The consistent advancement of technology has made it easier for us to never have to leave the comfort of our homes. Some would argue that the trend of remote work has had a negative impact on some aspects of our work life, including productivity. So as remote work continues to become the new norm, how do you improve virtual employee productivity?
You can start by implementing some of the remote employee engagement activities I mention below, but first, let’s chat about why team building in a virtual work setting is crucial.
Building Engagement In A Virtual Setting
Working from home has its advantages, but it can cause a disconnect between team members and company values. At home, there’s no one on the other side of the cubical to strike up a conversation with when in need of a second opinion. As social creatures, humans crave other human interactions. Even if it’s just a five-minute water cooler break.
Often, remote work can create an overwhelming feeling of isolation. It’s easy to forget how many connections you have right at your fingertips. By adding remote employee engagement activities into the work week, you begin to foster healthy work relationships, promoting collaboration and improving communication.
Day after day, remote work requires little to no conversation other than through an email or text, and words on a page can easily be misinterpreted. How many times have you read a text from a friend or colleague, and since you couldn’t read their body language you couldn’t decipher the emotion behind the message? I’m sure it’s been more than a handful of times! Having clear communication — when a large percentage of it isn’t happening face-to-face — can be a challenge.
In a Harvard study, research shows that face-to-face communication is 34 times more successful than email. While working from the comfort of our home offices, we have to find ways to learn effective communication.
Virtual team building conferences are one of the best ways to encourage remote employee engagement. Even though you won’t be F2F in a virtual team program, joining online for some fun virtual activities, will bring your team closer together and boost morale.
5 Remote Employee Engagement Activities to Try
The greatest thing about a virtual work environment is that it creates the opportunity to work with people all over the world, building a diverse company culture. But with a network that can span from the United States to Australia, it can be nearly impossible to get your entire team in the same location to work on team building.
If everyone is working remotely, it’s easy to make a virtual conference work. Here are my top 5 remote engagement activities to get you started.
1 – Virtual Icebreakers
Since you’re working together from all over the world, some team members probably don’t know who Tim is from the marketing department or Julie from production. Start your Monday zoom meetings start with an icebreaker game like an association introduction to help. If you play this game a few weeks in a row, everyone will get to know each other better and share some laughs.
It starts with a person giving their name and a detail about themself. The following person then repeats what the previous person said, then adds their own name and a detail about themself. Each person that follows has to repeat what everyone else said before them. This may be a fun challenge for the final person depending on the size of the group!
2 – Scheduling Virtual Water Cooler Breaks
In a traditional office job, water cooler breaks are a necessity. We’re not machines! Overworking causes stress and that doesn’t benefit anyone. And so the water cooler is a great part of the office.
Plan virtual water cooler breaks. Schedule some times throughout the day to have your co-workers meet over zoom, so they can chat about things that don’t involve work? This gives everyone a better chance to get to know one another. It also helps give your team time to recharge, which can give them a different perspective on whatever project might be problematic for them.
This is an example of modifying face to face activities into remote employee engagement activities. Make a list of other in office things you do that are fun and bonding and see if they’ll transition to virtual.
3 – Virtual Movie Night
Get some popcorn ready and spend time with your colleagues for a virtual movie night! Now that we have access to a plethora of streaming platforms, it can be easy to plan. Some platforms like Disney Plus even allow you to stream as a party. It requires everyone to have a Disney Plus account, but you can all watch the same movie and start it at the same time. You almost forget you’re not in the same room as everyone.
Have everyone on your online meeting platform and you’ll have secondary entertainment coming in through comments via chat.
4 – Virtual Tour Guide
How would you like to get a sneak peek into the life of your remote co-workers? A virtual tour is a neat way to spend five minutes in your weekly zoom meeting. Each week a different person can give everyone a quick tour of their home. And this doesn’t have to stop just at their homes though.
If you have an international team, you can have people share videos and pictures that they’ve taken from the places they’ve been in their country. This can be a great way to learn how each person’s individuality and culture add to the company.
5 – Write An Original Song
Music has a remarkable ability to bring people together. It’s a language that everyone understands. If you want to tap into your team’s creative power, you should try writing an original song with some of the most talented songwriters in the world.
My company’s virtual team building programs are more than just a quick game to engage everyone on a surface level. In sessions that last from 40 mins to 2 hours you spend time brainstorming, crafting and learning. You’ll build communication and really get to know each other better. We developed this program to model our successful face-to-face program, with real time interaction and real time teamwork.
There are endless options for virtual team engagement activities out there. Hopefully this guide will jumpstart you search and your programming, to boost engagement and team spirit.