Corporate virtual team building is a technical process. In today’s corporate environment, virtual teams are no longer uncommon. I should know; throughout the course of my career, I’ve worked on a number of completely virtual and hybrid virtual teams. According to the Harvard Business Journal, there will be 1.3 billion individuals working remotely in the next several years, so if you haven’t already been a member of a virtual team, you will be soon for corporate virtual team building. That’s why I spoke with a number of experts that work in and manage virtual teams to get their best advice on how to make the most of this new way of working.
Virtual teams have several advantages
“Since its inception in 2007, the Content Marketing Institute has been a virtual company,” stated Cathy McPhillips, Marketing Director at the Content Marketing Institute. “The virtual team attracted many of our team members because of the process of corporate virtual team building. I believe it’s fantastic since it allows us to establish our own hours during the week and still get our job done. CMI must have a lot of faith in our team to put us up this way, but honestly, most of us follow a regular schedule every day.”
Although McPhillips misses the “watercooler” aspect of working in the same physical space, she believes that being a virtual team improves their overall productivity because they are not distracted by the constant distractions of an office environment – which is especially important given the amount of writing the team does each week.
“On the other hand, when we do have face-to-face meetings, it makes us appreciate the importance of face time, brainstorming, and spending time together,” she added.
Virtual teams aren’t without their own set of difficulties
“When a small number of employees are remote, other members of the organization may not be as well educated in applying the best practices for smooth remote communication,” Jill Clay, a remote project manager at Orbit Media Studios, explained. “Some staff members who don’t have to utilize it on a regular basis, for example, have trouble calling into conference calls or screen shares (seriously!).”
5 Strategies for corporate virtual team building
Jill also mentioned that in circumstances when only a few employees work remotely, some of the little changes that may make life easier for remote workers can be overlooked since they only affect a small number of people. “For example, getting VPN access took almost two years, and not all conference phones are easy to hear,” she explained.
1. Spend time getting to know one another… Outside of the Work Environment
“Make time for virtual group activities,” said Brandie McCallum, a freelance community manager. “Linking everyone together via a common hashtag is a fantastic start.” “You may also form tiny coherent subgroups out of teams that complement one other, and have weekly meetings with such groups to discuss non-business issues. Finding and sharing their hobbies, such as through the creation of a non-work-related group activity, is another method to foster team spirit. Sometimes all it takes is a little silliness.”
2. Inclusion is Crucial
Orbit Media Studios’ Founder and Strategic Director, Andy Crestodina, remarked, “Inclusion is the key.” “Get everyone on a video call when there’s an all-company meeting. Put their face on the large screen at the start and conclusion of the meeting so that everyone can say hi and feel present.”
3. Take time to recognize and applaud team accomplishments.
Celebrations and team member recognition may happen on a frequent basis when team members are in the same office, according to McPhillips. “Our staff is quite generous when it comes to praising one another, both physically and online, such as on Twitter or in our LinkedIn group. This has been really beneficial in fostering a sense of team unity.”
4. Encourage informal virtual team-building activities that are both creative and informal.
“Our monthly team meetings are a video conference link-up of FIVE locations; it’s always a fantastic opportunity to see everyone and establish those relationships,” Rachel Formaro, a Fortune 500 team manager, explained. “We find methods to have a good time as a group, such as sharing amusing email threads.
We’ll do an IM “flash mob” to wish someone a happy birthday or present a grassroots appreciation award, and we took screen photos of all of us on the video conference screen, à la The Brady Bunch, which we put on our walls. In addition, I feel the entire team is linked on Facebook, which allows us to keep in contact as individuals.”
5. Use online collaboration tools to connect in-person collaboration sessions.
Jenise Fryatt, Content Marketing Strategist, Smarter Shift Marketing, advised, “Find a method to connect and spend at least SOME social time in person together at least once.” “Also, utilize Google Docs and an online collaborative tool for corporate virtual team building. These technologies enable you to collaborate on papers, exchange resources, and stay informed about what the rest of the team is up to.”
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