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Team-Building and Your Remote Workforce

May. 22, 2024 | Posted by Lee Polevoi
Audio Narration of Team-Building and Your Remote Workforce


The concept of team building, where the goal is a closer bond among co-workers, is accepted throughout the business world. What may be less apparent—though equally important—is the need for a company’s remote workforce to bond as well.

While your remote workers may be as productive and conscientious as your on-site staff, remember that these workers “miss out on the in-office water cooler conversations, afternoon birthday cake breaks, and other shared experiences in-house employees participate in,” notes We Work Remotely. With “little to no personal interaction with other employees, they may feel as if they’re not really part of the team.”

If your remote team seems unengaged with the rest of your workforce, keep these tips in mind:


The bonding process doesn’t have to be complicated.

At its most basic level, remote worker team-building is fairly straightforward. A range of bonding activities “could be as simple as picking a day or two each week when you’ll all have your morning coffee together, over video,” notes MIT Sloan, as long as you “create contexts where people can have fun together, and connect at a human level.”

As an opening tactic, add some buffer time before and after completion of an online group meeting. Chat casually with any workers who log on early, and “leave the call open for your team to keep chatting once you’ve finished the meeting agenda,” advises Harvard Business Review. “Even seemingly small actions, like asking everyone to share a ‘rose and thorn’ (a positive and negative from the past week) … can become the type of regular, shared experience” that generates bonds among your remote team.


Try an icebreaker exercise.

As with any gathering of team members, you can incorporate “icebreakers” into an online group meeting. PandaDoc suggests devoting 10-15 minutes at the outset of the meeting to ask questions based on topics of casual conversation.” Each participant supplies answers in a rapid-fire process that can “facilitate team bonding and hilarity by asking questions that are harmless, silly, and completely off-topic.”

It's a great way for otherwise disconnected remote workers to get to know each other better.


Learn while you eat.

Another tried-and-true approach to team bonding is known as the “lunch and learn.” In both the physical and virtual realms, this can be “a non-mandatory event that combines training with company-provided meals,” according to Clockwise.” Coordinate with a preferred online food delivery service where remote workers can choose what they’d like for lunch. Keep the session time under an hour, and be mindful of the meeting structure.

Topics can range from health and wellness, soft-skills training, and/or a look at other workers’ job duties. Just remember to “trim the fat, so to speak, and keep your talking points relevant.”


Encourage remote team members to share.

Forbes recommends inviting remote workers on a group call to engage in a “cutest pet pic competition.” Each team member submits a photo of their pet, then show those photos at the virtual meeting, ask participants to vote on the “cutest” pet and pick a winner. Another suggestion? Invite remote employees to “list five accomplishments they hope to achieve in the future,” then ask them to “match common goals with one another and challenge them to accomplish any mutual bucket list goal together.”

There are many ways to strengthen the bonds among remote team members and with their on-site counterparts. Perhaps the most effective approach is including these employees in your employee recognition program. As we have noted before, at in-house meetings, “include a public acknowledgment of the efforts of your offsite team—particularly, specific contributions a remote worker has made to the business.”

Want to learn more about managing your remote team? Read “Goal-Setting Tips for Your Remote Team.”


Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by Lee Polevoi

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