When a culture shift happens in the working world, it is felt by employers and employees alike. And while many companies have had ‘working from home’ policies in place for many years, for some – and likely the majority – work from home culture is only now being introduced as a necessary response to the outbreak of Covid-19.
There are challenges to team building, especially if your team works remotely – and we’ve explored this below. So whether you’re new to working from home, or a pro looking for some inspiration to keep your team motivated, this article will give you some great ideas to keep your employees engaged, communicating effectively and (most importantly) happy.
Remote group exercise
One of the biggest challenges people report when working from home is feeling isolated. Some people thrive on this, however for others it can be a gateway to depression and loneliness.
Medical research shows time and time again that one of the best things someone can do to combat depression is to exercise. This is undisputed, and yet exercising alone doesn’t necessarily help combat loneliness.
A really effective solution is to bring your employees onto a team activity app such as Racefully. Racefully enables people to engage in social, supportive physical activity, and supports team building within organizations in both a relaxed and beneficial way. Your employees can exercise together virtually in completely different locations using the app, as well as encourage each other through the app’s tribes feature, and enjoy achieving shared fitness goals, too.
Encourage video calls
It’s all too easy when you’re working from home to hide away from video calls, and select the voice-only options. However, we’d highly recommend encouraging your employees to keep their video turned on during meetings and conversations.
Being a part of a video call is much more engaging than being part of a voice call, and your employees will be able to form much stronger bonds, and communicate much more effectively if they can see each other’s reactions and expressions. It may seem like a small change, but it’s something that can really impact how a team bonds together.
Use team-based messaging to encourage regular communication
There are many options for team-based messaging, including platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Guild. These online mobile / desktop apps enable instant chatting, as well as group threads and video calls. We’re pretty sure most tech companies already use some sort of team-based messaging software, but on the off-chance there are people reading who don’t use it, you should definitely check them out.
These apps are great for cultivating the online version of an office environment. You can create different chat channels for different teams, have private discussions with specific individuals and still enjoy more informal discussions and “off-topic” content to help keep people engaged and motivated.
Just like in an office where people may pop by your desk to ask a question, or say hello, team-based-messaging offers this packaged into a useful app format. It’s a great way to keep your team connected throughout the day, and encourage casual conversation, as well as being an effective tool for management too.
Have a themed Friday
Just because your team works from home, doesn’t mean you can’t inject a bit of fun into Friday (or any day for that matter). This idea is really dependent on your company culture, but also on your creativity and imagination.
A company we know of whose employees all work from home, has a “pet pics” Slack session on a Friday morning. During this time, they all share photos of their pets on the communal chat channel, and it always brings up lively conversations and team building.
It’s something to look forward to, it ends the week on a positive note and it’s a really positive way for people to bond about something other than work. The idea here is to maintain engagement and build a positive team experience with something fun and unusual, that gets people talking and helps to build stronger relationships.
Other fun ideas could be:
- Team video lunches – there’s nothing to stop you getting together (remotely) over lunch and just enjoying each other’s company
- Sharing recipes for tonight’s dinner!
- Where in the world (get employees to share the view from their current location)
- Photo Friday – where each team member shares a favourite snap or two
- Or even a most stylish / wackiest sock competition!
Start a virtual book (or podcast!) club
Book clubs have been around for centuries, and while traditionally people have met in person to discuss the books, it’s also possible to run a book club remotely for WFH employees.
Again, this is about bonding your team through shared interests and discussions, and books or podcasts always prove to be a powerful talking point (whether the reader enjoyed it, or not). Here are our top tips for ensuring the club is a success:
- We’d recommend setting a new book or podcast every 3-4 weeks, to ensure people of with different interests, and schedules, have a chance to participate and get through the content.
- Have a ‘leader’ who can manage the discussion, ensuring they ask interesting questions and lead the group.
- Discussions can happen over email, Slack, Google Hangouts, it’s really up to you. But ensure the time and date is always agreed ahead of time, so people can keep it free.
- Before choosing your first book or podcast, get a good idea of what people want to read or listen to. That way you’ll be able to choose something people feel excited to discuss later on.
We hope this has given you some ideas about team building, even when your employees work remotely or work from home! Having a connected workforce is beneficial in so many ways, and these small changes can really help the team feel more connected.