Working remotely has a lot of advantages, but culture and team building can be particularly challenging to maintain with distant teams. Unlike on-site employees, remote teams have fewer opportunities to socialize, making it difficult to get to know one another and build stronger connections. This can lead to feelings of disconnection and isolation from team members, ultimately leading to reduced productivity and diminished morale.
Virtual team building can help remote teams overcome these difficulties and drive a sense of shared understanding and community. In this article, we’ll explore why virtual team building is essential for successful remote learning and explore five virtual team-building strategies to start utilizing in your organization.
What Is Virtual Team Building?
Virtual team building is the process of bringing remote teams together to strengthen bonds and encourage employee collaboration. The goal of virtual team building is to create an interactive online environment that is similar to an in-person environment with open dialogue and feedback from peers and instructors. This can help your remote team achieve deeper connections while also boosting engagement and job satisfaction.
Why is Virtual Team Building Important?
Businesses with high-performing teams often yield the most success with a steady increase in their bottom line year over year. A cohesive team that works well together has a positive impact on morale and productivity across an organization. Effective team building helps increase connections and trust among employees, strengthening relationships and encouraging collaboration that leads to faster decisions, better results, and a unified approach. These are all positive attributions to company culture and boosting the bottom line.
More often than not, in-person environments make it easier to foster and develop connections among teams and team members as there is an opportunity to chat organically throughout the day. With the shift to remote work, employees are restricted to communication via messenger channels and video conferencing, which come with limitations and time restraints for organic bonding. Conducting virtual team building can help bridge this gap and help employees stay connected, leading to closer-knit teams and heightened collaboration levels.
The following approaches to virtual team building help provide more engaging and dynamic opportunities to connect learners through Learning & Development…
1. Gamified Learning
Conventional team building programs often lack engaging content that learners find genuinely enjoyable and entertaining. Gamified learning provides exciting and gratifying learning experiences that encourage fun and friendly competition when it comes to professional development.
Research shows that gamified learning increases engagement, improves retention, and instills a sense of accomplishment by offering employees opportunities to increase rankings on learner leadership boards or receive badges for completed courses and milestones. Integrate team or company-wide challenges or tournaments that center around a desired learning outcome. Introduce healthy competition and encourage continuous growth for each role within your team with ongoing initiatives.
This combination of education and fun is what makes gamified learning an effective team-building strategy. It allows the participants to develop a specific skillset through an enjoyable and engaging medium. When gamification is applied to team building, it often results in a drastic increase in employee engagement and motivation.
2. Video and Web Conferencing
As mentioned earlier, video and web conferencing are popular, and in many cases, an essential means of communication among remote teams. However, these sessions aren’t typically weaved into team building initiatives specifically. A flexible and interoperable Learning Management System (LMS) that can seamlessly support video tools and web conferencing functionality within your learning ecosystem is vital to making simpler and more interactive virtual team bonding experiences. Team-building exercises via live or pre-recorded video offers a more natural and personable interaction, where you can read body language and use visual aids or more in-depth explanations. With video, you can tap into your team’s emotional needs that you would not be able to do easily with written communication alone, making team building and supporting learners easier and more effective.
3. Recurring Catch-Up Meetings
Intermittent meet-ups give learners the chance to catch up and discuss courses they’re working on or resources they’ve recently explored. Employees can chat about upcoming events or trainings, recap their performance, and assess overall progress. On a broader level, your L&D team can also host periodic meetings to share updates and discuss the effectiveness of company-wide learning initiatives and resources.
Team leaders can also encourage post-activity online discussion where employees participate in discussions after completing certification paths or other important activities. This gives the employees a chance to track progress and have meaningful conversations with other team members, building bonds through the L&D experience.
4. Create Group Online Training Courses
Though learners are often scattered across the globe, online training does not have to be a solo experience. Grouping learners together for a specific training or workshop can help foster more collaboration between employees, generate more engagement, and strengthen bonds between team members. Learners in group online training programs are motivated to achieve a common goal while supporting one another in the process.
Teams can chat about the course as they go along, host video recaps after every module, help each other overcome performance issues or complete the next lesson together. In group training, employees hold each other accountable. Everyone must actively participate in the online discussion to get the most from the experience. Group training is an effective team building strategy that encourages collaboration and improves engagement.
5. Share team swag.
Even remotely, employees like to feel a part of a connected team and be able to represent their company in some way. T-shirts, coffee mugs, or other swag bag ideas is a great way to show appreciation to your employees with tangible items they can enjoy. Whether you provide a few branded knick-knacks, convenient household or travel items, or even some novelty food or snacks from your city headquarters, employees will love receiving a gift from their organization as an added bonus for their hard work.
6. Host Troubleshooting Sessions
Everyone encounters challenges in the workplace from time to time but even the smallest issues or misunderstandings can become a hindrance if they are not addressed. Hosting a troubleshooting session allows employees to address any challenges as a team. This encourages open and ongoing collaboration and problem-solving, generating innovative ideas and faster solutions. It helps team members feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and bouncing ideas off one another. Because the team is working toward a common goal in a creative and supportive setting, group morale is likely to improve. Finally, it allows team members to spend time together, which is important for team bonding.
Revolutionize Virtual Team Building in Your L&D Initiatives with the Right LMS
Virtual team building can make remote teams feel as bonded as on-site teams. A strong team supports one another and collectively works together towards a common mission. Your LMS or eLearning solution plays a crucial role in implementing effective team building initiatives
With an open-source LMS, you get a functionally rich product with smooth integrations and future-proof scalability. This allows you to incorporate tools specifically used for optimizing the approaches to virtual team building mentioned above. A flexible and scalable platform ensures a best-of-breed solution with a seamless experience.
At eThink, our goal is to provide a custom eLearning solution to support your organizational success. Fostering team building is just one of the many aspects of doing so. To learn more about our fully-managed eLearning solutions, request a demo to speak with one of our eLearning experts.