There are many benefits of a remote team arrangement for both employers and employees. For example, employers have access to a larger talent pool—as they can recruit globally—and employees gain the flexibility of working from home or in a hybrid environment.
But of course, there are potential pitfalls associated with remote, distributed teams. At the top of the list is the inability of employees to personally connect with one another.
While this is a common concern, there’s a solution: team building exercises for remote teams.
The importance of team-building for remote teams
Team-building activities are important for every company, but this is even more so the case with distributed teams. When employees are distributed throughout the country or the world, employees don’t have the opportunity to connect in person. Instead, most communication is carried out via email, text message, phone calls, and video conferencing.
Team-building activities can strengthen your team in many ways:
- Improve communication and collaboration skills
- Boost morale
- Enhance productivity
- Improve leadership qualities
- Increase trust
And that’s just the start. As you implement various team-building exercises, you’ll come to realize that there are unexpected benefits that you’ve yet to consider.
Asynchronous vs. synchronous team-building activities: what’s the difference?
There are two general categories of remote team-building activities: asynchronous and synchronous.
- Asynchronous: Asynchronous communication occurs without real-time conversation or interaction. Asynchronous team-building activities are most common as they account for time zone differences and varying work schedules.
- Synchronous: Synchronous communication occurs in real time among your team. All individuals are available to participate at the same time. While most common in a physical work environment, synchronous team-building exercises are also available remotely.
If possible, it’s good practice to implement both asynchronous and synchronous team-building activities. Doing so gives you access to a greater number of exercises, while also putting your team in a position to achieve greater results.
Remote team-building activities—start with these
For many companies, the biggest challenge of remote team-building activities is deciding where to start. Fortunately, we’ve taken care of this for you. Here are five ideas to point you in the right direction.
1. Create a virtual break room
When working in a traditional office setting, it’s easy to get up from your desk and spend time with your coworkers. From water cooler talk to lunch at a local restaurant, your options are nearly unlimited. But in a distributed environment, this is much more challenging.
By setting up a virtual break room, you give employees a place to meet. They can eat lunch together, chat about the big game, or make small talk.
2. Organize virtual company events
A virtual company event is one of the best ways to bring everyone together. It helps everyone feel like an important part of the team.
No matter the type of event, plan for different speakers, a question and answer session, and interactive business-related activities.
With advanced video technology at your disposal, organizing a virtual company event is easier than ever before.
3. Schedule “show and tell” events
You can do this on both a personal and professional level. Furthermore, show and tell events can occur either asynchronously or synchronously. Here is an example of each:
- Asynchronous show and tell: Ask each member of a distributed team to share their favorite movie and a few lines about it. Doing so in a communication tool like Slack gives everyone instant access.
- Synchronous show and tell: Create a virtual space where employees share the details of a new product or service that they’re working on.
Show and tell events make it easy for employees to open up to their coworkers, even if they’ve never met in person.
4. Create a challenge
It can be a challenge for bragging rights. It can be a challenge for a small prize, such as a gift card or a half day out of the office. Either way, the goal is to get your distributed team excited about working toward a common goal.
As long as it’s all in good fun, a challenge has a unique way of bringing people together—even those who are competing against one another.
5. Setup virtual workout sessions
It’s always more fun to work out when you have someone by your side. Just the same, a workout partner—or several partners—can push you to reach new heights.
Set up virtual workout sessions where employees can gather to hold each other accountable and work toward their fitness goals. You may even be able to turn this into a challenge (see above) with multiple distributed teams competing against each other for prizes.
Is your company struggling to implement a distributed work strategy? Have you come to realize that the approach you’ve taken in the past will no longer deliver the intended results in the future?
Rather than force your remote or distributed team to continue down the wrong path, consider if any of these team building activities can right the ship. At Oyster, we have the tools you need to support the growth of your distributed team.