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How Virtual Team Building Activities can Break the Ice and Build Relationships in the Team

Team building activities have been at the helm of executives to bring their teams closer. They are used for a myriad of reasons like forging team relationships, breaking the ice, having fun, appreciating team members, gathering feedback, etc. As soon as the pandemic hit and corporates switched to remote work, team-building activities were not a priority.

Corporates were still adjusting to the crisis. However, it was soon found that remote workers are being stressed and demotivated. Some organizations also experienced a high turnover post-pandemic. So, corporates have started exploring virtual team-building activities to keep remote employees engaged and connected with the organization.

As remote work progressed through the pandemic, virtual team building activities have evolved as highly engaging and much-needed relief for stressed remote teams. Particularly in cultures and countries where the mental health of remote workers was deteriorating, virtual team building has emerged more creatively than ever seen.

For example, demand for mental health apps from corporates was surging amid the pandemic, and virtual team building activities in Singapore have moved from being simple ice-breakers to virtual escape rooms. Virtual team-building activities can play a pivotal role in creating a productive and motivating work culture for employees. But beyond that, here are five ways in which virtual team building activities can improve team relationships:

Improves communication

Communication is vital to team collaboration. When teams do not communicate efficiently it can quickly emerge into a conflict or an unproductive team. And effective communication cannot happen without strong team relationships. Remote work unfortunately gives fewer opportunities for networking with team members. Often communication is through scheduled meetings and ends up on a formal note. However, teams communicate better when there are personal bonds between each other. Virtual team-building activities can help in breaking the ice and getting to know each other.

These activities bring the teams together and strengthen communication skills like listening, empathy, emotional intelligence, and non-verbal communication. Some examples of activities that improve team communication skills are ice breakers, scavenger hunts, blindfold games, building something together, etc. Team building games that are played silently are great for improving listening and non-verbal communication.

Builds trust and integrity

Trust is the foundation of building relationships and forging a collaborative environment. When team members trust each other, they are more open to exchange ideas and resources. Trust is more crucial in remote teams as personal relationships take longer to build in a remote world. Lack of trust can lead to forming team silos and conflict-ridden team environments. Virtual team building activities can prevent this by helping teams build trustworthy relationships. These activities let the teams interact personally and build trust over each other.

Encourages creativity

Remote teams are often found to be going through a grind as they have fixed routines. Communicating through emails or video calls makes them prone to stagnant routines that siphon their creativity. When teams were working out of offices, creativity was encouraged in various ways like brainstorming sessions, workshops, office games, etc.

In remote work, virtual team-building activities can catalyze and re-invigorate creativity in remote teams. When team-building activities are organizing to spark creativity, they can not only be fun but also engaging. Research has found that creative activities are an outlet for stress. Some examples of great virtual team building activities for encouraging creativity are organizing workspaces, virtual painting workshops, hidden talent activities, etc.

Reinforces positive values and acknowledges team members

Remote work does not give many opportunities for interpersonal interactions. When employees were working out of offices, many organizations had customs like celebrating birthdays or occasional lunches. These occasions reinforced positive team values and acknowledged team members efforts.

In a remote work environment, virtual team building activities can substitute these occasions. Remote workers feel the greater need to be recognized by their employers and stay connected with their teams as there are no in-person interactions. These activities bring the team closer and help in connecting them beyond work.

Boosts confidence and mental health

Upon analysing the mental health of remote workers post-pandemic, the majority of them reported to be under stress and feeling isolated. Reasons have been attributed to increased screen time, managing family commitments, and expectations to be available always through email or text.

Employees have also reported feeling a sense of disconnect with their employers and the organization’s vision. Virtual team-building activities can be very impactful in improving employee mental health and boosting confidence. These activities can help managers and executives communicate empathetically and take feedback while easing stress for employees. 

If your organization’s future work strategy is fully remote or hybrid, virtual team-building activities can be crucial in keeping teams connected. They are a long-term investment in building relationships, aligning your teams with your vision, and developing a positive organizational culture. 

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