Corporate leaders call the shots in a company, but the workers make a business’ wheels go ‘round. They do the daily work necessary to make any company successful, and these workers do their best in the environment they’re in. Many variables characterize this setting, but the most important one is team chemistry.
In the pre-COVID world, your workers met each other every day and had no other option but to communicate. They formed bonds and worked together, which improves overall office productivity. However, with the pandemic forcing companies to go remote, this interaction isn’t possible anymore. And you need alternate measures to foster these bonds in a remote setting.
So how can you build team chemistry through the internet? The answer lies in the team building activities listed below. Each is a tried and tested measure that will boost interaction between your employees and help them form strong relationships.
But before getting into these activities, you need to know what team building over the internet looks like. This is uncharted territory for most businesses, and you should know what you’re getting into before diving into the exercises.
Building teams virtually
Virtual team building brings your workers together. This process is not limited by conventional obstacles such as physical distance, and it will do wonders for your company. By building collaborative environments in a digital setting, you can push your team to form deep bonds with the people they work with.
The exercise consists of carefully designed games and activities that humanize working on a laptop and staring at a screen all day. They help people understand that even though they can’t see their friends, they are on the other side of their screen. And you can make your employees feel like they’re part of a community.
But why is this important? Many small things come together to make a work environment harmonious and productive. But good team chemistry stands out among all these factors. It is worth all the time and resources you put into developing it, especially for remote workers.
Because while remote working has many benefits, it has quite a few challenges. And the worst of these drawbacks is the isolation that goes hand in hand with employees’ physical distance. Isolation results in fatigue, mental health problems and reduces the quantity and quality of work someone can contribute to the team.
So managers and companies must do their best to replicate the comfortable office environment for their remote workers. It will help them maintain and even boost productivity.
Team building activities
When choosing a team building activity for your office, inspect your business and consider your limitations. Are you all in one time zone, or are your workers spread more widely? What time of the day are your employees free for a video call? Is there enough space in your workers’ schedule for a lengthy exercise, or should you keep it short?
Once you have a general understanding of your boundaries, you can figure out how to overcome them. For example, if your workers are spread across different time zones, you probably can’t schedule video conferencing. However, you can record videos of activities and upload them on a workspace like Slack.
On the other hand, if your company is dealing with many clients and your employees’ schedules are jam-packed, you might want to choose a shorter exercise. Also, consider something that gives them a release instead of an activity that requires a lot of energy will add to their burden.
We’ll be going over two types of exercise. First, games that you can set up yourself. These don’t need a lot of tools and are simple easy to understand activities. Second, we’ll go over software and games. You can download these applications and then play them together. Both are great options; pick whichever one you think suits you and your remote team’s needs best.
Wherever possible, try using a video conferencing tool. A recent study found that 87% of remote employees feel more connected to their team when on a video call. So use Zoom or Google Meet and get your workers in the same virtual room together and make the most out of the situation.
Set it up yourself
Icebreakers might sound like a cliche, but they’re a fantastic way to get to know someone. And if your team isn’t familiar with each other, this is a great activity to start off with. Once everyone knows a bit about each other and their personalities, you can pick a more tailored activity. Until then, this activity is the best way to get the ball rolling.
The internet is filled with excellent resources for icebreaker questions. However, question sessions mustn’t feel scripted, or your team won’t feel connected to each other. Use question lists like these as a starting point, and then use the conversation as inspiration for questions.
For example, if you ask someone what insect they’re most scared of and reply with spiders, ask them about their views on superhero movies like Spiderman that give humans insect qualities. On the other hand, you can ask people about cherished childhood memories and use their responses to ask follow-up questions.
The purpose of an icebreaker session is to get your remote team to learn more about each other. So keep it as informal as possible and try to ask impromptu questions. If, at any point, the questions dissolve into a back and forth between employees, don’t interrupt; they’re bonding.
2. Chat over lunch
This activity is an excellent team-building exercise for employees with packed schedules. Organize virtual lunch dates during break times where workers can talk to each other over coffee. This replicates lunchtime in an office where workers typically go to a cafe together or just get together to eat.
You can use official work channels to organize this meeting once or twice a week. Or you could suggest the activity to your workers who can set it up on their own time. Either way, the only tools you’ll need are a video conferencing app and a willing remote team.
3. Group chats
Group chats are an asynchronous team-building exercise, perfect for teams spread over different time zones. They allow your workers to relax and talk to their co-workers about non-work-related things. And they’re really easy to set up.
