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latest issue

Latest Issue

Team Building Now

by Sean Hoff

Until it’s safe to return to face-to-face team building, many companies are turning to virtual strategies. We asked Sean Hoff, founder and managing partner of Moniker, an award-winning corporate culture agency, to share his top five rules for successful team-building events.

One year into the pandemic, a lot of people are still logging on from home and wondering when things will return to normal. For many, working remotely is a new reality, as more and more companies are shifting to fully or hybrid remote models permanently. 

For the rest, they are eager to get back to the face-to-face interaction of being back in the office and the social aspects that come with it. Catching up on Monday morning about everyone’s weekend. Grabbing lunch with colleagues. Sharing a pint after work on a Thursday. 

Many teams have turned to virtual events to bring members together from afar and help people feel connected to one another. 

But there are some key things remote event planners and HR teams need to do to host virtual team events that don’t flop. Here are my top Do’s and Don'ts for ensuring your next virtual team-building experience is a successful one. 

1. Don’t make it mandatory

Full stop. The last thing you want is people forcing their participation to appease management and pretend they are a “team player”. In the same way that you wouldn’t expect everyone to join in-person work social functions, attendance shouldn’t be mandatory. 

Some people are into it, others aren’t, and that’s OK. Don’t force it or it will have the opposite effect that you’re hoping for. 

2. Camera’s On  

If people do decide to join, try to normalize that you’re expected to show your face and participate fully. Humans are extremely adept at picking up on facial expressions as social cues, in fact, we’re hard-wired for it

After all, isn’t the point of this to spend some time with coworkers and have a laugh together? There’s just something a bit off-putting and less effective in trying to connect or solve your way through a virtual murder mystery or escape room together if you can’t see who you’re speaking with. 

3. Let people know in advance the tech setup and requirements 

By now we are all used to the nuances technology throws at us. But when you’re bringing the team together to connect, the last thing you want is the technology to disconnect. Nothing is more off-putting than having to spend the first five minutes fiddling around with mics or cameras or trying to install Zoom or WebEx. 

To set yourselves up for a seamless start to your event, send out a primer a day or two early to give people time to test their setup and familiarize themselves with will be going on. 

4. Don’t Go The “Demo” Approach 

In our experience, having run more than 500 virtual corporate culture-building events for clients such as NASA, Google and Coca-Cola, and having tried, tested, and participated in several dozen more of other vendors’ experiences, the better ones almost always involve a level of dialogue or interaction between a live host and attendees. 

Events that are one person demonstrating something (crafts, yoga, etc.) tend to lead towards disengagement quickly as people zone out and start exploring other tabs in their browser. Audience interaction is key!

5. Send Something Home: 

Whether it be a goodie box full of surprises or some items to prep for the event itself, breaking the fourth wall and sending something to attendees in advance of the event makes for a significantly more engaging experience.  

Think a painting kit for a wine and paint afternoon, a piping and icing decoration kit for a home baking workshop or a cocktail kit for an evening social—something that gets into people’s hands will make it a more participatory experience. As a bonus, these items can be used afterwards for a gift that keeps on giving!

Team Building Now Team Building NowTeam Building Now Team Building Now

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