Today’s post is brought to you by my friends at SocialMonsters.org
As an increasing number of workers are working from home on their smartphones, many companies are experiencing the challenges of trying to run a virtual workplace. As the number of Americans who work at least some hours from home has grown from 39 percent to 43 percent in recent years, companies such as Yahoo, Best Buy, Bank of America and IBM have begun scaling back work-from-home programs and recalling workers to the office, Gallup reports. Lack of nonverbal communication cues, limited opportunities to build relationships and absence of camaraderie and rapport are some of the most common challenges in virtual work environments, an RW3 report says.
While some companies are retreating from remote work in the face of these challenges, others have found that virtual team-building activities can overcome these obstacles. Here are three types of virtual team activities you can use to help build engagement among your remote workers.
Incorporating Video Chat Into Company Communication
One workaround for the problem of limited nonverbal communication in the virtual workplace is to incorporate video chat into your company communications. If you use a unified communications solution that incorporates video chat, you can use your meetings to establish virtual face-to-face interaction between your remote team members.
In addition to including video as part of your normal meeting routine, you can also use video chat for specific team-building exercises. For example, you can have workers do a show and tell about what’s on their desk. Another fun game is to write down two truths and a lie and give the other team members a minute to guess which statement is false.
Providing Socializing Opportunities
Another great team-building technique is providing opportunities for your workers to socialize on company time outside of meetings. For instance, you can allow a certain amount of time per day for social networking on your company’s network or on public social media sites such as Facebook.
One way to encourage your workers to interact on social media is to create social groups that include randomly paired workers. You can also create groups for your workers based on interests or invite them to create their own groups. These social media discussions can then serve as virtual coffee breaks or water cooler discussions.
Taking virtual polls is another way to socialize online. Polls can involve company business as well as fun topics such as sports predictions or movie review opinions.
For best results, online socialization opportunities should be supplemented by real-time face-to-face interactions when possible. For instance, if some of your team members live close enough, they can get together for periodic company parties. You can also schedule annual or semi-annual company retreats with training sessions and picnics, depending on where your team members live.
Another option is attending sporting events or other special events as a company. If it’s too hard to get everyone in one place, consider breaking down into regional or local groups.
Video chat, online socialization, and face-to-face meetings are three types of exercises you can incorporate to build your remote workforce’s team spirit. By applying these three strategies, you can promote closer bonding between your team members, better teamwork, and better worker satisfaction.