- I. Introduction
- II. Understanding Virtual Team Building
- III. Key Strategies for Successful Virtual Team Building
- IV. Tailoring Virtual Team Building Activities
- V. Overcoming Remote Team Challenges
- VI. Measuring the Impact of Virtual Team Building
- VII. Real-Life Success Stories
- VIII. Looking Ahead: Evolving Trends in Virtual Team Building
- IX. Conclusion
Team building exercises are an excellent way to boost morale among your team, and in this post-Covid era where more and more employees work remotely, virtual team building exercises can be just as beneficial as in-person team building exercises. Such exercises build camaraderie, collaboration, and leadership skills and can help you learn more about your coworkers and other positions within your company. They can also mitigate Zoom fatigue, enhance productivity and innovation, improve team communication, and break the loneliness cycle that sometimes comes from working remotely.
II. Understanding Virtual Team Building
Virtual team building is the ongoing process of creating connections between remote workers through various communication avenues. Due to the lack of in-person interactions, building transparency and trust amongst each other is even more crucial, and virtual team-building exercises work to achieve this. For example, a company might decide to have a Halloween costume contest on Zoom, and everyone votes on their favorite one!
All events and exercises have pros and cons, and virtual team building is no different. While the pros include boosting team morale and fostering connections, the potential cons include hosting the event around various time zones or other schedules since such exercises might occur outside normal work hours.
III. Key Strategies for Successful Virtual Team Building
Like all endeavors, virtual team building exercises come with key strategies to make them successful, and the most important is establishing clear communication channels between your managers and employees to ensure everyone is onboard and the exercise is available to everyone. This ensures the exercise is successful, both in the short- and long-term.
Virtual team building aims to bring people together, fostering trust and rapport between your managers and employees before, during, and after the exercise. This is done by ensuring everyone is on the same page leading up to the exercise, monitoring engagement during the exercise, and getting appropriate feedback afterward to see what everyone thinks of the exercise.
Leveraging the appropriate technology is vital to ensuring the virtual team-building exercise is successful for both the short- and long-term. This includes using the right communication platforms if your exercise requires additional tasks that might not be used in traditional virtual meetings.
Along with fostering trust and rapport for your team, virtual team building promotes team bonding and social interaction between your managers and employees. It allows people who've never interacted to learn from each other, boosting team morale for long-term success.
IV. Tailoring Virtual Team Building Activities
There are endless examples of virtual team-building games that can be used to boost your team's morale. These include game shows, online office games, Wordle, Pictionary, scavenger hunts, Scattergories, trivia, and family feud, to name a few.
Along with games, skill-building workshops and webinars are other examples of virtual team-building exercises. Examples include learning the importance of paid ads in a digital space, enhancing student engagement on social media, sales development, and empowering your sales team, to name a few.
Hosting virtual retreats and social events is another example of virtual team building, as these can foster engagement in a non-formal setting while boosting your team morale. The key is hosting a successful retreat or event, which can be done by leveraging digital experiences, planning the retreat or event through crowdsourcing, awards shows, and mixing up the fun to increase inclusivity, especially if team members hail from different time zones.
V. Overcoming Remote Team Challenges
As noted above, inclusivity is increased by catering to team members from different time zones. This can be accomplished by first asking everyone what time works best for them and coming to an agreement before hosting the team-building exercise. Offering more than one virtual exercise that everyone can engage in, and team members can participate in multiple exercises further fostering engagement and rapport between team members.
Like all virtual endeavors, being aware of communication barriers is key to fostering your team's inclusivity. This includes overcoming language barriers, which can be accomplished with translators during the exercise but also with captions through artificial intelligence. Along with overcoming language barriers, offering services for the deaf and hard of hearing is also imperative for increasing inclusivity for your virtual team-building exercise, which can also be done with captions and subtitles so everyone can engage successfully, which only fosters inclusivity and trust throughout your team.
Throughout your virtual team building exercise, it is vital to maintain motivation and engagement, so all participants are assured they are welcome, and their ideas are shared and heard. This can be accomplished by quietly monitoring the exercise and contacting participants during breaks if they enjoy themselves. It can also be done through feedback after the exercise.
VI. Measuring the Impact of Virtual Team Building
Knowing if your employees are enjoying the exercise is crucial to its success. How much are they engaging in the virtual team-building exercise? Is there a genuine sense of engagement, or is everyone pretending to engage to get it over with? These questions should be asked throughout the exercise, so you know what changes to make going forward.
The purpose of virtual team building exercises is to improve team performance and productivity, so it's important to track these metrics before and after the exercise to gauge if it was a success for your company. Did performance and productivity increase or decrease after the exercise, and how much of a difference did the exercise make in this change?
Like all virtual endeavors, collecting feedback is essential for developing a more successful model in the future, and virtual team building is no different. After hosting an exercise, ask the participants to submit a brief report on their experience and see if it's something they'd be interested in doing going forward, along with recommending their exercises. Log all responses and make the appropriate changes so everyone can still be involved in the future.
VII. Real-Life Success Stories
With virtual teams becoming mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic, companies had to take steps to ensure their employees stayed connected and productive. One successful example of effective virtual team building exercises is Microsoft Azure. Microsoft Azure conducted a Virtual Clue Murder Mystery and assessed employee engagement throughout the activity. The result? Employees thoroughly enjoyed the activities and the company noticed a significant rise in team morale.
VIII. Looking Ahead: Evolving Trends in Virtual Team Building
Thanks to technological advancements and innovations, virtual team building has only evolved and will continue to evolve in the coming years and decades. This includes leveraging digital spaces and communication platforms that enable full participation from all your team members.
Like all virtual endeavors, fostering inclusivity and diversity will only make your virtual team building much stronger, as this enables the sharing of ideas from many backgrounds, personally and professionally. As virtual team building continues to evolve, so will the methods employed to increase inclusivity and diversity for all participants and your entire team.
Virtual team building is vital for fostering engagement and inclusivity throughout your entire team. Utilizing such exercises will bring people together and build trust and rapport. This can be accomplished through many methods, including promoting social interaction, leveraging the appropriate technologies and communication platforms, thorough communication before, during, and after the exercise, and overcoming time zone and communication barriers.
The power of virtual team building must be considered, as they can foster engagement and inclusivity and improve your team's morale, both in the short- and long term. The goal of any team is to build trust and rapport, and with the right strategies, virtual team building can do just that. If the entire process is successfully executed, virtual team building can become a cornerstone of your company by building trust and rapport among your team and lasting connections, as well.