How to use online team building to boost productivity

Mariano Rodríguez Colombelli
May 08, 2017

When you really look at it, most teams are remote nowadays. Even if you work in the same building, you’re likely offices away from each other and communicating via technology. We “work remotely anyway, so it’s time to make it more personal.

You’ve heard of the benefits of team building in person. So, it’s time to bring team building to where we work and communicate most – online. One of the biggest struggles for companies is to make online communication and collaboration smooth and natural for their team. And when you do it right, the gains in terms of productivity and quality of work are through the roof.

Our team works remotely from multiple countries and we’ve come up with some of our top tips for getting team members bonding, communicating, and comfortable collaborating online:

Establish a virtual watercooler:

One of the things many work environments are missing these days is a central location where different team members can get to know each other and have a casual conversation. It seems trivial, but it’s vital for employees to feel connected to their coworkers to increase productivity and decrease turnover. But with less face-to-face interaction than ever, how do you facilitate that? We set up a public stream on Hibox. It’s just an open stream everyone has access to, in which no actual work is done. Rather, we introduce new employees to the team virtually, we say happy birthday, we share memes, etc. You’d be surprised how much this makes our “virtual workspace” feel like we’re all in the same place.

Have a group activity everyone can contribute to:

Another great way to get people comfortable working and collaborating online is to set up a trivial online activity everyone can work on together. It kind of breaks the ice in terms of sharing opinions and building something together without face-to-face conversations. For example, we built a company playlist using Spotify playlists that we can all add songs to and access. It’s a fun way to share each other’s cultures and personalities and get team members to open up with less pressure.

Use chat for brainstorming:

One of the downsides of tech and too much space in between team members is that we’ve lost a lot of the in-person brainstorming and idea generation that helps bring innovative ideas to life. As soon as possible, you should try getting your team brainstorming and discussing new ideas via chat. Chatting rather than in-person brainstorming has actually been found to remove a lot of the fear and bias with sharing ideas. Also, because chat is so fast and informal, team members are more likely to share their rough ideas rather than overthinking what could be great ideas. This means you could actually get more out of your team having them do this. Getting comfortable on chat will help foster this improved form of brainstorming, and help to better solve problems and come up with fresh ideas.

Regularly update your team with real-time news and messages:

A big part of keeping employees engaged and productive is making them feel like they are working towards a collective goal. Make it a point, whether they’re across the country or in the office next to you, to make employees feel like there is progress they’re directly contributing to. An easy way to do this is to consistently update them with good news from all areas of the company via a public chatroom, like the one I mentioned earlier. We do this with our team and it helps keep everyone motivated because we can all see the constant progress we’re making. The biggest motivator for employees is feeling vital to a bigger cause and it’s not hard to show them this – especially virtually.

Even though some of us are in the office and others are away, our team feels more connected and is better at working together thanks to simple activities and tools like these. We’re so used to working online anyway, so it’s time we make it more personal. We hope these tips help your employees communicate and collaborate better than ever!

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