Study after study has shown the importance of collaboration at work. Companies that get collaboration right are more likely to beat competitors and have a highly motivated, engaged workforce.
But fostering collaboration can be a challenge when most of your employees don’t work from the office. If your employees work on the front lines or from their homes, they won’t have the same bonding opportunities as desk-based workers.
What can you do about this? Invest in creative ways to build effective virtual collaboration into your culture and promote teamwork.
One such way is to conduct online collaboration activities. These exercises provide remote employees the chance to socialize with peers whom they rarely get to meet in person.
So in this post, we’ll walk you through some of the best online collaboration activities we have hosted or seen working recently. But before we get to that, let’s see why virtual collaboration is so important.
2500% more companies globally are investing in remote collaboration initiatives in response to Covid-19.
The media has bombarded us for years with stories of isolated, self-made geniuses. But whether you’re an individual or a business, you need to work with other people and teams successfully to get positive results.
You and your workers need opportunities to develop rapport, understand each other’s abilities, and communicate effectively as needed.
It’s teamwork that lets employees put out a collective effort and get things done — things that cannot be carried out alone.
But as we said before, remote work deprives people of the chance to interact with their coworkers beyond the scope of work. If you’re part of a dispersed team, there’s little chance that you’ll ever bump into another colleague near the water cooler, or talk about a hobby.
Because of this, virtual teams often lack the human connection that is critical to job satisfaction and employee retention. And without emotional bonds, team members are less likely to be engaged at work.
That’s where online collaboration activities fill the gap. You can use them to enhance relations between employees and boost motivation. The remote collaboration exercises below will help your workers feel closer than ever, improving their overall well-being and happiness.
When picking the following online collaboration activities, we have ensured they are easy to implement and effective. And that they can be adapted to remote work environments using any well-known video conferencing tools.
Sharing our dreams with another person is a great bonding experience. In this online collaboration example, you’ll give each employee a few minutes to think and make a list of their goals.
Specifically, these would be the things they want to do in the next 12 months, or at least once in their lifetime.
Then, every worker will share the list they created in a video conference. If some employees have the same things on their lists, they can continue the conversation offline to discuss and plan together.
Call for a short, stand-up meeting at the start of the day. Each team member finds a coffee shop nearby, or brews a fresh cup on their own if they are home.
During the meeting, they can talk about the work they have planned for the day while enjoying their morning coffee. If mornings are not possible, you can apply the same concept to evening coffee breaks.
Be careful with this activity though. It’s very easy for it to become a strictly formal, work-related conversation. Make sure to keep the chatter light and fun.
This online collaboration exercise helps employees facilitate clear communication and recognize each others’ strengths.
Divide workers into teams of two. Now ask each employee to take two minutes and share a work-related accomplishment they have had recently. You can set a particular time frame, such as last year, quarter, or week.
These could include successes such as handling a client, reducing the time it takes for a task, or gaining new insights.
After a worker is done speaking, the other person on their team will summarize to make sure they have understood the value of this achievement. Then repeat the same process for everyone in the meeting.
Ask your distributed employees to take or share a snap of something meaningful from their personal life.
For example, it can be:
- A family portrait
- A picture from their recent vacation
- A shot from their daily routine
- Something they recently purchased
Whatever it is, it should shine some light on their personality and interests. Then schedule a video meeting where workers can show and talk about their pictures. They can say why they chose the image and what it means to them.
The memory board is an amazing way to bond over past events, and it helps immensely with virtual team building.
Create a list of some work-related subjects and post them as notes on a whiteboard. For example:
- My favorite team member
- First day at work
- Client presentation
You can then have each worker pick a topic and share a memory related to it.
This is a great collaboration example for newly formed remote teams. Typical introductions based on “say something about yourself” can feel awkward, boring, and uncomfortable.
But with this remote team-building activity, you can give workers a fun, alternative way to introduce themselves and improve future communication.
Before calling an introduction meeting, ask employees to prepare three statements — two truths and one lie — about themselves. The lie should be conveyed as realistically as possible. It shouldn’t be easy to spot.
Each worker will then disclose their three statements in the meeting when delivering their introduction. And other team members will guess what’s the lie and what the truths are. Once they are done, the worker will tell the team members if they were right or wrong.
You can also make it more fun by awarding points to people who hid the lie successfully or who guessed it correctly.
This team-building activity has gained so much momentum over the years that companies like Hasbro have turned it into an electronic game.
Create a list of words or phrases. These could include celebrities, expressions, objects in the office, or movie names.
Then assign one to each employee. No one should know the word apart from the worker whom it’s assigned to.
Next, ask each employee to describe the word given to them without actually mentioning the word. And other team members will guess what the word is.
Breaking bread together is an obvious connector. And lunch and learns have been one of the classic online training activities to promote collaboration in physical workplaces. So there’s no reason they can’t be adapted to the virtual world.
Get your team members on a video call and invite a subject matter expert to teach something that everyone can use. The topics may include productivity, problem-solving, and of course, working remotely.
You can schedule the event during lunchtime, allowing workers to enjoy their meals while absorbing new knowledge. If budget is not an issue, you can also offer to pay for the food.
In this virtual team-building activity, give your team a hard situation. For example, let’s say they were going somewhere in a plane and it crashed on a deserted island, or a zombie apocalypse has made its way into their region.
Then share with them a list of objects that might help with their survival and eventual rescue. Next, ask them to rank each item based on its importance, first individually and then as a whole group.
It’s a great way for everyone to reflect and compare their personal decisions with collective choices. And it may give them new perspectives on collaboration.
It’s not just eating. Cooking too can lead to an effective online collaboration exercise. With the popularity of remote work, more and more people are cooking at home.
You can start an online event where workers share their culinary favorites or experiments with food. And you can also run a challenge where employees will try each others’ recipes and take pictures of what they made.
Online team building doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be just as fun for workers to get to know each other virtually as physically.
As you can see, there are many online collaboration activities that are quick and easy to arrange. And they are essential to creating an employee experience fueled by teamwork and positive working relationships.
Not just that. Online team-building exercises help you leverage the unique strengths and perspectives of each and every employee, resulting in a better output at work. So incorporate them regularly in the virtual workplace, and the harmony you’ll create is bound to help your business excel.