Team building during a pandemic a new challenge entirely. Whether COVID-19 is keeping you and your employees apart, or the simple fact that your entire business model relies on remote employees from around the world, it’s still important that you inspire a sense of team or even family within your company. Remotely, that can be a difficult task to accomplish and it will take a lot more effort than it does with an in-office environment.
So, here are some things to try out the next time you think your team needs a little more cohesiveness.
Read Digital Body Language
Chris Litster, the CEO of Buildium, recently wrote a guest post in Entrepreneur. In it, he says that in these times of separation, leaders need to develop a sense for digital body language.
“It also comes down to developing a sense for digital body language as a leader and being aware of cues that might indicate a problem — employees frequently showing as offline on Slack or cameras turned off during Zoom meetings, for example. Being intentional about watching, listening, and caring is more important than ever for managers, whether dealing with new hires or existing ones,” wrote Litster.
Find ways to get your employees to interact and make note of the employees who are not present. Check-in with those specific employees to see if there is anything you can do to get them more involved with the team.
Team Coffee/Lunch Breaks
The team at Personnel Today came up with a list of team building activities for the remote workforce, but I like this one the best. Open up a Zoom or WebEx meeting for team coffee or lunch breaks. This is a time when people can drop in and out. It’s a time to sit down and chat with one another about things not related to work. Check-in on an office mate about how their family is doing or ask about the new puppy they just adopted. It’s a chance to bring that personal connection back to the team.
The team coffee or lunch break is similar to team happy hours, which is another good option for getting people together to talk about things other than work.
This is a difficult one because events like this can be fun or they can be dreadful. Usually, the outcome relies entirely on the games that you play. If you choose the right games, game time can be tons of fun and a great way to kick back with your coworkers. If you choose the wrong games, the events can become uncomfortable and employees may start to dread them.
While it’s tempting to choose intense icebreaker games that reveal things about the people you work with, try to choose lighthearted ones or ones that don’t probe too deeply. Make sure that you choose games that will garner appropriate responses from participants. You don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable when an inappropriate response is added to the mix.
Virtual Experiences Together
If you don’t want to do games, consider experiences instead. Bring people together to learn something new and fun. How about a cooking demonstration or a home brewing event? Think about some of the things your employees might find fun and bring the event to them. How about a virtual tour of a whiskey-making facility or a virtual nighttime tour of your local aquarium? There are plenty of ways to create a team-building event and shared experience without asking people to play a game.
Group Fitness Challenge
Sometimes when you work toward a common goal that’s not work-related, you can create a new sense of cohesiveness among your employees. With remote work making a lot of people more stagnant, an office fitness challenge may be a great way to encourage a healthy lifestyle and a team atmosphere.
With an office fitness challenge, you’re all working toward a common goal. It can foster a team atmosphere through the encouragement and support of one another. Since you’re all on the same team, an office fitness challenge can intensify that community atmosphere.
With the holidays approaching, a Secret Santa program may be a great way to encourage the team atmosphere. The program gives employees a chance to connect and do something nice for a fellow employee.
Not only that but if your office has done Secret Santa in the past, resuming the tradition may help people feel like not everything has changed in the COVID-19 times. This can offer a sense of security in an atmosphere that often has people feeling insecure.
Celebrate Milestones Together
And no matter what you do, don’t forget to celebrate the office milestones. Maybe you even want to create a few more to simply bring people together. Celebrate birthdays each month or work anniversaries. If your company has hit a very special milestone, such as 1,000th customer, then celebrate that as well.
Team building creates a sense of unity, which we all need right now. Give people a reason to come together and feel joy whenever possible. If you need some tips on hiring the right freelancer for remote work, check out this previous post.
Written by Erika Towne