2020 will be remembered as the year that everything went remote – quite simply because there was no other option. People have been required to stay at home except for essential purposes, but this has been at the expense of important ‘non-essential’ needs, such as socialising and sharing with others. The results of this can be damaging, both on the individual and on the organisation level, so management should be encouraged to keep their employees connected through valuable remote team building events and activities. Employees also value team building, and a recent study showed that 75 percent of employees rate teamwork and collaboration as “very important”.
Remote vs traditional team building
Team building in a virtual space is very different to team building where team members meet in the real world, at an indoor or outdoor location. Many people may feel reluctant to try out virtual team building activities, but both forms of team building have their advantages.
It is easier for people to build rapport and develop strong relationships when they meet face to face. It is also easier for them to take part in more involving, physical activities that can be enjoyable through their immediate results in the real world. Individuals have a stronger psychological connection when meeting in person, which helps in building trust and commitment.
Virtual team building has the advantage of convenience, as participants are not required to leave their homes and travel to a certain location. This saves time and money, in addition to the financial savings made on renting property and resources for an event. In the time of a global pandemic, remote team building is the preferred option as it avoids putting employees at risk – even when government restrictions are eased.
Businesses often need technical assistance when their employees are working at home to ensure that the remote essentials, such as Firewalls and VPNs, are working correctly. For assistance that can be provided on site or remotely, engaging an IT support provider like EC-MSP may be a smart move.
Types of virtual team building activities
Team building activities are usually aimed at achieving important goals, such as improving communication, collaboration, problem solving or building trust. They have different tasks and objectives and can take different formats and categories.
Icebreaker activities help team members to get to know each other better, either at their first meeting or at a later stage to strengthen their relationship. These often involve talking about personal information that people are happy to share, through guesswork or directly explaining.
Data from Harvard Business Review shows that socialising is important to a team’s performance, and it can lead to over 50 percent of positive changes in communication patterns. Team building activities often take a strong social focus, such as a virtual pub quiz where teams are invited to do battle in a trivia round while enjoying a drink.
Some activities are more task based, and they involve problem-solving and collaboration skills. Participants do not need to be limited to the confines of their office, and task-based activities could involve them taking on a remote scavenger hunt, where they race to produce certain items within a specific timeframe.
Other activities are communicative, and involve giving presentations or taking part in serious discussions that test the limits of communication. Activities can also be light-hearted and more focussed on boosting morale, and giving team members the chance to learn, or talk about something not directly related to work.
Examples of remote team building activities
Some remote team building activities are simple and easy to engage in, while others are more complicated or require extra resources. Here are some examples of the various team building activities available.
In this icebreaker, teams share three photos that mean something to each individual member. The images can be shared through instant messenger, and the team members can either explain the importance of the photos or allow other members to guess. The subject of the photos could include
, family, favourite pastimes or possessions.
Do you really know your team?
This is a fun communicative activity that tests how well team members know each other. All of the team will answer a set of questions about themselves, such as ‘What is your favourite film?’ or ‘If you could take a holiday in any location, where would it be?’. The event leader collects the answers then reveals each answer to everyone. The team guesses at which members gave each answer, and the event leader tells them if they were correct.
The virtual escape room
The ultimate problem-solving activity, this allows team members to test their skills of collaboration and communication in a range of cryptic tasks. This is an exciting way of competing in groups, and it can use advanced technologies that make it more engaging.
This is an imaginative activity in which team members can create something together. Each member will work on one piece independently, which can be assembled to form a whole at a later stage. The creative work could be a patchwork flag or a mosaic of painted pebbles.
Virtual cooking class
Remote team building can be educational, as well as enjoyable to all involved. By taking a remote cookery class together, team members can truly get involved in an activity, and share their experiences with colleagues. This will require a chef and the right ingredients and resources, but the outcome will make it more than worthwhile.
There is an infinite amount of ideas and variations for making remote team building original, enjoyable and effective. With the right professional assistance, virtual team building can benefit businesses and individuals in various ways, and offer a new perspective on day-to-day challenges.