From medical advancements to the digitisation of the workplace, the world has undergone an unforeseeable transformation.
Since COVID-19 struck and the implementation of nationwide lockdowns happened, the world of business changed dramatically. Millions of people from different industries have found themselves working from home, even as restrictions are lifting.
Getting a team to work together can be difficult under any circumstances.
But, trying to encourage teamwork when nobody’s in the office can be even more challenging.
Teamwork consists of many different elements, including clear communication, listening skills, adaptability, and boundaries. Applying this to a team working remotely is simple enough if you do the following:
Uncertainty and instability drive people apart and erodes relationships, making a sense of stability vital in keeping your team working well together. Enduring a pandemic is exhausting, both physically and emotionally, whether or not you have been ill yourself.
The global health crisis has played havoc on people’s mental health. Trying to maintain an air of normalcy can provide employees with a bit of reassurance and routine amidst the chaos.
Many people working from home have lapsed into a limbo of sorts, often involving pajama pants and the occasional shirt and tie for video calls. This is harmless, but the lack of boundaries can throw people off.
Teamwork relies on good leadership, which comes from the implementation of clear boundaries.
Some people find face-to-face communication difficult, but the majority struggle more with getting their point across via email, messenger, or telephonically.
In this age of isolation, it’s helpful to be patient with one another and clarify anything that isn’t clear.
People working remotely might not be physically together, but that doesn’t mean team-building activities can’t take place. The past year or so has demonstrated that many activities are easily adapted to suit “virtual reality”. Whether in the form of WhatsApp, Zoom, or any other digital communication mechanism.
We’ve put together a shortlist of ideas that might inspire you and your team.
Working in an office means you’re constantly surrounded by people. Transitioning to remote working conditions was a surprise for everyone, and one of the biggest changes was the overnight switch from a busy office to the isolation of working from home.
Instead of using a literal water cooler, try to set up a virtual meeting room where employees can log in during their breaks and chat with colleagues.
This could be as simple as creating a Zoom meeting room and playing some background music as team members prepare lunch or take a break.
There is value in being able to see other people performing daily tasks, even if there is no conversation happening.
Some people find virtual meetings and video calls impersonal, but for others, it can provoke an unnerving feeling. In one sense, your colleagues and managers are suddenly right there in your home.
Using online platforms for meetings can be very awkward, and one way of breaking the ice is to play games that allow team members to learn more about each other — and hopefully, allow them to work more effectively together.
These games come in an endless number of variations. A few examples are:
Healthy competition between employees tends to forge connections, too.
Another option is to pick a game people can play online, set up a virtual leaderboard, and see who climbs to the top. Having an online chat channel where results are posted and people chat about the game is crucial to making this a success. At the end of every week, you can announce the winner, and then the game begins again.
Hi5 Games has baked-in high score leaderboards and offers a bunch of fun retro puzzle games to help employees get to know each other and the company values.
People often don’t stop to realise that their colleagues have lives outside of work. In the office, the focus is on work — the daily tasks that need to be performed — and nothing else. It might seem counterintuitive, but the physical isolation of remote working actually provides a great opportunity to get to know one another better.
Organise a virtual meet-up once every couple of weeks and ask team members to think of a skill they have that they could teach to everyone else. Some people might at first think that they have nothing to teach, but after some consideration, everyone can come up with something their colleagues would love to know more about.
This option is a little more complicated than others. But it can be extremely effective in bringing employees closer to one another and encouraging clear communication. How to put it into practice?
Get each team member to choose an item or a feature of an item, such as colour, shape or the letter it begins with. All other employees are given some time to search their homes for something that fits the brief, and then share their finds with the rest of the group. This might sound mundane, but the more creative people become, the more amusing the results.
One of the side effects of lengthy lockdowns has been a drop-off in people’s physical activity. The closure of gyms meant that thousands of people suddenly found themselves at a loose end. While many lapsed into a state of apathy and depression, leading to unhealthy eating habits.
Keeping fit when you’re largely confined to your home is difficult. So, setting up a virtual session over Zoom or another online meeting platform can be helpful both with encouraging teamwork and boosting employees’ moods and overall well-being.
Working remotely is challenging. But if you implement these tips, you should find that teamwork is one less issue that you need to worry about!
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