The trend of remote work has rapidly increased in the past decade, with many organizations adopting it as a standard mode of working. With the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become the norm for many companies worldwide. Remote work has numerous benefits such as flexibility, lower operational costs, and talent acquisition. However, being away from the office desk has its flip side- creating a positive work atmosphere and building team spirit. Building a sense of community among remote workers is not simple as team members are geographically dispersed and don’t work in the same co-located environment. Nonetheless, remote teams can develop a culture of inclusion, foster team spirit, and build a positive work atmosphere through diverse practices and techniques. In this blog, we shall discuss ideas for building team spirit from a distance, including virtual social events, online collaboration tools, regular check-ins, promoting collaboration, and encouraging open communication.
Virtual Social Events
Social events are a crucial part of co-located work environments that promote positive relations among team members, builds trust, fosters team spirit, and promotes collaboration. Remote work environments can adopt virtual social events like virtual happy hours, department-wide coffee break sessions, and online games. The events are ideal for team members to catch up, have fun, bond, and not discuss work-related issues. They allow team members to get to know each other, exchange personal anecdotes, opinions and even get motivated.
Virtual Happy Hours
Virtual happy hours are the most popular virtual team building event. The happy hour sessions allow team members to relax, socialize, and have a good time while enjoying virtual cocktails or beer. During the happy hours, team members can engage in random conversations and discuss topics that are not work-related. The virtual happy hours can be organized monthly or bi-monthly and can be set up using various video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype.
Department-wide Coffee Break Sessions
Coffee break sessions are virtual meetups for team members to exchange ideas, exchange opinions, or talk about current events. Team members can prepare a beverage or a snack and come ready for a quick and informal discussion. Department-wide coffee break sessions promote inclusivity and democratize team communication.
Online games are a fun way to promote team spirit, build collaborations, and enhance communication. Online games like trivia games, online board games, or online Pictionary invite team members to bond through friendly competitions. The games also provide equitable and inclusive ways of engaging with people from diverse backgrounds and personalities.
Online Collaboration Tools
Collaboration tools such as Slack, Asana, or Trello have become ubiquitous in remote work environments. The tools promote smooth information sharing, real-time project updates, and important announcements. The online platforms foster teamwork by encouraging team members to share knowledge, offer feedback, and brainstorm ideas.
Slack is a cloud-based communication tool that allows team members to communicate and share information quickly and effectively. The platform enhances communication because it allows team members to have one on one conversations, create channels dedicated to specific tasks, and offer immediate feedback on work-related matters.
Asana is an online project management software that helps teams organize work effectively. The platform allows team members to collaborate on projects, track project progress, and share updates in real-time. Asana fosters teamwork by providing transparency on who is handling what task, promoting accountability, and encourages teamwork.
Trello is another online project management software that fosters team collaboration by providing transparency on who is handling a given task, making team members accountable for their project responsibilities, and helps team leaders gauge the team’s productivity. Trello also allows for continuous improvement by providing spaces to leave feedback.
Regular check-ins are an essential part of remote work environments. They keep team members aligned, promote synchronization, and prevent misunderstandings. Regular check-ins could be one-on-one with team leaders, managers or include the entire team. Check-ins enable team members to align expectations, address issues, gain clarity on project objectives, timelines, and goals.
Regular one-on-one meetings between team leaders and team members create opportunities for constructive feedback, performance reviews, and coaching. One-on-one meetings are an opportunity for team members to express concerns, share ideas, get feedback, and foster a culture of open communication.
Team meetings are an opportunity for the entire team to discuss project progress, address issues and collaborate on projects. Team meetings can be held regularly, depending on the workload, and should prioritize team member engagement to foster inclusivity.
Collaboration and Collective Problem-Solving
Collaboration allows team members to share knowledge, ideas, and enhances collective problem-solving. A culture of collaboration fosters mutual respect, promotes a sense of belonging, and encourages team members to communicate effectively.
Brainstorming sessions are an opportunity for teams to work together on projects or share new ideas. Brainstorming sessions promote creativity, collaboration, foster cross-functional knowledge-sharing, and promote an inclusive remote work environment.
Inter-Departmental Project Teams
Inter-departmental project teams allow team members from different departments to participate in projects and collaborate effectively. This approach fosters team spirit by providing an opportunity for team members to learn from each other, encourages mutual respect, creates opportunities for knowledge-sharing, promotes inclusivity and promotes collaboration.
Peer review allows team members to provide feedback on each other’s work, promoting constructive criticism, continuous improvement, and enhances collaboration. Peer review fosters teamwork because it promotes mutual respect, values each other’s work, and encourages team members to work together on a more profound level.
Encouraging Open Communication
Effective communication is the cornerstone of building teamwork remotely. Remote team members should be encouraged to speak up about challenges, ask questions, and offer feedback to increase transparency, trust, and prevent problems from escalating.
Engaging Team Members
Engage remote team members with topics of mutual interest, keep the conversation flowing, and create open channels for casual conversations. These communication techniques provide spaces for remote team members to express themselves, lowers isolation levels, and promotes a culture of constructive communication.
Working remotely has numerous benefits, but building team spirit and fostering a positive work environment can be a challenge. Remote teams can adopt various practices and techniques for team building, promoting collaboration, regular communication check-ins, creating spaces for feedback, and open communication. Building a sense of community among remote teams is possible, and organizations should adopt these practices to enhance teamwork, trust, and communication among remote workers.
Besides the discussed methods above, other techniques that can be employed when working remotely include:
- Promoting Diversity and Inclusion- Remote teams ought to have a culture that is inclusive and respectful of the diversity of the members. To achieve this, teams must work towards promoting a fair and equitable system that values and respects their members’ cultures and beliefs.
- Setting Common Goals and Targets- For remote teams to collaborate effectively, they must have common goals that are clearly defined and specific. The goals can be set to align with the company’s vision and values, and they must be articulated in a way that team members can understand how to achieve them.
- Establishing a Code of Conduct- Remote teams should have a code of conduct that defines the expected behavior of team members. This code of conduct should promote teamwork, trust, respect for diversity, and open communication.
- Having an Effective Leadership Structure- Effective leadership is critical to the success of remote teams. The leadership structure should be well-defined, with clear roles and responsibilities for each team member.
- Providing Opportunities for Learning and Growth- Remote teams should provide their members with opportunities for learning and growth. Training on new tools, technologies, and project management software can help team members acquire new skills and foster teamwork.
In conclusion, remote teams can foster a positive work environment by adopting various practices such as virtual social events, online collaboration tools, regular check-ins, promoting collaboration, and encouraging open communication. These techniques help build a sense of community among remote workers and promote teamwork, trust, and communication. Remote teams working towards building team spirit should also promote diversity and inclusion, set common goals and targets, have a code of conduct, establish an effective leadership structure, and provide opportunities for learning and growth. By adopting these practices, remote teams can work effectively, efficiently and ensure the organization meets its goals.