Keeping it Social Activities to Engage Remote Work Teams
Did covid move you to a virtual work environment? Or have you always been a remote worker? Whether it’s new or old-hat, building a strong team is essential to engagement and career fulfillment.
So, how do you engage your team to be social when they’re miles (or even doors) apart?
Virtual Team Building
In a traditional office, workers easily get to interact with colleagues. This helps build familiarity and trust, thereby creating an environment for collaboration, exchange of ideas, and productive discussions. When the connections that bind team members are broken, motivation drops, and people retreat to their ‘personal space’.
With a remote team, it takes deliberate effort to get people to relate on a more personal level.
Fortunately, social activities can foster relationships amongst your workers when you tactfully infuse them into your meetings. Virtual team building should always be fun, engaging, and time-efficient.
Here are some ideas!
This works mainly with a small group and can be done at the beginning, during, or at the end of an online meeting session. Before the meeting time, you ask every participant to send in one or two interesting fact(s) about themselves. The facilitator reads out the facts, and people take turns to guess who owns which fact. In the end, the answers are revealed. This helps build familiarity between the team members.
This is not exactly like your high school talent show with the glitz and glam and beautifully lit stage. Instead, things that don’t take much time and can easily be done on-screen are preferred. Here, a few participants are selected to showcase their ‘hidden’ talents to the viewing pleasures of others. Examples include singing, drawing, or even spinning a pen.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE FUTURE
Again, this would only work with a small group. People take turns telling everyone a bit about their experiences or events. The ‘good’ stands for a positive experience they had in recent times, say from the time of the last meeting – “I reunited with my childhood friend after 20 years”. ‘The bad’ represents an unpleasant occurrence for the participant within the same period – “My lovely cat fell sick”. ‘The future’ talks about an important plan or expectation the individual has – “I hope to receive my order of my favourite book next week”. The beauty of this activity is that it helps others to appreciate the values, desires, needs, and overall personalities of their colleagues.
Who doesn’t love a good ol’ storytime? Granted, it’s not around a campfire but each member can light a candle and heat some s’mores…nothing wrong with going the extra mile. The facilitator assigns an order to the participants. He or she begins the ‘story’ with an opening statement. The next in line is meant to take the idea of the statement and come up with whatever continuation they deem fit. The baton continues to pass on to the next person until the final participant concludes the story. For example, the moderator might begin the story with “Once upon a time, a king went to battle with only female warriors”. The next person might continue with “The weapons they went with were rather unusual”. The next might say “Each had a spoon on the right hand, and a straw on the left”. Each person is free to come up with their continuation of the group story. The last person might end with “And that was how King Arthur defeated his enemies with the strategy the girl gave him”. It doesn’t have to be too serious. Think of it like improv. It’s simply for fun. But it does bring out each person’s active listening ability, and creativity.
7 COMMON THINGS
Here, the facilitator divides the participants into smaller groups. Each group has to come up with seven things the members have in common.
A group might submit a list that looks something like the one below –
- Above 30 years
- Loves football
- Traveled to the UK at least once
- Loves current job
- Owns a house
- Speaks two languages.
Through the session, the members of a group get to interact and find out what they have in common with the other members. But they also get to discover things that are unique to them or others. With subsequent meetings, the members are regrouped.
Just in case you’re strapped for time, a fun picture-sharing game will suffice. With this, you can guarantee a smile on people’s faces. At least one person in the company has to have some kitten pictures to share. Yes, everyone’s a sucker for that. Everyone can share a picture with the group. It could be a photo of pets, family, or even funny pictures from that one time the team had a retreat in the woods. Ah… sweet memories.
Emojis are now widely used in online communication. As usual, the team is divided into smaller groups. The game may involve pairing up emojis, and having each group figure out what the paired emojis represent under a given theme. For instance, emojis may be created for popular movies. The team members, in their groups, try to figure out what movies are represented by emojis. This activity can help stir up their creative side and even act as a great warm-up activity before a brainstorming or idea generation session.
The end goal of any Virtual Event is to encourage collaboration amongst employees and to strengthen the ties that bind them. Just remember to always maintain a safe work environment. Steer clear of activities that might be viewed as offensive or inappropriate for the workplace and you’ll be sure to bring your remote team together in the most productive way possible.