Another challenging concept in managing a team remotely is incorporating your remote staff into your organization. Since you can’t take them to lunch or do the types of bonding activities you might do with your local folks; we need to look at other remote team-building activities. We have talked about building an atmosphere of trust to effectively manage remote employees in a previous article and team building activities doesn’t fall far from building a personal relationship online.
It is easy to talk and connect with a colleague when they are just sitting right next to you. You can see and hear them, and it makes the interaction more personal and relatable. With virtual colleagues, all you see in front of you is a computer and some text messages on skype or in your email. So how can we promote camaraderie and “team spirit” despite being only virtually connected?
First Impressions last. Before you flood your remote employee with the tasks-to-do, we recommend that you take the time to welcome him or her to your team. You can hop on a quick video call to perhaps give them a quick tour of your office and the rest of the team, or if you are all working at home, you can set up a group call for everyone to break the ice and get everyone introduced to each other. As a newbie, it is always helpful to know that your colleagues have taken the time to welcome you and thus, they will also be there when the tough gets going at work to assist you somehow.
A few software you can use for screen sharing and teleconferencing are Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx, and GoToMeeting.
Never underestimate the power of chat. There is software like slack and glip that is great for team messaging (and they can also be great for a lot of things too). You can create a group chat intended solely for the team’s non-work-related talks or random shares. Team members can then share some funny moments, photos, or express some random rants about a difficult customer. You can make use of a variety of funny memes or giphys to make the conversation lively (or not lively) as if you are all just in the same workspace. Simple things that can help lighten up the mood of the day.
Weekly Meetings. Because you are worlds apart, communication is very vital even though there are no work updates or issues that need addressing. You gather the team together in a video call using the teleconferencing tools suggested above and give each team member a time to speak out. They may share their difficulties at work or impart their best practices to others. Meetings like this show that the “team” cares for everyone.
Kudos emails. Once in awhile, send email blasts to all if an employee does exemplary work. For example, if a customer has commended your business because your employee has delivered above and beyond service, create a kudos email announcing that deed and allow the other team members to reply and congratulate the performing employee for the job well-done. The team’s enthusiasm will boost the employee’s morale and can greatly encourage productivity.
Be creative and think about what makes the team engaged. As you all don’t have a physical office and can work anywhere, you can designate a “show-your-office day” where your employees take a photo of their workplace (whether it is at home or in a coffee shop) and share it with the group. This doesn’t take so much time to do and helps every one to get to know each other a bit.
These may not fall under the “normal” team building activities like we are all used to in the corporate world, but they work quite the same – the goal is to build a relationship despite being in the same physical space.
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