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.