4 ways to bring your remote teams closer together
When I was growing up, my parents got dressed up and went downtown to go to work. Can you believe that? Every morning, five days a week, they put on nice clothes and went downtown to their office and were there all day until the work day was done. Even if it was cold and rainy outside, they still did it! Your parents probably did the same.
Now it’s 2022 and things have changed. Talk to anyone trying to hire talent these days and the first question the prospective employee wants to know is can they be fully remote. And it’s hard to blame them. If you once worked in-person five days a week, and then started working remotely, you realize how much easier it is to not have to go anywhere.
(Employees at Shift Digital in Birmingham, Michigan enjoying a Knuckleball Comedy fun team building event. 75 employees from all over the country gathered in Michigan to build better communication skills and trust with the teammates they talk to frequently, but never meet in person.)
Of course, even before 2020, we still all knew how much easier it was not to go somewhere. I enjoy hanging out with my friends and doing activities like playing tennis and going to eat or to a bar. But we all know the amazing feeling you get when your plans are canceled. It’s not that you didn’t want to have dinner with your friend and catch up, but when they cancel on you, now you get to stay home! It’s a bizarre feeling that we all have from time to time - we made plans with a friend because we wanted to, but then are so excited when they cancel and can just sit at home and do nothing.
Everyone loves not having to go somewhere. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that when people began staying home to work, they were like, “hey this is kind of awesome.”
But even if your team is now all remote, it’s still important they are able to build comradery with the people they work with every day. It’s nice not to go anywhere, but there are downsides too.
Working from home by yourself is lonely. In order to keep your employees happy, making sure your employees aren’t overwhelmed with a feeling of loneliness is part of the job. Giving them opportunities to be social with their coworkers can raise their spirits.
Not only is loneliness an issue, but communication is an issue as well. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, 69% of managers say they’re uncomfortable communicating with their employees. As many remote workers will tell you, some people never turn on their videos during a zoom meeting. It’s easy to forget that you’re working with real people who have real emotions.
Getting to know your teammates, and managers knowing their team members is a crucial component to building a culture of open communication. You want workers to feel comfortable throwing out an idea knowing the people in the zoom room are supportive. It’s hard to feel comfortable and supported if you really feel like you don’t know and trust the people you are working with every day.
Remote work is great, but employees still need to engage with each other in a social way, building trust and better communication channels.
So below are five ways you can bring your teams closer together, building comradery and better communication along the way.
1. Monthly Virtual events.
At this point everyone has done them. Nothing is quite the same virtually as it is in-person. But companies are getting better and better at running fun virtual events and your employees can genuinely enjoy them. If you think you’ve done them all, you probably haven’t. One way to make sure it’s an overall positive experience for your team is to NOT make them work after 5pm for the hour-long event they did with you at 12pm. If the event is from 12pm-1pm, don’t tell them to make up the work they missed after 5pm. Then of course they’ll have a bad attitude about the event. Whether it’s the morning, midday or in the afternoon, make it known that this is a fun event hosted by the company. Just because they’re “missing” work to be at the virtual event doesn’t mean they have to stay late. Make it a purely fun event. Because remember, ultimately, you organized it to bring your team closer together which will have positive effects on your business in the short and long term. Need a fun idea for a virtual event for your team? There are lots to choose from. We at Knuckleball Comedy have run over 150 virtual team building events over the last two years. We have received tons of amazing feedback. Watch a video and learn more HERE.
2. Create shared interest groups
Within your company you likely have groups of people who have some shared interests. Here’s an idea to push those people towards some fun social interaction. Send a short survey to your team. Give them four or so options of things they could be interested in. And then add another option of “other” where they can add in their own suggestion. A couple easy groups might be 1. A cooking group. People can chat about recipes, styles, tips, tricks, restaurants. 2. A book club. Once the group is created, they can pick a book, read it and discuss and chat. 3. TV/movie club. Once the group is created, they pick a movie or TV show that ideally no one has seen, and they watch it and can discuss with each other so it’s almost as if they were watching it together. 4. Fantasy football. During the right time, people can love talking about some good fantasy football. Of course those are just some simple suggestions for groups, you know your team better and create customized ones for them or take all of their suggestions. Then you can create Slack groups for each topic and allow 30 minutes every other week for the groups to meet and chat about their topic.
People bonding over shared interests.
3. Happy hours
A good happy hour is always a great way to bring people together and have some fun. Especially if you are paying for the first few drinks. If the company is based in Chicago then you can make this an in-person event. If your team is truly all over the place, then send people a bottle of wine or some beer or a gift card and drink and hang out over zoom with your cameras on. In-person is of course more fun, but people can drink and socialize virtually as well.
4. In-person team building events
Whether your team is mostly based in one city or they are from all over the country, once or twice a year they should all meet in one place, in-person for a few days of working and plenty of fun. At Knuckleball Comedy this is where we’ve seen a lot of our business over the last six months. Companies call us and say they have 100 people meeting in Detroit for a week. A lot of them have never met in-person. How can we bring them together, build communication while laughing and having a ton of fun. Well that’s basically our company tagline! If you’re interested in bringing your company together for a fun team building workshop, learn more about ours HERE. Other ideas for when you are together are ax-throwing, go karts, bowling, laser tag, arcade bar. Assuming the team will be there for a few days, you should have time to do a few fun things!
Of course there are more ways to engage your remote teams. But here is a start. Don’t forget about the importance of your remote teams feeling comfortable with each other. It never hurts to have fun with your coworkers.