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4 Things You Need for Effective Virtual Team Building

September 7, 2020

By: Tonya DeVane

Working remotely certainly has its perks for your team members. Sometimes, doing so is a necessity. But, prolonged (or indefinite) physical separation can cause employees to feel lonely and disconnected from their work. Unfortunately, when their morale drops, so does their productivity. 

As a leader, it’s your job to make sure that doesn’t happen. It’s your responsibility to keep your group unified, high functioning, highly effective, and in good spirits. How do you accomplish this when team members are scattered across the country or even the globe?

Bonus read: Conflict Resolution for Teams Working Remotely

Virtual Team Building

Enter: virtual team building. Team building involves getting employees together so that they can feel connected and learn about one another. Done right, the process can result in a tight-knit group that communicates effectively and collaborates to get things done for your organization. For best results, it should be done regularly and regarded as a critical business activity. Virtual team building is taking this important practice online.

Here are four main principles to keep in mind as you design your virtual team building program:

  • Always communicate
  • Use tools
  • Have fun
  • Grow together

Let’s look at each in detail.

Always Communicate

Clear, continuous communication is always necessary for your team to function at its best. However, it becomes even more critical when your employees are working alone in their homes. They can’t walk down the hall, pop their head into an office, and say, “got a minute?” That means they need to feel comfortable communicating with you and their team members in other ways.

So, how do you ensure that information and support flow as they should? Try implementing these tips:

  • Have (and uphold) a virtual open-door policy where team members can contact each other (and you!) any time during the workday.
  • Adopt the mantra of: “When in doubt, reach out.”
  • Find out how each team member likes to receive information (email, instant message, phone, video chat, etc.).
  • Schedule time for team members to meet with you and each other.
  • Keep your intranet and shared folders up-to-date.
  • Err on the side of over-communicating -- being redundant is better than under sharing.

Use Tools

When your team is virtual, in-person meetings are obviously out. That means you’ll need to find other ways to bring your team together and keep them on the same page. Fortunately, there are many tools you can use to make gatherings and collaboration a snap

For example, Asana and Trello can help your virtual team keep projects organized. Platforms like Slack facilitate conversation throughout the workday. Programs like Zoom allow your team to actually see each other through video chat and are great for presentations. Of course, there are countless other options on the market. Your team’s unique needs will determine which specific tools to implement.

Have Fun

Your employees are people outside of work that have their own interests and like to blow off steam. When you encourage them to be their true selves during business hours, you’ll boost their morale and gain their trust. When you provide opportunities for your team members to be themselves together, they’ll forge lasting bonds that translate to improved employee engagement and productivity.

Here are a few ways your team can do this virtually:

  • Have interesting ice breakers at the start of every meeting.
  • Offer coffee breaks or happy hours via video chat.
  • Start a personnel directory with fun facts about each team member.
  • Host a talent show or trivia session via video chat.
  • Post funny (but work-appropriate) pictures, memes, and .gifs in a shared location.

Grow Together

Your team members crave professional development opportunities, whether they’re onsite or remote. When you provide them with a chance to learn new information and skills, you increase their loyalty to your organization, strengthen your team's talent, and set them up for future success. From a team-building perspective, it’s vital to give your group time to grow together.

Here’s how you could do it virtually:

  • Schedule regular “lunch and learns” via video chat.
  • Host book club meetings online to discuss relevant non-fiction.
  • Start a mentorship or mastermind program where meetings are held remotely.
  • Allow each team member to present on an area of expertise via video chat.
  • Take skills assessments and discuss results in a group setting.

How Omnia Can Help

At Omnia, we believe that truly understanding your team members is the key to leading them effectively. Our behavioral and cognitive assessments reveal deep insight into each employee’s strengths, challenges, and work preferences. This knowledge can help you create the ideal virtual team-building program for your group. The information you’ll get is so good that you might want to encourage results sharing as a team-building exercise!

Final Thoughts

Team building is essential for having a high-producing, tight-knit employee group. But, when your team members are remote, you need to get a little creative to make it happen. With the right tools, some employee intel, a willingness to experiment, and a few online-friendly activities at hand, virtual team building is possible.

Tell us: Which virtual team-building methods work best in your organization?

Tonya DeVane

Tonya DeVane joined The Omnia Group as a Client Advisor in September 2008. Tonya helps business owners and managers select top talent, manage more effectively and build high-performance teams using behavioral assessment tools and concepts. She provides guidance to hundreds of businesses in a wide range of industries, including insurance, financial services, automotive, staffing and healthcare. She trains and develops sales staff, conducts onsite training/workshops, and regularly facilitates webinars. Tonya holds a degree in Human Service Counseling and a certification in Human Resource Management. For more information, email or call 800.525.7117.

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