Before the pandemic, there was already a lot of discussion on the implications of technology for the future of work. But that future was being shaped gradually by employees, leaders, teams, and organizations. However, COVID-19 has drastically increased the velocity of the shift to remote work and in doing so, changed the way we perform our roles. For instance, virtual meetings are now commonplace with the adoption of digital platforms to facilitate them.
Given the nature of remote work, impromptu chats at the water cooler or spontaneous lunches are no longer possible. This can leave employees and leaders feeling disconnected from each other as well as the organization. If the events of 2020 have your teams feeling like a disconnected collection of colleagues, rather than a cohesive unit working in concert, then it’s time to consider adding virtual team-building activities to your team, department, or all-company meeting.
Where to Start When Planning Virtual Team-Building Activities
Effective team-building encompasses a wide range of organizational concepts. At its heart, though, team-building is about strengthening teams to create a more engaged, effective, and high-performing workforce. To reap the benefits of virtual team-building we recommend you start your planning with these 3 things in mind.
Establish Goals to Drive Team-Building Outcomes
It’s not enough to simply engage in a virtual team-building activity, in an effort to strengthen collaboration and camaraderie in teams. To get the most out of your virtual team-building activities, you need to be specific with your goals. Here are a few questions to consider as you establish goals for your virtual team-building activities:
- What do you hope to accomplish after a team-building activity?
- How are your virtual team-building goals aligned with established business goals?
- What’s the root need you’re using virtual team-building to address?
Think about what you want to happen after your virtual team-building activities. What are the expected outcomes? By working backward from establishing expected outcomes to designing the virtual team-building activities, you will always have the vision to return to as you set the agenda for your virtual team-building session. Plus, establishing clear goals and expected outcomes will make getting buy-in for virtual team-building easier. By establishing the expected ROI and aligning your virtual team-building activities with overall business goals, you’re speaking the language of your company’s executive leadership.
Determine What Type of Virtual Team-Building Activities Match Your Goals
When you start with establishing the goals and outcomes of your virtual team-building activities, this lays the foundation to find the right solution that will benefit your team the most. Many organizations are seeking to get more out of their virtual team-building activities than just a good time and so are turning to experiential learning.
Experiential learning is an engaging, immersive virtual activity that pulls participants out of the daily grind by utilizing a captivating theme such as a space mission or solving a museum heist. Participants engaged in the team-building activity are having fun working together to overcome a challenge that they are often not even aware that they are learning valuable new team skills in the process. This is because the use of a well-crafted metaphor and theme allows participants to test new team skills and behaviors in a safe setting outside of typical workplace scenarios.
Thanks to the accelerated timeline of the experience participants are able to quickly see the results of their actions, make corrections, and learn from their mistakes and successes. In the end, a facilitated debrief links the lessons learned in the experience to situations in the workplace. Luckily, experiential learning activities are often designed to address more than one type of team dysfunction, so you can achieve multiple team-building goals within a single session.
Finding a Partner to Deliver Your Virtual Team-Building Activities
One of the most important factors to consider when selecting a partner for your virtual team-building activities is whether their capabilities align with your business goals. If a potential partner doesn’t have the right level of experience, has never operated in your field before, or uses an approach that doesn’t match your needs, it’s better to know before you make an investment.
Interview Checklist for Potential Partners
When interviewing potential partners for your virtual team-building activities, start with this list of sample questions, and add any others that are relevant to your organization.
- Have you worked with other organizations to address similar team-building goals?
- Have you worked in similar industries before?
- What type of feedback have you received from previous participants?
- How do you ensure that the virtual team-building activities are current, relevant, and delivered at the appropriate level?
- What methodology is at the core of your virtual team-building activities?
- What technology do you use to deliver your virtual team-building activities?
- How long do the virtual team-building activities require?
- How do you help deliver value for our investment?
As part of the evaluation process, rate each potential vendor’s responses for comparison. Look for a provider that employs the types of virtual team-building approaches that are most likely to lead to your desired outcomes.
Most of the time, the future unfolds gently. However, today we’re faced with a world that changes seemingly overnight. For some organizations, this has forced them to pivot the way they work. In today’s ultra-connected world, people are becoming increasingly aware that strong teams are not optional. In fact, it’s paramount to the success of individuals, leaders, and the organization as a whole and virtual team-building activities can help get you there.