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Why virtual team-building activities feel agonising

https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20201229-why-virtual-team-building-activities-feel-agonizing

bbc.com

Why virtual team-building activities feel agonising
The words ‘team building’ may stoke fear in our hearts at the best of times, but during a pandemic, they often mean several extra hours on Zoom – something we could all live without.

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Companies need some form of cohesion

Companies need some form of cohesion

During the pandemic and the switch to working from home, companies need ways to keep their teams focused and maintain a sense of togetherness.

But in most cases, virtual team building feels more agonising than the real thing. It is also inherently flawed.

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Effective team building

Effective team building contains two things:

  • A change of scenery, which makes the activity seem like a break from the normal day.
  • A demonstration that your employer really cares about your wellbeing.

Virtual team-building fails at both because it is nearly impossible to provide specialized attention on a group video call. And if you're attending a team-building video chat from your home office, it won't feel like a change of environment.

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Physical experiences are more bonding

It's much harder to achieve the same level of bonding when you're not physically together.

Research shows that teams who experience mutual hardships strengthen connections, such as struggling through bad weather together.

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When the whole concept of team building is flawed

One school of thought is that the entire concept of team building is flawed, not just that of virtual team building.

Participating in team-building exercises won't usually help. The political and complex nature of the workplace means that people will return to their normal way of behaving.

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Online team building is not pointless

The challenge with online team-building is to simulate the physical experiences of a team-building day trip.

Although online activities fall short, they can work as long as businesses feel like they're fulfilling their goals and the events feel really enjoyable.

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‘Psychologically safe’ environment

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Statistics On Remote Workers

  • Loneliness was reported as the biggest downside for 21% of remote employees, and one of the reasons that makes them more likely to quit.
  • Most remote managers say they’d be more inclined to stay if they had more friends at work.
  • Individuals who have 15 minutes to socialize with colleagues have a 20% increase in performance over their peers who don't.
  • Positive social relationships are correlated with better life expectancy.

Dynamic Icebreakers

If your icebreaker questions are intriguing, cheeky, humorous – the answers you receive will be, too.

Many remote teams will kick off their weekly meeting with an icebreaker question or insert it during their morning stand-up meeting. Even more popular is asking a series of icebreaker questions during the onboarding process when hiring someone.

Failure

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The Ostrich Effect

Once we have invested our time, effort and resources in something, we tend to avoid correcting ourselves in real-time if we are off-track.

Inversely, when people engage in mental contrasting, anticipating the upcoming obstacles, they tend to succeed.

Failure Is A Goldmine

Sharing information on failure among peers means less work overall, and better success for the entire team, as team members do not have to reinvent the wheel by making the same mistake to learn from it.

People do not share failure as it hurts their self-esteem, but if we keep the personal equation aside, a lot can be gained from the collective knowledge of what didn’t work.