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Many of today’s hiring managers and team leads have adapted to the latest trend of today’s modern workforce — remote work! And because hiring a remote workforce widens the hiring pool, increases employee retention and results in higher cost savings, working from home is here to stay.
However, as remote work remains the norm, managers have to reposition themselves and commit intentionally to building team culture.
Compared to leading an in-person team, leading a remote team comes with a different, unique set of priorities and areas of focus. Even many experienced managers need help ensuring their employees have a positive, productive working environment. Here, we’ll outline some examples of events and exercises that will ensure that you provide a strong, vibrant team culture in today’s remote work world.
The importance of team culture
Even before offices made a significant shift to remote workforces, many managers struggled with how to foster a positive team culture in an in-person office environment. Those struggles only became more apparent when learning how to build team ethics in a remote workplace.
A positive team culture leads to happier employees. This may result in increased productivity over the long run. Because a positive work environment leads to things like friendships and increased levels of support between coworkers, you’re more likely to see lower turnover rates and higher employee retention rates when you emphasize team culture.
Positive team cultures also reduce levels of stress and anxiety among employees. With a less stressful environment, your skilled workers are more likely to remain with your company long-term. Additionally, they’ll share their positive experiences as an employee. As this word-of-mouth spreads, your positive team culture may eventually result in your business becoming a sought-after place to work.
In addition to these hiring and personnel benefits, positive team cultures correlate directly with profitability. You might engage in a chance discussion with a coworker over the water cooler or in the breakroom — leading to opportunities, collaborations and innovations that otherwise might not have happened.
Working in a remote environment doesn’t mean these benefits go away — it simply gives you the opportunity to create unique virtual spaces for these encounters and opportunities.
Are you excited to build a great team culture but unsure where to start because you lead a remote team? Here are some of the easiest and most successful team-building activities:
Host virtual happy hours
Happy hours are easy opportunities for your employees to relax together. For an hour, your team can come together to chat outside of the typical virtual meeting environment.
And don’t worry — a remote-work happy hour doesn’t require alcohol! Alternatively, you can send employees gift cards to order dinner or snacks to recreate the same atmosphere as an in-person happy hour. During the happy hour, you’re free to plan all kinds of fun activities, like collaborative online games, or if your team members are up to it, one of them can lead an activity they’re passionate about, like baking or a craft.
Additionally, you don’t have to limit happy hours or other activities to just your team. Feel free to reach out to other managers and set up an inter-team happy hour. The more the merrier!
Plan and host team-building events
You can put together a more structured event if you’d like a change of pace from a more relaxed happy hour.
Some events you might host include:
Murder mystery games
Virtual escape rooms
Further, structured events come with their own benefits — consider all of the coordination and teamwork you’ll need to successfully solve a murder mystery or escape a virtual room! A virtual team-building event can be an opportunity for employees to flex their problem-solving and creative skills outside of work while still building relationships with their coworkers.
Encourage managers to hold office hours
Whether an employee is new or they’ve been working at your company for years, they’d likely jump at the opportunity to pick your brain, ask questions and pitch ideas.
Create a space for employees to do that by establishing “office hours” that any employee can use to pop in for a quick question. It’s a more casual commitment than a direct meeting, so more employees will feel comfortable taking advantage of the opportunity, but it provides more structure than a spur-of-the-moment phone call.
Plan regular in-person team meetups
For some managers and companies, there’s no substitute for in-person communication and interaction. For teams that are scattered around the country, that means only one thing — coordinating a team meetup!
You can approach team meetups in a variety of ways. Do you want to have them once per year, per quarter, and on your own schedule? Further, do you want to have your meetup at a central location like your company’s headquarters, or do you want to rent out a larger space elsewhere?
And once your meetup is already in the works, you have a few more options. You can choose from any number of events to allow teams to bond when they’re together, from museum trips to hikes and more.
Overall, putting more effort into team building leads to higher productivity, elevates the workplace experience and results in a better return on investment for your company. That doesn’t change just because your team works from home!
Take the time to nurture your team through remote team building, and you’ll see astronomical results.