In this age of cyber meetings and talking wrist watches, the office just isn’t what it used to be. Every day, advancements in technology give us more wiggle room: more ways to communicate with co-workers, more devices to solve problems, more tools to get things done. For some of us, technology gives us quite literal wiggle room, and we’re able to work from anywhere in the world. But how does this freedom to work remotely affect our ability to work together? Is there a need for team-building for teams built on virtual relationships?
The new office
If there is anything the 21st century has taught us, it’s that virtual relationships are very much real. We are not all living double-lives: We hold Tweeters accountable, publicise what we “like” and approve of, and select just the right Emoji with great care. Every day, the virtual world is built on human connection, and we continue to build relationships using digital platforms because we expect that these relationships will translate to the offline world. We trust these platforms because of their basis in the real world.
The new office is one of these platforms.
The wiggle room that technology affords us is a wonderful gift. It allows workers to prosper in their individual ways, freed from the confines of one office space. Remote workers can pursue their own ventures, giving them each unique perspectives to offer the workplace. For remote teams, the office is not just a physical place where work happens.
The new office is a hub for ideas and intentional interactions – More so than any one tangible space, the new office is a cultural realm.
Working together, apart
If the new office is essentially work culture, then the answer to our question is simple: yes! There is a need for team-building with remote working. The new office is the culture of the team, and so our success depends greatly upon our ability to work together and create a positive culture in which we thrive.
There are many ways to foster working relationships on digital platforms, such as:
- centralising team communication on one media platform to create a space where all team members can collaborate, listen to one another and be heard
- creating and building upon a mission that inspires and motivates team members
- posting self-evaluations, asking questions and offering feedback regularly so that co-workers can work together to assess and improve their individual and group progress
- encouraging the personal touch, rather than expecting all interactions to be strictly professional or work-related
- supporting personal ventures to foster trust amongst team members
- giving back to the communities that team members are a part of out of the office
Working as a team from remote locations is all about fostering communication amongst one another. Small habits can have a big impact on a remote team because the fact is, people want to create community. The success of a remote team will be in large part due to the resources and tools available that encourage teamwork and communication.
Playing together, together?
So with all of this remote teamwork, is it still necessary to physically come together? If we’re so good at working apart, why not just leave our interactions at that?
As social beings, our successes in the virtual world are only real because we can contextualise them in the physical world. While great relationship development can happen on digital platforms, there is nothing like good old, face-to-face interaction. Just like a little virtual space-holding goes a long way, so does a little real-world experience.
Encouraging meet-ups and offering activities to remote employees is an important part of team-building. Bringing teammates together to play gives virtual work relationships a foundation – a real-world context. Shared experiences have a way of connecting people through action and emotion. When we are actively engaged in an activity – hiking a mountain, camping under the stars or working together on a volunteer project – our separate lives cross paths. We exert similar energies, share a focus, face the same obstacles and witness the same effects of our collective action. It becomes quite clear that together, we are part of something.
When we share experiences with one another, we strengthen the foundation upon which our other interactions occur. Even if that shared something is simply a view from a mountain, it is ours.
The magic happens when we leave that mountain. When we return to our separate lives, return to communicating over email and social media. We find that when we meet adversity, we have something mutual and real to fall back on. Something shared: a team.
Looking for event planning or team building activities for your virtual team? Get in touch for a chat to see if we can help.