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  • Writer's pictureKate Crawshaw

Virtual Team Building - 2 Years on and some lessons learnt.

Happy birthday Virtual Team Building!

Two years ago you were but a tiny babe and we welcomed you with open arms.

We wanted the very best for you and threw everything we could at you - pasta making, knitting circles and many rounds of trivia.

After 12 months, we were a little exhausted, walking around like the living dead about to burst into tears at the very thought of online drinks.

Today, the virtual team building session roams the streets in its 'terrible twos' phase, sometimes charming, other times defiant and often avoided.

We were reminded (thanks Facebook) of our immediate response to remote work two years ago, a week after we were all told to work from home. We developed a series of "Ice-o-lation Breaker" videos - short activity prompts for people who were isolated at home. Soon we were asked to deliver these activities to teams across Australia, Asia and America. If you feel like reminiscing you can check out our Vimeo playlist

After delivering sessions to hundreds of people, the sessions of 2020 are very different to those of today. What have we learnt?

  1. Connect with intent It is possible to have fun, connect and be focused. Our sessions have always been designed with a particular intent, either to build psychological safety within the team or practice specific communication skills. Initially we wanted the learning to be purely implicit. We have now realised that communicating the intent up front makes the learning deeper and the conversations around the activities stronger.

  2. Less is more Make space for the connection around the activity. Are you a planner? I am and the fear of a silent room has traditionally meant packing sessions with so much activity goodness that everyone felt that they had run a marathon rather than connect. It's always great to have another activity up your sleeve if something doesn't hit the mark, however

  3. Mix it up and give people an out We recently ran a team building session where a participant screamed - "I can't believe everyone's off mute!" Like everything we get into habits, and the way we interact online is no exception. Despite appearances, we can stand up, move around and make noise during a virtual team session. Whatever you do, don't do the same thing all the time and let people know it is ok if they want to sit something out. (We often give everyone a virtual joker card to play)

  4. Want real connection - commit to the practice We recommend 30 mins of online team building activities every 2-3 weeks to keep everyone connection fit - participants remember the value of the last session, stay comfortable with being a little silly and can continue to build skills that were mentioned in past sessions.

  5. If leading sessions doesn't come naturally to you, find someone else to do it Recently out Chief Experience Officer Kate Crawshaw interviewed 20 leaders about their team challenges with remote work. (You can download the report here) One of the biggest headaches for managers was finding ways to connect the team virtually. If this is not one of your strengths it will cause unnecessary stress (and may not be your best work). Serious Woo offer 30 minute "Team Time" which focus on key communication skills and nurture key indicators that promote psychological safety. Invest in your team with a 6 or 12 session pack. For more information, find a time to chat.

AND this month Serious Woo will share its most successful team building activity in its newsletter. Sign up here and all will be revealed.
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