14 Apr 2020

Team Building for your Now Remote Project

Remote work
Team Building for your Now Remote Project

By now everyone is well entrenched into the new reality of remote working. Hopefully you have got your computer set up, your office space sorted and have access to all the tools, documents, data and various communication channels your work has provided. Now it’s time to get to work on those projects - albeit in a whole new way of working. 

A key part of the project manager’s role will be to help team members navigate the new reality and stay motivated and productive. Here we take a look at some team building games and activities you can use to get your team moving and focused on delivery.


1. Get to know each other in your new environments

Whether you are kicking off a new project or continuing with an existing one, it’s a good idea to re-introduce the team to each other in your new environments. Here are a few ideas:

  • Ask team members to share a picture of their home office or desk - encouraging everyone to share the story behind a particular object in their new space is a great way to learn more about team members’ personalities.

  • You can also get team members to share an image that sums up their new reality of working from home - anything that tells the story of their new remote existence. It could be a real picture or a meme that highlights the chaos with the kids, exercise routines or comfort food stockpiles. 

  • Another idea is to get everyone to provide the same image - for example, take a picture out of their window, what they are reading right now or a special family photo.

  • If you want to dive a little deeper, you can ask people to share what their bucket list is - and answer what goals they have outside the professional.

Whatever your approach, the idea is to get people to open up a little, so you all get to know each other better in your new remote world.


2. Create a shared virtual workplace

To combat the isolation, it's a good idea to find ways for the team to be connected outside of set meeting times. While periods of solitary focus can be great to get through tasks or do some strategic thinking, most of as like to be in the presence of others more informally from time to time.

  • Create a remote virtual office space where team members can come and go - any team member can join and continue to work on their own tasks. They can interact with each other casually to ask questions or just make small talk, just as it happens in the physical office. If it gets too noisy - they can just exit! 

  • Another option is to set up a chat channel for random thoughts, news and fun - this keeps the work chat channels clear of clutter but provides the “water cooler” moments we also need to get us through the usual workday. 

These virtual “common areas” can be great ways to maintain camaraderie and team culture. People often feel more motivated and inspired to work when they are in the presence of fellow workers and everybody is diligently focusing on the job at hand.


3. Ask questions to discover what works best

For a lot of people, working from home is a new experience. Plenty of office workers have done it on occasion but for many, working remotely the whole time is uncharted territory. 

  • Ask your veterans to share their remote work, best practices - it could be the case that you have team members that are veteran remote workers. What communication and productivity tools do they use and for what? How do they structure their workdays? What strategies do they employ to help them stay focused? How do they manage sharing their space with family members?

  • Equally you can ask everyone - whether they are experienced remote workers or not, find out what the teams’ work style, preference is. Do they prefer chat, email or video? Are there times of the day they would prefer not to be disturbed? Is it ok to make unscheduled calls? You can provide each project team member with a form to answer these kind of questions. Use this to build out the teamwork style operating norms and then share that back to the group.

  • Taking the temperature of the team regularly can also be approached as a “game” - for example, at set times ask the team how they are feeling about things. Get them to respond using emojis, memes or other fun visuals. If you get a barrage of red-faced emojis, it is probably a red flag you have a problem you need to address. 

While thinking about ways to boost the entire teams’ productivity is important, it’s also essential to follow up with a regular schedule of one-on-ones.


4. Finally have fun

The world is a pretty stressful place right now. Many enjoy the focus of work to take their minds off the bigger issues we are all facing but sometimes we do need to simply have fun.

The great thing about the digital and online world’s we are now spending more time in is that there are endless ways for people to share, collaborate and enjoy each other’s company - online trivia competitions, sharing music playlists, online movie nights or just video Friday night drinks! So get creative - ask your team members for ideas and you will soon learn what they like to do for fun.

Team building games don’t need to be overly formal or complex - just be clear as to why you are asking your team to take part. Is it to get to know each other, build productivity and motivation or just let off steam? All are very good reasons.