Virtual teams are becoming much more common in the modern landscape. One of the biggest challenges is creating strong relationships within those teams. A popular way to do that is through virtual team-building activities.
What is a virtual team?
A virtual team is similar to a traditional team in many ways, but there are also some key differences. If we go back about 20 years, the standard workplace was an office or other type of business premises where everyone worked together. You might have had some salespeople on the road or working in different cities, but mostly, people worked together. Today, technology has changed the modern workplace considerably.
A virtual team can be made up of all sorts of configurations. Sometimes everybody works from home, never meeting in person. A virtual team can also include a hybrid workplace where people attend the office some of the time and work remotely for others. A virtual team is varied, diverse, and presents its own unique set of challenges and benefits.
Why are virtual activities important?
There are huge benefits to implementing virtual team-building activities in the workplace, especially when working with remote staff. Let’s look a little closer at why these activities are important for virtual teams.
Creating a sense of team
Perhaps the biggest reason to host virtual team-building activities is to create a strong sense of team. In the modern business world, you don’t necessarily know everybody you work with personally. In fact, many people who work together on projects every day have never met in person. Successful teams often include people from all around the world, so it’s hard to create a real sense of a team when people are geographically separated.
Team building activities are a great way to bring everybody together, get to know each other and build connections that make future collaboration easier. The strongest teams are those that get along well with each other and thrive when working towards a common goal.
You probably already understand the importance of staff engagement. Happy staff are more productive, less likely to leave, and more willing to contribute their all. The idea of building morale isn’t new, but the way you do it with virtual teams is a lot different than in years gone by.
You may not physically be able to get together, but technology allows you to bring teams together virtually for a bit of fun. It doesn’t even have to always be work-related. Friday afternoon drinks while on a Zoom call is a terrific way to boost morale at the end of a tough week.
Improves workplace collaboration
Has there been a bigger buzzword in recent years than ‘collaboration’? With pandemics keeping people apart, virtual collaboration has become paramount for businesses. Software companies have flooded the market with collaboration tools because it’s just such a crucial part of business today. But having the right tools is only the first step.
Many people hadn’t done a lot of virtual collaboration until recently, so it’s still new for them. The fear of technology is very real for a lot of people out there, so if you’re working in virtual teams, you need to find ways to make collaboration the norm. Virtual activities are a great way to get people involved and show them how easy it is to collaborate online.
Building strong relationships
In most traditional workplaces, people make friends. Sometimes, lifelong friends. This is part of the reason why workplaces have stayed the same for so many years. The relationships you build at the office are important both personally and professionally. But is this possible to replicate in a virtual team?
It’s definitely possible, but you do need to make some effort. Virtual team-building activities allow employees to work with people they normally wouldn’t, making their relationships stronger. With strong relationships comes better collaboration and results.
Productivity gains are always a focus, especially for virtual teams. This is because managers don’t have visibility of an employee’s every move, so it’s harder to identify issues such as learning needs or reduced output. However, a team of happy employees who get along well is always good for business.
Virtual team-building activities for work also give people a break from everyday work. Even if it’s only a quick 10-minute quiz or something similar, it breaks up the day and keeps things interesting, which is important for productivity.
Opportunities for virtual corporate training
Not all virtual team-building activities need to be 100% fun. Another way to bring teams together is with virtual corporate training. Learning and development is a crucial part of success for any business, and fortunately, there are plenty of ways to conduct training for virtual teams.
Consider speaking to a training provider about virtual classroom training or e-learning packages that you can implement. Not only does it ensure your staff are well-trained, but it also gets people together for a shared activity.
Improves technological literacy
Remember we briefly touched on the fear of technology before? While many younger employees have probably grown up with a lot of today’s technology and nothing bothers them, older staff members can sometimes struggle with new systems. It’s not due to a lack of intelligence or capability – it’s simply that adapting to new technology isn’t everyone’s strong point.
Using virtual activities regularly gives people a taste of different collaboration tools. By normalising the use of new software and tech, you can ease people through periods of technological change with less stress.
Tips for ensuring virtual team-building activities are successful
Now that you can see the many benefits of virtual team-building activities, how do you make sure they actually work? Here are a few tips to get the most out of team building.
When organising team-building activities you must ensure that everybody can participate. As such, you’ll need to consider people’s regular working hours, especially for those in different time zones. Also, always choose inclusive activities that everybody can enjoy. Virtual teams, perhaps even more so than traditional teams, often include introverts who may not be as comfortable in these settings. So, make sure all activities are relaxed, free from pressure and fun for everybody.
Make activities fun but purposeful
The idea of team building is to have fun, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get something out of it. There are plenty of team-building activities that also encourage people to work together in groups, build their problem-solving skills and much more. These are the best activities because they benefit both the employees and the business.
Include small activities in staff meetings
Even if you don’t hold virtual team-building activities every week, try to include a bit of fun in your weekly team meetings. Even if it’s just a small activity to get people thinking or collaborating, it still delivers some of the same benefits that a full team-building event does.
Give staff the appropriate time to attend
This one might sound obvious because if you book an all-staff meeting, you expect everybody to attend. But it’s not just as simple as asking people to drop what they’re doing and log in for virtual team-building activities at work. Many staff find it difficult to concentrate during meetings and activities because they’re worried about the work they’re not getting done.
The issue with virtual teams is that you may not always have strict rosters. If you do, build your team activities into the roster. If not, make sure you communicate with your people that KPIs or targets can be adjusted to reflect attendance at the virtual activity. If people say they simply have too much to do, work with them to find a solution.
When team-building activities for work are done well, they can have an amazing impact on productivity and culture. So, even if you work with remote teams, you can always enjoy some virtual activities to bring everybody that little bit closer.