Even as the country begins to reopen from coronavirus-related shutdowns, organizations are finding it may make sense to have many employees continue to work from home. For this shift to remote work to be successful long term, however, there are necessary components to help teams work well together with fewer in-person interactions.
Thankfully, there is a lot employers can do to positively influence employees’ ability to work well as a team when not physically together. Here are some examples of ways to incorporate teambuilding into remote employee interactions:
- Incorporate icebreakers into team calls to relax the atmosphere. This can be as simple as asking a few participants to answer a simple question or give feedback on their work or their day.
- Create a team event in which team members answer quiz questions. This is a game atmosphere that can help people relax and get to know one another. One option for this type of activity is to have the quiz questions relate to the employees themselves (with answers completed by individuals in advance).
- Have nonwork meetings or portions of meetings. For example, have a meeting during which people can share a photo and story about something that is important to them.
- Provide interactive training for the team to attend. (Bonus: This can also help with employee development.)
- Provide wellness activities for teams to attend online to show the company is still invested in their physical and mental health. This could include various types of instructor-led online workouts or meditation, for example.
- Consider adding some other fun component (like the icebreaker idea above) to team calls. This might be a mini game or an option for individuals to share something at the start of the call.
For many of these activities, the point is to foster communication and help people get to know one another. Some teambuilding activities also are designed to create trust, which is critical for employees who work remotely. Some are also simply designed to create a comfortable working environment so people feel less isolated when they’re apart.
Clearly, before any of this can begin, employers need to ensure that team members have good collaboration and communication tools to be effective while working remotely. This may mean investment in new software or better hardware for some employees. It could also include working with employees to ensure their home Internet connection is sufficient to meet the demands of videoconferencing and using necessary work software. Getting the basics right is the first step; then, teambuilding can be considered.
By investing the time and energy into helping remote teams work well together, organizations can achieve better team cohesiveness and thus better productivity over time. Building trust and effective communication among a dispersed team is crucial. Incorporating teambuilding activities into the team’s weekly interactions can go a long way toward this goal.
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.