Remote work comes with its ups and downs, especially when you realize that you don’t know much about the rest of your team members; apart from those long hours of Skype calls. While camaraderie is essential for team building, it also matters that none of your team members feels excluded because of a remote working scenario. If you’re a team leader, it’s important you keep all team players involved – be it for brainstorming ideas or in a casually creative way.
Making cohesive teams that work in perfect synchronization is a tricky task even when everyone’s working face to face and having those little corridor talks. Not everyone may get along with each other at first, however, with time, they coexist together. But in the case of an offshore team, this may require extra effort (and thought, of course) to build the same rapporteur between distributed employees. So, for all the team leaders out there who could use some handy insights to achieve this, continue reading!
We’ve broken down this article into five main sections:
- Why is team building important?
- What are the challenges faced by the remote team?
- What hacks will help manage it all?
- What are some of the team building activities that can work for both remote and domestic teams?
Why is team building important?
According to Buffer’s 2018 State of Remote Work report, it was found that 21% of remote employees suffer from loneliness that makes them turn miserable and sometimes, quit their job. In such cases, virtual team building can be the miracle worker that preserves a valuable form of interpersonal communication between co-workers and helps increase the chances of effective communication and networking, leading to a flourishing feeling of belongingness and enhanced aptitude for teamwork at the end of it. Here are some of the significant ways that effective team building contributes to the members partaking:
- Cognitive Enhancement: With proper team management, team members can quickly observe, learn and adopt new ways in finding their approach towards problem-solving.
- Heightened Empathy: Inorder to make the team yield snappy and effective results, members need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of every individual.
- The ‘Well-Oiled Machine’ Process: Just like we said before, team building helps every team player see the bigger picture of work and understand how they fit in – once they have the right network with their colleagues.
- Rise in Overall Team Growth: ‘A team that works together grows together’. A team that discusses, learns, works closely and contribute towards the successful completion of tasks – and therefore turns out more resourceful than it was before task completion.
What are the challenges faced by a remote team?
Remote workers are known for their impact on productivity, cost reduction and employee satisfaction in an organization. According to a Harvard Business Review report, here’s what they found out after ten months of study:
- Remote workers find it easier to concentrate and are less likely to take leaves or have prolonged breaks.
- Remote workers saved the business around an average of $2,000
- Remote workers are snappier, happier and quirkier than office-bound workers
But, despite all the perks, there are several challenges that remote teams face on their own, which can lead to significant drawbacks for a company. Some of them are:
- The ‘Undervalued’ Syndrome: The same study suggested that most of the remote workers often feel left out and unequally treated to that of in-office employees.
- Limited Contact: Transparent communication isn’t always feasible since the archaic channel of emails seems too formal for quick conversations.
- Variable Performance Scenarios: Tracking the KPI metrics concerning the productivity of remote employees becomes trickier over time.
All the above problems convey an amount of disconnect, awkwardness, and insecurity in an offshore team, which can directly impact the work hours and productivity of the company. However, given the benefits that any remote team brings into the company, any issues faced by the group can be slowly observed, thought through and then sorted out by the team leaders or managers at the quickest.
What hacks will help manage it all?
The ‘Undervalued’ Syndrome:
Since this problem is more deep-rooted than others, this might take some situation-based solutions as well as generic ways tactics to quicken the process. Here’s how:
- The issue derives from the feeling of being not-heard and recognized as the in-office workers, make sure you need to keep them in mind for every promotion or task allocation.
- Get ample inputs from the offshore team through regular meetings, calls or updates.
- Save some good photos of your in-office and remote employees for the company newsletter, social media page, and website.
The fear of missing out and loneliness is ranked as one of the two challenges which are faced by offshore workers according to a 2018 study conducted by Buffer.
Such icebreakers could provide a nudge for remote workers in the following ways:
- Having frequent online meetings over a uniform and dedicated chat tool
- Creation of dedicated and informal chat channels – based more on interests and less on work
- Video calls can be a great way to add a human touch to otherwise disconnected work communication for remote workers
- Sharing regular content about the industry and other related news over chats, emails, would help the remote team get involved and promotes trust-building.
The more you involve your offshore team into everyday work, as well as being an active participant yourself right at the beginning, the more naturally things will work themselves out.
