In this article, you will learn about the importance and psychology behind virtual team building activities and games and why it’s essential to integrate them into modern company culture.
Imagine this: You’re leading a team. A new team. Team members: unknown. Everyone is distributed. Team Spirit? Undefined. You’re trying to organize team building activities. But, your company has a hybrid work culture, so there’s not one single day in the next months, where everyone is in the city at the same time.
You and I know that no one wants to be forced back to the office. “Hi & goodbye” video chats are no option either.
So, what do you do?
You look at the title of this article and figure out: let’s go virtual.
But, are virtual team building activities really any good?
The short answer is: yes. The whole picture becomes when you look at human behaviour and psychology in this context.
Let's start at the beginning.
Why virtual team building is important
It turns out leaders across the globe are realizing that it’s important to invest in the development of their people. While this kind of investment might have seemed like a “nice to have” in the past, it is now a vital asset of any business that wants to create and sustain a vibrant company culture.
According to the PWC Global Culture Survey 2021 “85% say their organization’s culture provides a competitive advantage”.
By making use of the psychology behind virtual team building activities, you can unlock the power of new ways of shaping your company culture. But keep in mind: real change requires new habits.
Let me explain.
Virtual team building activities aren’t just about the fun and games
“We found that teams in the Team Video Gaming treatment demonstrated a 20 percent productivity improvement in subsequent tasks (...)” - Team Building Through Team Video Games: Randomized Controlled Trial
While you may think that a company-wide scavenger hunt or virtual escape room is all about having fun, there are a number of psychological benefits you have to consider. Remember, virtual team building activities should not be a one-time event, but rather an integral part of your new company culture and habits.
Virtual team building games exercise your mind
There’s the great benefit of mental exercise that comes from regular problem-solving and other cognitive tasks you encounter while diving into virtual team building activities like playing short games.
“Video games often require players to make rapid decisions or to memorize many items at once, all of which can provide an entertaining work-out for our minds.” - Conn Hastings in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
And like any form of exercise, this can help reduce stress and anxiety, which is especially important with the ongoing global developments.
But it’s not only about exercising the mind or body.
It’s also about exercising relationships.
Virtual team building games and activities can improve relationships
You know how it's often a struggle to get started when you want to work out?
Well, even after you start working out, you still have to continue putting in effort in order to keep seeing progress — and the same goes for relationships between employees.
Just because you hosted one off-site team-building event doesn’t mean employees will automatically start bonding during work hours afterwards. They need an ongoing opportunity to interact with one another in order to build new friendships or strengthen existing ones.
- Little side-note: at Doozy we have a growing library of great games you can jump into instantly with your team. You don’t have to worry about apps to install. You just have to think about how to beat your colleague in a round of Geo Guess or Pin it: City edition.
But there’s even more depth to discover with virtual team building activities.
Next, we will look at the benefits of a specific personality type of your team.
Virtual team building activities can take a lot of pressure off of introverts
Introverts are often stereotyped as being shy or reserved, but they're actually just less likely to seek out social interaction than their extroverted counterparts — and that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are some situations where there is an added layer of anxiety for introverts and being at the office surrounded by noise and many people is one of them.
Virtual team building games and activities can help introverts feel more comfortable and confident in the workspace by making it easier to get to know their co-workers without having to worry about being at the center of a social interaction.
For many introverts, virtual team building activities can provide the perfect outlet for socializing in a low-pressure environment where they don't have to worry about being put on the spot.
But what does this mean for your whole organization?
Let’s explore further.
Virtual team building activities improve your company culture
As you have figured out by now, one of the most important things you can do as a modern leader is to integrate virtual team building activities into your company culture.
As mentioned above, these activities are not simply for "fun” and entertainment. They're also an integral part of creating a positive company culture.
Here's what this means.
Virtual team building activities increase engagement
When you integrate regular fun virtual team building activities into your company's DNA, you're showing your employees that you care about them and their happiness at work. This investment creates a sense of loyalty and trust between management and its employees, which can in turn increase engagement at work.
Virtual team building activities improve creativity and critical thinking skills
Virtual team building activities are often a chance for employees to let their hair down and get creative while working together toward a common achievement. As they do so, they'll be able to improve their critical thinking skills and tap into their creativity in ways that they might not be able to while on the job.
There’s another important psychological aspect of team building you have to keep in mind, which researchers have known for quite some time.
Virtual team building activities help develop trust between employees
When it comes to building a close-knit team, there are many elements that come together to make it successful. While some relationships naturally happen as a result of working together, others can be strengthened through team building activities.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution for every personality or situation, but virtual team building activities are an important resource for companies looking to unite their hybrid or remote workforce.
Here is why.
The importance of trust
“A correlation has also been established between personal bonding and shared experiences and levels of trust. Initial trust among virtual team members is critical.“ - A model to develop effective virtual teams (2008).
Trust has been known to be an important aspect of virtual teams for over a decade. However, collaboration and working together doesn't happen overnight. It takes time for relationships between colleagues to develop and for them to learn how to function well together — something that virtual team building activities can help with.
By taking part in virtual team building activities and e.g. playing games that involve cooperation and communication with each other, colleagues will begin to form bonds and build trust as they overcome challenges together.
As the team members become familiar with each other's strengths, weaknesses, and unique personalities, they'll be able to capitalize on those strengths and grow within the workplace.
The “new world” of hybrid/remote work requires strategies and habits for preparing your team to succeed, keep this in mind as a modern leader. Virtual team building activities and virtual team building games are not simply a “fun” experience. They are a necessity that can help you and your company develop, strengthen, and spread a forward-looking company culture across all borders.
Virtual team building activities also help employees recognize the amazing qualities of their teammates, build trust within the company, and bring everyone closer together as a whole - regardless of the location.
Embrace the new normal as an active leader by showing your team that you care.
One last question before I hop off:
What kind of virtual game(s) have you already tried out with your team so far?
Let me know via twitter over at @doozyhq or a tag on LinkedIn via DoozyHQ
- Team Building Through Team Video Games: Randomized Controlled Trial. Keith, Dean, Gaskin, Anderson. Originally published in JMIR Serious Games (https://games.jmir.org), 14.12.2021
- Video games can help your team work smarter (no, seriously). Parker, atlassian.com, 01.12.2021
- Most remote workers say they might quit before returning to office: poll. Ariel Zilber, nypost.com, 12.01.2022
- Organizational culture: It’s time to take action 2021 Global Culture Survey of 3,200 leaders and employees worldwide, PWC
- Shaping your brain with exercise, video games and more. Hastings, The Frontiers Research Topic, published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 09.05.2017
- A model to develop effective virtual teams. Lin, Standing, Liu, via Sciencedirect.com