Team Building: How to Make It Work in the Middle of a PandemicFocusing on your team’s mental well-being is more important now than ever before. Unfortunately, in the middle of a pandemic it's more challenging to find meaningful ways to connect with groups in a safe, fun, and interactive way. So, it's no surprise that many companies have put team building activities on hold. While group activities look different today than ever before, they are still a cornerstone to the most successful teams.
Decades of research show the many benefits of team building in the workplace. The list of benefits includes things like building trust, improving communication and problem solving skills. While these are all relevant and valuable benefits of team building, the importance of team building today has further expanded given the struggles we face while working from home. We wear more hats than ever before, balancing work productivity while caring for and educating our children. It’s no surprise that most struggle with increased feelings of social isolation or loneliness.
When people typically think of team building, they think of face to face activities like happy hours, company retreats, impromptu lunches, or just spending a few minutes catching up by the water cooler. That might be why an organization recently reported more than half of the companies surveyed indicated they have not recently conducted ANY team building activities. For those that have, the two most popular activities were virtual happy hours and socially connecting outside of work.
We’ve all learned that modern technology makes it easier than ever before to interact with groups in a remote fashion. While finding fun and engaging things to do virtually can be more challenging, it’s certainly possible. The keys to successful team building activities in the middle of a pandemic are really simpler than you might think.
1. Focus on the safety of the team first and foremost. The great news is that there are a lot of new opportunities to connect virtually or in a location where proper social distancing can be achieved. Most businesses are committed to the safety of their guests and will be able to answer any questions or concerns that you have.
2. Keep it lighthearted and FUN. A recent article published in the Washington Post highlighted the importance of joy in suppressing fear of the unknown. The same article emphasized the importance of laughter to helping the brain calm down and find rest. Look for opportunities for the team to relax and have fun together.
3. Try something new. When we try new things we actually learn to overcome our fears. It also forces us to focus on the activity at hand, giving us a much needed mental break.
4. Find an activity that is engaging - something that forces the group to actually detach from work and technology. Many of the teams that are working remotely today have found it even more challenging for their employees to detach from work. Doing something interactive forces us to focus more on the task at hand, providing more opportunity to communicate as a team.
5. Do something creative together. Studies show that spending just 45 minutes on an art project can relieve stress, strengthen critical thinking skills and improve and sustain memory. As noted earlier most leaders today have expressed concerns with their team's mental health. It's amazing that just 45 minutes of creative activity could help so much.
So, what are you waiting for? There's no better time to invest in your team's success than today AND there are more ways than ever before to safely connect as a team! It might just take a bit more creativity and end up being a lot more FUN.