From social hours to chili cook-offs, small businesses have many opportunities to encourage team building and bonding in the physical workplace. But with so many people now working from home, how do you motivate your team to get to know each other, have fun and build trust in a virtual environment?
“When you work in an office, there is a certain amount of team building built in—like saying ‘Hi’ in the morning or having lunch with a coworker,” says Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, a company that offers both offline and online team-building activities. “When you remove that face-to-face time, you need to make up for it with more intentional team building.”
It’s important for leaders to care about team building even in a fully remote working environment, Alexis says, because employee bonding is shown to improve collaboration, communication and engagement—leading to a happier and more productive work environment.
In fact, Gallup Research found that companies with a high level of employee engagement reap many rewards—including more customer engagement, more revenue and higher worker retention.
Thankfully, there are many easy and affordable ways to encourage virtual team building. Here are three team-building activities your company can do over the internet:
Simply devoting a few minutes during team meetings to casual, non-work-related discussion encourages team members to bond by getting to know about each other’s lives and personal interests. Posing “icebreaker” questions that everyone on your team can respond to is an easy way to spark such conversations.
“At the beginning of your next meeting, use a prompt like, ‘your name, and where you would haunt for all of eternity’ or ‘your usual breakfast,’” Alexis recommends.
From online scrabble tournaments to remote bingo, hundreds of online games for remote teams are now available (many for free) over the internet. Games range from those that are simply fun (think bingo) to those that have goals specifically related to encouraging employee collaboration and communication.
Moreover, some virtual games have been designed to be played over Zoom and other video conferencing technologies that many companies are already using.
Just as you can provide yoga classes at the workplace, you can host virtual events and experiences for employees online that encourage bonding. Also as in the physical workplace, consider experiences tailored to your team members’ interests or those that simply give them a way to catch up on a more personal level.
For example, Alexis’s company provides clients with what it calls a “tiny campfire”—where it mails each employee a care package with a tealight candle, matches and s’mores ingredients so they can have a virtual campfire.
Some companies host regular virtual happy hours or coffee hours where employees meet over video conferencing software such as Zoom or Google Hangouts just to catch up and enjoy a beverage together—virtually.
Some other virtual event ideas include:
- Online book club or movie discussion
- A DIY craft challenge
- Pizza party
- Cooking class
- At-home scavenger hunt
Whatever you do, get your team’s feedback on what virtual team-building activity they value most—as any such activity is useful only if employees actually enjoy it.Print this article