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Remote team building – and how to engage with your employees

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Smells like team spirit – how to engage remote employees

Have your employees lost their motivation mojo? Are they due (or overdue) some teambuilding? Since the pandemic, the old rules have gone out of the window – but motivating global, remote and hybrid staff is totally different to motivating them in person.


Remote teambuilding – why bother?

At Fresh, we could wax lyrical all day about the benefits of remote working. But there are downsides. It can make remote teammates feel isolated and lonely. This risks them disconnecting, resulting in low morale and disengaged employees.

Which is an issue, because engaged employees are key to the success of your business.  Surrounding colleagues with a great support system and good internal communications helps create a strong company culture. And a happy team is more likely to be there for the long haul – and go the extra mile to help reach your goals.

The bottom line? Engaged employees make your business more profitable. So let’s start with how to create great team spirit in day-to-day working.


Start a virtual break room

When you’re in the office there are many informal ways of connecting with colleagues. And many can also work for remote working.

Let’s take the simple chats that happen naturally in the workplace. You can recreate this remotely with a virtual break room: staff log in whenever they feel like some human contact, and catch up as they would in person.

These virtual ‘watercooler’ moments allow team members to pause and chat. Or they can use instant messaging to share recipes or pet photos, or discuss their latest Netflix binge-watch.


Wellbeing focus

Working remotely can affect physical and mental wellbeing. Show that health is your top priority: organise online mental health catchups, virtual workshops, guided meditation or yoga classes, or offer access to menopause support. Normalise these topics to make people feel comfortable taking part.

Does your team love some healthy competition? Do a step challenge. And – if you can – offer flexible working hours for midday runs and more.


Hungry for connection

If you can’t go to your local restaurant for a team lunch, get the restaurant to come to you. Order a lunch delivery for remote employees to eat via a social lunch over Zoom or Teams.

Chatting while sharing food is less formal, making spontaneous conversation more likely.

If budget is a challenge ask people to make their own lunch, but plan to eat together through your virtual environment.


Take a tour

Get a quick peek inside colleagues’ homes – or remote offices. At the start of a meeting, arrange for a volunteer to give a short tour of where they work (just a peek into their home desk set up can be enough – no need to make people deep clean their entire home first!!). Ask them to show their hobbies and passions – whether it’s Star Wars DVDs or their impressive recipe book collection.

Short on volunteers? Encourage the natural leaders in your team to go first. As well as creating a break, this kind of activity highlights mutual interests that can help people bond.


Become a cheerleader

Celebrate the little (but important) things. If a colleague has a birthday, send them a virtual card – or gift card. Have they done something amazing? Highlight it in your next team call. Being recognised in front of your peers provides the feel-good factor.


Keep communication open

Misunderstandings are common with remote workers, but they can be avoided. Make sure people know there’s always someone to talk to and set up regular one-to-ones. Actively listen to concerns and ideas – and act on them.

If time zones or shift patterns are an issue, use digital comms and online communities. And throw in a few non-work-related options.

And remind people that ‘tone of voice’ is hard to interpret through email so encourage them to take care with what they write, and to keep an open mind when they receive messages that initially trigger them.


Skill up

It’s not easy enabling professional development from a distance. Put your team in the driving seat: ask which skills they want to develop and how they want to learn. Offer online courses, mentorship or training.

And remember to flip it – ask teams what their managers can learn too.


Going live

Not everyone’s a fan of live remote coworking, but it does provide interaction for remote teams. Set up a video call and invite teams to log on and work ‘together’.

Seeing others working at the same time not only makes casual conversation more likely, it helps with accountability. Getting to know colleagues also creates deeper understanding, trust, friendship and fun. And a more engaged and successful team.


Next level team building – how to make your remote event a success

In the current climate many businesses have a tight grip on travel budgets. They’re also thinking about travel time, plus the cost to the environment and business. And not everyone can be away from their home and family.

But global teams can get to know each other without travelling, and managers can foster a great team spirit without everyone having to be in one place.

However, it’s challenging to make your remote teambuilding or social event a success.

Stuck for ideas for an event? Here’s some inspiration:

Work of art

We got amazing feedback after helping a client create a virtual art class for 11 global leaders based in 10 countries during the pandemic. An art teacher took them through the lesson, supporting each to produce a watercolour painting. Some colleagues said it felt like meditation!

Learn a new skill

Fancy some virtual tourism? ‘Travel’ to Spain for a live flamenco dancing class or discover how to make the perfect Mexican street tacos with a pro chef.

Channel your inner Poirot

Online games where you work together to solve a problem are great for team bonding. We love a virtual murder mystery. Solve clues, collect evidence – and try to guess whodunit!

More ideas:

  • Cocktail making
  • Boozy drag queen bingo
  • Balinese water blessing ritual
  • Meet and draw a llama
  • Crafting a DIY terrarium
  • Team tarot readings
  • Guided meditation with sheep
  • Laughter for wellbeing
  • Virtual scavenger hunt in Sicily


Don’t sweat the small stuff

Here’s how to make your remote event a success:

  • Pick a date and time that works for most people
  • Ask colleagues what activities they want
  • Email ‘save the date’ invites well in advance
  • Follow up with invitations with clear joining and preparation instructions
  • Send a ‘swag bag’ to help whip up intrigue and excitement
  • Email a digital voucher for drinks and refreshments
  • Make sure there’s someone available to sort out any tech glitches
  • Build in breaks
  • Make it inclusive and fun


Fresh can help

Are you struggling with engaging remote employees – or do you need support with teambuilding?

It all takes time and effort. And it won’t happen without planning and making it a priority.

Sounds like a lot of work? It can be, but it’s worth doing. And it can be fun.

At Fresh Communication, we’re ALL about internal communications because we believe it’s at the heart of every successful business.

Let’s chat about how we can use our experience to make your life easier.

Connect with us on LinkedIn for more ideas.