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Category: Remote Teams

Although COVID-19 is (hopefully) behind us, the pandemic will have long-term impacts on the working world. Having grown accustomed to, and comfortable with, working remotely, many employees are resisting a return to the office.

Though managers would generally prefer to have everyone physically back in the workplace, given the tight labor market and projections for lower workforce growth over the coming decade, they can’t push too hard.

Of course, remote work isn’t an option for everyone. But for knowledge workers who are able to work from home (or pretty much anywhere), some combination of remote and hybrid (part-time in the office) work is likely to permanently replace full-time in-the-office employment.

Developing team cohesion and camaraderie is more important than ever for improving employee retention. Yet it’s also incredibly challenging to do when employees spend little time interacting in person. What are managers to do?

A regular schedule of team building and professional development programs can check all the boxes: it builds strong relationships, enhances collaboration, increases employee loyalty, and improves interpersonal skills. The end result is an engaged, high-performing workforce. Here’s how to get there.

How to Use Team Building with Remote and Hybrid Work Teams

Effectively managing and optimizing the cohesion of physically disconnected work teams requires thinking about the challenge across multiple dimensions, including people, processes, and programs.

Building collaborative teams goes way beyond the technology. Tools like Slack, Zoom, and Monday can certainly be helpful, and remote work applications have in general gotten a lot better over the past couple of years. But the tools themselves are only infrastructure; it’s how the tools are used that leads to high performance (or not).

People

One challenge of managing remote/hybrid teams is that it’s harder to really get to know your team, and for team members to really get to know each other, without the benefit of in-person verbal and non-verbal cues day in and day out.

As noted in a previous post here, maximizing team cohesion with different personalities and work styles starts with utilizing some type of personality assessment tool, such as the DiSC model, MBTI assessment, or Predictive Index. The insights they provide are valuable in any environment but are even more crucial when managing physically disconnected work teams.

Some employees are comfortable working independently, with periodic check-ins and updates from team members. Others are more collaborative and prefer to talk issues through with teammates. Still others need time to process information and are uncomfortable making snap decisions.

It’s vital for managers to understand these differences regardless of the work structure, but even more critical—and challenging—in remote or hybrid situations. For example, an employee who craves socialization may need opportunities for direct conversations with the team leader and coworkers in order to remain comfortable and engaged.

“Managing is less about tactics and goals and more about team cohesion, building culture, and creating one-on-one relationships. Then when conflict or a crisis does happen, you’re better equipped to handle it,” says leadership coach Wendy Bryan.

“You have to arm your managers of hybrid or remote work teams with assessment tools and skills. It’s about really understanding the workplace drivers and what makes people tick, because most employees can’t just tell you how best to manage them.”

Leadership training is essential for enabling managers to understand and properly use the results of personality assessments. Team building programs help employees better understand and accommodate the different work styles and preferences of their colleagues.

Process

One basic component of managing geographically dispersed groups and making everyone feel like part of the team is not only a regular cadence of online meetings, but also an established structure, so that everyone gets the most out of virtual meetings.

That’s vital from a tactical standpoint, but it’s also crucial for managers to understand the softer side of online communications. Who needs to be “called on” during team meetings because they aren’t as eager as others to speak up? How do employees prefer to be contacted for urgent or quick questions: phone call? Text? Are they highly responsive on Slack or email? That’s important to know on both tactical and interpersonal levels.

The output of personality assessments can also be incorporated in creative ways into remote team communications.

For example, notes Wendy, “We could take the placards from the Predictive Index and black out the names. Then interject those into weekly or monthly meetings, asking ‘Who do you think is who? Which one is yours?’ It’s a five-minute icebreaker that’s fun, gets everyone relaxed, and is much more meaningful than small talk about sports or the weather.”

It’s also helpful for remote team cohesion to occasionally interrupt business with fun. For example, once a month, hold a mandatory 30-minute Zoom meeting where people have to be away from their desks and doing something physical, to encourage health and wellness.

People might be walking, at the gym, vacuuming, any physical activity. It may seem awkward at first, but after a few sessions, team members start to get creative and have fun with it. It’s great for physical and mental health, as well as employees showing a different side of themselves.

Team building and professional development programs also play a crucial role. “Think about what happens at sales meetings, marketing kickoffs, or other all-employee gatherings,” says Wendy. “People get to see each other, give high-fives, and hang out together. That’s so important. When it’s not possible or practical, virtual team building helps to meet that need in building team cohesiveness.

“You can have a manager attend leadership development training or your people do a team building program. Both are important, but have two different psychological effects. One is addressing the manager and how to manage. The other is for the team and how to see other sides of coworkers beyond email, Slack, and Zoom meetings. Start with team building for everybody, then springboard off into getting managers trained to be better leaders.”

