As more people are working from home or working remotely, the traditional workplace has considerably changed. Today, it's likely for teams to have to work together online rather than in-person. Luckily, technology has advanced far beyond speakerphones, and there are products specifically designed with creating depth and connectivity in remote meetings.
While technology provides the tools for creating connected but remote workplaces, organizations still need to incorporate these tools into their workflows to best experience their benefits. This is especially the case with combining remote and office-based workers in a hybrid workforce.
To help organizations get the most out of their remote teams, we developed a list of the top team building ideas that are applicable to all types of teams: remote, hybrid, and in-office. Incorporate these practices into your business and watch your teams productively come together.
In a physical office, workers often interact in a coffee or break room. Host a morning (or afternoon, depending on time zones) coffee where the team has 15 minutes to 30 minutes on video chat for chitchat.
While these meetings are excellent opportunities for building rapport among coworkers, they can also serve as functional meetings for operations and projects. Encourage participation by all workers and try to fashion these as discussions rather than lectures. A manager droning on for an hour is unlikely to rally the troops to productive, cooperative work.
Another break opportunity used by people who work together in an office environment is the water cooler. Water cooler talks are about anything other than work. Topics may be a popular streaming show, current events, family news, or other lighthearted discussions.
Many who work remotely note that they miss these moments of casual conversation. With minimal technology, such as Slack, however, such discussions can thrive even with workers who are halfway around the world from each other. Once this dedicated water cooler chat is created, let workers use it for unstructured discussions.
Another way to create a casual chat environment is within your organization's collaboration tools. Create interest-specific Slack channels like #Netflix, #gamers, or #pets for people to bond over personal interests and to post photos.
With set topics, employees may be more likely to share and become involved in conversations that help build team culture.
Engage in online games and competitions! Try an ongoing team trivia game or use Slack games. If appropriate, set up production-based contests where small prizes, such as food gift cards, are awarded to members of the victorious team.
Run "hackathon" style work times where team members need to get a group project done. To do this, have everyone join a video conference or video chat for three to four hours, order food, and work to together collaboratively. Since your team isn't meeting in-person for lunch, pay for employees to order on GrubHub, Seamless, or other food delivery apps.
If your office has remote employees that may be clustered in a particular region, set up meetings for your team to get together on work and non-work-related discussions. Many cities have shared office space centers where cubicles, meeting rooms, and offices can be rented for the day.
Coffee shops are another option. Send members of your team to one of these locations and encourage the exchange of ideas and support.
Many remote workers take a great deal of pride in their home office setups. If this is the case with your workers, host an "MTV Cribs"-like program for showing off remote workspaces. Just like workers in an office like to decorate their offices and cubicles, remote workers often create personalized spaces in their home offices.
Pick one remote employee a month to present a video depicting their typical day, including how they stay motivated and on target.
If your team uses Slack, take a look at the Donut add-on, which helps remote employees get to know each other. Donut accomplishes camaraderie by randomly pairing workers for conversations, collaborations, and more.
Icebreakers are a great way to get your team members acquainted with one another. Managers can encourage collaboration by sending an open letter-style email or Slack thread each day with some food for thought, random observations, or other information intended to spur conversation.
In-person offices often have charitable giving drives, whether through a collaborative effort or simply one worker bringing an organization's needs to the table. These activities help develop a sense of community and can advance the goals of an organization that are separate from profit. Remote teams also have the ability to do so through online fundraising.
With these team-building tools, you'll keep your remote workers engaged and feeling part of the team by developing a culture of connectivity.