It’s one thing to create an atmosphere of trust and camaraderie between employees when they’re all in the same building for eight hours a day. But what about when teams work virtually and they rarely see their coworkers, if at all? How can you keep your virtual teams connected to the larger organization – and each other? With more and more people working remotely, team leaders need to find ways to instill the larger organizational culture in their virtual teams.
Here are a few great ideas I’ve heard from virtual team leaders to keep their far-flung teams feel like part of a team and part of the larger company.
- Over communicate. In a virtual team, you must over-communicate to keep everyone aligned regarding company trajectory and project goals.
- Game on. Encourage your team to engage in online games to bring out their competitive spirit. This can also create a positive rapport that is useful when team members work together on a project.
- Send care packages. Go old school and mail out company swag or small gifts or a favorite treat to all members on your team. Synchronize the opening on a video conference call so everyone shares in the experience.
- Don’t cut the chit chat. Remote teams don’t have a chance to make small talk with co-workers in the next cubicle or rehash the latest episode of Game of Thrones. Allow team members to discuss personal lives and interests. Use chat programs, video conferencing and websites and encourage team members to post pictures and non-work updates.
- Embrace emojis. While it might seem a little silly to incorporate emoticons into IM’s, chat sessions, Skype messages or even emails, it can make or break how individuals perceive each other’s’ emotional state. Over the phone, tone of voice is everything – the person on the other end can tell if you’re smiling or rolling your eyes. Your own non-verbals they may not be seen, but they can often be heard.
- The Social Network. Create a social media-type group page – you can even use Facebook – and encourage team members to share personal updates and stories about what’s going on in their lives. Employees can communicate and “follow” conversations in real-time sharing knowledge and staying close to what others are working on which builds a stronger sense of community. Think of it as virtual team building.
- Get Together IRL. Obviously, nothing can replace actual face-to-face time for your virtual team. Get your teams together as often as budgets allow so they have the opportunity build stronger interpersonal relationships.
Need some help making your virtual teams feel like part of the company? We can help. Let’s talk. www.powersresourcecenter.com