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Team Building for Remote Teams

How and how much you talk will determine how your team survives in a virtual community

You've probably heard it said before that workplace satisfaction comes down to liking the people you work with.

The data backs up this conventional wisdom: a study by Gallup found that close work friendships increase employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to fully engage in their work.


So what does this mean for companies? Investing in team building activities will pay dividends in employee satisfaction and engagement.

This is especially true for remote companies, where a lack of face time and chances for 'water cooler talk,' can prevent bonds among employees from developing organically.

Team building for remote teams isn't as straightforward, but it's absolutely imperative and with some creative uses of technology, it's absolutely doable as well.

Read on to learn 5 ways you can engage in team building exercises with your remote team!

How To Do Team Building Exercises When You're Team Is Distributed:

1) Lean on Technology

In our personal lives, we lean on technology to help us do our grocery shopping, guide us through meditation, and even find our next suitable date. In the workplace, we can lean on technology to empower human connection and productivity.

Slack has so many different layers to it. Start Slack channels dedicated to creating buzz around favorite books, movies, travel tips, recipe sharing, etc. People can choose what channels to contribute to, discover people with common interests, and build communities within the larger company community. This can lead to team members naturally planning their own social activities outside of working hours.

2) Plan Team Health Challenges

There's more to good health than relationships and feeling connected. Physical health should be prioritized because if you're not feeling 100%, it's hard to give 100% to your relationships and work.

Have fun with your team's physical health! Plan challenges for water intake, steps walked per day, meditation, and more. You can hold each other accountable and encourage healthy competition.

3) Share a Virtual Cup of Coffee

We all know how well two people can bond over a glass of wine or a margarita...but because those types of beverages probably aren't permitted during work hours, try a cup of coffee. We definitely know coffee is permitted, encouraged, and at times, needed!

Set aside weekly or monthly video meetings to share a virtual cup of coffee with your remote team members. Try to avoid work talk and focus on getting to know each other on personal and social levels. Go the extra mile and send a gift card for their favorite coffee shop so they can change their routine and environment.

Your remote team is likely made up of people with different backgrounds, experiences, and personalities. There is so much to learn about each person beyond their role at the company. And slipping on a cup of coffee can help remind us all to slow down and enjoy each other's presence, no matter where in the world each person is.

4) Plan a Virtual Retreat

Virtual coffee chats are a great way for employees to catch up informally and get to know one another organically, but don't underestimate the power of curated questions and activities that will help team members get to know one another on a deeper level. You can block off a few hours each month to get the entire team out of their comfort zone and in a new environment like a co-working space.

There's a difference between small talk and real conversation so embrace those silly icebreaker questions to push boundaries. Try these!

Virtual retreats are also great opportunities to spend time talking about high-level company strategy and encouraging team members to share ideas, regardless of their position at the company.

5) Host an In-Person Retreat

All of these activities have the potential to build awesome cohesion across your team. But in a digital world, we're all aware that in person quality time takes the cake. Shaking hands for the first time with someone you work with on a daily basis can be an amazing feeling.

Might be pricey, but having your employees connect in person will pay dividends in the long-term.

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By taking time to understand and acknowledge the emotional dynamics of not being with or around people, you're showing your remote employees and team overall that you care about their wellbeing. And by implementing these methods, you're setting your remote team up for success to produce, create, accomplish, and bond.

Loud and clear, for everyone sitting in the back, I'll repeat it for good measure — your people are everything so put them first.

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