Virtual Team Building Activities with Actionable Examples
Last updated on July 15th, 2021
As a manager or team leader, you must be able to adopt new ways to engage your team productively and efficiently. Since the Covid-19 hit, the physical activities in the workplaces had to stop and the employees started working from home to sustain the organizational workflow of the businesses. Under these circumstances, it was a much-needed element to manage and even grow team members working apart from each other.
Constant demand and intense industry requirements played a great role in the happening of virtual team activities. When the members of a team collaborate, grow and manage work activities remotely and communicate through electronic means, then they form virtual teams.
Virtual team building activities are being appreciated and adopted these days due to their flexible, and easy to manage working structure. Whether it is a Zoom meeting, a live conference call, or an online webinar, virtual activities have grown substantially.
Importance of Virtual Teams
The purpose of building a virtual team is to manage a human to human interaction while doing remote activities. It is a necessity of time as the distant and remote work has begun to become as part of our lives, we should also normalize and at least practice suitable activities that will help, boost the productivity and communication between the team members and in some situations have a feeling of shortening the distance.
Working remotely can offer many barriers that affect the collaboration and work efficiency of companies like limited access to senior management among many other things. As the employees do not have any physical connection with their co-workers, they begin to feel invisible and their morale begins to fall. The factor that people do not have an office to work in anymore, can affect their social bonds and ultimately their mutual cooperation. These factors can affect badly to the overall productivity and sustainability of the organization.
People value their work relationships and they like the environment of constant employee engagement and the air of competition in the workplace. This gives them a push to perform above and beyond their abilities and achieve more in order to grow in their careers. Most of these benefits were being offered by physical interaction between the team members and almost 94% of the employees, according to a survey, preferred working together in a collaborative and supportive working environment. So when these physical interactions ceased to exist, the overall hierarchy of the organizational teams was in danger.
Virtual team building provided an opportunity for the employees to keep engaging and connecting through various online tools like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Skype, etc. By planning through an event planner, you can schedule many work and fun activities for your team to keep their spirits alive and their minds fresh.
How To Build A High-Level Virtual Team With Five Actionable Steps
Virtual teams may be dispersed among various geographic locations. They may join hands to work together even from different countries, so there is a high chance that they may face difficulties in the communication process. Their mutual trust and interpersonal understanding will play a vital role in the success of the projects that they are working on together.
Step # 1. Devise your communication strategy
Communication is like the oxygen for a dispersed team. Without it, there are no chances of success as a virtual team. Stakeholders and managers should not compromise on their investment in the betterment of the communication aspects. First, you have to make sure that your content and data are based on facts and figures. The next step will be the deliverance of that information to the distributed team. Make sure that everyone receives the relevant information and no one is left behind because if there remains a single gap in the virtual team-building process, it will fail the whole team. Your data should be easily understandable as it will result in the effective performance of virtual team members. In the end, make sure you appreciate and motivate employees to communicate effectively with each other.
Step # 2. Choose the best Communication tools
In routine workplaces, you can around the different offices and discuss and share your ideas. Communication is face to face with no possible interruptions. Unless you are part of a virtual team, you will not realize the significance of the communication facilities in conventional offices. Hence to overcome any possible barriers to effective communication in a virtual team, one must ensure that we use the best video call tools like Zoom, Google hangouts and Google Mmeet, Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc. The document, and project management, relationship-enhancing softwares, and schedule setting tools like Google Calendar can also prove to be very helpful in making the connection between remote team members more workable and durable.
Step # 3. Follow up your goals and targets
If you calculate the rate of your success in a particular project, you will end up producing less value. The same goes for virtual teams. If the members are working apart on the same project, there are chances that someone may achieve their relevant goals a bit or even fail to achieve them. But, that should not affect the overall productivity of the team. As a manager, you should focus on the targets of your projects and lead your team to the success by implementing innovative practices. You can arrange weekly special meetings to measure the productivity of each member and can reward the high achievers, too. This will give a required boost to the ambitions of the team members and they will try their best to achieve the business goals regardless of their virtual setting.
Step # 4. Appreciate your employees
If you are running a team of remote employees and you don’t motivate them and appreciate their efforts, they will likely fall victim to low confidence and nervousness. They will feel scared in taking the right decisions on their own and they will not contribute effectively to achieve the goals of the organization. Hence a time to time dose of good words and appreciation can do wonders in the personal and professional life of virtual team members. As in the physical world, this is part of employee engagement and team engagement.
Step # 5. Hire a better leader or be the one
Leaders motivate their teams in the most desperate times of their work lives. They influence their decision-making power and enhance their worth by giving them the right o perform certain actions on their own. They trust their teams and in return, teams also admire their leaders. They try to be there whenever a problem arises and provide practical solutions in the easiest ways. With constant struggle and structured management, a leader can turn a business into a failure or achievement. It’s all up to the decisions of the leaders.
Types of Virtual Teams
After analyzing the cost and management benefits of virtual team building, more and more businesses are following this trend to increase their company’s revenues with minimum input cost.
