Disconnection and disengagement are costing your business money.
If you are getting the sense that your remote team is uninspired, you need to act quickly because bored people quit.
And if they don’t quit, they cost. Gallup estimates disengagement costs the US economy $350 billion per year. This equates to approximately $2,246 per disengaged employee.
Unfortunately, when the team feels isolated, they may not experience a sense of belonging and purpose. Eventually productivity drops, quality of work falls and friction between team members can start to brew.
As a remote manager or leader in 2021, part of your role extends to keeping people together and part of the collective. It requires you to find avenues to generate unity and platforms for creative expression and personality amongst each other.
If you want to get the most out of the team, they need to laugh together and enjoy each other. Try using some of our tips for virtual team building.
Ongoing Check-Ins and Challenges
Our daily and weekly initiatives are ongoing activities to bring into your culture. They allow ongoing avenues of connection and socialization for the team.
1. Happy Hour
Happy hours are criminally underrated for many. These are not so much drinking sessions as they are about bringing the team together for some happy time. The team can let go. The intensity and expectation of the working relationships can be relaxed and people can get to know each other on a personal level.
Happy hours are ideally suited at the end of the day (depending on the timezone!) and week preferably. Let the team get together in smaller numbers (again maybe organized by timezone) to share some kombucha, soda water, or beer.
Leadership figures should be encouraged to attend and share stories to make themselves more human. Breaking down barriers between management and employees is crucial in remote workplaces.
2. Virtual Morning Coffees
If mid-morning coffees used to be the tradition in the office, they need to be reinstated. Take 10 or 15 minutes where people can gather briefly, check-in, have a quick chit-chat, and carry on.
These moments in the day make people feel normal. They instill connection and remind the team that they are cared for whether they have lots to say or not.
The routines of a virtual coffee morning can be used to share experiences or even to try new things like 10-minute meditations or exercise hits. Be creative where possible and invite your team to offer something personal to them.
The more we know about each other, the more invested in each other’s success we become.
3. Office Challenges / Lotto Pools
Most offices have customs whether it is a kitty for the lotto, a fantasy hockey league, or even an office challenge. These are the mini-social outlets that bring your workers together. They allow each employee to exhibit little bits of personality and band together behind something other than work.
The latest craze for many is a ‘Steps Challenge’. Each team member downloads the same pedometer such as Rithm, Strava, FitBit, or MyFitnessPal and creates a league together. The idea is to encourage as many employees to get out walking as often as possible.
Regular exercise contributes to positive mental health habits and rejuvenates team members. It also allows for some friendly competition. Monthly challenges introduce an added interest and can be set out by recording a leaderboard of:
- Who managed to get the most steps?
- Who made the biggest improvements from last month?
- Who recorded the quickest 5k?
A traditional team-building experience creates an event where people can have fun together. Since many workplaces have gone remote, they have lost sight of the importance of fun.
Each virtual challenge below can be paired with others on the list to give everyone a more diverse and enjoyable experience. Oftentimes, the more familiar a game might be, the more willing the participants can be to commit to it.
4. Quiz Night
Everyone has attended some sort of quiz before so this requires little description. However, it is a tried and tested method of bringing people together. A quiz creates a platform to have healthy competition, socialize and enjoy each other’s company.
How it works best:
With anything, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.
Build out your quiz with several rounds of questions. If possible, break people into teams allowing them to direct message each other to discuss the answers.
A handy trick is to do some homework on each player beforehand. Ask employees to submit details about themselves, photos of their home office or hidden talents. Take pictures of their old offices and create rounds personal to the team. Having an either-or round can be great fun and lets people learn about each other.
Whose office is this? Answers could be a picture of their former and current office setups.
Of Sharon and Colin, who never learned how to whistle?
Which management figure lived in a campervan for a year in Australia?
Living and working remotely comes with a lot of benefits but creative expression is rarely one of them. Pictionary allows the team to showcase some skills, be playful with each other and display their personalities.
How does it work best?
Put your groups into teams ahead of time. Draw a number to see what team goes first. Once a team is selected, private message the word they are to draw.
Have both team members draw the item on paper and hold it up to the camera. If your team are technologically inclined, feel free to use Microsoft Paint or even applications such as Scribble.
Teams will be timed to add extra intensity. The first to answer correctly goes next.
Charades – the age-old party classic. This is a great one to do in teams as it spreads the attention of the guessers while keeping everyone involved. Again, the benefits add creativity and fun between all teammates and strips back the typical workplace atmosphere.
How it works best:
Draw names for what team goes first. When you have made your choice, private message them with the title of the movie they need to act out.
