‘Work from home’ has brought opportunities and challenges in almost equal measure.
For employees working remotely, these challenges come from distractions (how many loads of washing can you get through in a working day?), loneliness, and cabin fever.
However, team leaders have a different challenge: socialising with their teams remotely.
According to UK statistics, 60% of workers feel less connected to their teams when working from home. With face-to-face interactions replaced by video conferencing — and ‘watercooler’ chat replaced with, well, nothing — how can leaders nurture the relationships that thrive in an office environment?
Fun remote team building activities are so important, but they are tricky to get right in a work-from-home context.
What is remote team building?
You spend eight hours a day around your colleagues in the office, which means building relationships can happen organically. You know their quirks, what they have for lunch every day, their coffee order, dog’s name, favourite artists on Spotify – everything!
Close relationships allow teams to turn to whoever they feel most comfortable with when there’s a problem or if they need help with something. It also allows for effortless collaboration to produce more exciting results.
But when a team is remote, it’s more complicated than that. That’s where remote team building and socials come in because forming relationships and encouraging your team to maintain them needs constant work.
The last thing you want is for someone in your team to feel unsupported or disconnected from everyone else. In essence, remote team building fosters connections between remote employees to mimic that of physical teams.
Why is socialisation important for remote team building?
Successful teams don’t happen by chance — they’re curated and developed by team leaders and managers. A motivated, happy team can make all the difference in commercial success.
So what are the critical ingredients for a team that works well together? According to Harvard Business Review, high-performing team members are 25% more likely to discuss non-work-related matters with their colleagues. They are also much more likely to have met a colleague outside of work for a drink.
This just goes to show how important socialising is for successful team building.
Because impromptu pints and “how was your weekend?” conversations are less likely to happen organically during remote working than in a traditional office setting, opportunities need to be created for such connections to be forged and maintained.
With good team-building comes high employee engagement and productivity. Collaboration and togetherness do wonders for employee mental health and their enjoyment of work and for the company in terms of innovation and employee retention.
Six remote team building activities that are fun and sociable
The technology of the 21st century now means we can follow breaking news events on the other side of the world in real-time and track, picture for picture, everything a friend eats on their holiday in the Med. Good or bad, our digital screens enable us to ‘be’ where other people are, no matter where in the world that is — and that’s something team leaders can use to their advantage when it comes to remote team socials.
Many great team-building activities range from spontaneous and simple to well-structured socials. Keep reading for a list of fun remote team building activities that help keep employees feeling connected and engaged.
1. Begin ‘normal’ meetings with a good news segment
Remote working can be lonely, and good news can brighten anyone’s day. If you have a weekly meeting or morning briefing, why not start with a non-work ‘good news’ conversation? It allows employees to share something that has made them happy.
They might’ve got a new car, won a sweepstake, or something as simple as cooking up a really delicious dinner. Whatever the “good news” is, sharing it is a great way to start up conversations and means teams can get to know one another a little better.
And when your company uses a platform like Mo, you can incorporate this non-work-related chatter into its own channel, allowing team members to share their weekly good news and celebrate each other’s wins.
2. Celebrate achievements and encourage recognition
Speaking of celebrations, one of the best ways for team members to feel valued is by recognising their achievements both publicly and privately. In traditional workplaces, this happens in meetings, as shoutouts in the office, or on notice boards. Remote working makes this process a little more challenging but no less important!
If you have an online platform where celebrations and recognition can take place, it’s easy to keep recognition a part of your working day or week. The digital possibilities mean anyone can get involved in celebrating success, from peers to leaders.
Try having a Friday afternoon shoutout for colleagues to praise or say “thank you” to people who’ve made their working life easier that week. And managers should be in the habit of celebrating outstanding achievements or workers who’ve gone the extra mile.
Birthday? Work anniversary? Engagement? New baby on the way? These are all events worth marking in your remote team as well.
3. Friendly competition
Different colleagues will be motivated by different things, and some will relish the challenge of competing with others and be encouraged to out-perform! Friendly competition can be a fantastic way to bring your team together.
Bake offs, Fantasy Football leagues, photo caption competitions, riddles — the type of competition you select will depend on who you have in the team and what will capture their imagination. A fitness challenge, like counting steps, will also boost workers’ wellbeing and get them outside after office hours, so it’s a win-win.
A great idea we had here to help create friendly competition is to introduce Friday afternoon games. Around 4 pm or 4:30 pm, before everyone is due to finish for the weekend, why not get everyone to stop working and jump on a call to play silly games like Drawasaurus or GeoGuessr? It’s a great way to get to know your colleagues more as individuals, break the ice, and laugh at those who aren’t the most skilled drawers!
At Mo, we always find ways to use our software for remote team building activities. Back in April, we hosted a virtual easter egg decorating contest via Zoom which was great fun and a time for us all to get creative (and be a little silly too). Once that was over, we were notified that there was a Call for Moments on Mo to see our designs and if we posted our egg, we would be in with the chance of winning a prize. Here are just a few of the designs!
4. Encourage your team to create a ‘My User Manual’
Yes, you read that right – encourage your team to make a ‘My User Manual’. When working remotely, we all have our preferences in how we like to work (as you would in the office), so why not encourage your team to take the opportunity to put their preferred work style into a presentation or document.
These manuals could include things like whether the person prefers chat or email, early or afternoon meetings, working hours, whether you like impromptu meetings or having a bit more structure in your day. The CEO at Culture AMP has a great video on this!
With Mo, we are a remote-first company, and on our platform, we are encouraged to share our work preferences through our Mo profiles. Here is an example of what my profile preferences look like:
5. Create room for daily snapshots
Fun remote team building activities can be as simple as you need. If you feel that workers are too busy to commit to a team-building social, why not ask them to share one non-work-related photo to your instant messaging platform each day — it could be a photo of a pet, great food, a nice flower, or a funny meme.
Other employees can then comment on the photos and start non-work conversations to mimic what would happen in a traditional working environment. With regular insights into others’ lives and what makes them tick, remote teams can get to know one another on a deeper level.
An activity like this mustn’t become onerous or something that team members feel is a work demand, but it can be a great point of discussion as long as photos are uploaded regularly.
6. Host virtual lunches
One of the great things about working from home is doing things you wouldn’t usually get to do on your lunch break: walking your dog, making a fresh salad, or going for a quick drive. And yet not being able to share this ‘down time’ with your colleagues can exacerbate isolation.
The solution? Organise one lunchtime each month where team members can sit and eat together virtually. Team leaders can surprise their employees with a food voucher delivery for the virtual lunch break to make it special.
It’s vital to ensure workers have screen breaks though, so it might be worth just getting together virtually for a short portion of the lunch break, protecting your worker’s time to rest their eyes and brains!
Fun remote team building activities with Mo
Many of these fun remote team building activities can be made possible with a platform like Mo. Celebrating being a team and cultivating the team behaviours that make a difference is essential to success.
Mo is an employee engagement platform that can help leaders improve collaboration and morale, reduce employee churn and drive change.
Our platform creates a vibrant culture by developing team habits, encouraging people to celebrate success, recognise results and appreciate colleagues.
Your complete toolkit for connecting and motivating teams in the new world of work. Book a demo with our team today!