The concept here is setting up a separate space for remote teams to talk to each other. If you use WhatsApp, you can create a new group. On the other hand, if you use a platform like Slack, open a new channel and dedicate it to informal conversation.
Your remote team can use it to talk about everything from the weather to what they had for lunch. Additionally, they can rant about a bad customer or a strict deadline. This is their space, and talking will help create bonds.
4. Compare home workspaces
Office workspaces are clean and neat. However, the same can rarely be said for when you’re working at home. This is a universal situation and sharing it can be cathartic. Use Slack and open a channel dedicated to sharing stories and experiences when working at home. Maybe start a ritual like “messy desk Wednesday” where your remote team makes collages of working in the office and working at home and shares them.
You can also convert this into a challenge by pairing up members of your remote team. The team with the best before and after college can receive a work incentive such as one extra paid leave or a coupon for takeout. Activities like these incentivize your workers into collaborating, which leads to developing team chemistry.
5. Virtual scavenger hunt
A virtual scavenger hunt is entirely customizable for your work environment and time limit. If you choose difficult to find objects (a striped hair clip, a box nail, etc.), the activity can take up to an hour. But if you pick easy to find objects such as basic office supplies (sticky notes, a black pen, etc.), you’ll be done in under 15 minutes.
Set up on Zoom and display the list of chosen objects through the screen sharing feature. The winner is the first person to get all the objects and display them in front of their camera.
Not only is this activity fun, but it will push your remote team to interact with each other. And if they already know each other from before the pandemic, they can cheer for the participants.
6. Read My Lips
Read My Lips is a quick and easy-to-play game with your remote team. It relieves stress and promotes interaction between employees in a light non-work setting. And you can choose the time period for the game; typically, the game lasts for 30 minutes.
How does it work? One player mutes their microphone and turns on their camera. The other participants will choose a topic, and the selected player will read out a sentence or say a word. Everyone else has a minute or two to guess what they’re saying. Whoever guesses the right words gets the point.
You keep going until the allocated time for the activity is over. In the end, the three people with the most points can get a reward. Ideally, the award should be a group activity, such as tickets to an online concert.
7. Seven common things
Divide your team into groups and ask them to make a list of the things they have in common. These can range from a love for oranges to exercise routines. The purpose of this activity is to get team members to talk about themselves. Coming up with the list requires employees to share a few details about themselves, and this process will help them bond.
1. Quiz Breaker
Quiz Breaker is an automated game filled with gamification. If you don’t want to set up an ice breakers session, you can use this app to choose questions for you. Get at least 3 participants together, and Quiz Breaker will ask them questions. It also asks everyone to guess each other’s answers.
The platform has a leaderboard that helps push workers with competitive spirits and engages even the most reserved employees.
2. Work Style
This application is recommended for teams that are unfamiliar with each other. Whether they were forced into remote work by the pandemic and didn’t have enough time to bond or if the band was put together in the middle of quarantine, Work Style will help team members understand the unique working styles of the people around them.
Understanding how people work is integral to building a coherent working environment. Because if two people simply do not know how the other works, they’ll always step on each other’s toes and never get any work done.
On Work Style, each team member gets to take up to six personality quizzes. The results form a report that the application displays on your profile. Once you’re done, you can view other people’s results, and they can view yours. Additionally, everyone in the workspace can add information about their working preferences, such as when they like to work and how.
By asking your remote team to set up a profile on this application, you ensure everyone is on the same page. And this helps avoid bumps along the road.
Building team chemistry in remote workers is a challenging task. However, it can be done. And the resources listed above are the best way for you to get there. The activities are easy to plan, relieve stress, and get workers to engage with each other.
All of the software options have been designed by experts in fostering engagement. The gamified leader boards and questions are all carefully picked to start conversations and make long-lasting work relationships.
When picking an activity, remember that these exercises’ purpose is to break the ice and form relationships. Anything that seems forced or overly formal won’t help you reach your goal. If an ice breaker session is more work than fun and your team dreads taking part in one, you won’t be able to build team chemistry.
Keep the activities informal and fun. Happy workers are productive workers, and a tight-knit team is the best thing that can ever happen to a business.
Take a look at these guides
- How to Avoid Work From Home Fatigue: Causes & How to Overcome It
- Work From Home Productivity – 10 Tips, Methods and Apps to Improve your Remote Productivity
- Top Benefits & Perks to Offer to employees in a Remote Work Era
- 6 Strategies to Manage a Team Across Time Zones
- How to Establish Successful Remote Work Policies as a New Remote Company
- Best Virtual Mailboxes for Digital Nomads & Remote Professionals