Programs

Helpful programs for leadership and professional development in hybrid / remote work environments include:

  • Building Your Hybrid Team: This custom virtual workshop will give you and your hybrid team a roadmap for moving forward, while helping to organize for increased efficiency. It focuses on methodologies that your group can use in future meetings, and explore behavioral and work styles and situational leadership approaches. It will help you to create an Objective Statement along with corresponding team goals to ensure everyone is on the same page.
  • Virtual Coaching and Feedback: This online program will increase your ability and skill to provide virtual coaching and feedback that is engaging and effective. It helps develop trust and respect and promotes self-awareness that will allow for increased development and focused career planning.
  • Conducting Better Virtual Meetings: Learn the skills and tools to make your virtual meetings effective and productive. Plan remote meetings that will deliver tangible results with clear takeaways and follow-up action plans that will ensure your attendees see value in attending and participating.
  • Developing Emerging Leaders: For a more in-depth approach to developing and enhancing leaders in your organization, this comprehensive workshop series helps current and future leaders realize their full potential.

Among the most popular and effective virtual team building programs for strengthening remote team cohesion are:

  • Virtual Morning Jumpstart: This event can be delivered on any day of the week as a fun way to launch into a productive workday with smiles and camaraderie. Virtual Morning Jumpstart promotes team cohesion and enhances relationships through a lively series of game-type challenges and morning wake-up-themed activities.
  • Virtual escape rooms: Programs such as Escape the Office, Save the Boss, and Search for the Cure bring together an immersive storyline, clues of varying difficulty, detailed graphics, and an advanced escape room platform to intrigue and challenge your group.
  • Virtual Speed Networking: This engaging get-to-know-you event incorporates a series of fun and challenging icebreaker activities and discussion topics, conducted remotely. After every break-out session, teams will return to the virtual “General Session” space to reconnect with the large group and the host.

How to Schedule Workshops and Programs to Enhance Team Cohesion

Keeping remote work teams engaged and productive requires establishing protocols and processes, but also building team cohesiveness in a hybrid work environment. It’s very helpful to do some type of activity on a quarterly basis that brings the team together outside of the work you actually have to do. To maintain team cohesiveness among remote workers, you need to be even more deliberate about this than when you have the whole team on site every day.

In addition to training or professional development workshops that are just for managers, an ideal cadence is one team building event per quarter—live if possible, virtual if not. And the entire team should do at least one or two live, in-person team building events each year.

Conclusion

Building and maintaining highly collaborative and productive work teams is challenging in any environment, but even more so in remote or hybrid work situations. Leadership development and team building programs are essential for optimizing team cohesion and performance.

Managing successful remote teams requires the right mix of people management, processes, and programs. It starts with using a personality assessment tool to help managers really understand the unique characteristics of team members, and training managers on how to use the output of these tools.

Remote work processes help keep the team in sync. These need to take into consideration both tactical requirements and people management “soft skills.”

Team building and professional development programs play a vital role in keeping remote team members engaged, and your teams performing at a high level. The ideal cadence for team building activities is quarterly, with at least one in-person event each year.

As virus concerns subside and economies reopen, the term “hybrid” is increasingly being heard in the world of corporate team building and beyond. It’s clear that hybrid will play an important role for events from now on, but it is hard for some to define what exactly the term means, or what a hybrid event actually is. These are important questions to answer for anyone who wants to harness this powerful new format successfully.

What does “Hybrid” Mean?

As buzz has grown for hybrid, many of us wonder what the word actually means in the context of events. The word “hybrid” by definition means something made by combining two different elements. In the world of events, hybrid means a mixture of the elements of in-person events and meetings and the elements of virtual events and meetings. Done right, they combine the excitement of being face to face with colleagues and friends at in-person events with the reach, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness of virtual meetings. Hybrid events allow teams in multiple office locations across the country and around the world to gather in a meaningful way without the expense of travel for attendees.

A hybrid event goes way beyond simply live streaming, which is broadcasting a live event in real time to an online audience. The audience at a live streamed event is passive, just observing what’s happening at the live event. The attendees at the live event, meanwhile, may be only vaguely aware, if at all, that the event is even being broadcast.

At a hybrid event, in contrast, technology is used to enable the in-person participants and remote attendees to actively engage with each other, as well as the presenter or facilitator who is “on stage.” Hybrid events are truly interactive experiences for both groups of attendees.

What is a Hybrid Team Building Event?

If hybrid means a mixture of elements, what then is a hybrid team building event? There are several variations on how an event might function in a hybrid format, but fundamentally a hybrid team building event, as with other types of hybrid events, will have a portion of the group gathered together in person, with the remainder of the group participating in the event remotely. By utilizing technology solutions, remote participants can see, hear, talk with, and interact with the action at the in-person location for the event, without being physically present.

