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The Best Team Building Ideas for Remote Workers

team virtual workforce Oct 13, 2020

Team Building Ideas for a Virtual Workforce

During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the number of employees working online has more than doubled, jumping from 31% to 62% in one three-week span alone.

As businesses begin to slowly re-open across the country, many executives are expecting to make this more of a permanent transition, so we all have lessons to learn and apply longterm.

According to one survey, 74% of managers who recently shifted to a remote work environment expect at least 5% of their former in-house employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic ends. 

This is good news in some ways as remote workers have the benefits of more freedom, but the negative side is not having a team in an office space to engage with one another and keep morale high.

Whether you plan to adopt a remote work environment on a full or even partial basis, maintaining morale is critical. Traditional team building ideas that worked in the past will require tweaks to keep workers engaged and motivated from afar.

Today, we're sharing 6 ways to inspire teamwork, collaboration, and communication among your virtual workforce:

But First, Why Is Virtual Team Building Important?

Team building is important to create cohesion among your team members. Now, employees are more physically separated than ever before. This means issues that may have hindered departmental synergy in the past are now exacerbated tenfold.

Virtual team-building efforts ensure that every remote worker feels valued, respected, and empowered. These meetings also equip everyone with the resources they need to fill their unique job requirements.

Team meetings are meant to add a human element to online work. This way, everyone can feel included and part of a community, helping to combat feelings of isolation and inspire success.

1. Create a Social Channel

When you're working remotely, it can be easy to assume that everyone will sit at their home desks for eight hours straight and stay focused.

However, keep in mind that a typical, in-office workday includes plenty of social interaction and mental breaks. Naturally, you might not be able to have water cooler chats anymore. Still, you can create a separate channel on your communication platform of choice for fun, offbeat conversations to keep spirits light/

For instance, if you use Slack to coordinate with your team, it takes less than one minute to create a "Random" channel. Though you may need to set some boundaries around its use, this can be a free and welcoming space for your team to bond over anything and everything. Pictures of pets near keyboards welcome!

Don't have such tools installed on your home computers? You can still encourage connection. Try to set aside around 10 minutes at the start of every video or audio call to cover personal catch-ups and check-in with your team! Since the natural work banter won’t be happening in the office space, then you have to be intentional with how you bring it into a remote work lifestyle. Social channels are a great avenue for that!

2. Establish Feedback Fridays

Even if your team worked remotely before the pandemic, these past few months have likely introduced new frustrations and challenges.

These can range from technology and software glitches to inter-department communication breakdowns. In a physical office, you might be privy to such roadblocks as soon as they arise. However, they can easily slip by unnoticed from afar.

Instead of expecting these issues to become apparent, you'll now need to ask about them. Using a simple online survey tool, create a feedback form, and distribute the link to your employees at the end of every workweek.

Technology isn’t the only roadblock remote workers may face. Since they don’t have their coworkers around to bounce off ideas or to guide them through troubleshooting an issue, remote workers may start to feel alone and overwhelmed. Sure, they can message a coworker for help, but helping from afar is much different than being together in a workspace with a hands on approach.

Because of this, feedback fridays can be a really valuable addition to your team’s responsibilities. 

On this day, they can share their pain points, along with their praises. In turn, you can use these insights to drive your team strategy moving forward. 

Note that Friday shouldn’t be the ONLY day feedback is allowed. It’s just making sure there is an intentional day in place for this type of communication if it otherwise isn’t happening. 

3. Encourage Professional and Personal Development

As a team leader, your workforce looks to you for professional advice and inspiration. Thankfully, the internet is replete with resources that can help you fill this role well.

And here at Talent Magnet, we pride ourselves on providing expert resources to leaders and their team!

Find resources that speak to your industry and share the link with your teammates. Then, schedule a collaborative audio or video call to discuss. Encourage everyone to share at least one idea they took away from the content and how they want to implement what they learn.

4. Hold Laser Meetings

Yes, it's vital to hold regular team meetings with your entire remote team on board. Yet, brief, one-on-one check-ins are also important and can help make sure lines of communication stay open for a professional relationship.

Laser meetings work as their name implies. They are short (no longer than 15 minutes), direct, and focused. Key team members should hold these kinds of meetings on a regular basis, in addition to the all-hands-on-deck varieties.

This way, department leaders can ensure that projects stay on track, timelines get met and client deliverables get completed.

5. Introduce Health and Wellness Initiatives

There's no denying the physical strain that sitting at a home computer can do. From backaches to eye strain, there are myriad discomforts that can snowball into major issues over time.

To help keep your sedentary workforce as active as possible, introduce fun and simple health and wellness initiatives.

For example, you can pay for access to subscription-based virtual gym services or send them FitBits in the mail. Encourage employees to track and share their progress via a free social exercise app, such as Strava.

6. Reward Great Work

You expect your team members to maintain their level of professionalism and drive during their time away from the office. So make sure you recognize and reward their great work.

It's easy for these workers to feel isolated, unappreciated, and even depressed. To this end, there's an even greater impetus to highlight anyone who surpasses expectations.

In addition to giving them a virtual shout-out on your team communication platform or email chain, go the extra mile. Send a thank-you card or small gift via snail mail, too.

What’s Next?

It remains unclear what the future of the traditional office holds. But we have you covered when it comes to your team’s development! Check out our Talent Magnet Community for all the resources and trainings you need to support your team well and stay on a success path!

Also to help support your hiring efforts in this remote world, we have created a free resource called the Virtual Onboarding Guide. This guide is packed full of strategies, tools, checklists, and templates to help easily optimize the virtual onboarding process so that you can set your organization up for success and retain talent!

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