Virtual teams don’t find a lot of opportunities to socialize, which can make things challenging for remote workers to get to know each other and build a relationship with new members.
In this blog, we’ll talk about virtual team-building experiences and how they can help a remote workforce overcome these challenges.
Let’s get right to it!
What is virtual team building?
Virtual team building is more of an ongoing process used by virtual teams to build deeper connections with each other with the help of digital technologies and effective communication.
Virtual teams usually conduct games and other team-building activities online using collaboration tools like video conferencing platforms to conduct these sessions.
What are virtual team-building experiences?
Virtual team-building experiences are these team-building activities conducted by remote teams to improve the relationship between the members and boost the overall performance of the team.
Depending on the type of activity, these virtual team-building experiences build a personal connection within a virtual team and bring human interaction to remote work.
Who benefits from virtual team building?
Virtual team-building experiences benefit both leaders and remote employees.
Remote employees get to build a more profound and meaningful relationship with their coworkers and understand more about their strengths and weaknesses. This bond helps them navigate better as a team and be more productive.
Business leaders and managers can gain a better understanding of their team members and how to handle them. By knowing more about their individual skills, they can match the right tasks with the right members.
Let’s understand more about why virtual team-building is essential and the different benefits that come along with it.
Why are virtual team-building experiences important?
Boosts employee morale
Getting stuck with a monotonous everyday routine of chasing deadlines can cause virtual teams to disengage and burn out.
Team leaders need to encourage their remote team members to function cohesively by organizing virtual team-building experiences like brainstorming sessions, weekly meetings, social catchup sessions, fun gaming sessions, and more.
These team-building activities act as a breath of fresh air and give remote employees a much-needed break from their tedious routine.
Builds relationships between coworkers
Relationships, be it personal or professional, need conscious effort. Building trust with the people you work with is critical for remote teams.
However, building a deeper relationship between coworkers becomes difficult without any real, meaningful interactions.
Virtual team-building activities give remote team members the opportunity to get to know more about each other in a social setting.
Without the need to constantly seem professional, members can let go of work-related stress and allow their personalities to shine through during fun virtual team-building experiences.
Improves internal communication
Lack of communication can have a massive impact on how a remote workforce operates. If virtual team members are not comfortable sharing problems or the requirements of particular tasks with each other, there is a huge chance for the project to take much longer to finish, if at all.
Virtual team-building experiences allow coworkers to become more comfortable with each other, which translates to better communication in a remote work setting.
Boosts productivity and performance
Your remote team members might be excellent at what they do, but they need to learn how to work together to successfully complete a project or a task at hand as a team.
Virtual team-building experiences encourage people to work together to achieve a common goal. This provides remote employees with a fun setting to learn about their coworkers’ individual strengths and weaknesses.
They learn how to manage these aspects to work together more efficiently and achieve a particular mission, which in this case, might be to win a competition.
They can easily take these lessons and adapt them to their virtual work environment to work more efficiently. The stronger the relationship, the better they can communicate, collaborate, solve problems, and manage conflicts in a remote workspace.
Better still, this will give them a much better understanding of utilizing different resources and producing better results.
Together, all these factors maximize productivity, performance, and of course, profitability.
Encourages creativity and innovation
Innovation is the key to gaining an edge over your competitors in today’s world. Virtual team-building experiences are an excellent way to promote creativity and foster a culture of innovation.
Innovation management strategy for distributed teams means people from all over the world with different cultures and life experiences coming together to brainstorm ideas. This is an excellent way of gaining varied perspectives and will give your business the competitive edge it needs in the corporate market.
Fosters a feeling of security
When managing a remote workforce, it’s not unusual to find that some members feel left out.
Virtual team-building experiences create a sense of unity among remote team members and make them feel a sense of belonging and association.
This sense of security can result in the team achieving goals more efficiently and generating out-of-the-box ideas together.
This level of security and comfort will encourage them to share their thoughts about issues and offer their solutions.
