Ever since remote work has become the norm, organizations have been trying to boost employee engagement and stay connected. Apprehensions around productivity in remote work led to innovative ways of keeping employees engaged. One of the initiatives organizations have been proactive about is organizing virtual team building activities. Virtual team building activities for work have evolved from being merely a fun activity to an employee retention and motivation strategy.
Here are 5 reasons why virtual team bonding is important to create a firm remote work culture:
It is a misconception that communication is merely an act of conveying information about work to be done or work that is done. Effective communication involves active listening and understanding each other. However, in a remote work environment lack of face-to-face interaction poses a barrier to effective communication. Organizing virtual team building activities regularly can help team members familiarize with each other and break down barriers to communicating openly. Some examples of activities that improve communication are icebreakers, escape rooms, scavenger hunts, etc. One important characteristic of a well-organized activity that improves communication is that it must also focus on improving listening skills of the participants.
Builds trust, integrity, and empathy
Trust is the foundation of building collaboration in any team. However, building trust in a remote environment is much harder owing to reduced personal interactions between team members. Trust is built on personal bonds, communication, vulnerability, and reliability. When team members believe that their co-workers will not let them down, they tend to start developing trustworthy relationships. Being empathetic towards each other is also crucial in building trust. Virtual team building activities can be used to facilitate these interactions. When employees are given the opportunity to connect beyond zoom calls and communicate more about themselves, they start building trustworthy relationships. The pandemic has also reflected that being able to stand by each other during a crisis makes not only personal but also professional relationships stronger. Some examples of virtual team building activities that help in building trust are virtual workstation setup, virtual lunches, virtual cooking days, virtual interactions to meet each other’s family members or pets etc.
Reinforces a positive work culture
A positive and motivating organizational culture has a striking impact on employee productivity. When employees work in toxic work cultures ridden with conflicts and mistrust, they tend to build protective walls and employee turnover increases. In a remote arrangement, if the leadership is not interacting with teams often or if teams start forming silos, it can easily lead to a toxic work environment. For organizations that have built a positive remote work culture, it needs to be reinforced to ensure it’s sustenance. Organizing team building activities for the leadership team to interact with team members helps in building and nurturing a positive organizational culture. Team building activities also act as a testament of the employer’s commitment to employees. They reflect that the organization is interested in employee personal growth alongside the organization’s growth. Some examples of activities that reinforce a positive culture are idea pitch nights, building something together, philanthropy drives etc.
Improves mental health
Remote work has had a drastic impact on employee mental health as employees reported feeling lonely, isolated, and disconnected from their employers. Moreover, the pandemic was a crisis humanity has never encountered in the modern times. In times of uncertainty, team building activities help in ensuring that team members are connected and combat loneliness together. Organizing a virtual activity once a week can help employees in building a camaraderie and feeling together again.
Prevents fatigues and relieves stress
Zoom fatigue has been reported as the highest cause of stress and burnout in remote work. A survey on remote workers has found that nearly half of the professionals working remotely reported feeling burnt out. Employees who are stressed are less likely to be productive and collaborative. This also leads to a high employee turnover. Virtual team building activities are a great way to reduce stress, zoom fatigue, and make time for fun. Activities like movie nights, team lunches, virtual dinner and dance etc. help employees in being connected while having fun. Virtual team building does not always have to be serious. It can be fun and playful to be memorable.
Virtual team building is often misunderstood and undermined as unengaging as most of the activities are either conducted in office or from remote locations. However, it can be exciting and fun if planned well. Virtual team building is also beneficial for teams that are diverse and spread in different geographies. To be more effective, virtual team building activities like weekend movie nights can be organized every weekend.