Working from home-office? A great part of your team is working from home-office? Here is how to weld a virtual team together.
Team spirit and mutual understanding in the team are key. No problem when the team works in the same office at the same place. But how does this work with a team spread out all over the world, when teammates can’t simply meet around a coffee and talk. Can’t they?
This is an issue everybody who manages a global team knows. How can I foster the solidarity, the communication and the mutual understanding, when all teammates are sitting in their offices around the globe and a huge travel orgy is not an option?
The communication between two people in the same room is much easier. 55% of the communication consist of facial expression and body language. This is not the same when I talk to a 5 cm head on a screen. That’s why it is so important that teammates not only can work together on businesslike matters but also can get to know each other a bit closer on a personal level. But how to do this?
- I could hop on a plane, my team does the same, and we meet somewhere where it’s nice, warm and sunny, and do a teambuilding. The problem with this is, it’s costly and time-consuming. And sometimes it’s just not possible (just think of the Corona virus pandemic).
- I use information technology like the phone, Skype or Zoom. This is much more cost-saving. But the big question is, how can I get the team to build a real relationship?
It goes without saying that option 2 never substitutes a real meeting and spending time together in the 3D world. But I will give you some tricks how you can weld your team together, without travelling and without spending a lot of money.
Idea 1: How does it look like out of your window?
This first one is really simple. During the next video conference one after another you take your webcams and show your teammates a look out of your window. And the others can guess where everybody is.
Everybody in the team can play tourist for 5 minutes and can have a look on London, Paris, Munich or Drumnadrochit. Here is a view from my window:
So, where could I be?
If the video doesn’t work for you for some reason and you are limited to chat, then everybody can still share a photo from their view out of their window.
Idea 2: Show me your desk!
An advantage of video conferencing is that all in your office is within reach. I’m sure you have decorated your office according to your personal taste. Or are you the purist guy who subordinates everything to efficiency at work?
To learn more about your team members ask them to show one personal item from their desks and to tell the story behind that special item. Why is it so special to them, what does it mean to them, where did they find it,…
My personal item is this:
I bought this porcelain Buddha some years ago in Singapore. In Chinatown. He is meant to provide wealth when his belly is rubbed regularly. It was a time of frequent business trips to Asia. A very exciting but also stressful time and today this Buddha reminds me how nice it is to work from home.
Of course you also can do this little game by chat and photo.
Idea 3: One truth one lie
Another very simple one: Every team member thinks about 2 stories, one is true, one is not. Then, each one narrates their stories and the others have to guess which one is true and which is a lie.
It gets even more interesting if you could add a little local touch to your stories. If for example you live in the mountains, then tell a story which plays in the mountains. You will be surprised how many stories one can tell before running out of ideas.
Idea 4: Have a virtual coffee or lunch together
What?! You want me to have a virtual coffee with my virtual colleagues?
It is scientifically proven that eating or drinking something together creates and enforces connection. But how would we do that when we are miles away from each other?
Very easy! Did it already happen to you to eat something or to drink a coffee while sitting at your desk, because you didn’t have the time to go to the restaurant or the cafeteria? Now, you’ll do exactly the same, only that this time you do it on purpose with your team. You agree on a time for your „enjoyment meeting“ and everybody gets something to drink or eat. You connect on your usual video conferencing tool…
And then you just eat and drink together and do what people do during a coffee break or lunch… You talk. Ask each other what they are having and why they like it so much. You’ll not only get to know each other, you’ll also learn something about their eating habits. And the biggest advantage, you don’t need to agree on a restaurant, everybody can have what they like.
If your team agrees, you could even do this in a more private atmosphere, on the sofa in the living room having a drink together via Skype or Zoom and talk, chat, laugh… This way, the team really creates connection.
But make sure the chatting does not drift into work or business related topics. The goal is to get to know each other on a personal level.
By the way, this also works fine for private life. When I’m travelling for business, my wife and I try to have dinner together as much as we can. Via WhatsApp, Skype or Zoom. Tablet on the dining table where the other would normally sit. Ok, the other would be a little bit smaller than usual but at least we see each other and have time to talk. This is much more than just a phone call to exchange the news of the day.
Idea 5: Your CV in 60 seconds
We are getting narrative again. And this one will also train you to quickly come to the point. Everybody, one after another, tell their CV in only 1 minute. As you only have 60 seconds you must focus on the absolute highlights. So this may require a bit upfront preparation to pick the highlights of your life you want to share with your team.
I personally would also add some private highlights like a wedding or the birth of a child instead of just rattle through the professional positions. But this depends on everybody’s taste and how you and your team would like to define the word ‚CV‘.
With this narrative game, your team will learn who the others are. And they will also learn to concentrate on the most important and to quickly come to the point. 1 minute is quickly over. This can safe you much time in future team meetings.
Make sure – ALWAYS – that ALL participants in your teambuilding participate ON-LINE. This also applies to the team members who are physically present at the same company site. Everybody get to their desk and connect. Never more than 1 person behind 1 screen! This is very important!
To sum this article up, here are my top 5 teambuilding ideas in short:
1: How does it look like out of your window?
2: Show me your desk!
3: One truth one lie
4: Have a virtual coffee or lunch together
5: Your CV in 60 seconds
Now, schedule a time for your first virtual teambuilding and try one of the above. Give me your feedback! I would love to know how much fun it was.
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Now, go below to the comments, ask your questions or let’s start a discussion! I will be glad to help and as you already know I answer all questions.