Hybrid workforces present unique conundrums – the contrast between those in the office and those not can increase the difficulties of engaging remote employees. For team building, this often results in the haves and have-nots. Beyond having great audio-visual equipment, that can make group meetings sound and look close to their in-person counterparts, there are a few things leaders can consider to create team-building activities that engage and unite both constituencies.
Here are three concepts spectrums to consider when planning out events for your team that may or may not be 100% in person. Making sure you’re getting the balance right across these spectrums will ensure a rich and inclusive environment for your hybrid team-building activities.
With people in disparate locations, it’s hard, and sometimes impossible, to do something simultaneously and have it be fun for everyone. Speaking as someone who has worked 11 time zones away from their colleagues, Zoom pizza-making classes just aren’t that fun at 5 am.
Another factor with asynchronous events is that getting people to act silly or be vulnerable can be more challenging because you have to save the proof and share it across time zones. This is why Snapchat was so successful; people are much more willing to share things if their video disappears in 24 hours. Thus asynchronous isn’t great for emotional team-building events, but it can be good for light-hearted competition or driving repeatable 1:1 engagements. That being said, live events are the gold standard for shared experiences. Setting up opportunities for group experiences is a core foundation of many team-building plans.
Lots of team building, particularly the “fun” stuff, is either competitive or collaborative. To decide which option is suitable for your team, it’s good to ascertain what problem you are solving. If your team is suffering from disenchantment and a loss of purpose – competitive! Harness the bonding power of “us versus them!” But a collaborative event is more beneficial if your team is suffering from too much-siloed work and losing the chance to problem-solve together.
And one bonus! The delight factor! Delight is a way of saying how much of this activity is a special treat. Inviting a famous cocktail mixologist to share their craft using unique ingredients versus everyone grabbing a glass of their favorite beverage and doing a basic happy hour over Zoom are opposites on the delight scale. In normal times, both have their benefits, and not everything can be over the top. But this is an unprecedented moment in workplace rapport and aiming for the delight factor is an excellent way to welcome colleagues back to “normal” office life.
Bonding with colleagues is an important part of having a trusting, happy, productive team. Leaders who find ways to connect their remote and in-person teams, giving everyone ample opportunity to form deeper bonds with their colleagues, will find they have a more engaged, more effective workforce.