Team building is a challenge. Getting different personalities to work and succeed together is a task in itself, but with the addition of distance and physical barriers, team building becomes increasingly more difficult, as well as increasingly more important.
Without ongoing communication and tools like virtual meetings, virtual teams cannot develop cohesive work relationships, and in turn, group goals suffer. That’s why team building should be leadership’s priority as the workforce evolves.
The Future of Team Building
Workforce stats predict that employees will increasingly work apart, requiring the use of virtual meetings to stay connected. Contract workers and freelancers will make up more than 40 percent of the workforce by 2020, according to the Intuit 2020 Report. Already, about 49 percent of employees telecommute at least one day a week, according to PGi’s 2014 State of Telecommuting report.
However, dispersion builds on the existing challenges of team building, putting teamwork essentials at risk. For this reason, we’ve put together a list of 6 team-building trends to consider when thinking about the future.
Trust in Teammates
Virtual teams still need to trust that teammates are doing their part. While everyone has their own individual role, teams are built on shared missions, and if one person fails to contribute to the group goal, everyone fails. When remote workers fall out of communication with teammates, it’s easier for them to not report when they’re behind. Virtual meetings keep everyone in check.
Work Relationships Matter
Building relationships over a distance isn’t easy, especially if workers hardly ever see faces, and these work relationships are important to employees’ passion, engagement, motivation and happiness. Roughly 89 percent of employees say work relationships even matter to their quality of life, according to studies in PGi’s Teamwork Makes the Dream Work When it comes to working from home, relationships are essential to developing team culture and preventing worker isolation. Virtual meetings can help increase face time.
Communication Across Technologies
There are a couple major challenges when it comes to communicating across a distance: availability and misinterpretation. Flexible work schedules, time zone differences or personal work styles make it difficult to get everyone together at the same time. Second, one tool is not enough. Teams collaborate in many different ways, and not all exchanges will be best communicated through a single technology like email. Virtual meetings give teams a way to effectively exchange information that could be easily misinterpreted.
Team Building Beyond Dispersion
To keep teamwork intact as the workforce changes, team building must rely on virtual meetings to go above and beyond existing norms to tackle the challenge of dispersion with:
Cultures of Transparency & Accountability
Teams need transparent processes that enforce accountability, and thus reliability and trust. For example, a centralized team workspace or virtual meeting room makes it easy for everyone to see or hear status updates, prompting everyone to meet their individual deadlines.
Connections are Key
Teams need to make connections a priority. Upgrade technology with virtual meetings, turn on the webcam for face time and remember to set aside meeting time to get personal. Play show and tell with workers’ personal goals, charity projects or holiday plans, or get creative with virtual team building activities.
The Right Collaboration Solutions
Collect a variety of virtual meeting tools to support collaboration, and teach employees how to best use them for communication. Teammates should know that tools like chat and email offer limited means to communicate complex problems or conflicts, creating confusion. Create guidelines on when to pick up the phone or get in an online meeting, or how to best structure emails and meetings to get down to business faster. In addition, balance distraction-free time with open-door time by having every team member communicate his or her availability to make time for collaboration.
To really embed collaboration within teams, though, the tools to communicate must be so easy to use that team members feel comfortable logging in to host their own impromptu meetings or one-on-one discussions.
For a teamwork tool that is intuitive and simple, try PGi’s iMeet today for more personalized virtual meetings.
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