Can virtual team building games increase team motivation from a distance?

At the start of the pandemic, employees rejoiced to work flexible hours from the comfort of their own homes.

There’s no time wasted traveling, more time with family and less time attending meetings. The workforce has also shifted from being concentrated in urban jungles to smaller towns, to reduce expenses and escape urban routine. However, that started to change eventually. Employees didn’t appreciate the constant zoom calls, the lack of work-life balance, juggling family and work responsibilities, and personal trauma from the pandemic. Employees also suffer from Zoom fatigue and exhaustion. These are most evident in employees working permanently remotely and with large teams. As a result, employees appear to be largely demotivated and unengaged.

While some companies use bonuses and rewards to keep employees motivated, monetary benefits cannot support employee motivation. Instead, a commitment to employee well-being, mental health, and team bonding will motivate employees. Virtual team building games can have a significant impact on employee well-being and team cohesion. These games can help employees stay in touch with the organization, its culture, and their colleagues. They can also keep employees engaged by increasing creativity and communication.

Here are some other reasons why virtual team bonding games can help increase employee motivation:

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Build trust, integrity and empathy

Trust, integrity and empathy are crucial factors in increasing employee motivation. When employees trust their employer, they are willing to go beyond their roles and responsibilities to get things done. In a remote working environment due to the limited interactions between managers and employees, building trust has been a key issue. Virtual team bonding activities can help leaders stay in touch with employees and build trust. Some examples are icebreakers, virtual lunches, bucket lists, virtual tours of workspaces, silly virtual charades, etc. These games also help employees be more empathetic and more human towards each other. Some executives worry about being vulnerable when participating in team building games where personal interactions are required. However, these activities make employees empathetic to each other rather than vulnerable. Empathetic leaders are more able to motivate and engage employees than others.

Align with the organization’s vision and mission

Employees are highly motivated when they find direction at work. Alignment with the organization’s vision and mission is crucial to steer their work in the right direction. Teams that work in highly collaborative environments are known to be aligned with their organization’s vision. Activities such as virtual escape rooms, puzzles, online board games help teams align with a collective goal and work strategically on it. It is important for management to participate in these activities alongside the teams to make them very inspiring.

Promote inclusion, equality and diversity

Due to technological upheavals, teams are now global and significantly larger. Teams as large as 200 members are not surprising. In large and diverse teams, inclusion is often a concern. Additionally, due to diverse skills, backgrounds, genders or ethnicities, large global teams have problems collaborating initially. Virtual team bonding activities that break down barriers and promote inclusion, such as virtual happy hours, icebreakers, experience sharing, etc. bring together diverse teams. Also, for large and diverse teams, it is important to conduct these activities in small groups rather than for the whole team at once. It can help them get to know each other on a personal level. For ethnically diverse teams, virtual games like cooking, ethnic dress-up, virtual celebration of ethnic festivals with a team can help be more inclusive.

Help find a goal

When employees find their work important and purposeful, they are more likely to be motivated. Remote teams often struggle to be motivated and focused when there is a lack of communication about how their work is meaningful. Virtual team building activities that facilitate open communication between managers and team members can be very beneficial in this regard. Some examples are escape rooms, obstacle-solving puzzles, mystery games, emotions, etc.

In permanent remote teams, virtual team building activities can be organized regularly to keep employees motivated. They can be organized effortlessly with the help of a good facilitator or online kits. It’s important that organizations and leaders stay connected with their teams throughout the process. Organizing virtual activities at a mundane level to tick off the checklist will not impact employee well-being. Employees also reported feeling bored and tired during virtual team building activities when they were poorly organized. To be engaging, it is important to involve teams through activities, from their organization to their participation. In conclusion, monetary recognition or rewards alone do not keep employees motivated. Organizations that are truly inspiring, determined and committed to the well-being of all stakeholders motivate employees.

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