If you manage a remote team, you know how challenging it can be to keep your workforce engaged. While you hopefully don’t have to deal with employees who leave a meeting halfway through, you might have valid concerns about how everyone is feeling.
Enter the value of virtual team-building exercises. These activities aren’t fluff — they’re vital to making your remote workers feel like part of something bigger. Here’s why you should host these kinds of events on a regular basis, along with six ideas to get you started.
Why Offer Virtual Team-Building Exercises?
As a remote team leader, you only hurt yourself if you don’t host virtual team-building exercises. You reap a host of benefits for your organization. Here are four of the most important perks.
1. Build Rapport
Rapport can be essential to your bottom line. If you hired staff remotely, you can seem to them like just a name behind a screen. They’ll work because they want to collect a paycheck.
When you build rapport with someone, you want to help them succeed — which is the ideal attitude you want your staff to have toward your business. If your workers internalize your mission statement, they’ll do their best to promote it.
Of course, it helps to communicate that your success is also theirs. Part of the value of virtual team-building is letting stakeholders know what they stand to gain. You can use these events to remind your staff of opportunities to earn promotions or benefits they currently lack, providing a roadmap for them to follow.
2. Generate Passion for Work
If your staff members telecommute due to personal injury or the need to quarantine to prevent the spread of illness, they can lose their enthusiasm for their work. Keeping them engaged in virtual team-building events provides a way to participate with the rest of the workforce and avoid slipping into an apathetic frame of mind.
Even if your staff feels fully vested in your mission, it’s natural to lose sight of the big picture when your daily grind consists of a monotonous, day-in-day-out routine. One value of virtual team-building exercises is that they reignite the spark people felt on their first day and refresh their passion for what they do. You can motivate new ways of thinking, prompt them to try something new and help break them from their routine.
3. Ease Loneliness
Working from home can get lonely, and employees who telecommute due to health issues already face increased isolation. They may lack the requisite “spoons” to maintain a social life after hours — making it through the day takes everything they have.
Virtual team-building exercises provide an invaluable opportunity for folks to connect and ease loneliness. Don’t be surprised if those who RSVP’d “no” most frequently to in-person happy hours show up for nearly every one you hold online. It takes far less effort to throw on a suit jacket and log in than it does to get dressed and drive to a restaurant.
4. Make Employees Feel Valued
Few people like to feel like another cog in the wheel. They want their contributions recognized, and virtual team-building exercises let you spread the love and share successes.
When asked what they value, employees often cite the little things, like their manager taking time to say hello instead of making a beeline for their corner office. Virtual team-building exercises provide remote supervisors the opportunity to connect early and often, making workers feel like the valued contributors they are.
6 Virtual Team-Building Exercises to Try
Now that you understand the value of virtual team-building exercises, what can you do as a remote supervisor? Here are six ideas to get your staff on board and build camaraderie while having fun.
1. Create a Virtual Watercooler
Does your team use Slack or another software program to facilitate communication? While you want to keep official channels uncluttered with fluff, you do want to provide a place for staff to blow off steam or share amusing anecdotes about their day.
Set up a channel purely for “watercooler” chat. Establish ground rules for respectful communication, but otherwise, let employees socialize as they would in a traditional setting.
2. Team Game Night
Who said you couldn’t play games like Pictionary in the virtual world? This game and other classics translate perfectly to an online medium.
Other options include Scattergories and trivia games. You could even host an online poker night where players can exchange their “chips” for rewards like 15 minutes of paid time off.
3. Show and Tell
Your staff members are unique — let them show off why! Host a show-and-tell where each employee gives others a virtual tour of their office space or favorite room in their home.
Another idea is to have each worker bring something near and dear to them, just like they did in grade school. This activity is ideal for making your team feel valued as individuals, instead of drones balancing tedious budget reports.
4. Personal Facts Guessing Game
This activity requires a bit of extra prep work on your end, but it’s a fascinating way to get to know your staff. Have each team member submit three to four random facts about themselves to you before the event.
Then, at your virtual meeting, read the statements aloud and post them in a shared document, while employees try to guess who submitted each one. Everyone gets to know each other more intimately.
5. Virtual Happy Hour
Zoom happy hours have exploded in popularity since COVID-19 restrictions closed bars in many areas. So, how do you host a fun virtual happy hour?
Get your employees directly involved with some great tasting alcohol games. Have each staff member submit a cocktail recipe and select two with similar ingredients to present at your weekly wind-down.
6. Offline Fitness Challenge
This activity is perfect for those with disabilities if you give each person enough leeway to do what they can. You can have each member select an individual challenge.
Then, they can use an app to track their progress or fill out an old-fashioned chart. Everyone who completes the challenge wins something at the virtual event you host to showcase participant efforts.
Embrace the Value of Virtual Team-Building Exercises and Create a More Engaged Workforce
It’s impossible to overstate the power of virtual team-building for remote teams. Foster a more engaged workforce by planning your event around some of the advice above.