When working from home, constant communication is crucial in building connection and team spirit – perhaps now more than ever.
In this article, I’ll be outlining some ideas for virtual team building activities to enhance remote team collaboration among colleagues.
Working from home comes with a long list of perks – custom environment, no office politics, your choice of work attire (hello, sweatpants and fuzzy socks!). But in light of the recent Coronavirus pandemic, where an extended period of isolation isn’t our choice, it’s up to us to stay healthy and connected to friends and colleagues.
Loneliness is often pinpointed as one of the leading downsides of remote work and can cause disengagement – which, in turn may influence a downturn in job performance. So, making time to check in and maintain social bonds not only combats loneliness, it helps teams align on a professional level and increases productivity.
Communication Tools for Remote Team Communication
Effective communication is of the utmost importance in a project management life cycle. On an average, one out of five projects fail due to lack of communication between the project manager, team members, and stakeholders. With everyone working from home, especially in times of crisis, the risk of poor team collaboration is elevated.
Fortunately, there are plenty of communication tools on the market that will simplify remote team communication – you just have to find the communication software that works best for you and your teams.
At Pentalog, when communicating with clients – we use Slack, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Sococo. For secure file sharing, Owncloud is our choice. Among colleagues, we prefer connecting via Skype and Microsoft Teams.
Like many of you, we appreciate these tools because they give us easy access to video conferencing, messaging, threads, file & screen sharing, and past and current data. I personally love the touch of my own virtual outdoorsy background – since it’s the closest I can get to a beach these days.
How to Engage Colleagues
Each team has their own, different communication needs. In our current work situation, our colleagues who act as Scrum Masters, Product Owners or Team Leaders have free reign to establish when and how many meetings they think teams should hold during the workday. We’re Agile, so we adapt! We always have!
Most of us have already penciled in a few extra informal meetings to check in with team members, share our thoughts and worries, or even play games. We all deserve to relax a bit after a hard day’s work!
In general, we all have short daily meetings where everyone gets the chance to speak. Sometimes, in the case of large teams it can be slightly more difficult to keep up. But, the effect on people’s morale is priceless – it feels good to be heard, supported, and appreciated.
Not everybody is comfortable opening up like we’ve been doing recently. Some people need a different approach.
Help your Introverted or Shy Co-Worker
Try a series of icebreakers. Don’t be afraid to be the first one to reach out – ask how they’re feeling these days, take some time to find out about their struggles or impediments, or simply just let them tell you what they did last weekend. Your introverted co-workers will recognize and appreciate you taking the time to check in.
As for your shy colleagues, a better connection will lie in establishing rituals. Schedule a bi-weekly coffee and chat. Or, make a note to exchange your latest Spotify and Netflix playlists every few days.
These online meetings are a substitute of the office coffee breaks we used to enjoy, so try and keep them as informal and friendly as possible.
Many of our colleagues have already made it to the next level with the help of the virtual team building activities – they’re gaming together.
Virtual Team Building Activities
I don’t know about you, but at Pentalog – we enjoy spending time together outside the office. We’ve already formed so many memories from our PentaPuzzle nights, PentaOpen tournaments, PentaBike competitions, etc. So, if we can’t physically meet – we’ll do just fine online.
Some of us play Drawasaurus, a drawing & guessing game for phone, tablet or PC. Players take turns each round to draw a random word while their opponents try to guess the word. Faster guessers score more points and the drawer is rewarded for each person who guesses correctly.
Other colleagues play boardgames directly from their web browsers, such as Saboteur and Carcassonne. “Exploding Kittens” is another fun game that can be played on smartphones. It’s for five players and can be downloaded for a fee, but it’s not at all expensive.
Some of our coworkers enjoy participating in quiz competitions at night. Whatever the content of your virtual team building activities, the purpose is for team members to feel connected.
At most of our agencies, there is at least one dedicated channel to share funny memes and jokes. We’ve also created a 24/7 open Teams channel where everybody can join in and “spend time” on audio/video.
Our colleagues in Guadalajara have even planned a remote Karaoke session. It’s something I might even be looking to establish myself. Until then, some of us share the tune of the day to boost our mood. Others are picking a different themed outfit for each day (i.e. black & white, dots & stripes, national costume, mountain climber). Some teams take ten minutes before they break each night to share their daily gratitude point in working from home. As you can see, we’re not short on ideas for remote team communication!
We have always strived to have an impact in our communities. Now, when the young and healthy can really make a difference, I’m proud to see my colleagues stepping up to the plate. Whether it’s supporting NGOs or our medical staff, distributing food, buying what the elderly need, donating blood, giving a hand in managing a website functionality or developing some data visualization tools/ppts, it’s important we each play our part!
#Foreign Language Classes
Luckily, we can take advantage of free language courses provided by Pentalog and we have some pretty great teachers! The courses take place online, in groups at the same level of language proficiency – another great way to get to know each other better, interact, and learn a new skill while we’re at it.
Recently, for our colleagues with children, we launched PentaKids as an option to keep the little ones entertained while learning a foreign language.
#Surprises Knocking at Your Door!
For many, it’s been over a month now of strict isolation and many of our colleagues have had to celebrate their birthdays at home. However, we tried to send them our best wishes with online celebrations, sending virtual hugs and birthday gifts. We’re thankful for our courier companies and remain in their debt for making these little surprises possible.
Empathy = Key to Efficient Team Communication
A little empathy and compassion in confronting difficult situations like the COVID-19 crisis can go a long way in helping those we work with feel more at ease.
By checking in on one another we can feel connected even while we’re apart. This way, we continue to do our best at work, stay motivated and focus on the positive, even in these uncertain times.
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