Variable Performance Scenarios:
Sometimes, there isn’t enough feedback on the work that remote workers do and will leave them uncertain as to how they are performing. Inefficiency is contagious, especially in a close-working team, here are some of the performance checks that can be done right:
- Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings: According to the volume of work one yields, regular feedback goes a long way in making things work smoothly in the long-run.
- Never hesitate to appreciate: Humans are very susceptible to encouragement. So are your employees. So, if there’s work that deserves more than just ‘thanks’ or ‘good job!’, don’t withhold any positivity that you can share with your team members.
- Plan the upcoming projects: Remote workers can feel uninspired quickly, talking about newer projects, figuring out work allocation and other details with them can perk up their interests for future work.
- Real work feels: Your employees can feel privileged (and inspired, of course) when they see that their work is making a difference. With a brief monthly report which can give the employees a more precise insight about their actions and how it is all contributing to the company’s profits can work out well in terms of individual motivation and self-development.
What are some of the team building activities that can work for both the remote and domestic team?
Team building research is mostly based on four main aspects:
- Trust Development
- Channels of Communication
- Problem-solving skills
- Collaborating skills
All of the above overlap each other. Therefore, planning out activities that require a higher level of expertise in all aspects can mean a great deal once they’re over and everyone comes out of it as a winner.
1. Guess the Answer
Starting with answering a bunch of general personal questions (what do they like to eat, favorite music band, etc.), the team members need to solve their set of problems themselves. It is followed by an email once every week, say Friday, where they receive a new question every time, and that’s when they try to guess what the other member answered.
This is a self-continuing game which involves icebreaking, establishing communication channels and building trust between the two members. Since it requires hardly any extra effort and even lesser time, it’s worth a shot!
2. Who’s got the cleanest desk?
If you’ve got a stylish crowd of team members, then this game can be an excellent way of setting things in motion. Ask everyone to take a flat lay off their desk.
(This Instagram term means where the items are arranged on a flat surface and are snapped from the above set parallel to the surface).
Now, once the photos are taken, these photos are put up for voting, commenting and discussing new ways of arranging things – with the best of the lot chosen to be featured in the newsletter. This can be a great way to set a spark amongst team members. Because this activity includes photography, it works with both in-office and offshore scenarios efficiently.
But, apart from all of that, it is also important to note that according to a study done by Princeton University, it was found that people are more prone to distraction when their desk clutter is building or are near a cluttered desk. Simply reminding them to keep it clean won’t do the trick until they feel inspired about it. And this does just that!
3. The Map Hunt
For all the companies which manage a pretty big remote team, this game can be fun and a great conversation starter in between your team members. Here, a map is created in Google Maps and all team members are allowed editing privileges. A team member is directed to name his/her city and country while the rest of the members have to find it out first. This can set the first interaction and coordination right in between your team players, be it in-office or offshore.
4. Pictionary Time!
Okay, so a lot of people like to play Pictionary, and it can be done through video calls remotely. However, it needs more time compared to the others but is tried and tested to work out even in the most awkward of situations.
Just a Heads Up…
We recently came across some of the works by the following options as we were looking to hire offshore developers ourselves. We found this share-worthy, and if you find these helpful, feel free to spread the good word:
- Toptal: We’ve used Toptal to hire a freelancer for some of our smaller projects that required niche skills. So far, any part-time freelancer we’ve hire has completed all assigned tasks efficiently. It’s important to analyze each potential freelancer profile, read previous feedback and finally interview them to ensure they’re everything they claim.
Offshore Development Companies
- CodeClouds: We immediately clicked with their offshore team, and they delivered us some of the most impressive results we’ve had so far. The best thing about CodeClouds that came with developer screening. After consulting with them, we felt very comfortable about hiring and putting our project in expert hands. They also have cost-effective developer packages which kept things cost-efficient. If you’re wanting to hire offshore developers, CodeClouds has been one of our best experiences so far!
The tremendous research that goes behind capable team building all leads to one bigger picture of enhanced performance and joy assurance for employees.
As a manager, your offshore team is like rose-tinted glass, which can let the sunlight seep through it once the layer of grit is cleaned speckless. Once that is done, your team will always be seen as a valued asset at your workplace.