By: Courtney Beam
3 Virtual Team Building Challenges in 2020 & How to Face Them
I’ve worked remote full-time for a couple of years now, and during that time I’ve discovered many benefits that I love! And now that more of my colleagues are remote, I seem to enjoy it even more. We have minimized our commutes, increased our productivity, have a newfound focus on collaboration and creativity and we are all one step closer to the coveted “work-life balance” unicorn. With that said, it’s not without its challenges. If you are like many leaders, the recent shift to working completely virtual has uncovered many new challenges for you and your team.
Challenge: Maintaining Your
Solution: Proactively Keep Culture & Engagement Top of Mind
While it may be challenging, as leaders, we know the importance of keeping culture and connectivity alive, especially with a virtual workforce. To keep the focus on your culture, consider assigning someone to be a culture champion. Allow them the creativity and space to engage the team virtually with activities that will keep your culture top of mind. Delegating this responsibility will keep team activities fresh from the virtual happy hours you’re likely hosting – nothing is wrong with them; they can just get old and they’re not really driving your culture anyway! In addition to culture, it is important to maintain engagement. In office settings, it’s likely that you bumped into team members on a regular basis. Now that you are remote, proactively and consistently reach out to your team members to touch base, help them feel connected and valued. Set calendar reminders, keep a list of the last time you reached out, schedule virtual “huddles” each week to check-in – whatever works best for you.
Challenge: Team is Disjointed or
Communication is Amiss
Solution: Revisit Team Agreements
Most problems lead back to communication. Lead your team in a discussion around revisiting (or implementing) team agreements specifically focusing on your new virtual environment. Make sure employees are clear on the appropriate methods of communication and when to use them (email, slack, text, zoom, instant message). Consider how to address background noise on a call, what to do when team members are talking over each other, kids or pets enter the background or when conflict arises. Discuss how can you agree to (productively) call each other out for not living up to the virtual team agreements. Further, a virtual work environment lends itself to productivity, but can leave everyone feeling like they are always working. Encourage your team to put boundaries around their time and as a leader, it is important that you respect those boundaries. Burnout is a real thing, and I wholeheartedly believe it is even more likely with your remote employees.
Challenge: Team Structure Has
Solution: Don’t Forget The Power of In-Person Connection.
If your organization is like many others, you may be considering implementing more work-from-home days, or even considering going completely remote. If your team has experienced a significant change since becoming virtual, consider bringing everyone together in-person once it is safe and appropriate to do so. Since one of the benefits of having a virtual team is reduced cost, consider redirecting budget to travel accommodations to bring everyone together. This can be particularly effective during times of change, when there has been turnover, when there is a cause for celebration or even if morale is significantly down.
These challenges are the tip of the iceberg. Organizations have uncovered great benefits from going remote, but it has certainly brought challenges too. What other challenges has your team faced in the wake of moving to a more virtual environment? What solutions have you implemented to combat these challenges? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.