Virtual team building can be a real challenge, especially when you haven’t had time to prepare. It’s no surprise that Zoom calls are exponentially rising with this new normal, where we find ourselves treading water in the unfamiliar. Not only are most of us working from home, we’re having to learn new technology, alter the ways we communicate with colleagues, and find ways to be most productive in a stressful environment.
As a leader, you may be wondering how your team is holding it all together. Normally, you could walk around, check in with everyone, and hold your weekly team meetings with coffee cup in hand. Times have changes, and so have your problems. Communication issues also rise exponentially when conducted over e-mail, chats, texts or any other written form. Messages are misinterpreted, tempers flare, and productivity can fly out the window. It’s much easier to judge our coworkers and wonder “Why in the world would they do that?” Therefore, it’s key that you conduct regular, consistent team gatherings in order to maintain or improve your cohesiveness.
Conduct a Fun Team Assessment
One of my coaching clients recently asked if I could conduct a virtual team building meeting during this stressful time. We had conducted a Core Values Index assessment for the team previously, which identified core values, learning styles, and conflict strategies for each team member. Because the CVI assessment is quick and easy to understand, it’s perfect for team development, and improving team communications. Moreover, it’s ideal for a virtual environment. Using Zoom, we’re able to see team members, AND share slides AND conversation. It’s also highly interactive and a creative way to bring your team together.
Within 60 minutes, we uncovered the key similarities and differences between team members. The session raised understanding of how others view issues and problem solving, and established trust in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. Contact me if you would like more information on how to incorporate this option for your team.
Have a Quick 10, 20 or 30-Minute Team Huddle
Depending on the number of team members, even a 10-minute huddle can be very beneficial to make your team feel connected and valued. One of the pitfalls of working remotely is the lack of ‘face’ time. Having worked remotely now for over 15 years, I remember meetings (pre-zoom) where I requested my headshot in a chair so everyone would remember I was on the phone. With video technology today, it’s almost inexcusable not to have a team meeting to keep your people engaged.
What you do with your huddle can vary according to your culture, but some ideas to consider are:
- Ask everyone to share their tips on making remote work successful for them.
- Have everyone contribute how they are doing in two words (it will be interesting to hear how different they may all be).
- Communicate any company news, especially any news that will calm their worries
- Share wellness ideas (both physical and mental)
Just the activity of coming together, can do wonders for team members to feel connected.
Have Fun Together
I recently read a story about some students participating in a scavenger hunt via zoom. They were given a certain period of time to find an item which began with the ending letter of a chosen word. This allows for creativity and fun. By the way, it also exercises areas of our brain in a new way other than staring at our computer screens and typing. Being playful with your team allows them to relax a little, expend some energy, and forget about the stresses they face at the moment.
So, find your favorite game and get creative about making it virtual. When people have fun together, it builds relationships and lasting memories.
Host a Virtual Happy Hour
With apps such as Zoom and Houseparty, it’s easier than ever to connect with colleagues, friends and even family members. Host an after-hours party for your team at a pre-arranged time for whomever wants to attend. Your introverts may not be interested (they may actually be in heaven right now, working from home). There’s no need for an agenda, as you’re just going to get together as if you all went to the local bar or restaurant for an after work imbibement. Encourage everyone to have their favorite beverage of choice nearby and just visit!
Start a Book Club
If you’re the kind of person who needs some kind of productivity to help get you through tough times, then reading that book you always wanted may be the cure. Moreover, make it a virtual team building exercise. You can recommend a book for your team and all read it together. Books like, Lean In, Good to Great, The Success Principles, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Crucial Conversations, Crucial Accountability, The Dip, Tribes, Linchpin, or any book by Seth Godin are just a few to consider. Alternatively, you can select a book to read for complete fun which has nothing to do with work or professional development.
It can be voluntary to participate with the understanding that all of those reading the book will take turns reviewing chapters and coming up with engaging questions to discuss during your time together. You can make it as relaxed or as formal as you want. The important thing is to offer a way for your team to stay connected.