Building trust between employees and teams is critical for organizational success, but doing so has become increasingly difficult as organizations continue to embrace remote and hybrid work. Lack of trust and team cohesion in remote and globally distributed teams can slowly affect the employees’ attitude and motivation and their sense of belongingness in the company, impacting the company culture at large.
It’s become especially important for managers and team leaders to invest significant time and effort in promoting team cohesion and team-building activities with platforms like Slack, Zoom, Discord, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, which are the same tools employees engage with for most of their business communication. It’s an engaging way to break up the monotony of daily tasks and promote a positive team spirit and culture.
In this article, you’ll learn about activities that can help foster greater trust and bonding in remote teams. These include virtual lunch or coffee dates, icebreaker questions, socializing via group chat, home workspace tours, and show-and-tell.
Trust-Building Activities for Remote Teams
There are several engaging and interactive team-building activities that have previously been tested and documented by companies. Instead of reinventing the wheel, team leaders and managers should assess which of these activities are a good fit for their teams and organizations.
Here are a few of the best activities you can start building trust with today:
Virtual Lunch or Coffee Dates
Lunch and coffee dates used to be a common ritual before companies moved to remote work. Not only did they enable people to eat together, but they also provided an opportunity to take a break and connect outside of the office. Even though remote work has eliminated the ability to get together face-to-face, socializing is still an important activity that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Teams can revive their daily lunch ritual by blocking the calendar and allocating a fixed time every day to have lunch via Zoom or another similar platform. The engineering team at Trello is known to organize virtual lunches and even expense the cost of food for up to 25 dollars.
Remote work has also reignited a passion for cooking in many folks, and learning about how teammates are getting creative in the kitchen can help them bond and serves as a fun topic of discussion. Trello again has done a fantastic job of incentivizing remote team cooking challenges.
Although remote work has impacted team lunch gatherings, this is one team-building activity that can be easily revived without affecting your team’s daily schedule.
Socialize in the Group Chat
In physical offices, employees have numerous opportunities to interact and socialize with each other at lunch, at the water cooler, or in the hallway. This unplanned social time helps employees connect with each other and take a break from work.
While remote work offers incredible flexibility, it also takes away these casual chances to connect on life outside of the workplace. Many companies have been trying to utilize their collaboration platforms like Slack and Zoom to help their employees connect and interact with one another again in a more casual environment.
Teams can also choose to schedule a dedicated time slot every few days or weekly on Friday evenings to socialize and connect. For instance, Zapier organizes “Open Social” and “Zappy Hour.”
These planned social conversations can also be combined with fun media like GIFs and memes, which are a fun way to trigger more informal conversations and connect with one another.
Creating Slack or Discord channels for fun and off-topic conversations can also create a dedicated space for socializing and having fun.
Opportunities to socialize casually and get to know one another personally are an important aspect of who we are at work not only as employees but as humans in general. Creating unique spaces and opportunities for such socializing events and activities can help employees feel more connected to each other, increase the levels of trust in the team, and make working in remote settings more fun and enjoyable.
Home Workspace Tours
As home and work environments have merged with remote work, employees don’t get a chance to express their individuality with their office decor. In physical offices, employees typically decorate their workspace with family photos and items and collectibles from recent travels, holidays, etc.
In a home workspace tour, a team can schedule a group meeting on Zoom for every employee to give a tour of their new home workspace. This activity provides a unique opportunity for teammates to experience the workspace of their colleagues, give suggestions to improve certain aspects of it, and be inspired to enhance their own workspace with gadgets, office stationery, or plants.
Activities like this allow employees to provide a window into their workspace and also their homes and foster a greater sense of connection and trust between teammates that can even lead to friendships, especially for new employees in the team.
Classic Icebreaker Questions
Remote work can often be stressful, lonely, and grueling after a long day of Zoom meetings and numerous work notifications on Slack or Discord, all with little to no social or personal interaction with teammates.
Icebreaker questions are a simple team-building activity that, if properly executed, can help diffuse team stress and anxiety. They can be focused on all sorts of different topics, and there are plenty of resources to get you started.
Here are some fun icebreaker questions to get you started:
- Be honest. How often do you work from bed?
- When was the last time you exercised?
- What is your most used emoji for work conversations?
- What song would be the soundtrack of your life in the remote-work era?
Icebreaker questions offer a relaxed, fun, and simple way to start meetings, break the monotony of long days at work, and engage employees in a fun and personal way. These questions can be used anytime during work and asked via fun polls on Slack or Discord.
Before your next team meeting gets going, take a few minutes to go around and offer people the chance to share something they’re proud of, happy about, or enjoying lately. These things might be physical objects they can actually show, like a sweater they’re knitting or their new keyboard, or less tangible things they can tell the team about, like having a great view of a recent meteor shower, finishing their first 5K, or the fantastic bread they made last weekend.
It’s often nice to take a few minutes to recognize the things that are going well for your teammates and to celebrate their victories however small. This break also gives people an opportunity to learn more about their coworkers’ lives outside of work and a chance to connect over shared interests that wouldn’t have come up otherwise.
It’s easy when working remotely to lose sight of the importance of informal interactions between team members. Most of the interactions that people have with each other are focused on work-related discussions. This is especially true in an environment where synchronous meetings are kept to a minimum. This “all business” mentality can create fatigue and even burnout if not managed carefully.
Using these simple trust-building activities boosts psychological safety, strengthens relationships, and makes employees feel valued and respected.