By Aljaz Fajmut
Having a virtual team comes with lots of perks: there are no office space fees to pay, you only use workers when you need them, and productivity doesn’t necessarily go down. In fact, it might even go up now that the tiring commute to work has been removed from the picture.
However, as we all know, the key to a team performing as a team is bonding. In the real world, it’s a lot easier to take your team on bonding exercises that bring them together to boost communication, rapport, understanding, and morale so that they get along. Even if you don’t take the team out of the office, they all work in the same room, which gives them a chance to get to know each other.
With a virtual team, it becomes a bit trickier.
As Forbes points out, though, team building activities are a fundamental investment you need to make if you want you and your team to win.
From the experience of running a team of remote employees, I can say that some of the virtual team building exercises we’ve implemented worked perfectly. Here are my top picks that you can try with your team:
Get To Know Me!
Who are you all working with? Who’s in charge of SEO, copywriting, finance, and who is the virtual assistant?
To each team member, everyone else is a faceless identity without a personality. That hardly makes anyone feel as though they’re on a team.
With this exercise, your team members get a better idea of who everyone is, which improves the feeling that they’re part of a team. This, in turn, boosts motivation, effort, and productivity.
It’s a simple exercise. Everyone just needs their computer, an Internet connection, and the same video conferencing software. I suggest using Zoom, Google Hangouts, or Skype.
Then, before the exercise begins, have everyone write down ten facts about themselves. Eight can be important and serious, while two should be more comical for some banter.
Have everyone call in at the same time, and then take it in turns for each member to talk about their fun facts.
A Coffee Video Chat
Teams that drink coffee together stay together
Who doesn’t love a chat over a coffee? Just because your team works remotely, it doesn’t mean they should be denied this awesome team building exercise!
As the employer, you should take it upon yourself to send each worker a gift card that they can spend at any coffee shop they want. Then, arrange a date, and have everyone go to their favourite coffee shop armed with their trusty laptops and gift cards. Everyone orders and then goes on video.
Again, you can use Zoom or Google Hangouts for this, but Skype is less business-like and might be more fun.
It’ll be just like a team meet-up in a coffee shop but online, where everyone can talk about their orders and have a bit of a laugh.
For remote workers, it’ll be a great morale booster to get out of the house and hold a fun video call away from the same four walls.
And, hey, having fun is better for productivity!
A Round Of Appreciation
When our work is recognized, it feels awesome
People work better when they feel acknowledged. If a person feels undervalued, and as though no one is recognizing their work, their motivation might drop.
When remote workers are dispersed and not in regular contact with one another, it becomes harder for the separate team members to give their kudos and “Great job!” lines to each other. Which is why a virtual round of appreciation is a solid idea.
Again using video conferencing software such as Zoom or at least the messenger you use for work, arrange a round of appreciation every once in a while. Have each member praise something they did for the company that they were proud of this month, as well as something that another member of the team did. A good idea is to have a special appreciation channel in your messenger to keep the good vibes going.
An Update On How Everyone Is Doing
Rapport and camaraderie is built in the office via questions such as “How was the game?”, “What did you do this weekend?” and “Did you sort that thing out with your spouse?”
Online, it’s virtually impossible for remote workers to do that.
A good idea is to put a twist into your weekly calls with your team. At the start of each meeting, invite each member to talk about their last few days. Encourage them to talk about their wins, their losses, and any fun events they might have had on the weekend.
This not only boosts rapport and helps workers to find some common ground with each other, but also promotes inclusivity and a sense that we’re all working together.
These are some awesome virtual team building exercises for remote workers. If you need more ideas, feel free to tweak these or check the comments to see if there are more suggestions!
Aljaz Fajmut is an internet entrepreneur and founder of Nightwatch — a search visibility tool of the next generation.
Follow him on Twitter: @aljazfajmut