Even before the pandemic hit us, working remotely was getting more and more popular in the 2010s, but with COVID-19 lockdowns, working from home became a necessity for organizations, a study suggested that nearly 70% of all workforce will work remotely by 2025. There is also a visible change in how organizations see their workforce as another study suggests that nearly 3 out of 4 CFO’s are now considering making some of their employees and team to permanently work remotely.
These changes to shift the workforce to virtual medium has proven to be beneficial to the organization and the employees, including monetary benefits by saving the cost of office rents, saving travelling hours for employees, as well as an increase in productivity. But with these benefits, there are also demerits of working remotely, including less engagement leading to an emotional distance that further hinders in establishing trust and respect within the team as well as employees might feel they are being overlooked and may feel isolated. Hence, to combat these issues, it’s crucial to have virtual team-building sessions that can help to create more meaningful relationships and employees feeling valued within the organization.
But, before having virtual team-building sessions/activities, it’s better to set up, by clarifying the purpose of this virtual team-building- Is it to make employees gain more trust with each other? Or is it to communicate that the organization values them? Or is it to promote/improve a skill within team members? Another important aspect to consider before organizing these virtual team-building activities is to think about employees’/team mates cultural beliefs, expectations and other facts so that they won’t get offended by anything. Lastly, consider what exercises or activities you will do, how much time and resources you will need.
A simple hack or exercise for virtual team-building could be the Blind-Origami activity. This activity can be done with any number of group members, it involves making pairs of employees and instructing them to make simple origami. But the fun part is that the instructions will only be given to one person and he/she has to guide the other by communicating those instructions through audio. Simultaneously, the receiver or the person making origami can ask further questions or clarifications while making the origami. When each group has finished, they can open their camera to see how close they were to the original origami. The facilitator can then shuffle and make different pairs and give them other origami to try. This activity is helpful to build listening and feedback skills.
Furthermore, in cases of new employees, new organizations, and new teams, an introduction and ice-breaking session is required before team-building. A simple and fun ice-breaker activity could be four truths and one lie, where each employee will tell four truths and one lie about themselves and others have to guess it. Facilitators/managers can start with themselves to make employees show how to do this.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”