Ultimate Guide to Virtual Team Building Exercises for Work
The virtual office environment continues to grow in prominence. Companies everywhere are switching from brick and mortar offices to both hybrid and fully remote workspaces, with one in three employees now working in a fully remote capacity as of 2020, with that number expected to rise.
With the number of remote teams now at an all-time high, companies everywhere are having to invest money in robust video conferencing software and instant messaging apps to ensure that virtual team members are equipped to handle this new form of work.
But to ensure continued success, they are also having to invest time in the people through focused and effective virtual team-building activities and exercises. Without this commitment, they risk losing their workforce’s coherence, trust, and productivity.
Here is our essential guide to virtual team building. We will look to cover the challenges of virtual team building and how to overcome them before finishing with a selection of virtual team-building challenges and online office games.
The Challenges of Virtual Team Building and How to Combat Them
With remote work still a relatively new thing, managers and team leaders are trying new virtual team-building ideas to get the most out of their remote teams. However, the challenges that face them are largely universal.
What follows are several of the main difficulties virtual teams and their team leaders might encounter and a possible solution to counter them.
1. Communication Issues
This is often the most multi-faceted issue that companies can face with their virtual teams, not only from a technical point of view but also socially. Technological problems, internet outages, and hardware malfunctions are often difficult to avoid.
Additionally, remote team workers are expected to get to grips with the new technology quickly. This can prove tricky for many who are used to the in-person office environment.
There is also the complication of differences in communication styles and location-based issues. Virtual teams often employ remote workers across different time zones and cultures, so the chances of having everyone meet at the same time are often limited. Some team members may be more confident talking via video call, while others may prefer written communication.
Solution: Be Open and Realistic With Expectations
If you are working with a virtual team that crosses different time zones, you need to be realistic in terms of replies to messages, for example. This goes for both team leaders and other team members.
Some remote workers may grow anxious if their communication goes unanswered or if they are not in a position to answer straight away. As a team leader, establish expectations early on in the formation of your virtual team through regular virtual meetings. Ensure that those unable to attend gain access to the sessions through recordings.
2. Building Team Relationships
Remote team members, especially when starting on a remote team, are often worried that the lack of in-person socialisation will leave them isolated and disconnected. Quick conversations during a coffee break are often vital tonic to break up the workday and refresh the mind.
This is often more difficult for remote workers. Their communication can sometimes be reduced to a few emails and instant messages that a manager or other team members might not pick up straight away. Persistent feelings of disconnect can often harm a worker’s motivation and productivity.
Solution: Set Aside Regular Social Time
Though it is vital to make sure your remote team is consistent in its output, the mental well-being of your remote team members is essential if you wish to build a set of productive remote teams.
Regular virtual team-building and team bonding activities can help establish these relationships, allowing the entire team to get to know one another on a more personal level. More casual team meetings should also be used.
It would help if you also considered online office games as part of your remote team-building strategy. Several vital work-based skills can be practiced within these games while at the same time giving your remote team the chance to refresh in a fun way.
3. Maintaining Productivity and Motivation
With the physical presence of a manager gone, some remote workers may run the risk of drifting if they are left to their own devices. If they are working from home, distractions may start to appear, and they might not be as inclined to maintain the high standards set for them in a physical office.
On the flip side, those virtual team members who maintain their expected standards and continue to go above and beyond may feel disillusioned if their efforts aren’t being recognised.
Solution: Provide Regular Feedback and Celebrate Success
It is perhaps even more critical in a remote environment for a virtual team leader to provide regular and effective feedback for their entire team. Not only does it allow the team leader to set clear goals and objectives that can be altered when required, but it also keeps each team member accountable for their progress and conduct.
As you would with an in-person office team, recognition of success is often a key motivational tool. Several virtual team-building ideas promote this, such as Superlatives. This celebration of success informs the entire team of what success looks like and can increase the job satisfaction and motivation of those who are successful if they are recognised.
Engaging Virtual Team Building Activities
With the capabilities of video conferencing software now more dynamic and versatile than ever, there is an abundance of opportunities for creative and engaging team-building activities to use with your virtual team.
Here are just a few of our favourite virtual team-building ideas.
Virtual Escape Room
Starting with a brilliant team-building activity that can be translated to the virtual world, a Virtual Escape Room will see your team members attempt to break out of a room by solving a series of puzzles and challenges within the allotted time.
This virtual team-building exercise is designed to test a team’s communication, delegation, and problem-solving skills while at the same time being fun and engaging.
Remote Photo Face-Off
This virtual team-building game will allow your more creative team members to shine and is excellent for team bonding. Remote Photo Face-Off pits smaller teams against one another to create the perfect set of images based on a set of descriptors and briefings.
This is a great entry-level activity for newer team members and can act as an excellent basis to create memories.
One of the most versatile virtual team-building exercises out there, Improv Online, will see your remote workers work together to create a series of improvised scenes that will be sure to get a laugh or too.
Improvisation can be tricky to master, but its potential is huge. It can heighten focus and promote active listening, a skill that should be purposefully worked on during remote team-building. It can also lead to hilarious outcomes and help to break down barriers with other team members.
Remote working can be passive. If team members are not careful, they could find themselves moving very little throughout the day.
A remote fitness session could be just the tonic. Each team member could take turns to host as they lead the rest of the team through exercises to stretch and get the blood flowing. Or you could use the video-sharing capabilities most video conferencing software is now equipped with to allow each team member to access a more professional workout.
Virtual Team-Building With Making Teams
Effective virtual team-building activities are becoming a staple for remote teams everywhere. Here at Making Teams, we are market leaders in creating world-class, tailor-made, virtual team-building events no matter the size of your virtual team. With over fifteen years of experience, our team of experts is ready to work with you to create your perfect remote team-building strategy.
Contact us today, and let’s get started!