In the depths of Lockdown 3.0, and after almost a full year of upheaval, 2021 has kicked off a little differently than most years when it comes to work. Many teams start a new year with training, planning and team building. Grad schemes are on the horizon. New hires are inbound. And frankly, everyone could do with reinforcing social bonds with their colleagues.
But how would that even work in the current climate, while your team are all working from the kitchen counter or dining table? How are you supposed to organise a team building day and keep employees engaged? We’ve all gotten used to video conferencing for working remotely, so Zoom is probably going to be involved, but that isn’t really an answer on it’s own. Here are some easy teamwork tips to help your team event, whether a small social, or a virtual away day.
Structure, Engagement and Time to Recharge
Usually, for your team days, you’d line up a couple of fun activities between some training / presentations, add a company lunch, and leave gaps in the schedule for mingling and general chit chat for people to bond. But gaps in a virtual meeting usually result in people awkwardly staring at each other on Zoom, and an ongoing chorus of “no you go first”. You’ll need a more structured schedule, baked in “recharge breaks” for longer events, and a selection of engaging activities.
Make an Accessible Itinerary
A good place to begin is with an easily accessible itinerary. You’d probably have a timetable for the day anyway, but this is even more useful for a remote event. Create separate Zoom meetings for the different parts of the day and make them clear on a shared timetable that everyone can access - that way you minimise the chance of people being in the wrong video conference and getting “lost”!
If your schedule involves breakouts, or sections where the team divides into smaller groups, organise those beforehand. It’s much harder for large groups to self organise over a video conference, so remove that potential headache in advance. Plus, it gives you the chance to put people together who you feel would be a strong team, or shake up your office dynamic with new combinations of people.
Build in Time to Recharge
Some employees find Zoom calls and remote working to take more energy than simply spending time with people in person. The last thing you want is for your colleagues to be increasingly stressed and fatigued as the day goes on. Make sure you build in time in the day for employees to take breaks. Giving options, like a Zoom room open during the lunch break, lets those who want to socialise while eating enjoy themselves, but creates space for those who need a rest (or are uncomfortable eating lunch on camera) to take some time to themselves.
Plan Engaging, Fun Activities
When it comes to the activities in your planner, what can you actually do? If budgets are low, and you have time to prepare, going DIY is always an option. The Zoom quiz has become ubiquitous, and for good reason - they’re easy to set up, and healthy competition is always great for team building and making sure the atmosphere stays fun and engaging.
You can even make building the quiz part of the team building activities - break into smaller groups, give each a specific theme, and have them work together to come up with questions. Each group elects a “quizmaster” for their round, and later in the day read out their questions to the rest of the team. It’s simple, but creates good opportunities for team work and socialising. Creating questions is a chance for colleagues to show off their niche knowledge and learn about each other, and requires the team to collaborate, organise, and elect a “leader”.
However, if you want some help in putting your activities together (or just can’t face another quiz), there are an increasing number of companies creating experiences that can help fill your team meetings with fun things to do.
For example, in Agent Venture, teams are led through an interactive, immersive heist adventure by a live actor (over Zoom). Your team is split into groups of 4-5, with each person taking on a different secret agent role within their group. You can choose which employees play together, and each role challenges specific areas. If there were certain colleagues that you wanted to test in areas such as logic or leadership, you could suggest to them (or assign) the relevant role so you can see how they do.
There are also options to host the whole team on a larger Zoom call at the beginning of the games for an “in character” introduction, and to host an awards ceremony at the end that highlights the fastest teams, and the best collective and individual performers in certain areas. It’s a great way to create a sense of togetherness and community, despite office culture going through such a large upheaval.
Team Building, 2021 Style
If you’ve been dreading organising the next team social, stop worrying! If you plan, and make sure your virtual team building day is filled with well structured activities, you’re sure to have an event to remember. It looks like remote work will be the “new normal” for a while yet, and now is a great time to help your team connect, build professional and personal relationships with one another, and develop your company culture!
By Ellie Sparrow