When you’re in the office with colleagues, there are a variety of fun ways to spend small team-building – from a business lunch to going for coffee, going to the theatre together or something completely different – we know, the possibilities are endless. However, with the growing number of employees working from home, maintaining team spirit has become more complicated.
Despite the new challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, team building at a distance is not impossible. We bring you some of the ways you can raise the quality of interpersonal communication among your employees and thus raise the motivation of the whole team.
Many people wish to avoid Zoom meetings or meetings via other platforms. If you are in that category yourself, keep in mind that a video meeting is a good way to maintain a quality relationship with colleagues because such a meeting is more similar to a real face-to-face meeting than the phone conversation itself, which will make your conversations more efficient. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to encourage a video meeting too often – be moderate and dose wisely.
Working from home can erase those incidental conversations you had with colleagues about TED talk, TV shows, daily political events, and a variety of other topics. In case this came true for you, it might not be a bad idea to consider introducing virtual coffee breaks. Take a shared virtual coffee break and recharge your batteries for the work that awaits you after the break with a short relaxed conversation.
Many meeting platforms offer the option of solving surveys, so this can be one of the methods for you to start a discussion on a topic and have a good laugh.
Whether it’s a family reunion, a colleague’s engagement celebration, a national holiday, or a team business success – don’t ignore such occasions just because you’re not physically together. You may not be able to celebrate together with a cake, but there are other methods to celebrate important life events or business ventures. For example, if someone from the office is celebrating a birthday, the rest of the team can send that person a gift to the address or they can sing a birthday card together via a video meeting. In case it is a celebration of business success, make sure the team is rewarded for success.
Sending messages, sending emails and all other similar types of communication are more intense when we work from home. Yet a recent study showed that often even our friends can’t recognize our message tone. If even friends in some situations cannot recognize the intention of our message, it is definitely unrealistic to expect our colleagues to recognize when we are serious, funny, sarcastic, or rude. An effective way is to communicate with the help of emoticons.
In addition, to avoid misunderstandings, sometimes communicate with your colleagues through calls. In case you are in a leadership position, not only call team members when you talk about tasks, but you can also call them to let them know that you appreciate their work or simply to share something with them.
How fast does your team need to respond to your messages or emails? If you send them an email at 11 in the evening, is it acceptable for them to respond to the mail at 9:30 the next morning? To avoid doubts, it is necessary to establish clear norms of communication. In addition to defining the time allowed for response, it is desirable to define a schedule of meetings or arrangements around specific projects that will suit most employees.
To test the success of your communication, send your team a SWOT analysis, in which everyone will state what they consider to be the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the communication you are currently conducting. This is the best way to see how much the existing ways of communicating help or hinder the team.
More than coffee, employees sometimes prefer to watch fun clips from Instagram together, play an online game together or play WordPlay. Do some fun activities with your team to make them happier. Of course, make sure team members don’t get stuck for games so much that they forget about work.
Employees love the feeling when bosses and companies take care of them. So make sure your employees get the little things to let them know you care about them. The little things can be anything – it can be protective masks, drawing accessories that will be used by the children of employees, etc. If you decide on drawing accessories, it is not a bad idea to create a small competition and include the best drawings in the company’s calendar.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought misfortune into the lives of many. If your team members agree, consider getting involved in a charity event or organizing donations yourself for those who need it. Let the team choose which individuals or which organization the funds will belong to.
Many restaurants and family farms struggle to survive in unpredictable times. A good way to support, for example, a local family farm is to order food from them and deliver it to all employees. In addition to helping entrepreneurs whose businesses are threatened by a pandemic, you will also cheer up your team members.
You don’t need to go to the gym with your team members to stay fit. You can initiate joint training or yoga practice so that you can label yourself a “healthy mind in a healthy body.”
If you can’t tune in for joint training at the same time, there are other ways to encourage recreation. For example, Boatsetter CEO and co-founder (Airbnb for boat rental) Jackie Baumgarten has launched a wellness newsletter for employees to encourage them to stay healthy, to successfully balance business and private, and to cope better with stress.
These are just some of the ideas on how to strengthen team spirit among your employees in periods when all or part of the employees are working from home. You can always come up with something different, something that would suit your team better. Even when you feel like you’ve devised something perfect for your team, it’s always important to seek feedback to know if your team-building activities are having a positive impact on employees.
If you want to discuss with us the possibilities of raising the quality of the team spirit of your company in a virtual environment, let us know.