Improves critical thinking and problem-solving
Virtual team-building experiences are not just fun; they break the monotony of daily work routines and help remote employees develop valuable skills like critical thinking and problem-solving.
Team-building activities like critical thinking games encourage people to work together and present innovative ideas and observations to succeed.
These activities are an excellent way for corporates to inculcate such skills within their employees because it’s fun and teaches things at a faster pace.
While there are several perks that come with working remotely, you can’t dispute the fact that remote employees have a high probability of experiencing loneliness.
Working from home every day can make virtual team members feel disconnected due to a lack of human interactions.
Human beings are social creatures; therefore, when remote employees transition from an office environment to a remote setting, there are no casual interactions like water cooler conversations or tea breaks. This lack of social interactions can drain their mental health.
By organizing virtual team-building experiences, remote employees have the chance to come together and combat these adverse effects of remote work.
What do you need for virtual team-building experiences?
To conduct successful virtual team-building experiences, there are a couple of factors that you need.
You need an energetic moderator to chair and direct the activities to be conducted during the session.
The moderator is also responsible for not letting the loudest members dominate the session and getting the shy ones out of their shells to engage in the activities.
The moderator can single-handedly make or break your team-building activity, so be sure to choose someone you know will be able to manage the responsibility that comes with hosting the session.
Clear-cut time limits
It’s easy to lose the sense of time when you’re having fun. But when you’ve diligently planned for different activities to be conducted, not keeping track of time might mean you won’t get to conduct all these activities.
How do you know if your virtual team-building experience was successful?
Virtual team-building is not a one-time thing. You can’t simply conduct a virtual team-building experience once and call it successful because all your team members participated and were laughing and having fun.
For a virtual team-building experience to be successful, it must be effective. And for it to be effective, you have to set a goal that you want to achieve through these sessions.
Do you want your team members to collaborate more efficiently? Do you want them to communicate better? Think more critically? Come up with more innovative and out-of-the-box ideas?
Whatever your primary objective is, translate them into tangible goals that will help you measure the impact of your activities.
Things like an increase in productivity, achieving project milestones faster, or even a rise in sales.
These goals make it possible to measure the effectiveness of your team-building efforts and see if particular activities have helped you achieve your goals faster or better.
Why team-building can be a challenge for virtual teams
People are used to physical interactions. However, virtual interactions with people you’ve never met can be a little awkward initially and take some time for people to get used to.
If you take this forward and ask your remote team members to participate in team-building activities, it can be quite challenging at first.
In such scenarios, you can take advantage of team-building activities like virtual ice-breaking sessions to get your team members to warm up to each other.
Let’s talk about the challenges faced by virtual teams that may prevent the advent of these activities.
Challenges of virtual team building
Zero water cooler conversations.
Water cooler interactions are usually an excellent way for in-office employees to connect and share things over short breaks during work. However, this isn’t something that virtual teams can leverage.
In-office employees communicate face-to-face effortlessly in an office environment every single day. On the other hand, remote team members usually stick to work talk during meetings, and most of the time, they don’t even have their cameras on.
Language and cultural barriers.
Many businesses don’t recognize that language and culture can significantly impact the success or failure of your virtual team-building experiences.
Virtual team members from different parts of the world may not always understand or accept the practices and traditions practiced in your region.
Therefore, remote team leaders need to be extra-vigilant about the virtual team-building experiences they plan to conduct and ensure they transcend these barriers and don’t offend any community.
Varied time zones and work hours.
It’s easier to conduct team-building activities when your entire team can come together and be present at the same time under a single roof.
This, of course, isn’t possible for virtual teams.
When you have a remote workforce with members from different time zones, it can be difficult to plan virtual team-building experiences due to conflicting work schedules.
Top tools for virtual team-building experiences
The primary reason for conducting virtual team-building experiences is to bridge the gap created by remote work and build an environment that is comfortable for remote employees.
Here are the best software platforms you can take advantage of to organize successful team-building sessions.
