How virtual teams can bond better

In a virtual workforce, it can be hard to build strong relationships amongst remote employees. But with these team-building tips, you can be sure to build a warm and connected company culture.
26 March 2018

Encouraging team-building activities is just as important for remote workforces | Source: Shutterstock

L et’s be honest, when someone mentions the words “team building”, it is usually followed by an eruption of groans and a wave of eye-rolls.

But despite its reputation, team building is arguably one of the most important investments you can make for your company, for many reasons.

Most notably, it increases employee engagement which has a big impact on your bottom line. Research from Gallup found that disengaged employees are costing the US economy a whopping US$500 billion per year.

Team-building allows you to build communication skills with employees, creating a warm company culture built on the foundation of trust and understanding. But getting all employees on board the team building train can be hard enough with a team that works in the same building for 40 hours per week.

So, what about teams consist of remotely working employees? An increasing amount of companies are fostering this kind workforce and are seeing appeasing results, including higher productivity levels, higher retention rates, and a reduction in costs.

But how is it possible to develop and maintain strong personal and professional relationships with individuals whom you may never have met before?

With an increasing rise in virtual desks popping up across the globe, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks with the help of CEOs at remote working companies who really know their stuff:  The Simplifiers, Wave Application, The Hoxby Collective, and Origym.

Team building activities


Take some time to meet up with your co-workers in a physical setting. Source: Shutterstock

Even though your employees work remotely, meeting up once in a while is a great way for you to get to know your co-workers from behind the screen. Organising monthly or quarterly meetups where you can grab a bite to eat or take part in some classic team-building activities will really create a great company culture.

As well as taking part in fun activities, these meet-ups are a great way to discuss strategic goals, do some visioning exercises and talk about the big picture.

Virtual water-cooler chats

Create a water-cooler chat where you can catch-up with non-work related topics. Source: Shutterstock

The water cooler is a symbol of communication, where work colleagues often gather for short work-related (or not) chats. And just because your business works virtually, does not mean to say the watercooler has to go. In fact, many remote workforces incorporate the “virtual watercooler” into their digital communication platforms.

You should encourage non-work related chat channels where people are free to post whatever they like, be it a picture of their dog in a hat, the sending of memes and gifs, a funny story from their Saturday night out, or a request for some well-needed advice.

Video catchups

Video chats are the next best thing to physical meet-ups. Source: Shutterstock

One of the major disadvantages of remote working is the inability to take part in the daily interactions that take place in an office environment. But advancements in technology means that remote employees can video call each other anywhere an at any time.

As a leader of a remote workforce, you should schedule in an allocated time each week where your employees can use video-messaging software such as Skype to share a coffee and a conversation.

These virtual coffee breaks can range anything from half a 10 minutes to an hour, and give remote workers the chance to build a sense of community away from the office.

Online games

Encouraging the team to take part in online gaming activities will strengthen relationships. Source: Shutterstock

Another successful team-building exercise to engage your remote employees is the use of online games. Playing these games together and having a little fun will create a rapport that will be useful later on when there is work to be done.

This doesn’t have to damage your productivity levels either. Why not put half an hour of your time on a Friday afternoon (let’s be honest, this time isn’t usually the hive of activity) to compete against each other and socialize. Though simple, exercises like this will go a long way in building a strong and connected workforce.