How To Strengthen Bonds in Remote Teams

After the upheavals of the last few years, both hybrid and remote work challenged in person work for most common office arrangement.  The reasons became clear, people often hate commuting, prefer the lower expenses of at home work, and enjoy the increased agency and flexibility to no end.  With change, of course, comes new challenges.  Creating a cohesive team across time zones and through video represents one of the largest of those challenges.

Virtual team building offers a way to strengthen overall corporate culture and ensure that employees stay engaged with their work and the company in healthy ways. However, how many remote or hybrid employees make virtual team building worth the effort?

Benefits of Virtual Team Building

We’d go out on a limb and say as few as one remote or hybrid worker means starting at least some virtual team building exercises. Each employee’s work and engagement makes money for the company, so it really helps to get them integrated and feeling a part of something. So, for those employers who use remote workers, establishing and maintaining cohesive teams might come off as challenging, but the benefits definitely outweigh the effort.

Regular team building efforts counteract feelings of disconnectedness, apathy, and isolation that remote workers can face. These exercises also improve creativity, critical thinking, and mindful communication, which are skills that benefit everyone regardless of environment. The more familiar people are with each other and with personal styles, the fewer misunderstandings pop up due to various virtual interfaces. Last, but not least, every initiative to build better virtual teams also allows reinforcement of company culture.

Virtual team building done right can make the effort a breeze, so let’s take a look at some of the best ideas for better communication.

Virtual Team Building Basics

Team building specifically refers to company sponsored activities that encourage employees to bond.  Team members who feel like they’re part of a group made up of real people working together towards a goal regularly come out on top in terms of productivity.  Creating successful cohesive teams who communicate well and often represents the road to health for a business

When planning team building activities, avoid anything that is:

Complicated – People bond when they’re not stressed by complexity.

Costly – The idea is to foster communication, not spend lots of money.

Lengthy – Employees often want to get on with their work instead of feeling stuck.

Embarrassing – Nobody likes high school type activities, not even high school students.

Instead of any of those, team building activities should stay short, simple, inexpensive, and fun for all participants.  When the activites follow those criteria, they let co-workers get to know each other beyond their professional, formal shells.  They’ll see each other as real people more, instead of just a face that shows up on a screen or a voice on a phone that occasionally appears.

Planning effective team-building activities across time zones takes extra creativity, but shouldn’t cost more in terms of time and effort. In addition, thanks to modern technology, different offices of the same company can also get together to form a better integrated whole.

Specific Team Building Plans

Use The Power Of Social Media

Everyone already connects through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter today.  We send our friends private messages all the time. The corporate version of these kinds of software work great too.  Microsoft Teams and Slack hold the top two spots, offering the kind of chat/IM interface most people are already familiar with.  These platforms create space for the kinds of spontaneous conversations that used to only happen in offices.

Schedule Regular Video Meetings

Regular face to face interactions, where people can see each others expressions, ask spontaneous questions, and get immediate feedback do wonders for increasing engagement. Well scheduled check in meetings don’t get the kind of pushback that presentation meetings do.  Schedule deliberate time in these meetings for small talk and personal discussion. In addition, make time for one on one meetings where employees can feel safe asking for support for things outside of work.

Create Online Employee Resource and Affinity Groups

Are many of your employees veterans? Have you noticed quite a few pet owners, or horsepeople? Maybe you have a significant gamer group? Creating groups for these people within your company communication platform helps people engage with each other over common ground.  Just be sure to make them optional.

Establish Virtual Mentor/Mentee Relationships

Plenty of companies created mentoring programs long before the pandemic hit.  Why not take those programs online? Asking questions, getting feedback, and getting suggestions works just as well online as it does in person, after all.

Play Games Encouraging Sharing

Of course, nobody wants their lives pried into.  However, fun games like “This or That”, with questions like “Coffee or tea?”, “Beach or forest?”, or “Summer or winter?” can be great ways to start people talking.  Run these for about ten or fifteen minutes at a time, just to get people connecting in new ways.

Host Virtual Events

Who says you can’t have a virtual lunch? Or even an everybody bring your own refreshments happy hour on a video conference? We have virtual holiday and birthday celebrations all the time here at NoContractVoIP. Choose a platform that allows people to talk freely, and set a topic ahead of time like favorite movies or music. One caveat, do not set a popular television show with ongoing episodes for which spoilers are a danger. Families have broken behind such things.

Ask Employees

Ask employees themselves what they need to feel like they’re well integrated with their team.  Check in phone calls? Video conferencing one on ones? What would help them feel comfortable in their role and supported by the company as a whole? Employees themselves will often give you the best ideas for building teamwork and communication within your company.

Ready For A Top Notch VoIP Business System?

Remote and hybrid teams need excellent business telecommunications. Looking for a phone company that freely offers the support you need?

Here at NoContractVoIP, we create custom business phone systems offering a full suite of hybrid and remote solutions for your telecom needs. We rely on your success and we know it.

We never lock our clients into long term contracts.  If you dislike our services or support, just tell us to cancel and we take care of it.  No early termination fees, nobody gets stuck for years on end, and we’re motivated to keep our clients thriving.

All of our tech support people live and work near our headquarters in California, and tech support always answers 24/7/365. Our billing and customer support work from the same office. When you call you get a human, not a menu.

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