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Teambuilding in a virtual world

Teambuilding with remote workers

The idea of teambuilding exercises will fill some people with a sense of dread. To others, it’s a day out of the office, and I am sure some people do look forward to it. I’m probably a mixture of all three, happy to do something different for the day, don’t want to embarrass myself, and optimistically thinking it could be fun.

However, building a team that works effectively together is much more than one away day. It can be challenging enough to form a cohesive workforce when in the same space. Employers need to manage and motivate different personalities and empower staff at an individual level while promoting collaboration. Add remote working into the mix, and where do you start?

Effective teamwork comes from joint goals and a sense of belonging, personal achievement, and individual motivation to move forward together.

Employers should consider the following to help build teamwork and belonging with workers, whether remote or not.

  • Management needs to lead by example. Be credible, and fair, and treat everyone with respect.
  • Create a culture of trust. Make sure your employees feel valued and considered their views in a non-judgmental way. Each team member needs to trust that they can be open and honest and that co-workers are treating them in the same way.
  • Ask questions and actively listen to the responses. What are the biggest challenges your workers face with being remote? Listen to their answers, and provide your thoughts and feedback to help solve any issues.
  • Keep checking in and reduce isolation. Make sure you have regular video or voice calls with your team, not just an email or Slack message. Human interaction plays an essential part in employee well-being.
  • Be clear on expectations and make your staff accountable. Remote workers will need to self-manage their day. As their employer, you need to make sure your expectations are clear, and defined and, the results transparent. Arrange regular reviews to provide feedback.
  • Provide social outlets for those remote team members that want them. Some ideas include a virtual communal break room, a Slack channel for good news, virtual movie nights, or teambuilding games. You will know what works for your employees. Make them inclusive but not compulsory. As I mentioned above, everyone is different and may or may not want to join in.

Finally, I would consider when and how it is appropriate for your team to meet in person. I have heard that some companies are using the money saved from not having permanent office space to hold yearly retreats. While this will work for some companies, it may again feel too much for some of your employees. You need to consider what elements would be compulsory, whether there is something specific you want to get out of the event, or whether this is just about being social and a team connection. Personally, dinner and a few drinks with your co-workers would get my support. Suggest role-playing exercises, and you are likely to find that I’m busy!

Clear communication runs through all of the team-building ideas above. Listen to what your team needs, be flexible, and make the work environment inclusive for all. Get the best out of your team by making them feel part of something great.

Please note the information presented on this website is provided as a general guide and is not a substitute for legal or tax advice. For specific advice, be sure to consult with a qualified professional.

Author: Sarah Cundle
This article was first published on June 28 2022
Last updated on May 15 2023