Professional Development

How to Maintain Team Building While Working Remotely!

September 14, 2020

Alex Walters

The COVID – 19 pandemic has caused organizations all over the country to modify their daily operations. While some companies have been able to reopen under strict guidelines, others have no choice but to remain closed to ensure the safety of their employees and customers. However, an alternative that has provided a sense of normalcy is teleworking. Institutions that have the option to telecommute have been able to use platforms such as Adobe Connect, Microsoft Teams and Zoom to continue to complete their work assignments in a virtual environment. These collaborative tools allow business teams the opportunity to share files, chat, schedule calls, and host and record meetings. The use of these platforms has made it possible to complete practically everything employees would do in the offices with slight modifications and adjustments. However, one significant loss that occurs when working from home is teamwork.

Lack of the Team in Teamwork

Teamwork is a lot easier to accomplish at the office because every team member is in one designated space. Proximity to one another allows for face to face correspondence in the form of luncheons, meetings, trainings, and holiday parties. Everyone can see and communicate with each other, whether it’s discussing the newest show on NETFLIX around the water cooler in the break room or preparing the office for a special event; everyone is involved. Being around your teammates fosters teamwork because it allows you to get to know everyone’s unique personality and learn how to work together. You also get a sense of what each member does to help contribute to your organization.

When everyone is working from home, it is easy to forget about your teammates and the tasks they are working on. Most of the time, you can login from your living room couch, while still wearing your pajamas. You will only correspond with some of your colleagues during mandatory meetings. Others, you may not correspond with at all. This lack of communication with your co workers can negatively affect team morale. An article by Lily-Rae Hewitt Jasilek titled, “Team Building Activities to Level Up your Remote Team”, suggests that fewer interactions with colleagues can cause employees to feel undervalued, less productive and less engaged. Working from home can also lead to loneliness and burnout. A recent study showed that, “More than two-thirds, or 69% of employees reported feeling symptoms of burnout while working from home” (Stahl). Burnout occurs because employees are having a hard time creating boundaries and deciding when they need to work and when they need to shut down and attend to their personal lives. This causes employees to work longer hours than they normally would when they were working in the office (Stahl).

Team collaboration is beneficial for your company. According to a Harvard Business Review, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%”

Building Up the Team

Organizations can combat lack of team morale by implementing remote team building activities. These activities can be as simple as a daily meeting to check in with everyone just to say hello and catch up or something a little bit more complex such as a trivia game. There are many different virtual games and activities to choose from. However, it is important to make sure every employee gets a chance to see one another. This allows employees to build communication skills. Virtual team building activities can also help them to understand visual cues, body language, and see how their team members respond to their ideas. According to a study by Remote.co, “87% of remote workers feel more connected through the use of video conferencing” (Jasilek). Platforms such as Microsoft Teams offer this feature. Companies can implement a team building activity into a video conference. At Phoenix TS, The COO Ty Lawrence has used Microsoft Teams meetings to facilitate team building activities. Below you will find some of the games that the Phoenix TS team has played and that you can use with your virtual team as well:

Two Truths and a Lie

Everyone has played this game before, right? All you need to do is set up a meeting in a virtual team environment such as Microsoft Teams. Then, one member shares two facts about themselves and one statement that is a lie. The rest of the group must guess which of the statements is a lie. The group members show which statement they think is a lie with their hands. If they think the lie is option one, then they hold up the number one, if they think the lie is number two, then they hold up the number two and so on. There is also a chat feature available though Microsoft Teams that gives members the option to type their answer as well. This is an easy and fun game that encourages communication and gives all team members a chance to get to know one another better. Team members may be surprised about how much they do know their co workers or absolutely shocked by the things that they did not know.

