As teams transition to a hybrid work environment, there are many hurdles to overcome. About 25% of workers are eager to return to offices and chat by the water coolers, while others are still apprehensive and prefer to remain remote (40%) or take a hybrid approach (35%) as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Additionally, almost 26% of workers had a different employer last year — meaning some workers have never interacted with their new teammates in person before.
So how do managers bring their employees together and bridge this divide? Here are four team-building activities that your hybrid workforce will find safe, fun, and productive:
1. Spark a unique conversation
Making small talk via Zoom has its limitations, so why not initiate some more valuable or interesting conversations? Find or build a numbered list of unique questions, have each team member choose a number, and then ask them the corresponding question. You can choose from work-oriented questions like: What’s a department you’d love to learn more about, and why? Or take a more personal route and ask questions like: What was your favorite vacation, and would you revisit that location?
Start these conversations on Zoom for a live experience, or kickstart a Slack channel for an asynchronous approach. This way, your in-office employees and remote workers can choose how and when they’d like to participate in the activity and learn more about their teammates' interests.
2. Organize a group walk ‘n’ talk
If you’re tired of staring at a screen all day, then head outside! For those in the office, get together and go for a walk while you hold a meeting. For those working elsewhere, encourage them to call in and take a stroll during the discussion.
Have those working remotely share where they’re walking and what they’re seeing. Or make it a competition by having your team track their steps and see who can get the most steps!
3. Turn a lecture into a game
Long, lecture-style presentations may have their place, but if you can adjust the format of your content into a gamified experience, you might be surprised with the results! Build out a Jeopardy!-style game to test teammates’ knowledge of covered material, ask attendees to use Zoom reactions to cast their votes, or create a survey to see how engaged your listeners are.
The more engagement you can generate, the more connected your teammates will feel to their work and their colleagues — no matter where they’re working.
4. Make space for collaboration
Collaborating and innovating can be difficult when your team members are dispersed. So facilitate brainstorming sessions by setting aside an outdoor meeting space and a Zoom room, where anyone can share their latest ideas or endeavors. Google famously encourages employees to dedicate 20% of their time to initiatives they believe will benefit the organization, and certain tools, like Wrike’s work management platform, specialize in giving hybrid teams a digital workspace to collaborate and communicate effectively from anywhere.
No matter what approach you take to bring your team together in a hybrid environment, remember: This is new for everyone. Be open to feedback about what’s working (and what’s not), respectful of workers’ personal and professional boundaries, and continue to seek out creative solutions that might keep your team feeling connected.