Building a functional team may seem daunting at first — especially when your team is remote. But it doesn’t have to be.
According to Google's study of over 180 successful teams, there’s a common trait found in highly functional teams — psychological safety. The study is known as Project Aristotle, and their findings were synonymous with work published by Amy Edmondson in 1999.
Amy Edmondson defines psychological safety as: “A shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”
Successful teams have an open environment and take full advantage of it to tackle a project from all angles. They’re not afraid to address problem areas and they encourage team members to voice their concerns.
If you’re looking to cultivate a high functioning remote team, it’s time incorporate the right kind of team building exercises into your formula.
Plan Off-Topic Meeting Times
Conversation is one of the biggest ways to strengthen a team. If conversations aren’t developing naturally, it may be time to schedule a regular team meeting to catch up and connect. It could be programmed within an existing meeting or given its own.
When having these discussions, be sure to facilitate and observe the conversational pattern of the group. It’s crucial for everyone in the group to have an equal opportunity to talk — a leader should work towards this throughout the meeting.
Schedule A Virtual Gaming Session
You don’t have to be a gamer and you don’t need a gaming console to reap the benefits of team building games.
“Simply by virtue of its repetitive nature, online gaming provides scope for development and improvement of certain skills. These skills could be gaming-related or they could be practical applications of actual real-life concepts that come in use in game space.“ — An excerpt from Online Gaming and Teamwork by Lakshmi Jagad.
The important focus here is to encourage dependability through communication and critical thinking. A dependable team accomplishes goals and works together to achieve the best end result.
Using video conference, many face-to-face team building games are possible and often encourage turn taking. For Example:
Charades — This activity provides an opportunity to strengthen the team through nonverbal communication.
Pictionary — In this game, the team is engaged in critical thinking and turn taking.
Show-and-Tell — This gives everyone an opportunity to share something important with the group; when the team learns about each other it builds much-needed rapport.
Create An Off Topic Group Chat
One of the biggest attractions of remote work is schedule flexibility. Dedicated chat rooms offer the team a chance to communicate in a comfortably paced environment. Allocating space to non-work topics takes this a step further and provides a degree of informality that can strengthen a remote team.
Cultivating a healthy community chatroom builds necessary rapport amongst team members who don’t have the benefit of “cooler talk”. If your group has no team chat, it’s already long overdue.
Use Virtual Work Environments
Offer a platform for coworkers to work together simultaneously. The idea here isn’t necessarily to work on the same project, but to exercise the ability to connect together. By means of conference calls, collaboration software, chat rooms, and more, team members can collaborate throughout their production process.
Collaborate On A Project
One of the best ways to learn is to experience something first hand.
If your remote team works independently, it might be time for them to collaborate on a project. It could be something work related, but don’t be afraid to get creative. If your team wants to something different — like design postcards to surprise an elderly home — go for it! The intention is to get everyone working together towards a common goal.
It’s important to approach the project with the mindset of it being a teambuilding activity. Actively encourage each member to participate, to voice concerns, and to promote a safe environment to accept these concerns.
Do you have other ways of building rapport among your team of remote workers? We’d love to hear from you!
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