Virtual Team Building – Start Now
One of the most frequent questions I get is how to retain an organization’s culture and build teamwork when people work virtually. It’s easy to forget about team building when you’re working hybrid or think that team building can’t be done virtually, or decide to wait to do team building until your whole team can get together in person. My advice; don’t wait.
Often the most meaningful aspects of work are the people we work with and the relationships we build. When you leave a job, you leave your laptop and take your friendships. You can build team work virtually; you just need to make the time.
Spend the first few minutes of virtual or hybrid meetings on small talk, just like you would if you were gathering in a physical conference room.
Eat lunch together, virtually. Remember when people used to sit together in the office breakroom or cafeteria? Why not eat together via video? Team building doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can just be spending time together.
Humans need people contact and relationships. Connections with our coworkers make us feel connected to our organizations.
Small talk and group lunches create camaraderie, but they don’t teach people how to work together. In addition to social activities, give people a chance to talk about working style preferences. You don’t have to do personality assessments and long training programs to build teamwork. Just give people a chance to talk about how they like to work, on a regular basis.
Tell your team you want to help people get to know each other better, so work gets done more easily. Start each team meeting with one of the questions below, then move on to your meeting agenda. Do this all year.
Here are a few team building questions you can use:
What are your pet peeves at work?
What time of day do you do your best work?
Do you leave your email, phone, or text alerts on at night? If I text you after hours, will you get a ping?
If I email you on weekends and evenings, do you think I expect a response? Would you prefer I send messages only during regular business hours?
What’s an area of our business you’d like to learn more about?
What’s something you’d like to learn to do that you don’t have a chance to do now?
Read a question to the group. Give everyone at the meeting the opportunity to answer the question about themselves. And remember, the meeting leader/facilitator speaks last. People will often follow the most senior person’s lead. You want people to answer authentically rather than providing what they think is the ‘right’ answer.
Team building doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money. Don’t wait until everyone is in the office or for a future retreat. Help coworkers spend time together formally and informally, getting to know each other better now.