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Online team building: what ideas for the success of your company

How was team building born? How has team building adapted to the new way of working ? In this article we will explain it to you and give you some examples to put online team building into practice.

Here's what you'll find in this article:

The origin of team building and what is virtual team building

Between 1924 and 1932 the first practical experiments were carried out by Elton Mayo , an organizational theorist regarded as the pioneer of social experiments dealing with employee behaviour.

At a telephone component factory in Illinois, USA, he conducted a series of experiments aimed at observing work as a result of changes in certain environmental conditions such as: greater or lesser intensity of light, the number of breaks granted, the increase or the reduction of working hours and the work carried out continuously together with a chosen group of colleagues, or rather colleagues. In fact, for 5 years Mayo and her team followed a group of six women who chose each other to collaborate.

The results were astonishing: Mayo could not help but admit that the findings obtained were not a direct effect of the different variables he had introduced, rather, the workers increased their effort and commitment to their work simply because their managers showed a interest in their well-being and a desire to improve their working conditions.

He also concluded that the main factor causing the increase in productivity was the sense of belonging to the team that the six women developed over the course of the experiment.

Once the experiment was over, the women were interviewed and said that the intimate atmosphere created in their group conveyed a feeling of freedom that they could not enjoy inside a large assembly line. Furthermore, by being able to talk to each other, they had formed a lasting friendship and it is no coincidence that the productivity of that team continued to increase even after the end of the experiment.

Despite these interesting results, we had to wait until the 80s and 90s, years in which the United States began to rethink the organizational structure of companies, to start seeing teams in a different light. In fact , the years from 1990 to today are considered the era of high-performance teams , with consultancy companies developing methods and tools such as team building activities to help organizations have more efficient work groups and greater well-being. psycho-physical.

As we know it today , team building consists of a series of activities and practices whose objective is to create work groups with high work performance and improve interpersonal relationships in the group itself.

Nowadays no one doubts the fact that better environmental and relational conditions are fundamental components of productivity, but today things have changed: before the fact that people saw each other every day in the office could foster a certain feeling of unity, now there there are employees who work in the office and others who stay at home, or still others who practice a hybrid model alternating days in the office with those at home.

Physical isolation reduces contacts or transforms them into their remote dynamics , where communication tends to be reduced to the bare minimum, which is why companies need online team building more than ever: if it cannot be done in person, it will have to be done virtually.

The advantages of team building

Whether it's a short activity at the start of an online meeting or a quiz session during the Friday evening happy hour, there are many ways you can engage the virtual team and the benefits of team building are many:

  • Mutual knowledge beyond role models

  • Increased engagement of everyone and the feeling of working towards a common goal outside of the work environment

  • Improved communication

  • Increased creativity

  • Greater productivity

Trainect's tips for making team building effective

To ensure that online team building activities are effective and that the desired objective is achieved, there are some precautions to take:

  • Make sure all participants recognize and understand the value of these activities - no one likes wasting time!

  • Address problems in the company before delegating them to team building : is it really the solution to your problem?

  • Choose activities related to work in the company : create a logical connection with the work context.

  • Leave space for participants to discuss: the more a dialogue is established, the greater the chances of success!

  • Don't think that just one team building activity will solve everything: it's team building, not magic!

Gamification and team building

All the principles we have seen can be applied to the gamification mode of engagement . In general, gamification is everything that recalls the interactive mode of the game, usually characterized by immersive, engaging and emotionally characterized situations , also equipped with elements such as competition, challenge, short-term phases or stages and continuous micro-rewards.

It is an approach that guarantees engagement and can be useful in making not only the activity more fun and creative, but also capable, like a metaphor, of representing, strengthening or exorcising real relational dynamics , all in a totally "safe" for people.

The elements of gamification can translate into real fun games, even online ( not to underestimate the opportunity to dedicate oneself to a video game in multiplayer and team mode , to which everyone can connect together) but they can also be taken up in more serious and apparently less playful (for example an online Hackathon or team project work, with team leaders, times and final reward assigned).

Examples of online team building activities

Here are some practical examples of activities you could carry out for your online team building:

Let's get to know each other by drawing!

Sometimes the best way to learn things is to do it visually. Invite your team members to use screen sharing or a digital whiteboard to visually represent who they are or an aspect of their lives. This can be a really fun way to learn about someone's interests, passions, and life story.

Do this activity in real time to make it more challenging, or ask people to prepare their board before the meeting. During the video call, go around the table where everyone will present their work.

Remote gift exchange

Host a remote gift exchange as a thoughtful way to show how much you care about the people you work with.

Monthly interest club

Digital team building activities don't have to be sporadic activities. You might consider making them a constant part of your culture, for example by creating some monthly interest groups or clubs. You could organize a book club, a movie club, a trivia club, or anything that suits your team's interests. They work best for small groups, because there is more opportunity to participate in the conversation.

Screen-sharing yoga or fitness sessions

With the pandemic, it has become normal to train at home thanks to video courses or online trainers. Thanks to Trainect, for example, you can organize virtual rooms together with your colleagues and follow your favorite video lesson at the same time, create small internal competitions or accumulate points to be allocated to charities, while also doing good for the environment. Team building and wellbeing in one fell swoop ;)

Informal chat

While it's not a specific team building activity, we think there's a lot of value that can be gained by creating an informal space dedicated to your team.

Create a Slack channel or other digital space where all members can feel free to communicate and talk about things outside of work. Encourage people to share a GIF of how they're feeling, photos of their pets, a shot of their desk, or an adorable photo of them as little.

How to improve team spirit even if you work remotely?

So in conclusion here is some other general advice on how to maintain and create a team engaged even remotely:

  • Short-term goals : In times of uncertainty we all need to know our priorities. Therefore, leaders need to work with their teams to agree key priorities and short-term goals – there may be some you have already established, but there are likely to be others suggested by the team. Working on short-term priorities and ensuring mutual clarity will bring a very strong sense of accomplishment – and we all know how much excitement can come from that!

  • Continuous feedback : For many people, working remotely will be new and they will need a lot of reassurance. If you work in the same room as your team, it will be easy to give feedback and encouragement throughout the day. But working remotely also means being much more proactive, otherwise your team will find themselves making assumptions and hypotheses, not knowing how things are going. As a team leader, you should give each team member regular feedback. Some people will want them daily, others will be more confident and require less frequent ones, so you have to figure out what's right for each person.

  • Flexibility: We are in the midst of a huge lesson in flexibility. It is amazing how organizations around the world have reacted so quickly to changing environments, and therefore individual leaders must adapt as well. You need to be flexible in how you work with each team member to help them deliver as much as possible, you need to be flexible in your expectations of them, in your project delivery times and in how you respond to the changing context in which you operate.

  • Long-Term Vision: Amid all this turbulence it can be difficult to think long-term, but as a leader, you need to keep an eye on the future. It can be really motivating for the team to set a vision of how you would like us all to work together and how to respond to the current crisis.

If you are interested in online team building and more generally in remote people engagement, we recommend reading our article Employee Engagement in post-covid, full remote and multicultural contexts , where you will find the concrete testimony of Jagaad, an Italian tech startup born in the middle of the pandemic and working completely remotely.

What are you waiting for? Do you also want to know about the Trainect platform? A technological service capable of monitoring the well-being of your company's employees and preventing excessive turnover by identifying engagement values and helping to build an employee experience worthy of successful brands.

Get started with a free consultation. You can schedule a call with Alberto Ronco, CEO of Trainect .

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