This blog is a guest post written by Richard Fendler, a goal-oriented manager at SnackNation with proven leadership abilities. He’s an expert in increasing productivity and customer satisfaction while driving revenue and sales. Also committed to streamlining procedures while optimizing employee talent.
Keeping team members happy and engaged when working remotely after the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge that all managers face. While it may seem like an insurmountable task in the long term, there are some team-building exercises you can do to achieve working with remote teams effectively.
With that in mind, here are 10 virtual team-building activities to add to your roster of employee engagement strategies so that remote work does not leave employees feeling isolated.
1. HOST A VIRTUAL BIRTHDAY PARTY
Office birthdays are a part of most company cultures, so there is no reason to stop this tradition when teams are working from home.
You can choose to organize virtual birthday parties yourself or assign this task to different people as seems suitable. There are lots of birthday party ideas for work that make sense in a virtual workspace, such as online karaoke sessions, masquerade balls, and even murder mystery games!
2. ARRANGE A VIRTUAL HAPPY HOUR
If your team is used to meeting for post-work drinks or even a coffee break on a weekly or monthly basis, this is another activity that translates well to the virtual space.
Make sure that you set a suitable cap on small groups to avoid the experience being overwhelming; 10 is ideal, although 20 is workable. Get team members to bring a drink to enjoy, and pre-plan discussion points or just let the conversation flow as you would normally. Being able to sit back and trust employees to gel in this context is one of the key leadership qualities you should foster.
3. PLAY ONLINE GAMES TOGETHER
Gaming may not be everyone’s favorite pastime, but there are lots of multiplayer experiences that are great for team bonding. Fostering cohesion in this way can even be one of the pros of telecommuting that would not necessarily apply to the office.
In terms of the team-building games themselves, popular options include the trivia-based JackBox.tv titles and the Scrabble-inspired Words With Friends.
4. SET AN ICEBREAKER CHALLENGE
Activities that engage remote workers’ brains are the best to pursue, so establishing a hypothetical scenario and asking people how they would cope can spark a lot of fun and debate.
A fun icebreaker question is to ask team members to think which 3 items they would take to a desert island to survive after being stranded on a limited list. This icebreaker will get people talking and stimulate their imagination.
5. RUN A BOOK CLUB
Whether or not a book club is already part of your team’s activity schedule, this works well for remote working as it does when face-to-face meetings are possible.
Be sure to choose books that are accessible, enjoyable, and interesting. Length also matters, so avoid picking “War and Peace” unless you want to spend weeks waiting for everyone to finish and meet up.
6. SET FITNESS GOALS
Working remotely can reduce the amount of physical activity that team members get each day, so you can capitalize on this by getting remote employees to choose their own fitness goals and aim to complete them together as constructive teamwork.
Be sure that this is handled sensitively and do not put undue pressure on a member of your team for whom fitness and exercise may not come easily.
7. ENCOURAGE NON-WORK-RELATED TALKS
While virtual meetings and conference calls are all well and good, sometimes it’s nice to talk about things other than work without being scrutinized by lots of other people in real-time.
To that end, partner people in small groups with one another and ask them to become pen pals, corresponding via email about their days and boosting each other’s morale through this online team building.
8. GET CRAFTY
When working remotely, team members may have more time on their hands freed up by not needing to commute daily.
This can make completing craft projects together an entertaining option for team-building events. Whether you decide to take up pottery, woodwork, knitting, or any other craft-related hobby, doing this while chatting with colleagues on Zoom can eradicate feelings of isolation in a fun way.
9. TAKE HOME TOURS
As team members may well live long distances from one another, a remote working scenario could be the ideal opportunity to let them show off their abodes and also display a bit more of their personality to their remote team members.
Each member can be given the chance to show everyone around their home, either in real-time or by filming clips and editing them together.
10. SHARE PERSONAL PHOTOS
Seeing pictures of someone as a baby or from their youth can be a fun way to engage with others in a work environment.
Get team members to send you photos of them in their youth, collate them all together and then share them with the rest of the team in a video chat, then get attendees to guess the identity of each pic.
Read more about virtual team-building ideas here.
Most importantly, listen to each member of your team and work out which team-building activities for remote teams will best suit their personalities and needs. Being responsive and open to feedback is the best way to improve your management of virtual offices.