ideas include:
- Formal and casual online meetings, such as drinking coffee together, talking about common passions, or organizing teams.
- Various games and activities, such as puns, stimulate creativity and release positive emotions. All you have to do is turn on the camera and draw slogans on cards.
- Movement is health. Sitting in front of the computer for several hours may prove fruitful when to come up with a game to get up from the desk. Such an idea could be a game show me something crazy or green in your apartment or a virtual walk around your apartment from each participant.
- You can also implement virtual onboarding as a game, through which the new employees get acquainted with the rest of the team. For instance, True or false? The task of each participant is to tell two things about themselves, one of which false. The task of the others – guess which sentence is false and which is true.
- Brief and interesting exercises to learn about each employee’s expectations and priorities, such as providing the team with a selected article or online magazine and asking them to highlight a few headlines that can be related to the company’s future.
- Virtual collaborative story/telling. The first person starts a story, e.g. On the first day of the new job I overslept and my car broke down, so… Subsequent people add the ending and add another part of the story. Creating a common storyline stimulates creativity and encourages listening to each other and cooperate, which is essential to create a fine story.
- An online cooking workshop is a cooking lesson delivered in a relaxed format and fun atmosphere. Participants receive a packet of cooking products in advance, and the class is streamed live from the cooking studio.
Of course, the catalog of ideas for virtual team building is much broader. The choice of specific team-building games and activities depends on the capacity and financial capabilities of the organization in question. Still, make sure that the choice of a particular idea for team involvement is properly tailored to the specifics of their work and the individual needs of employees in this regard.
Is virtual team building an opportunity or a threat?
Whether teamwork will be viewed in positive or negative terms depends on the nature of the individual participants. For example, introverts like to work independently and assimilation into a group will be perceived negatively by them. Therefore, when recruiting, it is worthwhile to pay attention to individual personality traits, which will have a definite impact on the functioning of teamwork.
If employees are willing to cooperate on a professional level then they will also perceive integration positively, which will certainly bring tangible results. But whether online integration will maintain a cohesive team working remotely, in the long run, depends chiefly on management and personnel policies. The atmosphere that the boss sets plays a major role in the process. He or she has to realize that online communication consists of primarily the written word, not gestures or the timbre of the voice, i.e. non-verbal communication.
Given that the team may grow distant from each other after some time online, the role of building a friendly working atmosphere comes out as indispensable. Small gifts sent home on the occasion of various holidays or important events will certainly raise team morale. When organizing virtual team building, do not forget about personal meetings held in real life. They will also strengthen the sense of togetherness and positive relations.
Developing a sense of community and shared responsibility in a team of employees working remotely is much more difficult than in the case of stationary work. That is why virtual team building plays such a major role by creating an atmosphere of trust and a sense of security. The unification of a remote working team is the main goal of integration, which values its members and affects interpersonal relations. In addition, it enhances team communication, eliminates potential mistakes, improves conflict resolution and increases productivity.