As the future of work has evolved from being physical to remote, leadership too has evolved to being more empathetic and vulnerable. The pandemic has proven that being empathetic and emotionally available does not necessarily compromise the standards of leadership. It has rather proven that emotionally intelligent leadership is needed to push teams through crisis and lead towards success.
Leaders who do not engage with team members on a personal level or encourage building personal relationships are likely to cause stress, discontent, and loneliness in remote workers. As the pandemic has progressed, leaders started looking for virtual team engagement activities to engage with team members personally and maintain a strong level of connect. Without these personal interactions, sharing the organization’s vision and mission in a remote sphere is quite challenging. Team building activities help in leading teams that are more productive, engaged, and motivated.
Here are 5 ways in which they help in building stronger teams:
Build team camaraderie
As remote team members do not meet in person or have personal interactions, they are less likely to share strong bonds. Therefore, the camaraderie office teams share is not possible in the initial stages in remote work. Team building activities are one way to establish the connect between team members and build team camaraderie. Organizing virtual team building activities regularly helps team members understand each other and start building positive relationships. When they build camaraderie, they are more likely to co-operate, collaborate, and have the best interests of the team at heart.
Improve team communication
Remote teams often experience communication barriers owing to feelings of disconnect, loneliness, and inaccessibility to interact face-to-face. As a result, remote teams are more prone to conflict, disagreements, and misunderstandings. Team conflicts result in a competitive work environment dominated by personal interests rather than the organization’s interests.
Team building activities are highly effective in improving team communication and minimizing conflicts. As team members start to engage beyond professional conversations, they tend to exchange ideas and opinions freely and positively. This also develops their listening skills and makes them active listeners. Leaders can also come forward during these activities to share their observations and feedback in a constructive manner.
Build trust and empathy
Post pandemic surveys have found that remote managers and leaders are facing trust issues. Employees also reported feeling isolated and disconnected with their employer. The humanitarian crisis with the pandemic has also aggravated these concerns. Therefore, remote workers need the support of their employers and leaders to trust and feel empathetic towards each other without feeling vulnerable. Organizing virtual team building activities regularly is one way of extending this support.
As remote team members interact personally through these activities and get a glimpse of each other’s lives, it becomes easier to trust each other. Moreover, as they feel connected and build relationships, they start feeling empathetic towards each other. Ideal team building activities to build trust and empathy are virtual icebreakers, virtual family meets, virtual adventures etc. Escape rooms are always popular, and there are sites like Escapely.com where you’ll find virtual activities that help connect your team and get them working together toward a common goal.
At a time of high uncertainty and distress, it is only natural for humans to feel demotivated. And it was worse in remote work as we did not have the opportunity to meet over coffee and cheer our co-workers. Surveys have also indicated that remote workers feel that they may not be appreciated or rewarded as much as their colleagues who work from offices. Virtual team building activities can act as a reassurance and motivation to remote workers while keeping them engaged with their employers.
These activities are ideal for the leadership team to interact and share their strategic visions in a fun yet motivating manner. Employers can also utilize these activities to recognize, reward, and appreciate employees thereby motivating them further. However, it must be cautioned that achievements must be celebrated as a team rather than individual achievements.
Prevent and resolve conflict
As remote teams no longer have the physical proximity to their leadership and their team members it is easy to misunderstand each other and get into conflicts. While physical office teams also engage in conflicts, it is easier to identify them. In remote work, conflicts often go unnoticed until a later stage, Virtual team building activities allow the leadership to intervene in a timely manner to prevent or resolve conflicts. These activities help leaders identify patterns or discomfort among team members which might escalate into conflicts or team silos. Moreover, these activities also help post conflict resolution to bond with each other and avoid straining relationships.
Unlike teams that work from offices, remote teams need constant support and nurturing to build a collaborative culture. Virtual team bonding activities are quintessential to keep them connected with each other and the leadership. These activities also help remote teams align with the organization’s vision and stay motivated.
While it is often assumed that leaders do not have to be a part of these activities, leadership participation is the hallmark of a successful team building activity. Therefore, organizing virtual team bonding activities regularly will not only boost productivity but will also enhance relationship between leadership and teams.