According to a recent report, 58% of Americans now have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week, and 35% can work from home all five days.
While remote work was on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, it has accelerated at an unprecedented rate over the past 2.5 years. In many ways, this shift has benefitted workplaces and employees alike, allowing cost savings, improved flexibility, and greater work/life balance.
Yet, there is a core challenge that remains: Keeping virtual workers engaged and motivated. Remote team building exercises can help, though many organizations aren’t sure where to start. Today, we’re sharing seven ideas that can help your workforce improve connectivity and avoid isolation.
1. Create a Fun Chat Channel
One of the most enjoyable parts about working in an office is the opportunity to engage with co-workers. Those informal, impromptu chats that happen in the communal kitchen or around the water cooler help break up the day and encourage a sense of community.
When employees are working from their living rooms, it can be difficult to re-create that same spirit of togetherness. It can help to open a new chat channel on your preferred platform, designated solely to random office chatter. From Slack and Zoom to Blink and Microsoft Teams, there are lots of different channels you can use.
While most of your chat segments will be devoted to work, designate one for fun! This is where employees can talk about the latest books they’re reading, T.V. shows they’re watching, or what their pets are up to that day. To make sure this catch-up time doesn’t cut into productivity, remember to set some limits around how the channel is used.
2. Host Virtual Events
Just because everyone isn’t physically working in the same space doesn’t mean you can’t all have a little fun together! Virtual events are a great way to bring remote employees together.
To make yours effective, treat it as you would an in-person event.
Create a schedule for everyone to follow. Designate leaders and key speakers. Prepare swag bags for participants (or winners, if you’re holding a contest).
The type of event you choose is up to you! Some ideas include:
- Live, multi-player trivia
- Virtual escape rooms
- Virtual scavenger hunts
- Live Q&A sessions with team leaders
Give everyone the opportunity to participate, and send out the login details plenty of time in advance.
3. Allow Time for Remote Work Tours
Remote team building activities are designed to establish a bond between co-workers. What better way to do so than to give everyone a peek inside their workspace?
Before launching into a meeting, allow each participant to spend three to five minutes showing the rest of the team where they’re currently working. It might be a coffee shop, their home office, or the sofa. Encourage them to share mementos and pieces that are important to them, such as a beloved book collection or even their favorite mug.
This builds company culture and helps paint a picture of who each person is, apart from all of the work they do. It can also reveal some mutual, shared interests between employees, which makes teamwork and collaboration easier down the road.
4. Prioritize Recognition
While you’re brainstorming team building ideas, don’t forget to include some that are based on rewards and recognition. Researchers have found that 96% of bosses give in-office employees more recognition, and it’s time to turn that tide.
The next time you’re on a Zoom call, take the time to acknowledge a virtual employee who exceeded performance goals or went out of their way to help someone else. Create a section in your e-newsletter specifically for these shout-outs, so remote and in-person employees can share their congratulations.
You can also establish a program that encourages virtual employees to share their own praises. Create a “positive shout-out” portal where they can electronically let their leaders know when someone on their remote team has gone above and beyond.
5. Set a Fitness Challenge
Remote work is often sedentary, so why not encourage your virtual workers to move a little and engage in a friendly challenge? Set a fitness goal for everyone to strive for, such as participating in a “Couch to 5K” program or walking a certain number of steps each day.
You can give out small rewards to those who exceed these minimums or keep it fun and competition-free. Light exercise can improve both your physical and your mental health, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
6. Encourage Daily Check-Ins
A remote workday can feel especially long and isolating for people who are used to regular check-ins from their officemates.
To counter these feelings, establish a set time each day when everyone can send in a simple snapshot! It can be something they’re currently doing (the epic sandwich they just made for lunch) or just something they love (the 2023 planner they just bought).
In turn, team members can comment on the pictures to spark short conversations.
7. Host Virtual Workshops
Remote team building activities can be both educational and fun. Send out a message and ask employees what they’d like to learn more about, with the caveat that it doesn’t have to align with their role at work. Then, sort through those answers to see if there are common interests.
Do a few employees want to learn a new language? Are there multiple people interested in coding? What about basic personal development and growth strategies?
Figure out which workshops and training opportunities your team would like to attend. Then, research virtual opportunities and send them the link to sign up together! Try to schedule a variety of events based on different interests, and make sure everyone understands that participation is optional.
If they don’t see something that piques their interest this month, remind them that there will be other opportunities down the road. Investing in your employees’ interests and long-term goals is a great way to show you care, no matter how far away you might be.
Try These Remote Team Building Activities Today
Establishing remote teams is a great way to encourage workplace flexibility, reduce overhead costs, and reach a wider talent pool. Yet, this arrangement can leave some employees feeling isolated.
These remote team building ideas can help you inject a sense of fun and bonding into your virtual workplace. Implement a few and notice the difference they make in morale and overall employee wellness.
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