The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to shift to a work-from-home set-up. While some have made the transition to working from home with ease, others are struggling to adapt. This is because remote teams have fewer opportunities to socialize and get to know each other, which can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from colleagues, and may translate to poor work productivity and an increase in mental distress.
In the previous article, we mentioned that one of the ways companies can improve and support the mental health of their employees is by regularly holding activities that allow staff to build rapport, improve communication, and increase co-workers’ understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. If you are a business owner or a manager with staff who are not working in the same physical space, you might want to consider conducting virtual team-building exercises. As long as the participants can interact using an internet-connected tool like chat, video conference, etc., you can adapt many traditional team-building exercises to accommodate remote workers.
Below are 6 fun and effective activities that will help your team members work together and start bonding:
1. Favorite Things.
This simple activity is a good way for team members to get to know each other in a fun and relaxing way — because there are no wrong answers, participants will not feel stressed or anxious when they are called to share.
Mechanics: Assign a favorite thing topic, such as “Favorite thing about working from home” or “Favorite part about working for [company].” Everyone takes turns speaking.
2. Birth Map.
This allows people to share something more personal about themselves. Share a country or world map on your screen and ask people to place a pin on or near their birth place.
Mechanics: Ask participants to share a story or interesting trivia about their place of birth.
3. Virtual Coffee Breaks.
This is an easy but effective way to catch up with team members.
Mechanics: Schedule a 15-minute period every day or even once a week when everyone in the team joins a video chat with a cup of coffee or their favorite beverage in hand, and they just talk to each other. Ideally, conversations must be not related to work and purely for fun, just like they might be if everyone was having a coffee break at the office together.
4. Game Day.
There are many group games that can be done online. At the start of the week, send out an email asking the team to vote on what game they would like to play for the week.
Mechanics: Once a week, block off an hour within office hours or immediately after work and create a separate meeting room where participants can play as a group.
5. Movie Night
Similar to #4, you can host a monthly or quarterly movie night (or day). Ask everyone to vote for a movie and a time to watch it. Make sure that the films being considered are appropriately-themed and will not offend anybody’s religious, political, or gender views.
Mechanics: Consider opening the chat function on the videoconferencing software so that everyone can share real-time reactions during the movie.
6. Personality Test
Completing personality tests like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator helps team members and managers figure out each other’s potential strengths and weaknesses as well as who might work well together and who would do best being left alone. Use the results of the personality tests to open up a conversation. If you’re a manager, use the opportunity to find out what your employees’ goals are for personal and professional growth, and help them reach those goals. If you’re a worker, think about where you want to be in the company—and use your test results to discuss those goals with your supervisors.
Mechanics: The Myers-Briggs Test can be taken online at a cost. But the benefits include giving team members the chance to get to know each other on a deeper level, which will help everyone bond and learn how to communicate more effectively.
Virtual team-building activities are a safe way to help team members feel more comfortable with each other, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness and building better connections and shared understanding.
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