If you have a virtual team, you’ve likely heard of and tried countless ideas to support your team-building and productivity, especially over the last few years.
BlueLion has been building a remote team from Day 1, and we’ve read and tested many of these strategies ourselves. We have found the most important step is maintaining connection and finding more creative ways to get to know one another.
So, we asked our employees what practices they believe have made our virtual team so successful! Read on for the methods that have worked best for us when it comes to remote collaboration, maximizing efficiency, and optimizing communication.
1. Digital Office
A recent survey by 360Learning “found that 35% of remote workers missed working from the office, 57% missed that team culture feeling that made them feel like they belong, and 73% felt like communication is much better in person than remotely.”
Sure, you can’t replace those chats that happen in the breakroom or in-person events. But you can implement daily activities that help your virtual team bond. This will help prevent feelings of disconnect and isolation, which can decrease engagement, performance, and morale.
One way we’ve done this is by instituting a daily standing virtual meeting from 12:30 to 2 p.m. This is optional and agenda-less, giving team members an opportunity to collaborate on projects or issues. Some even choose to work independently while connected to the group, using it as a coworking session.
The digital office is a great way for employees to get the type of support they need, when they need it, from their colleagues and managers.
2. HR Channel on Teams
As an HR consulting firm, we would be remiss not to focus on our own HR matters! We have a group chat in Microsoft Teams that includes all team members. People can pose and discuss internal HR-related questions, make suggestions for process improvements, and share family/personal things.
We’ve found that keeping it open to everyone helps us connect better both as people and professionals. Plus, we’re able to provide an abundance of support to one another as a full team.
Of course, we’ve also implemented smaller chats and groups for specific topics and focused discussions. This allows us to ask specific questions, brainstorm ideas about certain projects/topics, share progress updates, and receive answers and feedback quickly while remaining focused. Plus, we’re not disturbing everyone in the general channel or clogging up our inboxes with more emails for things that can be resolved quickly via chat!
While there are numerous benefits to remote work for both employers and employees, there are also several challenges that organizations are still learning to navigate. One potential drawback is isolation. According to Zippia, 50% of work-from-home employees report feeling lonely at least once a week.
Virtual team-building requires a different kind of effort. It can be hard to get everyone to connect the same way they would in person. That’s why we start our twice-monthly PRIDE meetings with a fun (and sometimes silly) icebreaker. It’s not often everyone is on the same call together, so these activities give us a chance to get to know one another better.
You could also pose daily icebreaker prompts in a just-for-fun Teams or Slack channel (or whatever tool you use). Get creative with questions and imaginary scenarios. Remember, it’s more about the conversation and connection than the platform you use.
Sharing fun facts and getting a few laughs in to start the day helps everyone grow a little bit closer!
4. Regular In-Person Events
Although BlueLion’s virtual team spans multiple states, we plan regular PRIDE days where we gather in person for a day of fun and team-building! These team outings typically include a fun activity, like an escape room, games, or a craft. We then enjoy lunch together as we discuss our progress and future goals—which is also a pivotal time for co-founders Toni and Alison to get first-hand feedback from our employees. Additionally, we sometimes use PRIDE days to update everyone’s headshots.
These full-day activities give our team a chance to disconnect from work, relax, and get to know their colleagues better. It also shows our staff that we value them. We love rewarding our hardworking employees and demonstrating our appreciation in person.
If possible, we highly recommend planning occasional in-person company events. This could be everything from meetups to retreats to summits and conferences. Your team will become that much stronger when they can bond and share ideas in person.
5. Streamlined Virtual Meetings
Let’s face it—maintaining people’s attention via Zoom is no easy task. That’s why it’s vital to keep meetings as focused and efficient as possible to help our remote employees remember critical information and perform their best.
To do this, we record important meetings and provide agendas. After each meeting, we send out the recording and meeting notes with video timestamps so people can go back and reference specific topics and answers from the meeting. This creates less stress and more clarity, as employees can listen and participate rather than worry about missing something as they furiously take notes!
Bottom line: Be conscious of digital communication. Sixty-nine percent of remote workers say digital communication tools have increased their burnout, thanks to a constant stream of communication. Setting boundaries, maintaining organization, and sticking to agendas can help reduce fatigue from the many Zoom calls and chat messages.
6. Weekly Internal Newsletter
Yep, the internal newsletter is alive and well here at BlueLion! We send a brief weekly update with all of the most important information from the past week and for the upcoming week. Content is pulled from group emails, Teams discussions, calendar events, and operations updates.
These updates can include employee shoutouts, process and policy changes/reminders, event reminders (e.g., work, networking, and nonprofit), schedule changes, resources, and more. Employees know that any critical highlights will be noted in this newsletter. Plus, it saves us all additional meetings, emails, and messages, as the essentials are all in one spot.
7. File & Resource Sharing System
On the note of efficiency, we’ve also created an easily navigable file-sharing system so people don’t have to waste time asking and searching for important documents. Additionally, we have internal landing pages that centralize the tools and information our team members need on a regular basis.
Depending on your business and operations, you might also implement project management tools like Asana or Trello and cloud-based sharing software like Microsoft One Drive or G-Suite. Combined with an organized chat platform, this ensures employees can easily collaborate, find resources, and update/monitor project progress.
Create a Positive Virtual Team Culture
At the end of the day, building a successful virtual team is all about organization, communication, and collaboration! We are constantly searching for ways to strengthen and improve our remote work processes—and many of these strategies and ideas come from our very own team members. So remember to always keep your ears and mind open to your employees near and far. Consider:
- What will help them build rapport?
- How can you foster positive mental health from afar? (Working remotely can be isolating!)
- What tools and resources would make their jobs easier and more efficient?
- How can you help them maximize their engagement and productivity?
Do you need support managing your remote team? Contact BlueLion today for HR guidance and first-hand experience at 603-818-4131 or email@example.com today, or check out our other articles on everything remote work!