Keeping remote teams engaged with virtual team building

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are allowing their employees to work from home. This is great for flattening the curve and protecting the vulnerable. However, remote workers often feel less engaged and less connected to their company. This can decrease productivity, affect performance and lead to isolation and loneliness. It takes effort to help remote workers stay engaged. How can you make sure employees are engaged and motivated even when they are away from their traditional work environment? Strategically designed virtual team building activities provide communication and reinforce a shared team identity.

What is virtual team building?

Virtual team building is the use of technology, emotional intelligence, and management skills to help teams feel connected when they are not physically together. Its purpose is to make employees forget they’re working in separate places. There are many possible virtual employee engagement activities.

What are virtual employee engagement activities?

Virtual employee engagement activities are tasks, games and initiatives designed to promote remote employee engagement and connection. The following are some ideas for reducing stress, promoting connection, and infusing a little fun into the workday of your employees.

  • Virtual Coffee Breaks: Have team members brew their favorite beverage. Then, jump onboard a video conferencing tool and start to chat. Ask them about their day, how they’re feeling and what’s challenging them. Create small talk just as if you were in the break room at the office.

  • Home Office Tour: A great way to emotionally connect with your employees and create a team feeling is to have team members walk around with their smartphone/laptop and give a quick tour of the home office space they’ve created. 

  • Scavenger Hunt: Create a list of objects to bring to an online meeting. Have members share an item or two with a brief explanation. Include items such: 

    • One thing that makes you feel happy

    • An item that has a powerful memory attached 

    • Something you’ve kept since your childhood

  • Book Club: Start a book club and have everyone do the reading independently and offline. Ask them to keep a log of their thoughts and impressions as they go. Have a discussion by exchanging snail mail letters and/or hopping on a conference call.  

  • Weekly Feedback Sessions: A great way to ensure engagement is to ask your team members for feedback regarding:

    • improving an existing process

    • an on-going project and how it could be improved

    • the company cultures

    • changes they’d like to see implemented

  • Mister Rogers Calls: Try one on one video connections to help your remote workers get to know each other. Each week an app randomly matches two people. They schedule a call of about 30 minutes, sometime during the week. The only rule: you can’t talk about work!

  • TED-Style Talks: Have your team members list the weird and interesting expertise they have. This could include anything from a unique hobby to the best cookie recipe to a quirky talent. Have each team member prepare a simple five-minute slideshow and talk. At the beginning or end of each virtual meeting, have one team member give a TED-style talk complete with a short Q&A session. 

  • Care Packages: Each month, choose a theme and send out a selection of related items in a care package that arrives on your employees’ doorsteps. This lets employees know they’re appreciated and brings some fun to their workday. Try a chocolate theme (hot chocolate mix, fancy flavored chocolates), an office pkg (colorful sticky papers, highlighters, pens), aroma package (scented candles, essential oils), a wake-up pkg (assortment of coffees, teas, biscuits) and/or a snack theme (nuts, chips, dried fruit).

  • Multiplayer Games: Give your team a chance to unwind and relax by inviting them to a multiplayer game such as Call of Duty, Words with Friends, Crossy Roads or Heads Up. 

  • Healthy Habits Challenge: Support your remote employees in building healthy habits with a monthly challenge. Set up a spreadsheet to track progress. Use a gift card as the prize. Challenges can include:

    • Taking a 10-minute walk daily

    • Drinking 8 glasses of water daily

    • Doing 5 minutes of deep breathing exercises daily

    • Exercising 3 times a week

    • Taking 10,000 steps per day

Working from home reduces social interaction with colleagues and can result in feelings of separation, despondency and depression. To avoid this, schedule time for virtual socializing and engagement activities. Even five minutes at the beginning of each conference call can make a big difference. Prioritize employee engagement and teamwork to help your company function optimally. 

Looking for employees who can work remotely and remain connected to the team? Call the Calgary recruiting agency, Equation Staffing Solutions at 1-844-367-9618. We are a reliable, innovative, collaborative agency here to support you in your search for a position and/or personnel. Our experience will assist you! Contact us today.