Having a strong team and a positive culture in the workplace is beneficial to companies in a myriad of ways, from lowering retention rates, increasing productivity, and even increasing profit margins. And meaningful interactions among team members often form the basis of creating positive team dynamics.
While it may seem impossible—or at least incredibly difficult—to still have these meaningful interactions when the majority of your workforce is working remotely, there are still many creative and inspiring ways to bring your team together and promote stronger professional relationships.
Here’s a list of some of the best exercises you can employ to help your team maintain, or even increase, their level of cooperation and coordination across your network of virtual offices.
Organize Casual Virtual Team Meetings
Virtual meetings are occurring on an unprecedented scale across the nation. And while we’re all getting used to this method of holding a meeting to get the work done, these video meetings can also be used to increase team connectivity.
In most physical offices, we all take a quick trip to the breakroom where we might grab a cup of coffee and have a conversation with coworkers. These small events actually serve an important function by contributing to positive team dynamics. They’re opportunities for us all to get to know one another a little better, to share challenges, and to learn from one another.
Remote working models don’t necessarily mean that these types of interactions have to stop—they just require a little more planning and may be structured a little differently. Holding virtual team lunches or coffee breaks is an ideal way to facilitate more casual communication that’s crucial to creating team cohesion.
Create Opportunities for Coworkers to Share More of Their Lives
While most people only share very limited knowledge about their personal lives in the office, remote working arrangements offer a unique opportunity to get a bit more insight into the lives of your team members.
Invite them to share information that they’re comfortable sharing, such as a tour of their home office arrangement or photos of their new “coworkers,” such as pets or children who now may be home as well. These strategies are a fun, and sometimes funny, way to get to know one another on a more personal basis, solidifying feelings of friendship and solidarity.
Implement Instant Messaging and App Extensions to Make Conversations Easier
Instant messaging is one of the best ways to ensure that you have constant access to coworkers throughout the workday. Most companies are already using an IM service, but for those who aren’t yet, it’s an ideal time to identify and implement a solution to facilitate these direct conversations.
Additionally, some IM platforms have additional extensions that promote enhanced direct conversation, such as Donut on Slack. This extension groups coworkers into pairs that rotate on a regular basis (every week, two weeks, etc.). The premise is that they become “coffee buddies” for the duration and engage in brief (usually 15 minutes) one-on-one meetings to get to know one another better. Extensions like this are a directed way to promote and strengthen the bonds of coworkers across the team.
Host Digital Team-Building Games or Events
The shift in global patterns of work has been met with additional virtual resources, including more opportunities for virtual team-building activities, fun office games, training seminars, and even workshops that coworkers can attend together.
These types of activities allow for professional social opportunities and the ability to enhance specific skill sets in a fun format. Consider hosting an online movie night through Netflix Party, starting a team book club, or hosting a trivia night via ZOOM.
Promote Virtual Wellness Activities
Many physical offices have integrated wellness activities to promote employee fitness and overall mental and physical health. Continuing these activities in a virtual format provides another opportunity to allow employees to unwind in a healthy group setting.
There’s a broad array of different activities that you could consider, such as having a wellness walking challenge, holding a virtual meditation, Pilates or yoga sessions, or encouraging employees to post their favorite healthy recipes to a shared Google document. Wellness may be more crucial than ever during the pandemic, and promoting these types of activities is a win-win for employers and employees.
Hold a Virtual Office Party
Many employers celebrate holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions in person, but carrying on with these festive events virtually can still do a lot to increase morale and lighten the mental load that social isolation can induce. You can even include fun elements such as a virtual dance competition or virtual office bingo.
Seeing one another during a festive event can inspire positivity, additional team bonding, and increase the dynamics across your workforce. A virtual office party could be just the mood booster your team needs right now. Building a strong team that works well together can be a challenging task, even under the best circumstances, but encouraging team unity and strength shouldn’t be overlooked. Now, more than ever, is the time to increase open communication, positivity, and cooperation across your team, as it may just be the key to tackling some of the challenges of adjusting to the new normal.