- If you work with remote workers and digital nomads, you’ll need to work harder to create team cohesion.
- It’s worth the effort: an engaged team is more connected and productive, which typically leads to a better outcome.
- Digital nomad, Andy Stofferis, offers some helpful ways to bring your virtual team together – even when they’re geographically distributed.
It is safe to say that remote work is a new reality in today’s world. Teleworking is not just an option – since the beginning of the pandemic, it has become a necessity for many companies.
Interestingly, though, despite many challenges faced when transitioning to working from home, many employees report being happier and more productive than ever before.
Not every manager, on the other hand, has embraced the concept of remote work.
Some struggle to oversee their remote employees and most importantly, create a connected team of individuals working from different places and bring them together.
Here’s a closer look at why it is important for managers to keep their remote teams engaged and some of the ways to do it:
1. Boosts employees’ morale
Even though the team is working on a project remotely and sometimes from different parts of the world, it does not mean they don’t need to function cohesively and interact with each other in order to achieve the common goal.
Your employees should understand that no matter where they are they will always have each other’s backs. When your team members get on well with one another and trust one another they will not be afraid to discuss the challenges of the project, and exchange ideas and expertise.
Having mutual support and respect amongst employees will boost their morale and encourage them to work more enthusiastically towards the common goal.
2. Facilitates adaptation
It’s hard to adapt to the ‘new normal’ of working remotely on your own. Your team may experience feelings of anxiety and isolation. Team building activities will help your employees to understand that they are not alone in their transition journey – they have their teammates all of whom are in the same boat. Bringing your staff together, either in-person or over a team video call, will make it much easier for them to adapt to the new virtual work environment by sharing their experiences and honest advice with each other.
3. Improves workforce collaboration
When working in a team for a particular project, coordination and understanding each other’s role in a team is essential. Of course, when the whole team is working from a traditional office and sees each other every day the tasks can easily be distributed and aligned. What about when your staff members have no idea what others are doing and how the project progresses?
Team building activities not only help employees get to know each other’s names and positions but also figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses, or even reveal hidden talents. This makes it easy to assign and set tasks according to each employee’s competence, promotes efficient collaboration between staff and contributes to their understanding of how their role fits into the big picture of the project.
4. Fosters innovation
Innovation is key in today’s competitive market. Successful team building not only promotes creativity, but also motivates employees to learn from each other and share their individual experiences. Each team member feels that they are involved in achieving the company’s goal and are able to bring something new to the table.
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By simply exchanging and brainstorming ideas your employees are able to see multiple perspectives, look at challenges through the lens of innovation and generate fresh ideas while interacting with each other in a fun and friendly way.
5. Healthy competition
It is common knowledge that competition in a workplace can motivate employees, encourage them to put in more effort, and eventually achieve better results.
Team building activities made in a fun way can make a task look like a competition and encourage employees to achieve more. Another benefit of competition in the workplace is that it boosts team spirit among employees and acquisition of new skills, such as problem solving and thinking outside the box.
You could also introduce something like a ‘30 day challenge’ to your team members, assigning them to hit a specific target within a certain number of days. This will encourage them to gain a new skill and achieve a set target, benefitting both themselves and the company.
6. Builds diverse relationships
The fact that you have a lot of digital nomads/remote workers in your team can mean that they are all from different cultures and backgrounds.
Organizing team-building activities that encourages them to work closely will bring together different experiences, expertise, perspectives, and personalities. This in turn may boost the team’s problem-solving capacity and give rise to out-of-the-box thinking, help companies embrace diversity and build meaningful cross-cultural relationships among geographically distributed teams.
So what are the best ways to build team spirit and develop strong connections among your virtual team? Here are some ideas:
- Organize a virtual coffee break with your team members via a video conference call. The aim of this activity is not just to drink coffee, but to find out more about each other with the aim of building common ground and trust. It can also help to recharge the mind while talking about something not connected to work. Start a conversation around an icebreaker question – this will encourage people to talk and get to know each other better.
- Create a dedicated chat channel for your team. An informal thread where your staff can exchange jokes and memes will create a sense of connectedness and help them feel more included, as if they are part of one big family.
- Celebrate together. Boosting each other’s confidence is a big part of building a team. So if your colleague has accomplished something, be sure to acknowledge it and don’t stop at gifs and emojis! A good idea is to introduce a special cheers system where everyone can access the performance of their colleagues, congratulate them on a special event or simply say thank you for their support and positive energy.
- If you want to go one step further, introduce a rewards scheme for employees who contributed to the team’s success most, or those who got the most recognitions from their teammates. The same applies to team achievements. These can be vouchers, special gifts and awards, which can be presented during special company meetings at the end of each month or quarter. Or celebrate together online. Either way, celebrations are a great way to motivate each other for new achievements, while relaxing and having fun together.