Best Tools for Video Conferencing and Screen Sharing
Businesses have learned how to leverage video conferencing tools due to the restrictions placed on physical meet-ups.
Here are the top five software applications you can use to conduct online gaming sessions with live attendee interaction:
The number of businesses using Zoom has exploded during the pandemic. However, it’s not just businesses meetings; people have been using the platform to connect with their friends and family, too.
This implies a level of familiarity which may not be present in the case of other video conferencing tools.
It’s extremely easy to use and has an intuitive interface.
You can stream high-quality video and audio with Zoom, and can even choose to lower the picture quality if you’re struggling to gain a stable internet connection instead of cutting off the call.
Zoom’s free version offers extensive features and allows teams to invite up to 100 people to a single meeting. However, one limitation is that only 49 participants can appear on the screen.
People have the freedom to join the meeting from all devices and use the software program via their app or their web browser.
Zoom also allows you to record your virtual sessions locally to the desktop and share it with others by uploading the file to platforms like Dropbox or Google Drive.
You can make your meetings fun by setting virtual backgrounds, which can be an excellent way to break the ice and get the conversation going.
Skype Meet Now
Since Microsoft’s Skype has been in the market for a while now, many people are familiar with the interface.
Skype offers excellent features, even with its free plan. You can conduct a session with up to 50 attendees that can last up to 24 hours. Zoom’s free plan only allows a meeting to run for 40 minutes; however, you can hold a one-on-one meeting on Zoom for up to 30 hours.
With Skype, participants can blur their cluttered backgrounds and record sessions. Like Zoom, you can access Skype via their desiccated application or from the web browser of your choice.
You can host team-building sessions with up to 10 people using Google Hangouts. While it may not be your favorite choice, it integrates excellently with other Google applications like Google Calendar and Gmail.
It’s extremely simple to use, and you can start a meeting with a few clicks. You can use this tool from your browser or download the Google Hangouts application on your preferred device.
Google Meet is an advanced version of the previously discussed Google Hangouts and allows meetings with up to 100 people. You can easily share your screen and record meetings in HD quality.
With the enterprise plan, you can simply back up the meeting recording to Google drive and enable live streaming for up to 100k viewers.
This is an excellent choice for sessions with a large number of people.
One of the best things about it is aside from the usual access via web browser and dedicated application, you can access your meeting via competing apps like Microsoft’s Skype for Business.
Unlike all the other tools listed above, GoToMeeting is a video conferencing platform for serious business meetings. It’s a paid platform that allows you to invite 150 to 3,000 attendees, depending on your plan.
You will get excellent features like HD video streaming, automatic transcripts, virtual whiteboard functionality, unlimited cloud recording storage, support for note-taking, and constant customer support via phone.
Best Tools for Collaboration and Teamwork
When it comes to collaboration for remote teams, Slack is the undisputed star. If you have a remote workforce, chances are you’re already leveraging this tool.
Slack comes with excellent features with its free plan and offers a large number of integrations with other project management tools. Other features include voice calls (huddles), instant messaging, file sharing, screen sharing, and a searchable archive.
Allo is a visual project management tool that empowers teams to document, collaborate, and communicate in an efficient manner. It’s primarily designed to tackle the limitations remote teams experience by using other platforms like Trello, Confluence, and Asana.
For virtual team-building sessions, Allo’s virtual whiteboard is an excellent feature that you can leverage for active brainstorming sessions.
You can connect Allo with Zoom and have all members live on a video call while brainstorming with sticky notes, text, images, and doodles. Everyone from your virtual team can add their ideas and opinions to Allo’s whiteboard in real-time anywhere and using any device.
You can access it via your desktop, iPad, and even mobile devices.
Additionally, every idea discussed during the session is automatically recorded on the online whiteboard, so teams would never lose them, unlike a physical piece of paper.
With all these excellent tools at your disposal, you can efficiently conduct successful virtual team-building experiences and boost the performance of your remote team!