They can choose whether to act things out one word at a time or separate and do the whole title at once.
The minimal bit of strategy and problem-solving helps camaraderie especially when people wouldn’t normally work together.
As they begin to act it out, you can allow teams to shout out the answer or put answers in the chatbox. Usually, a bit more noise adds to the chaos and fun of the experience.
7. Heads Up!
Heads Up is a charades spin-off of sorts. It is a massively popular iPhone game played frequently on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. It is also really simple to replicate in the virtual setting to the amusement of many.
How it works:
Heads Up reverses the dynamic of traditional charades by having everyone other than the player acting out what is on screen.
On a virtual call: have the player turn away from the screen. While they are turned, flash the title or name of a movie or celebrity that all other players will have to act out. Get thumbs up to make sure everyone knows and then invite the player back to the call.
When you’re ready, put 60 seconds on the clock and hit go. The one player will need to interpret the acting of everyone else on screen to figure out the answer.
Be sure to keep the titles reasonably simple unless you employ a host of world-class actors.
8. Rock Paper Scissors
Rock paper scissors is a super simple version of the standard game. It often works well as an easy ice-breaker because it allows people to ease into having fun together.
When the game is easy and familiar, it can disarm typical workplace guards employees are likely to have.
How it works best:
Rock paper scissors is usually a 1 v 1 game but in the virtual world it is easily adapted to 1 v Everyone.
Each participant plays the moderator and whoever wins stays in. Everyone else should cross their arms or stand up.
When you get down to the last two, let them play each other in a best of 3 game. The winner of the final can become the moderator for the next game.
9. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts take more preparation but are great for getting people outside. Any exercise and exposure to nature can go a long way toward improving mental health and engagement.
How it works best:
There are a host of different ways to put together an enjoyable scavenger hunt for your team.
If you are familiar with Geocaching, you are a few steps ahead. If not, no worries.
Geocaching is a worldwide online scavenger hunt where participants go to different locations sometimes based on riddles. While at the location, participants will find a code that they input into the app to show they have been there.
To work this into your team, you can simply download a selection of different location clues from the website and build your own hunt. Most cities have several caches waiting to be found. Be sure to amend any unclear details and set careful limitations.
If geocaching doesn’t work, you can always use Google My Maps to build your own map for a more personalized experience. Once you decide your locations, create special clues to find information that you could only figure out if you are at that location in person.
Once you have your locations, challenges, and clues created, you can set the basic rules of the game. Usually, a time-based challenge works best. Give participants an afternoon off or try it over the weekend where lockdowns allow.
Having everyone start at the same time from different locations creates an element of the unknown and means they will likely meet each other out and about. The quickest to finish can be declared the victor.
10. Stand Up for Each Other
The last game is somewhat different and can be used to drill down into what people have in common or what they are feeling at that moment in time.
A large proportion of people don’t have many outlets for how they are feeling especially if they live away from family. Sharing with others can really help which is exactly what the game ‘Stand Up for Each Other’ is all about.
How it works best:
Before the call, the moderator should write down a list of expressive statements that are likely to be true for people on the call. They can range from funny commonalities to personal feelings, concerns, and beyond.
Once on the call, start by explaining the following rules.
Participants begin in a seated position and every time the moderator reads a statement out that they agree with, they stand up. It sounds very simple but can get deep quickly.
Start with something simple and take it in whatever direction is appropriate.
- I have a dog.
- I never learned how to swim.
- I live with my partner.
- I live in a different city to my family.
- I haven’t gotten outside as much lately as I would like.
- I miss my friends and family.
- I feel more stressed than usual.
- I feel disheartened / optimistic / isolated / anxious.
- I worry about my kids.
The varying levels of depth let your employees be seen and heard. It allows them to express what matters to them without being put on the spot.
A number of variations can be applied to this game to offer a platform for your team to talk. For example, after reading out statements, you can encourage any of the people standing to share what their experience of that statement has entailed. If people feel comfortable, they can also contribute their own statements.
Nobody should feel exposed but should be able to share with the safety of the people around them.
Workplace connection means getting a deeper understanding of the people you spend your time with. Caring for each other on a personal level.
When there is mutual care across all team members, the unity provides significant business rewards. You learn that your employees will work for each other under the umbrella of your enterprise.
Virtual team building can be about simply having fun together and letting off some steam but it goes much further. It gels the individuals responsible for your business success into a cohesive unit.
When your team is unified and engaged, they are a far more capable asset than when they feel detached and despondent. As a leader, it is up to you to bring them together for the good of your company.