We’ve been talking a lot lately about remote teams, everything from staying flexible to fostering teamwork to keeping everyone engaged. All of those are important for developing an effective, productive team of competent remote workers. But what about the less-than-serious side of things?
Having fun isn’t just about being silly and goofing off. Shared laughter leads to better relationships, which leads to better productivity and greater effectiveness in every area. It turns a group of individuals into a cohesive, unified whole.
Remote teams have an advantage in this area, as there are so many opportunities to connect digitally that work for everyone’s personality and lifestyle — introvert or extrovert, busy mom or college student, morning person or night owl. Here are a few of the #WITeam favorites.
Bust out those funny GIF’s and memes.
In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a funny, well-timed GIF or meme to lighten the mood and build camaraderie. Especially when you know the likes and dislikes of fellow team members. For instance, some on our team have a penchant for certain tv shows, time periods, or actors. What better way to lighten up the tone of an oversight reminder than dropping a relevant but seriously-out-of-context GIF with that person’s favorite (whatever)?
“I love sending random, hilarious GIFs to people’s DMs.” – Kelly R.
“I mean, who doesn’t love a well-timed George Clooney Gif?” – Amy D.
Ask fun questions of the day.
It may sound silly, but there’s benefit in taking a step back from work and chatting about favorite activities and guilty pleasures. If nothing else, it helps team members find common ground with each other — so the next time there’s a jaw-dropping episode or new flavor of M&M’s, it provides an automatic way to reach out to others.
“A fun ‘question of the day’ is a great way to get to know other team members from afar. It can be something silly or something personal, something quick and easy, or something that requires a little more.” – Kelly E.
“I love finding out what everyone’s favorite guilty pleasures are, like way too much coffee, an occasional Diet Coke, donuts, whatever it is, when you find those things out, then you really start to get to know a person!” – Lindsey V.
Talk about real-life frustrations and wins.
Learning to listen, encourage, and cheer each other on might not be the most “fun” thing to do, but it can certainly build a sense of togetherness as we become more aware—and more understanding—of what others are going through. Once you find out someone is dealing with multiple kids all going to different schools, or another person is juggling two jobs or lives in a different time zone, it’s easier to accept the difference in work schedules and be gracious and patient with each other.
“I love our daily check-ins (even though I may not do it as much as I would like). They give us a good glance into everyone’s work and personal lives, success and challenges, to help us feel connected as a team and as people.” – Whitney H.
“I enjoy getting to know someone well enough to… drop all of the polite diplomacy and speak openly to get to the heart of little hiccups and daily hurdles. Working from an office alone, in can take some courage to put blunt words in writing, for fear we’ll be misinterpreted. It’s such a relief to find out that colleagues recognize the same issues, and then to come together to come up with fantastic solutions that make the client shine. [And] I enjoy the laughter that ensues, sometimes also. I sit around in my office just cracking up, some days!” – Lori W.
“My favorite way to have fun is to celebrate enthusiastically when something gets accomplished, or someone does something exceptionally well. . . . no matter how large or small they are.” – Mike D.
“I always appreciate the encouraging words and boosts!” – Erica H.
Share fun personal photos.
Personal photos are a huge factor in turning online work relationships into offline friendships! Sharing real (messy) workspaces, pets taking up residence in our laps, kids having fun, vacation spots, milestone events, and anything else that happens in the offline world can truly bring a team together. Coworkers go from being just another name on the screen to real-life, multi-dimensional people.
“I enjoy seeing the diversity from our team, when I asked for pictures for our IG channel, whether it’s summer, what you’re drinking, or who loves/hates fall.” – Carrie K.
“I really enjoy our campfire. Even if I’m just creeping in the background without saying much, photos of downed trees, dirt roads, dogs, and donuts help me get a feel for my colleagues I haven’t met yet (alliteration not fully intended, but what a delightful surprise!).” – Kelly G.
Get face to face, when possible.
Perhaps one the most important tools for building camaraderie and having fun is seeing each other’s faces. Even if it’s just on video chat. You need more than just online avatars or even personal photos. Nothing compares with seeing each other’s body language and facial expressions. Every team has people who are afraid to interrupt and voice their opinion, or those who express more with their face then they ever put into words — but you’ll never know who they are unless you see them face-to-face during your conversations.
“Our group stand-up calls, especially those that are specifically set aside for fun! Remote work can get lonely so it’s nice to see everyone face-to-face and with body language for once. Becky also did a spontaneous ‘water cooler’ talk where team members hopped on a video if they were around. It’s fun to get together chat with no work-related pressures.” – Kristin E.
“Am I allowed to say getting together in person when we are able to? That’s my favorite, hands-down.” – Becky R.
How do you have fun and build camaraderie as a remote team?