Today’s workplace relies heavily on collaboration and powerful networks. At the same time, we have more workplace options than ever before. Many workers find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings or required to work away from colleagues at least part of the time.
Though the PivotDesk headquarters is in Boulder, Colorado, more than half our team works remotely from New York City, San Francisco and Boston. Despite geographic differences, team building is still a major focus for us.
Why? Because people like to work with people they like.
And in order to truly bond with your team, you need to interact outside of work related tasks.
Groove, for example wrote a post about how getting the company involved in a 30 day pushup challenge brought their remote team closer together and broke down some of the barriers associated with not seeing coworkers face to face every day.
To keep teams functioning at full potential, good managers recognize the need to plan deliberate team-building activities.
Along with equity and achievement, camaraderie was one of the key goals of people in the workplace found in a Harvard study. Team building has been shown to be effective in improving motivation and performance but it’s important to select authentic practices, and avoid the sort of forced, artificial activities that have everyone rolling their eyes and checking the clock.
Team building should be an ongoing initiative aimed at keeping everyone motivated and united. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Professional Development
Getting together with colleagues to learn about something that makes everyone better is a great way to build community. Adding to their skill set also helps workers feel more productive and valued, which are key to motivation. A high-quality workshop makes for a worthwhile activity and has the added value of raising the level of expertise in the organization.
Working together for a worthy cause makes everyone feel good. Contributing to the community is also good for the company’s image, and research shows that to be an important factor in attracting top talent. Choose a cause that’s aligned with the company culture, and involve employees in something they can be proud of.
3. Get Active
A tried and true team builder, an office softball team or bowling night is a fun way to bring people together outside of work. It has health benefits and gives everyone a chance to work together in a completely different context. Want to take it a step further (pun intended)? Set up a fitness tracker challenge where employees battle each other to log the most steps and make healthy competition an every day activity.
4. Shared Meals
Food is always a good idea. Eating together gives the team a chance to have some casual conversation and relax together. Getting to know coworkers beyond the scope of the job makes us all more human and better to work with. There are nearly endless possibilities for this approach, from lunchtime potlucks to evening wine-tastings.
Everyone loved field trips in school, and we’re really not all that different as adults. These don’t have to be complicated excursions. Take a trip to the park or zoo, go to a baseball game, or catch a cool exhibit at the local museum. Invite families along and let coworkers learn about each other in a whole new setting.
A sense of community and connection are important to modern workers, and a well-planned team building program should be part of the workplace experience. Using these 5 proven methods as a starting point, activities can be tailored to suit any organization, reflecting the interests of the staff and boosting motivation for all.
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