With remote work increasing in popularity in many industries, the traditional workplace has considerably changed. Today, it is likely for teams to have to work together on hybrid teams, where few members are physically connected. Luckily, technology has advanced far beyond speakerphones, and there are products specifically designed with creating depth and connectivity in remote meetings.
While technology provides the tools for creating connected but remote workplaces, organizations still need to incorporate these tools into their workflows to best experience their benefits. This is especially the case with combining remote and office-based workers in a hybrid workforce.
To help organizations get the most out of their hybrid teams, we've developed a list of the top 10 team building ideas. Incorporate these practices into your business and watch your teams productively come together.
In a physical office, workers often interact in a coffee or break room. Host a morning (or afternoon, depending on time zones) coffee where the team has 15 minutes to 30 minutes on video chat for chitchat.
While these meetings are excellent opportunities for building rapport among coworkers, they can also serve as functional meetings for operations and projects. Encourage participation by all workers and try to fashion these as discussions rather than lectures.
A manager droning on for an hour is unlikely to rally the troops to productive, cooperative work.
Another break opportunity used by people who work together in an office environment is the water cooler. Water cooler talks are about anything other than work. Topics may be a popular streaming show, current events, family news, or other lighthearted discussions.
Many who work remotely note that they miss these moments of casual conversation. With minimal technology, such as Slack, however, such discussions can thrive even with workers who are halfway around the world from each other.
Once this dedicated water cooler chat is created, let workers use it for unstructured discussions.
Another way to create a casual chat environment is within your organization's collaboration tools. Create interest-specific Slack channels like #Netflix, #gamers, or #pets for people to bond over personal interests and to post photos.
With set topics, employees may be more likely to share and become involved in conversations that help build team culture.
Engage in online games and competitions! Try an ongoing team trivia game or use Slack games. If appropriate, set up production-based contests where small prizes, such as food gift cards, are awarded to members of the victorious team.
Run "hackathon" style work times where team members need to get a group project done. To do this, have everyone in the office go to a conference room for three to four hours, order food, and have those at home be on video chat using the Meeting Owl the entire time (and pay for them to order on GrubHub, Seamless, or other food delivery apps).
With Meeting Owl, your remote workers will feel like they are together in the same room.
If your office has remote employees that may be clustered in a particular region, set up meetings for your team to get together on work and non-work-related discussions. Many cities have shared office space centers where cubicles, meeting rooms, and offices can be rented for the day.
Coffee shops are another option. Send members of your team to one of these locations and encourage the exchange of ideas and support.
Many remote workers take a great deal of pride in their home office setups. If this is the case with your workers, host an "MTV Cribs"-like program for showing off remote workspaces. Just like workers in an office like to decorate their offices and cubicles, remote workers often create personalized spaces in their home offices.
Pick one remote employee a month to present a video depicting their typical day, including how they stay motivated and on target.
If your team uses Slack, take a look at the Donut add-on, which helps remote employees get to know each other. Donut accomplishes camaraderie by randomly pairing workers for conversations, collaborations, and more.
Managers can encourage collaboration by sending an open letter-style email or Slack thread each day with some food for thought, random observations, or other information intended to spur conversation.
In-person offices often have charitable giving drives, whether through a collaborative effort or simply one worker bringing an organization's needs to the table. These activities help develop a sense of community and can advance goals of an organization that are separate from profit. Remote teams have the ability to do so, too. Organizations like Relay for Life host events nationwide, allowing remote team members and in-office members alike to get involved towards a common cause.
Remote and hybrid teams are here to stay. These arrangements save money and can encourage increased productivity and happiness. Keep your remote workers engaged and feeling part of the team by developing a culture of connectivity.