The biggest challenge for hybrid events is ensuring that both those attending in-person and those attending online feel actively engaged in the event. That’s particularly the case for team building programs, where engagement — rather than education or presenting information—is the core reason for the event. A truly successful hybrid team building event will achieve this, creating a shared experience that participants find valuable regardless of their attendance method.

Team building programs can be delivered in a hybrid environment either as standalone activities or as one component of larger gatherings. No matter the circumstance, the key to harnessing the power of a hybrid event is to ensure that the experience is optimized for both in-person and virtual attendees who are interacting with each other.

BEST uses powerful, proprietary event applications with Zoom integration to deliver hybrid events which ensure a shared experience that both in-person and virtual attendees find engaging and valuable. Innovative event technology solutions allow us to create dynamic methods to connect in-person and remote participants in a cohesive experience. Remote participants not only see and hear the action at the live event, but they can also engage with their teammates onsite using our event apps to answer trivia and score points the team needs to advance through the program.

Download our Hybrid Events eBook “Four Key Essentials to Making Hybrid Team Building Events a Success” to learn more about how to plan and create successful hybrid events.

What if you could recruit a high-performing team of professionals to improve your business and boost your daily operations? Even better, what if you could do so without having to increase your rent costs, hiring a recruiter, or investing in benefits packages and other incentives? The fact is, you can hire an expert remote team to ensure business success, and it’s simpler than you might expect.

Where to Start

You know you want to hire remote team members, but where should you go to find these sought-after professionals? The good news is that tons of experts turn to online job platforms and postings to secure freelance gigs. In fact, Gig Economy Data says that more than a quarter of all workers look for work in the gig economy. That means more qualified candidates at affordable rates — independent contractors are often cheaper to hire than full-time staff members. Of course, the beauty of fleshing out a remote team is that you can hire both types of staff to suit your needs.

Choosing the Best

So you’ve found some trustworthy sites where freelancers hang out. What next? Establishing clear parameters for the job or project you’re hiring for is a must. Outline the tasks that each role is required to perform, then list the skills or certifications needed for each duty, suggests the Society for Human Resource Management. Many online platforms offer you search tools to filter professionals by skillset or amount of experience. For specific tasks, you might seek candidates with specialties rather than those who may be generalists. After all, choosing the best candidate means selecting someone with the right expertise for your project or task, whether that’s a generalist or a candidate with niche know-how.

Onboarding and Training

Setting up a clear onboarding and training process can help your new hires master the company culture and get started working efficiently. Rather than tossing new workers head-first into projects, consider easing them in by collaborating on tasks, creating training videos and resources to walk them through their daily work, and even partnering up more experienced team members so that your new hires have someone to turn to for role-specific questions. Plus, virtual training can bring the entire crew together to meet common goals.

Teams and Collaboration

A cohesive team is a successful team, so keeping everyone in close contact is crucial. Even with a global team, you can check in and collaborate with a host of online tools. You’ll want a communication platform where your team members can check in, send messages quickly, and get the answers they need on high-priority projects and decisions. Try tools like Slack, Skype, and Zoom to chat, schedule meetings, and keep in touch throughout the workweek. Don’t overdo it, though — tech burnout can happen to any team, but remote teams are particularly susceptible.

Who Should You Hire?

Hiring needs vary widely based on the industry, niche, and specific project types or scope. But itemizing your business requirements can help highlight where you need the most expert contributions. For example, maybe your business has a long list of subscribers, but you’re having a hard time convincing them to become customers. Hiring an email marketing professional could be just the ticket for turning those leads into paying clients. Just make sure to check on their delivery timeframes, job platform reviews, and overall costs.

Developing a successful remote team is a must in today’s professional world. On the plus side, it’s also easier than ever to recruit a high-performing group of experts, no matter what niche you’re working in or how fast you need a project-driven to completion. Then, make sure to check out Best Corporate Events and Team Building’s programs and activities to foster teamwork and collaboration in your remote teams. Contact us today for a quote.

Tina Martin is a guest writer for Best. Tina stays busy as a life coach and works hard to help herself and her clients achieve a healthy work-life balance. She started ideaspired.com as a side project to reach as many people as possible, and encourage them to put their dreams first

5 Tips for Keeping Remote Teams Connected

We’ve all been out of the office for months now. Even our team at Best Corporate Events has been working remotely – and we miss each other! It’s easy to take for granted how much simpler it is to stay connected with your team and colleagues when you see them face to face every day until that is no longer the case. And now that we are all apart, many teams are craving some of that connection that they are missing just from passing their colleagues in the hall, being able to walk over to someone with a question, or simply asking ‘how was your weekend?’ on a Monday morning.

