How to Build a Stronger Virtual Team Bonding

By Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder
Published: Mar 12, 2024
Intentional virtual team building fosters collaboration, trust, and productivity. Combat distance with designated social spaces, video calls, and strategic tool choices.
A man participates in a virtual team meeting on his laptop in a modern office space, with business strategy and analysis documents pinned on the cubicle wall behind him.

Building a strong virtual team bonding requires intentional effort but rewards with better collaboration, increased morale, and higher productivity. 

Establish designated online spaces for social bonding, utilize video communication to deepen connections, and choose collaboration tools strategically. 

Remember to outline clear remote work policies, encourage wellness through regular movement breaks, and exchange productivity tips. 

In addition to these steps, avoiding common pitfalls like distractions at home and communication breakdowns is crucial. By implementing these strategies, leaders can cultivate a strong, productive virtual team.

Physical Distance

When team members are spread out, it’s harder to have those quick, friendly chats that help people get along and trust each other. 

Without the chance to talk by someone’s desk or in the hallway, there’s less room for those natural moments that bring people closer. This distance can make team members feel out of the loop.

Communication Barriers

When we rely on texts, emails, or chats, it’s easy for messages to get misunderstood. 

Without seeing someone’s face or hearing their tone, it’s harder to get the full picture. This can lead to confusion and people not being on the same page.

Feelings of Disconnection

Working from home can make it easy for team members to feel like they’re on their own and not really part of the team. Missing out on day-to-day in-person contact can leave some feeling lonely and not as involved. This can hurt their motivation and happiness over time if it’s not taken care of.

Even though managing online teams has its challenges, there are lots of creative ways leaders can focus on bringing people together. 

Making time for activities like video calls, games, and getting to know each other better can really help. 

Why Intentional Virtual Team Bonding Matters

When we work from different places, it’s super important to make sure everyone feels like they’re part of the team. 

Doing activities on purpose to build the team helps everyone feel connected, even if they’re not in the same room.

Promotes Relationship Building

Team building activities online give everyone a chance to chat and get to know each other outside of work stuff. This helps people understand each other better and makes the team stronger.

Encourages Collaboration

Feeling close to your teammates makes it easier to work together and share ideas. Team building makes talking and solving problems together smoother, and everyone feels more comfortable throwing out new ideas.

Boosts Morale

Fun activities for the team can make remote work more exciting. They give everyone a chance to hang out and relax together, which makes people happier and more positive about their work.

Fosters Inclusivity

Making sure everyone gets to know each other helps even the shy folks feel like they can speak up. When we do activities that let all kinds of personalities shine, it makes the team better because everyone’s ideas are heard.

Enhances Work Performance

In today’s world, making a strong team when everyone’s spread out is something we have to do on purpose. 

Leaders need to think of fun and interesting ways to make everyone feel close, even when they’re far apart. This makes the team do better work and makes everyone happier with their jobs.

Step 1: Designate Virtual Spaces for Social Bonding

Making special spots or regular times for easy-going chats can help create the friendly vibe you get in an office. Here are some simple ideas:

Set Up a “Virtual Water Cooler” Channel

Use a chat app like Slack or Microsoft Teams to start a channel just for fun talks, do not forget to ask team members to share what they did over the weekend, funny stories, or pictures of their life.

Host Regular Virtual Coffee Breaks

Take 30 minutes twice a week for a video call where work talk is off the table, people can join or leave whenever they want, just to chat.

Begin Meetings with Personal Check-Ins

Kick off your team meetings by letting everyone give a quick update on their day or week.

Schedule Virtual Team Bonding Activities

Plan fun get-togethers online, like happy hours, cooking together, or painting, just to get closer as a team. It’s okay if not everyone can make it, but it’s a great chance to build friendships.

Step 2: Embrace Video Communication

Video calls and meetings help us understand each other better because we can see faces and body language. Here’s how to make video a key part of talking with your remote team:

Set Expectations for Video Use

Make rules about when to have cameras on during meetings and calls. This might be all the time or just when talking. Talk about why video is important for trust and clear communication. People will get it.

Coach on Presenting Your Best Self

Give tips on good lighting and not having messy backgrounds.

Monitor Video Meeting Fatigue

Look out for signs people are tired of video meetings, like not talking much or getting annoyed. Encourage short breaks or use the phone or chat sometimes.

Highlight the Human Moments

Enjoy the little things, like seeing someone’s kids or pets in the background. You can also say nice things about changes in appearance or someone’s room.

