Individuals in an organization must sometimes work in teams with people who are either outside their own departments or not in the same physical location. This dynamic can create silos or perceived barriers to communication and teamwork. In addition to having the necessary communication and collaboration skills, remote and cross-departmental teams will work together better if they feel a stronger connection and participate in a culture of relationship.
Staff bonding activities allow employees to connect outside of the normal routine—the relationships built during these activities, as well as the skills, carry over into the workplace. Employees and managers can learn more about each other’s strengths—problem-solving, communication, leadership—and use that to their advantage on the job. Staff bonding also helps improve accountability, trust, and goal alignment in cross-functional and remote teams.
6 Staff Bonding Ideas to Unite Remote Teams
There are all sorts of creative approaches you can try to create a stronger connection among the teams in your organization. Consider these six staff bonding activities as ideas to get you started:
1. Visualize Your Locations
Remote teams must contend with not only physical distance, but also time zones. Help the team better relate to each other by creating a map that includes each individual’s location and sharing it at the beginning of a meeting. Ask each team member to participate by saying how long they have been at that location or by taking a picture of what they see out the window. Making these interpersonal connections early in the meeting can bring a human element to the voices on the phone.
2. Shared Journal
This works for both teams that share an office and those that work remotely. If you share a space, put a blank book and creative supplies in a common area and encourage employees to contribute to it over time. They can write quotes they heard in a meeting, share office insights, or reminisce on a recent event. The journal allows employees to learn more about each other and develop a culture of relationship. If your office is virtual, do the same thing but digitally by creating a “journal” in whatever team communication software you already use.
3. Virtual Pecha Kucha
Kick off each team meeting with each person presenting six slides that stay on the screen for 20 seconds each. They have limited time to talk about what’s on the screen so only the most important information gets conveyed. You can provide structure by picking a different pecha kucha topic each time—product ideas, pets and kids, favorite vacation, and other information.
4. Team Trivia
Create a multiple choice trivia game with questions about company products and services, how long individuals have been at the company, organizational statistics, and more. This competitive and fun (not to mention, informative) game is great for teams who are client-facing or need product and company knowledge to be successful in their roles. Not only does it build relationships and culture, but it also builds knowledge.
5. Lunch and Learn
Teams that work remotely often miss out on the more casual conversations that happen in an office environment and sometimes shape much larger decisions. In addition to less exposure to the company culture, these individuals don’t get the benefits of more informal learning opportunities. Host intentional lunch-and-learns (either in person, remotely, or a combination of both) in which team members share knowledge with the rest of the group. It could be training on a specific software function, reporting back from a conference, or a explaining new process.
6. Business Book Club
Find books that speak to the company mission or convey valuable business insights that will benefit the team. Schedule periodic check-ins to discuss sections of the book as you read along together. You can make this even more accessible by using a tool like Blinkist to deliver the content in bite-sized chunks.
When employees view others as not just coworkers, but other individuals with their own sets of strengths, weaknesses, and passions, they are able to better work together. Giving staff the space to make personal connections and interact outside of their daily challenges using these staff bonding ideas or others makes them more aware of one another and inspires better collaboration and teamwork. While it may seem that there’s not enough time to run these kinds of activities, it will pay off when the time comes to work together on a demanding project as a well-acquainted team.