Effective team building is an important part of successful teamwork. In today’s world, however, remote work is increasingly used. And this is where the problem of virtual team building arises, i.e., the creation of a coordinated team of people who often live in different cities or countries aimed at achieving results.
We are all human and, therefore, herd creatures. Therefore informal communication, including with our colleagues, is extremely important to us. In a regular office, to establish a conversation, we can simply have a joint lunch and share a cup of coffee with smiles and greetings.
When it comes to virtual teams, however, things can get complicated, as we’re away from our team members. And if no effort is made, informal communication may never emerge.
In reality, people who work together on a complex task and communicate on an informal level are much more productive than those who independently work on their part of the task.
This is why for an effective leader, it’s crucial not only to create a thoughtful workflow and control the quality of everyone’s performance but also to assemble a strong team from individual remote employees.
Research shows that most companies in the world today still use the same principles for virtual teams as they do in the office and just hope for better results.
Here are the main factors of concern according to OnPoint Consulting research:
Consequently, it’s crucial to pay special attention to virtual team building. Otherwise, the effectiveness of virtual teams will never match the quality of work of a regular office team. Yet, the number of employees working remotely is constantly growing.
We have collected a few virtual team-building ideas that have proven to be the best in practice.
As a manager, it’s critical that you succeed in building a trusting relationship with each employee on the team. All members should know that they can ask for help, support, or a solution to some issue.
Pay special attention to conflict prevention. After all, in a remote team, it’s much more difficult to spot a dispute or a conflict situation. Therefore, if you don’t pay special attention to the atmosphere in your team, you may even miss a confrontation at the level of “one part of the team against the other.”
In a virtual team building, you need to pay attention to the fact that each employee is not just formally introduced to his/her colleagues but becomes part of the team. So after training and formal instructions, you need to introduce people to each other:
It’s also worth thinking ahead about how people can get to know new team members in a way that would move communication to an informal level as fast as possible.
In a virtual team, there is always an increased risk that someone will feel lonely. A person sits in a familiar environment at home without other team members, is not particularly active in communication, and, consequently, the feeling of loneliness grows.
One option to involve each employee in communication is to have regular team meetings. You can hold them once or twice a week. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal meeting – you can always make it casual and inspiring.
If your team members live far from each other and the main office, you can hold these meetings online. Use video conferencing platforms or voice chats. Note that for most employees, it’s important to not only text but also be able to see and hear each other. Therefore, face-to-face meetings are very important.
Even if your employees live in different countries, you should get them all together once or twice a year (or even more often if that’s possible). This can be a company birthday party or any other occasion.
You’ll quickly see that the expense of such events pays off beautifully, as people begin to work more efficiently after spending some quality time together and getting to know each other personally.
Do you often go through emails or all the correspondence in the company’s general chat room? Sometimes, to find the right email or message, we have to scroll through tons of irrelevant messages, which can be quite annoying.
That’s why you need to create separate communication channels for your team as follows:
We all know how quickly acquaintances in the workplace are made during joint lunches or coffee breaks. This can also work for virtual teams.
You can allocate a small amount of money for meals and treats and order home delivery for everyone and get together in a video conference. Chances are, your employees will be interested in sharing their tastes, experiences, or favorite cuisines with others.
Make this event a tradition and hold it once a week. Over time, you will not have to encourage them, and the team will enjoy getting together without reminders.
This shouldn’t be mandatory. If someone has plans or no desire to socialize, they don’t have to be forced to take part in the event. People want to socialize when they feel comfortable doing so.
Spending time together can be more than just lunch or a coffee break. You can hold virtual parties for all comers on Fridays, once or twice a month. This will require some creativity from you, as you will need to come up with some contests, polls, quizzes, or theme nights.
Whatever you choose to discuss, make sure that communication is comfortable and helps your team get to know each other better.
Remember that everyone has the right to do their personal things outside of work. But everyone who is free will be happy to join the company of colleagues, just as they would on a Friday night in an offline office.
Birthdays and calendar holidays can and should be celebrated in the same way.
Many companies use both an internal team, i.e., employees who work in the office, and an external team, i.e., people working remotely. Often this may not even be one team but several. Different branches and projects – all of this contribute to dividing people into separate teams that are in no way related to each other.
In fact, this is not the best approach. If you want your team to become a clenched fist, you need to make sure that all employees in it, including those working remotely, are united and work together towards the same mission.
The easiest method to get to know everyone is a corporate party or another similar event to which everyone is invited. But this can be complicated and expensive so, most likely, no one will hold such meetings often.
It’s much easier to use virtual parties or lunches, including for office staff. You can also hold small training webinars, which will allow employees to show their strengths and get to know each other.
There are many virtual team-building techniques to choose from. The hardest and most important thing is to create an atmosphere where your team communicates as if they were sitting in the same office next to each other.
And it’s entirely possible if you make the effort behind it. This way, you will increase your team’s efficiency and justify your time spent.