9 Virtual team-building activities ideas to improve engagement
For businesses right now, staying in touch is as important as staying safe. Here's how to boost your team's spirit and promote engagement while working from home.
With remote working becoming the new norm for a lot of businesses, keeping your colleagues positive and engaged with their work and each other is essential. For many, remote working will be an entirely new challenge to get to grips with, especially when it comes to those employees who thrive on face-to-face contact through their working day.
But since we’re all in this together for the time being, it’s crucial that you’re extending the same sense of inclusivity to everyone in your team to ensure they’re at their best during this global pandemic. As a team leader or a manager, the task of turning uncertainty into something more familiar might seem easier said than done, but there are a myriad of team-building activities you can use to boost engagement along the way.
Here, we’ve collected a series of virtual team-building tips you can use to establish and maintain connections even without the human touch.
Why is virtual team-building so important right now?
Let’s take a step back from coronavirus for a second. Even if you take away the challenges of these unprecedented times, the physical distance of remote working can sometimes lead to an emotional distance. This is the kind of isolation no employee wants to find themselves in, global pandemic or not.
Creating a comfortable work environment for all team members is a must. Virtual team building allows all team members to build and maintain those all-important relationships, forging greater bonds between colleagues.
Additionally, virtual team-building can also help to combat some of the loneliness that many workers might be going through during lockdown. A more pro-active and enriching approach to engagement translates to a more united workforce and greater job satisfaction – an element that has, perhaps, fallen by the wayside during the pandemic.
What virtual team-building activities can you start using?
Quick morning chit chats
A brief check-in at the start of each day or week to see how everyone is doing is always a good idea, getting everyone in a good frame of mind before they make a start on their tasks. You probably already do this without thinking much of it, but it can be an instant icebreaker that starts things off on a positive note.
You can do this over whatever communication software you use or even through a video call if you want to go a little further with things. Throwing in a few questions like what they got up to at the weekend or what they’re having for lunch is an easy way to get people to bond in a gentle, less forced way.
Quizzes and guessing games
Quizzes are a great way to get team members to open up, build camaraderie and learn about their colleagues’ hobbies and interests outside of work. Whether it’s themed trivia on music or film, or something more tailored to team members themselves, they can help to establish an easy-going sense of cohesion – allowing everyone to discover some common ground.
Have employees share some interesting facts or hobbies about themselves with you, and compile them into a document. Next to each fact, leave the column blank so your team can guess which fact relates to which team member.
Encourage picture sharing
Working from home can get a little samey after a while, so why not break up the day by encouraging your team to share pictures with everyone else? Pets always make for top content, but if you’ve no furry friends around, then why not take a picture of something you do as a hobby or something that means a great deal to you. Turn it into a team ‘show and tell’ and explain to everyone else the contents of the picture you’re shared; it’ll let your colleagues know a little more about you in a creative and informative way.
Virtual coffee breaks
If you enjoy a cup of coffee but you’re missing having a quick natter with your colleagues, then be sure to schedule in 15-minute coffee breaks over a video call. How often you do it is up to you, but it’s another simple way to touch base with a hot mug in hand.
Virtual book club
Now that everyone has much more free time, a virtual book club is a great way to put the extra hours to good use outside of work. Participants read the same book or article in their free time, and then reconvene for a good old chinwag over the material for a set amount of time.
Not only does it allow teams to socialise, but it encourages critical thinking, allows for the sharing of differing opinions, and develops effective communication and listening skills.
Words with Friends
Keep everyone’s mind sharp by organising a game of Words with Friends amongst teams. An online game of Scrabble, the beauty of this version is that everyone can go at their own pace, checking in for a few minutes when they have the time or just fancy a break from work. Plus, it boosts collaboration among team members in a simple, relaxed manner.
Lunch and learn video calls
A more in-depth version of the ‘show and tell’ suggestion mentioned above, these video calls allow a member of the team to hold court on a particular topic of their choice while the rest of the team listens in and eats their lunch – what’s not to like?
You could even invite an expert to hold the talk themselves. There are all manner of folk out there willing to share their insights and expertise on a variety of workplace subjects, be it productivity, motivation, problem-solving and delegation – so it’s well worth exploring the option if you’re looking to enrich the team’s knowledge.
Since most of your team will be cooking and eating from home more often, why not set up a Slack channel so that any budding Blumenthals can share any recent recipes with other participants? It’s a great way to encourage others to get cooking and might inspire them to try a dish or cuisine they may be unfamiliar with. Alternatively, you could take pictures of your creations so everyone else can rate your plate – providing you’re brave enough.
While a bit of levity is always good for the team, especially at a time like this, you might like to consider something a little more serious to use as a team builder. Here’s where the DiSC assessment comes in. An experiential programme where participants complete assessments that generate differing personality styles, DiSC illustrates your team members’ strengths, challenges and motivations.
This provides participants with a better understanding of themselves and others, providing them with lessons that can positively impact employee and organisational culture. Additionally, it allows employees ways to motivate and communicate with others, whether they share their personality style or not.
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