If you are an entrepreneur beginning your journey of starting a company, congrats: it takes a lot of work to get from point a (where you are now) to point b (where you want to be). In this day and age, part of that work is building a strong virtual team. With so much Cloud and VoIP technology to all of us today, it no longer makes total sense to “hire local” only. Hiring online workers to help meet the growing demands of your growing company can not only help you increase your profits and presence – but also help you expand at a rate faster than would be possible if you stayed with employees you find in your own neighborhood.
Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to build a strong sense of camaraderie and morale – even from afar. You’re in a long distance relationship with your employees, sure – but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep things fun. What follows are ten amazing exercises for virtual team building and making your team stronger as a whole.
1. Send A Gift
Whether a small virtual gift certificate or an actual gift item (such as a stress ball), sending everyone who works for you a small token of appreciation is an easy way to say “thanks” and build morale and unity among your employees. You know how they say it’s the “thought that counts”? When it comes to your employees, it really is. Even the smallest gift can go a long way in producing real results for your business as the result of a more productive online team!
2. Getting To Know You…
One great way for your team members to get to know each other is to have everyone fill out a questionnaire – and then share the results with one another. Whether it’s a simple group email, a poll you post intra-net or you use a system such as Team Management Systems, it’s easy to set up a way to get to know one another a bit more (both personally and professionally).
3. Mix Things Up
Are most of your conversations with your remote workers happening via email? The Internet is a magical place and it’s now possible to send video, text, images – use all different ways to communicate with your employees to strengthen your connection as a group and as an online company.
4. Acknowledge The Personal
One pitfall to avoid in building up your virtual team is NOT acknowledging the personal side of your employees’ lives. In a real live office, water cooler discussions are common currency. Be sure to have that water cooler discussion area in your own company – leave room for the occasional personal discussion. Follow up with your workers; ask after their families and hobbies!
5.Group Conferencing Via Skype
The occasional group conference with and many team members as possible is a must for your company to grow successfully while utilizing online freelancers. Be sure to schedule, and follow up on, group conferencing. Craft a clear outline or agenda for the meeting – and share it via email beforehand.
6. Get Super Social
Have you heard about Yammer yet? It’s new – but it’s a smart social network designed to keep companies connected across the vast Internet seas. Stay in touch, post fun stuff – and get more connected as a team.
7. Create Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts are underused resource for personal and professional growth alike. They are a key way to stay in touch with your customers and employees – and it’s wise to start putting them to work for your wallet right away. We found a great article on the myriad ways you can start putting Google Hangouts to work for your business!
8. What Is Your Team Mission Statement?
Ok – you’ve probably got your corporate mission statement hammered out (or you’re working on it) – but getting input from your online workforce on what a team is supposed to be – especially a virtual work team – can help you craft a corporate team working mission statement. Use email, Yammer, or a Google hangout to creatively – and collaboratively – come up with ideas and create a true work of art together.
9. Spark Creativity
You can spark the spirit of creativity by creating group story telling for your online freelancers – via email. Have the CEO or a key manager start a story (give a word limit of 15o words to each person) – and then pass the story on to the next employee. Once complete, you may quite an interesting read (or at the very least, a rather interesting experience!).
10. The Team That Games Together…
Whether it’s on the clock or off, the occasional competition is a fun way to bond as a group – no matter how scattered you all may be. There are lots of fun games you can play together for even short periods of time that will help you grow, improve online working morale and function as a group more efficiently.
Online, freelancing and virtual teams and work are a whole new world. At Fourerr, we get that. We believe, however, that it’s the wave of the future – and it’s the savvy company who utilizes the online workforce to their advantage. Online team building exercises like the ones above can help you hold on to your best employees and work together in stronger, more communicative ways. If you have any easy ways to reach out to your online team, please share them with the Fourerr community below…Go get ’em, entrepreneurs!