For many corporate organisations, working from home is becoming a new reality. One of the biggest challenges of such arrangements is maintaining continued employee engagement. As employees work remotely, organisations need to find alternative methods of sustaining unity within and between remote teams, and ensuring they remain engaged. While regular check-ins by team leaders are common, these do not contribute to greater camaraderie across the entire team. If you want more engaged employees, you’ll have to think bigger.
What is employee engagement and why is it important?
Employee engagement refers to a workplace approach that emotionally connects an employee to the organisation’s values and goals. This strengthens his/her commitment to the company, making employee engagement important for organisations, both small and large. With a positive connection to the company, engaged employees are more likely to invest in their roles, develop higher satisfaction and care for their responsibilities, have a stronger belief in the company values and eventually produce good quality work for the organisation. This also cements a positive company culture for the entire team.
There are many employee engagement ideas, from recognising employees for their hard work and setting work-life balance strategies to fostering strong relationships among employees. These relationships can be strengthened through team building activities, especially useful in work-from-home arrangements. In contrast to office environments where colleagues can easily communicate with one another, remote working can induce feelings of loneliness and detachment on a personal level as there is a lack of time spent with co-workers. Virtual team bonding activities help fill this void by creating a more communicative remote workforce, translating to better collaboration and productivity. So how can you motivate remote teams through a virtual group activity? Consider what boosts team morale and greater trust in your company!
What team activities can be done virtually?
Telecommunication has provided organisations around the world with a conducive platform for any remote team building activity. The cyber realm is a proactive solution for corporations as these digital tools continuously upgrade to provide improved user experiences. These allow for some of the best ideas for remote team building, from video calls for workouts to training and development programmes and virtual games:
1. Training and development
If virtual meetings are now a norm, then why not make use of the same space for an added benefit? Training with peers is one of the best ways to build intra and inter-team relationships. Taking this online is easy with a plethora of video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, Google Meets, Slack and Microsoft Teams. Companies that conduct training and development programmes can replicate them online by utilising the platforms’ features, such as screen sharing, non-intrusive chat functions and breakout rooms for separate team discussions. Take Google’s Googler 2 Googler classes, for instance. A regular programme where staff come together to teach different and unique skills, the classes migrated online to offer a medium for remote employees to host live streams, ranging from cooking to yoga sessions. These sessions do not have to be formalised: hitting up your colleagues via a Slack channel huddle any time of the week for a quick sharing session is also enough to keep the communication going.
2. Team building games and recreation
Telecommunication makes online team building games and recreation possible. Some organisations often engage third-party vendors to set up these activities. Others go a step further to create their own. Such team building activities can be company-led or employee-initiated, like HubSpot’s version of Pictionary and Mafia, put together for employees across the Asia-Pacific. Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Horangi also holds remote karaoke sessions for colleagues. Similarly, global hardware and software provider HP organised movie nights, in partnership with DreamWorks Animation, and a dance party for its offices worldwide. Such team building games and recreation play a critical role in promoting friendships and alignment with co-workers, encouraging more positive relationships and greater understanding among colleagues. A good employee morale means you have happier teams willing to stay and commit to your company.
These virtual team building games are also fantastic ice breakers. Have individuals from different departments work together; this may lead to greater bonding among newly formed friendships and reveal a competitive spirit that’ll make them win in any game!
3. Virtual team workouts
Virtual workouts are gaining popularity around the world, and organisations are jumping on the bandwagon to provide such opportunities for their employees. Whether through an external trainer or an internally-led session, sweating it out with colleagues, albeit remotely, is a good way for employers to encourage a healthy lifestyle among employees. Apart from karaoke sessions, Horangi also holds virtual workout sessions every morning, with its chief executive officer leading these exercises involving squats, push-ups and jumping jacks.
How to create a remote team building activity for your remote workers?
If you are intending to create a virtual team building activity for your employees working from home, here is a simple checklist for you to get started:
- Understand your employees’ needs and wants. Spend more time speaking with disengaged employees to find out what’s missing in their experience with the company. You can plan stay interviews for this.
- Decide on the online team building activity and clarify its goals in line with employee expectations
- Design the group activity and establish success measures
- Consult employees for feedback on the virtual activity before executing
- Evaluate employee sentiments after the activity and apply a similar strategy for future team building activities