There is a huge difference whether humans work together because they were defined as a team or whether everyone’s work is actually intertwined and supporting other colleagues to achieve a joined outcome. Remote teams or those working temporarily in home office face the danger to lose connections and drift apart rather than grow together. If you don’t want your team to work alongside each other, not bothering to look left and right to create any connection between each other, then it’s time for proper team building activities.
Strong relationships are based on personal connection
Strong working relationships lead to successful projects, by the team having the back of each other when needed. But when the (remote) team never had the chance to develop such relationships because they were sat in front of their own laptop and focused on their tasks only right from the beginning, then there is a danger that innovation may be scarce in those teams. The staff here is WORKING together by definition, but not working TOGETHER because they lack the bond between each other.
Usually, strong relationships are built in the office, but when this option is not given, or part of the team is working remotely, face-to-face team building activities and social events can facilitate the opportunity to learn and grow together. While you will be able to practice and achieve different results when a team works physically together, face-to-face can also be achieved during competitive online activities.
The important thing that you want to achieve with team building activities in this case is to ensure that everyone in the team views their colleagues as equal. Removing hierarchies and other professional barriers is the best way to get to know the person behind which, as a result, is the start of a strong and lasting bond.
Teamwork under pressure improves communication
A great way to have team members open up and literally forget about any restraints are time-bound activities where the team works against the clock. Team building sessions which include escape room games eliminate all hierarchies that may exist in the workplace the minute the game starts. Everyone’s focus becomes immediately to escape in time, and everyone’s help is needed, no time for formalities.
With team building games such as murder mystery or trivia, the randomly selected team cannot win if only one or a few are working on solving the tasks. The limitation of time puts a pressure on the team to assign roles to everyone, work parallel, and all contribute to moving on with the riddles or tasks.
We all have experienced this already at our own job: when there is no deadline, we work along, are sure we can handle it all by ourselves, and deliver a product that fulfills what has been asked. But when there is a clear date ahead of us and time becomes scarce, suddenly a new flow appears in the team. You work hand in hand with your colleagues and they love to help out, feeling needed and valued, all working toward this one big goal. Everyone wants to give it their best for the team, so projects are stepped up a level and exceeding expectations. And afterwards, high-fiving each other feels so good!
Team building techniques are designed to recreate exactly this. They help employees build highly-effective working relationships with co-workers who they usually barely meet, in the course of an afternoon or evening. By physically achieving a goal together or completing a challenge, the team forms a long-lasting bond – even with virtual face-to-face contact.
Prolong the successful team building experience
This bond becomes even more memorable if you capture vivid images throughout the process. Use the digital photos as screensavers on work computers, share them in your intranet, or print them for everyone to decorate their (home) office. Every time they look at them, they re-live the memory of having achieved something together, and stay motivated.
Gamification helps bringing teams together emotionally, and works both live and online. Whether they solve riddles and tasks virtually or in the same room, these boundaries are forgotten fast, when being hooked by the game story. And virtual team building activities include mental tasks as well as physical challenges, having the team move around their own place to build or solve any puzzle together.
Remote team building idea: remote chain reaction
If you like, try to create a remote chain reaction at your next after-work social or to energize the team throughout a long conference call. Every member of the call is responsible for one impulse. In the typical conference call with all videos aligned, the individual impulses shall look like a smooth chain reaction. Employee 1 starts by throwing a paper ball, which is caught by employee 2 in a bucket, which lets water drip in a cup of employee 3, etc. Although not physically present, the reaction moves through the videos as if happening in the same room, moving from left to right, up and down or diagonally. Have each team record their chain reaction and present it to the group. Who’s chain proved real teamwork?
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