Virtual team building activities for your remote team

Team in a row boat being directed by team leader

Virtual teams are known for their flexibility, fun lifestyle, and emphasis on individuality. Even if you don’t see each other every day, your team should still have a cohesive feel and enjoy working together. Through virtual team building exercises, managers can promote great relationships within the company.

Make time in your schedule to promote a fun team culture through virtual team building activities. By doing so, you’ll be able to foster relationships similar to in-person teams. And that’s without sacrificing the flexibility that remote workers love so much.

Virtual team building exercises support a positive business environment

Some people tend to shy away from team building exercises when they’re working together in person. Despite so many people disliking them, ice-breakers tend to work really well. They effectively help get the conversation flowing. Team building exercises also tend to break down walls and allow people to learn about each other openly.

Many managers of online teams tend to wonder how they can replicate the successes of in-person icebreakers with their remote workers. We’ll break down the top 5 virtual team building activities that can help your remote team connect with each other.

video conference plays a part of virtual team building as it give a more personal understanding of your colleagues

1. Video conferences

One of the best ways to support healthy team relationships is to bring the human connection back into the equation. When you’re busy chatting away with someone over an instant messaging tool, it’s easy to stay connected. But how many members of your team can say they’ve had a face-to-face conversation?

Many online teams may not have the luxury of actually meeting face-to-face. Despite this, you can facilitate the next best thing, which is a video conference.

You can actually host your weekly meeting as a video conference. This gives team members the opportunity to see and speak to each other. This simple step, facilitating video chats instead of text-only ones, can help your team bond.

In addition to virtual team building, another added benefit of video conferences is the social interaction. For people who are working from home, a video chat can be a great way to combat the feelings of isolation that can develop.

No matter which way you look at it, hosting meetings using video as the focus can benefit all members of your team on a variety of levels.

2. Virtual happy hour

Online teams are versatile and relatively novel, making team building for remote companies a unique challenge. Just a few years ago, working online wasn’t taken as seriously and opportunities were few and far between.

Remote positions have allowed employers to hire the best people from around the world. It’s only natural that managers try to work in some “fun” despite the distance between everyone.

One method is scheduling a virtual happy hour. This new idea will give managers and employees the opportunity to decompress much like they would over a few drinks after work.

Whether you want to host a virtual happy hour at a coffee shop or with a few beers, this activity is great for virtual team building.

You can choose to “ban” work topics or allow the conversation to flow naturally during these events. No matter what, coworkers can begin to share their stories, wins, and hurdles all from the comfort of their own workspace.

virtual happy hour is a virtual team building concept to create relationships amongst workers

3. Schedule group training

Some companies host training sessions at the beginning of each quarter to keep everyone’s skills up to date and to brainstorm new solutions to old problems. Usually held in person, these group trainings can also take place online in a way that helps your team bond.

Many teams may feel restless for a break or a change in action as the holiday season approaches. For this reason, many managers choose to schedule group training around these times to keep things fresh and light at the end of the year.

If you want your team to earn new certifications or simply learn more about a new piece of technology, why not group it into a period of a few days? By creating a schedule, you can add in time slots where your team can have virtual coffee breaks and decompress between each session.

Use video in your virtual weekly meetings

Riding off of virtual team training, you can also host your weekly meetings as a virtual team building exercise.

Regularly scheduling video conferences may be difficult for teams who are across multiple time zones. If possible, test this method out with your team, but keep time zones in mind for those who may work late into the night.

In the world of virtual teams, it can be difficult to gauge someone’s reaction. People can simply choose not to respond at a certain point in a group chat, which lets them avoid certain topics to a certain extent. By setting up video team meetings, you can see exactly what everyone’s reaction is. When proposing new ideas, for example, seeing people face-to-face is extremely useful.

If you’re going to pursue this option, make sure you are taking the time to plan for each meeting. This will allow you to take a second look at your speaking agenda to make sure it’s arranged properly. You can also use this time to troubleshoot beforehand to avoid any technical malfunctions during your scheduled time.

4. Remote worker meetups

Many managers make it a goal of theirs to personally meet everyone on their team. In fact, people who work in a virtual team will often grab a quick cup of coffee with a teammate when they’re passing through town on a vacation.

Any opportunity that you can take to meet people from your team in person is important. Whether or not your teammates meet each other at some point, having a personal meeting with their direct managers can help motivate each employee.

Take a look at your locations of all of your teammates and ask yourself if a personal meeting would be possible. If there is a middle point for all of your employees, suggest a mini “workcation” by meeting up for a day or two.

5. End the week on a positive note

Remote workers often struggle to feel like they’re a part of a team. Some may work alone in their homes for the majority of the time. Others may share collaborative workspaces where they feel like the people in their space are more of their team. Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to build in some fun to help motivate and bond your online team.

Some managers choose to end the week on a positive note, specifically to highlight the great work your team is doing as a whole. This can easily be done with a modified team newsletter.

If your communication channels are open, you should know a bit about each employee to give them a personal or work shoutout. Use your “newsletter” to highlight professional wins, hurdles that were overcome, and even things like birthdays or other exciting events.

You can also include memes, pet pictures, funny videos, and other inside jokes to make your messages a bit more personal. The more motivating you can be, the better. These newsletters are a great way to inspire people to enjoy free time and prepare for the upcoming week ahead.

Try different virtual team building exercises to foster relationships

Make virtual team buildings activities a priority

No matter what options you try as your virtual team building activities, your colleagues will appreciate the effort. By strengthening bonds, you’ll be setting everyone up for success. Not only that, but you could be adding some much-needed fun and socialization into someone’s day while they’re working.

It never hurts to build the interpersonal bonds of your team. That’s why you should always make virtual team building activities a priority within your company.

By Stephanie Watkins

July 31, 2018


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