Many say that now it is more important than ever to stay connected to each other, so we do not feel isolated working in a remote environment. But what is the best way to do that? We at BCE have spent most of our time this year answering that question in the form of developing virtual events in as many creative ways as possible. But first, we had to think back to our fundamentals of bringing groups together and team building, to figure out the key points for connection in a virtual world. This left us with our 5 best tips to consider for keeping remote teams connected.

1. Just Check In

It doesn’t have to be complicated to stay connected. Going back to basics with simple one on one check-ins is a great way to start a dialogue amongst your team and build communication streams. Ask how your colleagues are doing, with their workload, and with the adjustment to a remote work environment. Are they struggling? Ask how you can help. Are they thriving? Ask if they have any tips that could help make the experience better for the team as a whole. But above all, keep the dialogue open, even if it’s just to say ‘hi’!

2. Nurture Team Dynamics

Your team is a community. No one person could accomplish what the team, with their combined skills and strengths, can do together. So, encourage that dynamic by making inter-team relationships a priority, and ensuring each individual feels that they are still a valuable part of the team! Team meetings, whether they are in person or virtual, are important not only as a tool for communication but to share successes and challenges as a team. Each member of your team may have a different strength they bring to the table, and pointing out and praising the areas where they are shining and contributing excellence to the organization provides each member a sense of pride and of being valued. Plus, recognition of their peers’ achievements provides motivation to the team, when many are reporting that motivation is harder to come by when working remotely. Don’t forget to acknowledge – and even celebrate – the different work and communication styles that work for each person, as each member is contributing to the overall success of the team.

3. Remember to Have Fun

All work and no play makes all of us a little dull. The face-to-face office environment is conducive to the kind of passing casual conversations about non-work related things that can bring teams closer together on an interpersonal level. If your team is comfortable with each other as people, not just coworkers, they will enjoy working together more. Presenting opportunities for the group to do something fun together is a great way to forge closer bonds within the team. This is our area of expertise – we’ve created 10 virtual game shows and entertainment programs just for the sake of getting groups to laugh and enjoy being with each other remotely.

4. Learn Together

Trying out a new skill or honing existing ones is a great way to grow individually, and to come together as a group. Take the opportunity during this time to develop skills both independently, and together as a team. Individually, consider areas of professional growth that you think would enhance your current skill-set, such as presentation skills, and actively look for those specific on-line training opportunities. From a team perspective, any challenge or task that you take on together as a team will bring you closer, and involvement from the whole group will make everyone feel connected. We can help here too, with our series of virtual training, professional development workshops, team development workshops, and keynote addresses.

5. Don’t Overwhelm

We all want to feel connected. But, work-life balance is still just as important when we’re working from home as when we’re going into the office every day. Sometimes it feels easy just to keep working when you take the commute out of your daily schedule, and just one more Zoom call at the end of the day may not feel like a big deal from home. Still, don’t forget that the workday – and mandatory work-related activities – are and should be finite. Peppering your team’s schedule with an excess of Zoom chats, meetings, activities, and events can become frustrating, and even take away from the time they need to do their jobs. Plus, you want the team to want to engage with each other, and if they are inundated with too much compulsory connection it can create resentment for the activities that are supposed to be a benefit for them or disengagement from the group. It’s all about balance – giving enough opportunities to feel connected without overdoing it and overwhelming your team. And if you aren’t sure what that balance should be for your team – ASK! After all, connection is all about communication.

 

Welcome to the BEST blog, a collection of team building articles, industry insights and news about our large collection of programs and events offered in locations across North America.

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    Programs can be delivered anywhere in North America.

    We have been working on improving our website. If you experience any difficulties with our forms, please let us know at sales@bestcorporateevents.com.

      If you have immediate questions, please contact us at:

      Phone: 800.849.8326
      Email: Sales@BestCorporateEvents.com

      What is a Keynote Speaker?

      Keynote Speaker is an often-misunderstood term associated with simply a motivational speaker, breakout speaker, industry expert, etc. Most professional speakers are not actual trained Keynote Speakers, who are specialists, therefore in much lower supply, and in higher demand.

      Keynote Speakers are experienced, professional communicators who engage an audience, capturing the essence of a client’s meeting. They are able to highlight it to their audience while simultaneously delivering their own key concepts and proprietary content in an entertaining and impactful way. Most companies understand that this specialization is very much worth the time (around an hour) and the investment.

      In order to capture the perfect essence, a Keynote Speaker spends the necessary time researching a client’s industry, their issues, and their audience to craft a customized presentation into a unique and distinctive moment specifically for the client’s event.

      As a top Keynote Speaker, Tom Leu strategically uses compelling storytelling, humor, powerful visuals, audio and video clips, and audience participation elements to weave an impactful message into your event in a fun and memorable way. Tom can also pair his Keynote with Best Corporate Events programming, laying a foundation and setting a tone that best prepares participants for maximum engagement in the forthcoming team events that day.