Virtual Team Building for Remote Teams

Creating a strong sense of team can be a challenge when managing virtual teams.  However, building team connection while distributed across space and time zones is the key to successful working relationships. When working virtually, it becomes even more important to continually reinforce relationships, model and facilitate open communication, and to drive conversations beyond tactical necessities. High performance teams are driven by relationships, not tasks, and virtual team building can help build those connections.  Always remember, building a strong team, whether co-located or distributed, takes continual effort and reinforcement (see leadership development).  A well-designed virtual team building program can provide the structure for helping your team develop or maintain the 5 key elements of successful virtual teams:

TRUST- Building a strong foundation through virtual team building

Building trust takes time and is validated through experience.  Team building activities should be designed to promote open communication and create a common history that helps unite the entire team.  Trust is based on relationships that extend beyond just the face on your screen.  Spending time connecting or reconnecting can help everyone become more engaged and productive.

COLLABORATION – Virtual team building to help span time and space

Virtual team building exercises are a perfect way to explore internal processes and team dynamics without the emotional baggage associated with titles and jobs.  By using activities that model your virtual work environment combined with effective facilitation, you can openly discuss both team and virtual challenges.  These discussions can lead directly to changes that will improve both the team environment and performance.  (see virtual team skills)

COMMUNICATIONVirtual team building for efficient communication

Communication is the core of nearly every work process, and virtual team building is a perfect opportunity to continue refining this skill set.  By focusing on communication throughout your team building efforts, you help set the expectation that this same focus will carry over to your daily work environment.  And remember to focus specifically on how communication needs to be adapted to your specific virtual environment.  (see interpersonal skills)

AUTONOMYVirtual team building to promote personal  accountability

Virtual team building exercises should focus on positive contributions and emphasize the impact this has on overall team performance. These positive behavioral-based experiences help to improve engagement and reinforce accountability, both individually and collectively.  The need for both autonomy and clear communication is absolutely critical for virtual teams.

MOTIVATIONBuilding engagement through virtual team building

Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused and motivated when working remotely.  Virtual team building is an opportunity to refocus and re-energize your entire team and prepare them for moving forward.  Well designed virtual exercises combined with skillful facilitation can dramatically improve goal-focus, commitment, and overall accountability.  To be effective, you need to make sure your entire team is heading in the same direction!  (see team building)