Terri Maxwell had a problem. She was the CEO of a portfolio of purposeful brands, and her team had gone entirely virtual.
“When we were in the office, we hosted frequent events to keep our team connected and engaged. People traveled from around the country to connect with our corporate staff. They left these fun events refreshed and reminded me of how much we truly enjoyed being together.”
Now that her team was primarily virtual, Terri found that Zoom activities didn’t replace the fun, laughter, and connection. She also realized new team members who’d been on board for a year didn’t know many of their remote coworkers.
While researching, she came across a blog from The Crafty Cask on craft beer trivia. It reminded her of a game her softball team used to play to break up a long bus ride.
“Those long bus rides were boring, so we started playing this game, 99 bottles of beer on the wall. Before long, we would be laughing and joking. The next thing you knew, we had arrived at our destination in a great mood. We started to look forward to the bus rides! As I remembered that experience, I realized there had to be a way to recreate this for our team.”
That’s when she realized that recreating those memories was the key. She worked with The Crafty Cask to create a Beer Tasting event. It opened with a YouTube video based on “99 bottles of beer on the wall.” Her team reminisced and shared heartful stories of games they played as a child to balance the pressures of life. As the group learned about beers from The Crafty Cask, she encouraged them to tell stories about unique times in their life and how they managed stressful situations, whether it was sports, competitions, or just adolescent stress.
“Our team loves to learn, and they can become too serious. The Beer Tasting event made it easy to have fun, lighten up, and be real.”
Based on this experience, we’re sharing three fun ways to engage virtual teams based on team-building best practices.
How to Engage Your Remote or Virtual Team
Tip 1: Make the Purpose of the Event to JUST HAVE FUN!
Too often, people say an event is for team building but then they sneak in work as well. Or they only schedule virtual activities for a purpose, like “let’s get on Zoom so we can resolve an issue on this project.” Those scenarios aren’t as effective at team building because they focus on a business goal. Sometimes fun should be the ONLY goal of the team. Teams get to know each other in all situations, whether working on a project, learning about beer, sharing stories, or reminiscing about childhood memories. The more open they are to being themselves, with no pressure to perform or be evaluated, the easier it is to be authentic.
Tip 2: Schedule Enough Time So It Doesn’t Feel Like a Meeting
One of the mistakes people make when creating fun events for virtual teams is scheduling it “as a meeting” on everyone’s calendars. While a meeting invite may still be necessary depending on your team’s culture, give people a broad time estimate and schedule it for longer than you think it may go with a clear disclaimer that people can leave whenever they need to or the party naturally ends. That way, if everyone is having fun, they don’t feel a “hard stop” because the calendar said it was time to end.
Also consider using other scheduling tools that are different from your normal meeting tools. Evites or Paperless Post invitations feel a bit more special.
Tip 3: Bring In Outside Resources
From musicians to professional virtual “play coaches” to mixologists or tasting experts – using a resource outside the company brings a new perspective to the fun. Collaborate and listen to their ‘out of the box’ ideas to ensure the goal of CONNECTING your teams, whether they are virtual, hybrid, or in an office, is achieved. As an added bonus, this can often take much of the planning off your shoulders. If you choose the right partners, you can more fully take part in the team building experience yourself!
Bring Your Virtual or Hybrid Team Together
What’s The Benefit? Collaborative fun leading to more productive teams!
Terri shared, “We were amazed at how much fun our team had, and more importantly, how quickly they started sharing their memories. It helped us break away from work and get to know each other. Our team feels more connected and it’s easier for them to work together, even though they are remote.”
If you’re interested in hosting a fun, collaborative event for your virtual or hybrid team, take this quick assessment to determine which of The Crafty Cask’s standard experiences is best for your event.