Depending upon the goals, time period, distribution, and role of each member, virtual teams can be classified into the following categories:
Divided by demographics but united by the same goals, networked teams are a mixture of different people from versatile domains but working on the same projects. They can include people from project management, branding, product development, and research domains but all of them will collaborate to achieve the shared targets of their organization.
Virtual teams that are formed within the same organization working on additional goals other than primary goals are called parallel teams. They choose to achieve their objectives parallel to other teams, hence the name parallel teams. Their main purpose is to review and give recommendations to other teams. They are made for a short period of time but their effectiveness is very high. They are usually formed in multinational corporations to enhance the working of their several virtual teams at different locations.
These teams are usually in business that needs customer support 24/7. They are spread all over the globe to match the different time zones of global demographics. Each individual works independently but when one person leaves, the other one takes over and the cycle keeps going. There is no resistance in the working structure because mostly everyone is working in a different time zone and the chances of failure of this global system are minimized by the flexible working structure of these teams.
Comprising of mostly senior management and decision-makers of the business, management teams play an important role in the development of upper-level corporate branding strategies and marketing ideas. Usually, they exist in those companies that occupy offices in more than one country.
The ninja warriors of any organization that pop up whenever a sudden and unexpected problem arises are known as action teams. Like networked teams. They also consist of members from various domains to solve any possible issue at the time of happening. But as soon the case is resolved, these teams are dispersed and their existence vanishes from the sight for a while until the next issue arises again.
Practical Examples of Virtual Team Building Activities
Maintaining a team that is physically away from each other, is a bit tough task considering the communication process and efficiency of the jobs done by them. But that doesn’t stop the high achieving companies to maintain their excellence and status even during certain circumstances. Finding the ways to emerge from every pandemic and innovating their products and services by every possible means, is the top priority of every great brand.
Regarding the current scenario of a global epidemic, virtual teams are offering a great deal of value regardless of the challenges that businesses are facing. Many companies have been been using this work structure for years and some of them have become a brand that everyone knows in their market.
SAP, the inter-enterprise software giant, has been using virtual team practices for years and it is the main reason for their success. Having offices in almost all of the prominent locations in major continents, SAP has created an environment of teams that collaborate through conference calls and Zoom virtual meetings. Employing more than 30,000 masses, they manage different teams with versatile expertise virtually and remote employee engagement activities. This reduces the cost of the management and also imparts a certain flexibility factor to the organizational workflow. They have now initiated the training program for the new and young energetic workers to make them a part of their ever-growing virtual network installing the core values of remote team building, and distant project management in them.
Another big name in the world of technology, IBM, has also adopted a certain feature of virtual team building activities. IBM believes in transferring all the working rights to its employees, allowing them to work in their time zone according to their preferred schedules. They believe in the results, not the formal office schedule. This has given a huge boost to the productivity of IBM in terms of its manufacturing and R&D facilities. Introducing modern work practices and virtual engagement activities, IBM has flourished at an admirable rate in the highly competitive market.
General Electric has also broken the chains of conventional work practices by introducing a huge employees number in the virtual work marketplace. Hosting almost 90,000 jobholders, GE believes in remote working practices and also trains its staff and management according to it.
With interactive e-learning sessions, General Electric teaches its employees how to achieve common organizational goals using quizzes, polls, rooms, whiteboards, and certain role-playing games, as part of the work from home engagement activities. After teaching the virtual work practices effectively, any organization can achieve its targets in the modern digital age.
Although these large companies achieved this high-level system of virtual work and team building after years of struggle, smaller companies can also train their employees gradually to adapt to the modern work requirements. It is definitely doable and every business should start to focus on investing in the latest technologies. This will be beneficial not only in the present age but also in the long run.
Different kind of Virtual Activities
How to engage remote employees? While working remotely, managers and team members can plan different kind of virtual activities. Some may be more funny than others. In some situations, these activities are purely planned to entertain the employees and engage them. Online games for employee engagement and fun virtual activities can help toward engaging employees in many effective ways. Here is a short list of activities that you can consider for your remote team.
- Virtual escape rooms: typically conducted via Zoom, Team, Skype and other platforms. During these activities, teams solve riddles and complete puzzles
- Virtual Coffee Breaks
- Virtual After Party
- Virtual Presentation choosing any general topic and presenting it to team members (see presentation PowerPoint topic ideas here)
- Home Tours and Virtual Tours
- Show and Tell activities
- One-on-One Video Calls
- Play Multiplayer Games online (online Chess, Jigsaw Planet puzzles, Minecraft, Crossy Road, etc.)
- Recognize employees for a job well done
All these are great employee engagement ideas to consider, useful for HR professionals who are looking to boost employee engagement or small teams and startup with the same objectives, while at the same time embracing a Work-from-Home (WFH) lifestyle. This list of activities can help to generate virtual engagement across your team.
Virtual teams can offer maximum output with minimum resources available if trained and guided properly. Every small and large business is now focusing on the latest work patterns and has started to adopt new procedures and techniques to maximize its potential in this digital era.
Teams that collaborate virtually need to be more target-focused and productive in order to generate revenue for their businesses. Without proper training and motivation, this can become a difficult task. Hence training is part of the virtual team building too.
According to the needs and demands of your business, you can choose a certain virtual team building structure and transform your company entirely.