The main thing is to get into using video and help your team look and feel good on camera. 

Make sure to enjoy the fun, personal moments while watching out for signs of video burnout. With a bit of effort in how we use video, our remote team can communicate better and feel more connected.

Step 3: Choose Collaboration Tools Strategically

Two people at a café table, one with tattoos sipping a cup of coffee and the other focused on a laptop, with a vase of white flowers and a beverage on the table.

Picking the right tools for your virtual team to chat, share files, have video meetings, and manage projects makes working together easier. 

With lots of choices available, you need to think carefully about what tools will work best for your team.

Evaluate Your Team’s Collaboration Needs

Identify your team’s communication and collaboration requirements, considering factors like real-time interaction, file sharing, visual work, time zones, and project management needs. 

Opt for a balanced selection of tools that address these requirements without overwhelming complexity.

For example:

  • Messaging: Slack for quick chats + Zoom for video meetings
  • Project Management: Asana for tasks + Google Drive for sharing files
  • Creative Work: Figma for design + Google Docs for writing

Avoid using multiple tools that do the same thing. Choose tools that each serve a unique purpose.

Step 4: Encourage Wellness Through Regular Movement

Taking short breaks to move around every 30 minutes is good for our health and makes us feel more energized.

The Health Risks of Prolonged Sitting

Working from home often involves extended sitting, which can raise blood pressure, cholesterol, and the risk of heart disease and diabetes. 

Even regular exercise may not fully counteract these effects, highlighting the importance of incorporating movement throughout the day.

The Benefits of Taking Regular Movement Breaks

Incorporating brief movement breaks every thirty minutes can mitigate health risks associated with prolonged sitting and offer additional benefits such as increased alertness, improved focus, reduced muscle tension, and enhanced mood.

Tips for Building a Movement Habit

Encourage team movement with breaks after meetings, step count challenges, and group stretches via video calls. 

Highlight the benefits of movement for productivity and well-being, making breaks enjoyable and optional. Foster a culture of movement for enhanced team health and productivity.

Step 5: Make Virtual Team Building Part of Your Routine

Three colleagues in a vibrant office environment, two of them smiling and high-fiving over a wooden table with a laptop, notebook, and green apple in view.

Set aside time for fun activities like trivia, online lunches, and team games to keep everyone connected.

Schedule Regular Virtual Team Bonding Activities

Plan a team fun activity over video chat every month. This could be a trivia game, playing an online game together, or having a virtual lunch. Add these events to everyone’s calendars ahead of time so they can make room for them.

Integrate Quick Bonding Moments Into Meetings

Begin every meeting with a simple question like “What’s your favorite holiday?” to get people talking. Mix in a quick team-building game like Two Truths and a Lie during some meetings.

Create a Virtual Team Playbook

Make a shared document where you list different team bonding activities you can do. Organize activities by how long they take (5 mins, 15 mins, 30 mins) so you can easily find one that fits your schedule.

Rotate Activity Planning Responsibilities

Let each person take a turn organizing a virtual bonding session every few months.

Gather Regular Feedback on Activities

After each activity, ask everyone what they thought worked well and what didn’t. Use their feedback to make the next session even better.

By doing different team-building activities regularly, working remotely together becomes more enjoyable. Keep things interesting by letting everyone have a say in what activities you do.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls of Remote Team Management

Managing a team that works from home comes with its own set of challenges. It’s important to stay ahead of these issues to keep the team working well together.

The Risks of Distractions at Home

Working from home means you might have more things around that can distract you, like family, pets, or household tasks. This can lead to missing deadlines or upsetting teammates who rely on your work.

To help, set clear rules about when everyone should be working and available. Encourage using calendars to block out times for focused work without interruptions.

Communication Breakdowns

Poor communication can hurt teamwork. When people aren’t around when you need them, messages get lost in too many places.

To fix this, make rules about how and where to talk about different things. Make sure there are times when everyone is online together. And plan for smooth handovers between team members who work at different times.

Combating Remote Employee Isolation

Working alone can make people feel left out and disconnected. You might notice:

  • Someone not joining in much
  • Someone sounding unhappy
  • Someone not really being involved

To help, make time for casual chats, create chat spaces for fun talks, include some fun talk at the start of meetings, and try having virtual lunches or coffee breaks.

By keeping an eye out and acting early, managers can avoid these common remote work problems. It’s all about making sure there’s a good structure, clear communication, and chances for the team to connect on a personal level.

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Cam Velasco

CEO & Co-Founder

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