The Intricate Art of Remote Team Building

Achieving proper “team chemistry” while being in charge of a remote team is one of the most pressing issues managers face nowadays.

Kirill Klimov
Oct 27, 2020 · 4 min read

In order to make employees as comfortable with the notion of working online as possible, companies having remote workforce have gradually adopted and internalized concepts from the still more familiar offline job environment. One of the most challenging of such concepts is remote team building, especially in the sphere of informal communication, which is of utmost necessity if a company wants to stay profitable during these turbulent times. As a result, this difficult task has required the elaboration of new remote team building strategies, the three most efficient of which being the tracking of the employees well-being, the encouragement of verbal communication over written one and the incorporation of fun activities into team culture.

As for the necessity of remote team building, the pressing character of the issue is confirmed by the Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2019 report. In this survey, remote workers named loneliness (19%), communication problems with colleagues (17%) and lack of motivation (8%) as their biggest hurdles while working online. These numbers clearly show that teamwork is as important for remote employees, as it is not properly handled.

Consequently, due to lack of the so-called “team chemistry,” a priori more distant remote workers feel even more isolated, which decreases their overall level of happiness. This negative development might lead to the loss of productivity, according to the scientifically-proven saying “happy workers are productive workers.” Besides, communication problems within teams are also not so good for the company because in the absence of mutual understanding, the quality and the pace of work suffers greatly. Finally, if a remote worker does not see themselves as a part of the team, they would not be further involved in the company’s affairs. Such an attitude often leads to the loss of personal engagement, hence loss of applied effort, and, in the long perspective, higher turnover.

1. Genuine care of team members. In view of the primacy of the problem, managers are tasked with developing and implementing team building strategies, allowing remote team members to feel closer to their distant colleagues. One of such strategies is paying attention to the employee’s well-being. This measure is especially relevant in times of the never-ending pandemic, during which around 80 000 of only start-up workers were laid-off, the number of overall fired workforce is much higher. In addition, stress over the potential loss of a job is complemented by the “Zoom fatigue,” or the energy drain people experience after having multiple video calls during the day. In that situation, it is paramount that the remote team manager starts every meeting with “How are you doing?” and means that phrase as a genuine question, not as a greeting platitude. Such managerial attitude evokes in workers a sensation more of being cared for and less of being just a cog in a machine.

2. Verbal communication instead of written. The second strategy managers adopt to foster better relations among team members is substituting where possible written communication with verbal. In particular, that means the encouragement of video calls instead of emails and voice messages instead of ordinary ones in messengers. This substitution creates a near-physical, so rare during lockdowns atmosphere of human presence nearby, which partially satisfies the need for direct in-person communication, lack of which presents one of the major challenges for remote teams. What is more, managers incentivize their remote team members to engage in non-essential communication whenever possible, be the the improvised “cooler talk” in a Zoom room, via Slack calls or Discord voice channels.

The Intricate Art of Remote Team Building — TeamCalendar.ai
The Intricate Art of Remote Team Building — TeamCalendar.ai

Source: https://www.legalfutures.co.uk

3. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Another way team leaders approach team building is by indulging in fun activities. These activities are literally limitless. In fact, Google search shows 2,010,000,000 results on the “remote team building activities” query, and they range from attending cooking classes remotely or sharing virtual meals to playing online games together. The type of activity does not matter much, most importantly is that they are unanimously agreed upon. In addition to that, it might be a good idea to incorporate “fun” into daily online conversations, which are mostly in written form. Hence, funny pictures, GIFs and stickers in place of boring purpose-based messages take the strain off, thus gradually turn team members into something more than just co-workers.

Remote team building is a top concern for managers and companies nowadays. In the wake of the second wave of the pandemic, it is safe to predict that the issue would only become more and more pressing. By watching over team member’s mood, fostering verbal communication culture and making work not only a money-earning but also a fun activity, managers can ensure that their remote teams are productive, and companies — that their remote workers are engaged.

Incidentally, any tight-knit remote team needs a convenient tool for scheduling meetings. With TeamCalendar.ai, everyone on the team will instantly know when there is an appropriate time for an online talk and when the colleague is not to be disturbed. In fact, TeamCalendar.ai allows remote team managers and their subordinates not to bicker over scheduling a meeting via endless email chains, but do it in a simple click of a mouse. To experience this and other useful features of TeamCalendar.ai, request a demo.

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