The Gif Story

In Microsoft Teams, set up a teams meeting. Then, the first member finds a gif and adds it to the team chat so that the other members can see the gif. Then, that first member choses the next member to go. The next member chooses a gif in response to the first gif that was added to the chat. Each member continues adding gifs until everyone has gone. After that, one-member from the team uses the gifs that were added In the chat to make up a story and tell it to the rest of the group members. Again, this is a fun activity that is sure to cause laughs and bring smiles to the faces of your team members. It can also be used to elevate burn out by offering some down time during the day.

Blind Drawing

In Microsoft Teams, set up a team meeting. During the meeting, tell each member to find the Paint App on their computer. This is the app each member will use to draw during each round of the game. Then, select one team member to go first. This team member is tasked with directing the other members and describing the object they want the team members to draw. However, they are not supposed to reveal what the objects is.  After each member has completed their drawing, the director reveals what object they were describing. Then, each of the other members can share their screen and show how close they were to drawing the actual object. The game continues until each member has had a turn to direct. This is not only a fun game, but it also helps build communication skills. It teaches team members how to give clear instructions as well as how to listen and take directions.

Games or games like the ones mentioned above can be played using virtual platforms like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack and Skype. However, you can also play games where a virtual environment is not needed. You can implement activities that focus on the health and wellbeing of your team members. Some great ways to do this would be to encourage breaks throughout the day. Taking a moment to step away from the computer helps employees feel refreshed and allows them to rejuvenate. (Reagan) You can also create team wellness challenges by implementing relaxation techniques or fitness videos that encourage employees to get up and get moving. (Benefits of Remote and Virtual Team Building) Exercise promotes physical fitness and mental health awareness too. Employees can use wellbeing activities to assess their stress levels and find ways to unwind. Another way to ensure that your team stays connected is to offer feedback, support, and incentives. Post a page on your company website dedicated to employee recognitions and acknowledgement. (Regan) Maybe you recently gained new employees or maybe one of your team members just closed on a big deal with a client; be sure to give your team mates a shot out. Let them know you appreciate them and all their hard work. Simple ideas such as these will help boost team morale and keep employees motivated about their jobs and working together.

The Dream Team

Team collaboration is beneficial for your company. According to a Harvard Business Review, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%” (Jaselik). That is why team building is so important. When employees feel like they have a support system they are happier, productive, and organized. Not to mention, that being able to effectively communicate with your team members increases customer support skills. Checking in with one another regularly helps everyone know what events are coming up and what assignments are due. It also helps each employee understand who to refer a customer to in the event of an issue. (RingCentral Team). Once a customer is in the right employee’s hands, the employee will be able to use their team building skills to bond with the customer just as they have bonded with their teammates. Happy employees make happy customers so implement team building activities into the schedule and watch your company thrive!

If you’re looking for training, Phoenix TS can help you build your Dream Team! Phoenix TS currently offers the following online courses that in teamwork and customer service.

For more information, call us at (240) 667-7757 or visit PhoenixTS.com

When employees feel like they have a support system they are happier, productive, and organized. Not to mention, that being able to effectively communicate with your team members increases customer support skills.

Works Cited:

“Benefits of Remote and Virtual Team Building.” TeamBonding, 2020, https://www.teambonding.com/benefits-of-remote-and-virtual-team-building/

Hewitt Jasilek. Lily Rae. “Virtual Team Building Activities to Level – up Your Remote Team.” Medium. Com, 2020, https://medium.com/@DigiLeaders/virtual-team-building-activities-to-level-up-your-remote-team-c62bcbe8855e

Regan, Rea. “11 Effective Ways to Boost Employee Morale.” Connecteam, 2020, connecteam.com/boost-employee-morale/.

Ring Central Team. “Customer Service Teamwork: How to Work Better by Working Together.” RingCentral, 2020, https://www.ringcentral.com/us/en/blog/customer-service-teamwork/

Stahl, Ashley. “Work – From- Home Burnout: Causes and Cures.” Forbes, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2020/09/01/work-from-home-burnout-causes-and-cures/#2f10e4f9b881

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