Common Mistakes in Team Building
Real world and virtual team building activities are important to bond employees and develop key skills - but sometimes they just don't work out.
It’s long been said that there’s no “I” in Team. However, there is an “I” in “Virtual Team”. This is rather fitting if you think about it. If your team is all physically in the office, the bonding process that makes a great team will often happen naturally. However, there are plenty of teams that have found themselves working in a purely online capacity. In this situation, team members are going to be mostly isolated from each other – unless a team leader steps in with some virtual team-building activities.
And that’s where the “I” comes in – or rather, the “you”. Online, there’s much more individual initiative required for team building. Here, we’ll discuss some of the best team building ideas for remote workers, to let even your most remote team members feel like a part of something bigger.
For many people, the rise of remote work served as an opportunity to be their own boss, in a way. Does team building matter in such a fractured setup, with remote employees? We’d argue that it matters more than ever.
There are plenty of reasons why team building has become such an important part of many company cultures. You can have the most stellar employees out there, but if they aren’t working as a team, they will never be as effective as they could be. They might even end up working at cross-purposes!
Team building is important to build up the trust and communication that every good team needs. This is only more important when your employees work from home, as they won’t be able to easily check up on other team members. Everyone on your team needs to be able to trust that other employees have their back and are doing their work, and also be willing to communicate with people when needed.
All that productivity talk aside, there’s also the simple fact that team building is great for mental fitness. One of the most insidious threats of remote working is loneliness. Employees can swear up and down that they prefer working alone without distractions, but even the most “lone wolf” among us needs at least some human interaction. It’s important that your employees view other team members as real human beings who will be there to help out, and who may need help. The best virtual team-building activities don’t just build trust and communication, but also those invaluable human connections.
Let’s assume that you agree that team building online is important. Where the heck do you get started? There are plenty of guides for great team-building ideas for remote workers (and we’ll share some of our favorites in a bit here), but how do you know what activities to prioritize?
It’s important to first understand that while team-building activities are fun, they are also a great way to help develop some important team skills. Which skills you want to target for your company will determine which virtual team-building activities you want to prioritize.
Communication, listening, and trust are some of the most valuable skills that online team building can develop. Your team needs to be willing to listen to each other, throw ideas out into the open, and feel comfortable sharing their opinions. As a team leader, you especially end up working on developing your listening skills during virtual events.
While developing key interpersonal skills is a major part of team-building games, you can also improve how your team members perform. Skills like problem-solving and critical thinking are easier to practice in a real-time group setting than on one’s own.
Online team building can also help employees practice some of the more difficult (and let’s be real, awkward) interpersonal skills. Things like delegation, giving honest feedback, and conflict resolution. If employees can practice these skills in virtual team-building activities, they can be more confident in deploying them in real-world situations when needed.
There’s one last vital skill that you can target with your team-building ideas for remote workers – the skill of having fun! Endless virtual meetings and conference calls can be exhausting without a fun virtual activity sprinkled in every once in a while!
You can find plenty of great ideas for online team building across the internet. What is most important is that you keep in mind the skills that we mentioned above, and determine what your team needs most. To get you started, here’s a quick list of online team-building ideas for a variety of purposes.
Icebreaker questions are a staple for earlier team meetings when everyone is just getting to know each other. However, you can increase employee engagement during these introductions by turning the process into an online game. Here’s how it works – everyone writes down four true facts about themselves and one lie. Everyone messages their facts to each other, and then everyone has to guess which fact was the fake one. This adds a fun party game element to first meetings.
When you have your team meetings in person, you might try to build trust through activities like the classic trust fall. You might think that it’s impossible to get the same effect through video conferencing. However, there are plenty of online video games that even mobile users can join in on – many of which require a high level of trust to succeed. For a high-pressure situation that is sure to bring people together, why not try Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes?
One online team-building activity that has taken off lately is “blind origami.” The premise is simple enough. Employees receive instructions for folding origami out of paper. Everyone then turns off their cameras and tries to relay the instructions to a partner. The team that manages to get something closest to the instructions can be counted as the winner. This game is great for helping develop listening and communication skills over video calls.
Sometimes, all people need is some form of human contact, even if it’s online. Not all virtual team-building activities need to be imparting some sort of important skill. Sometimes the best online team building comes from letting people hang out, relax, and develop the sort of natural camaraderie that they would in an office. So why not schedule some virtual happy hours, with fun games like home-based scavenger hunts or trivia? This is a great way to get your team more comfortable with each other and to improve their mental fitness as well.
If you’re interested in mental fitness for yourself or your team, you should also check out the mental fitness classes that we offer. These are a great way to keep sane while working remotely, and make for a great online team-building activity as well!