The Importance of Team Events in a Work-from-Home Workplace: How to Encourage Team Bonding in a Remote Company

The Eternity Team Decorates Cupcakes

The shift to remote work has brought numerous changes to how we conduct our professional lives. While remote work offers flexibility and eliminates commuting, it also presents challenges, particularly in maintaining team cohesion and a sense of community. This blog post will highlight the importance of team events in a remote workplace and provide tips on encouraging team bonding. Additionally it will highlight some of the things we’ve been doing here at Eternity, to continue to foster community within our own team.

Section 1: The Importance of Team Events in a Remote Workplace

Building Relationships

Social interactions are the backbone of strong professional relationships. In a remote setting, team events create opportunities for employees to connect on a personal level, fostering trust and camaraderie. These interactions help break down barriers and create a more cohesive and supportive team environment.

Here at Eternity when we say “Building Websites & Relationships” we don’t just mean with our clients – we mean with our team, too.

Enhancing Communication

Regular team events can significantly improve communication among team members. Informal communication channels established during these events can enhance collaboration and reduce misunderstandings. These interactions provide a platform for open dialogue, making it easier to share ideas and solve problems collectively.

We’ve also found that giving each team member a chance to interact with their fellow team members outside of the usual team meetings and project calls allows them to get more used to interacting with the rest of the team, making it easier for them to ask questions they may have previously been too nervous or uncomfortable to ask. This creates a team that can better support each other and continue to grow together.

Eternity Team members, Holly, Kalei, and Katie decorating cupcakes at Red Poppy Cakery for an Eternity Team Event.

Boosting Morale and Motivation

Team events play a crucial role in boosting employee morale and motivation. Participating in fun and engaging activities can alleviate the isolation often associated with remote work. These events remind employees that they are part of a supportive and dynamic team, which can increase job satisfaction and motivation.

One of the biggest drawbacks for our team with going fully remote was that some of our team members were beginning to feel like they worked in a ‘silo’ of one since their particular role didn’t require them to interact with the rest of the team as much as some other positions did. Introducing regular team events and encouraging collaborative calls between team members whenever possible is a way that we’ve worked to overcome this and allow those team members to feel more together.

Promoting Collaboration and Teamwork

Team events foster a collaborative culture by encouraging teamwork. Activities that require collective effort help reinforce the importance of working together to achieve common goals. This collaborative spirit is essential for the success of any organization, especially in a remote setting.

Team events can be a great place for your team to work outside of their usual ‘pods’, as we call them here at Eternity, and encourage them to collaborate with other team members. Creating bigger in-house support systems and new relationships that can be called on for helping with creative problem-solving.

Section 2: Types of Effective Team Events for Remote Teams

Virtual Coffee Breaks and Happy Hours

Informal virtual gatherings, such as coffee breaks and happy hours, can replicate the office break room experience. These sessions allow team members to unwind, share stories, and connect on a personal level, promoting a sense of community.

While you might not think about it right away, one of the experiences that’s missed most when going fully remote is those little random breaks you’d have throughout the day where you’d get a chance to just chat with your team members about whatever. So here at Eternity we’ve encouraged our team members to make time for these when scheduling out their weeks! Between making time at the beginning of every team meeting for everyone to just share about their weekends to encouraging team members to schedule little virtual ‘coffee chats’ with fellow team members, this is one thing we’ve tried to continue and keep in this remote environment.

Online Team Building Activities

Engage your team with online team-building activities such as virtual escape rooms, trivia games, and workshops. These activities are not only fun but also help build trust and improve team cohesion. They provide a break from work-related tasks and allow team members to interact in a relaxed environment.

This may sound like a daunting thing to plan and figure out but we promise it doesn’t have to be that hard. Some of our favorite virtual team events have been just pulling 3-5 questions that will help us get to know each other and sharing our answers with each other. We’ve found that just by doing this we get to know a lot more about each other and find things in common we might not have realized before!

We’ve also got a soft spot for games here at Eternity, so Jackbox Games has also been a great resource for us as a way to play premade fun games for the whole team! Just be sure to turn on the family-friendly version, or don’t, we’ll leave that up to you.

Senior Website Designer and Developer Rob Liberty receiving his 10 year anniversary plaque from Mike Lannen at an Eternity Team Dinner Event.

Celebration of Milestones and Achievements

Recognizing and celebrating team and individual achievements is vital for maintaining morale. Virtual celebrations can be made engaging and memorable with creative ideas such as themed parties, award ceremonies, and personalized messages of appreciation.

A really simple way that we’ve implemented this here at Eternity, is by creating an additional Slack channel simply called ‘Eternity Wins’ where team members are encouraged to share anything big or small that they’ve accomplished and that they are proud of. This allows the entire team both a place to share accomplishments and receive the celebration that their achievements deserve.

We also make sure to celebrate the big things like anniversaries, on all our socials so that not only the team but also our amazing clients can celebrate our accomplishments with us.

Eternity Founder, Mike Lannen manning the grill at an Eternity Team BBQ while team members chat in the background

In-Person Get-Togethers/Activities (If Possible)

If your team lives within a reasonable distance from each other, consider organizing in-person get-togethers. These can include fun activities like team outings, sports events, or casual meet-ups. These gatherings should focus on play rather than business to strengthen personal bonds.

Almost all of the Eternity crew lives in Vermont, so even though we are all remote, we can still get together in person, and we try to do so regularly. If your team is in a similar situation we highly recommend doing this as well! Keep the get-togethers fun and light-hearted. Some of our favorites include our yearly dinner at the Eternity HQ at the start of each year, to celebrate the end of a year and welcome in the new one. We have also come together for a BBQ at our Founder Mike Lannen’s home where we can take advantage of the beautiful Vermont summers and just have a good time.

Section 3: How to Encourage Team Bonding in a Remote Company

Foster a Culture of Open Communication

Encourage regular check-ins and open dialogue to create a culture of open communication. Use communication tools like Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams to facilitate these interactions and ensure everyone feels heard and valued.

Make sure your team has ways to communicate with each other regularly and easily. Here at Eternity we prefer Slack for our main communication. It allows team members to easily hop in huddles to chat, send messages back and forth, and even send little videos or voice messages when that makes more sense. We also highly encourage the use of gifs and emojis, because sometimes a typed phrase just isn’t enough.

Create Opportunities for Informal Interactions

Set aside time for casual conversations during meetings and organize virtual social events. Encourage participation in these events to help team members connect on a personal level and build stronger relationships.

You don’t have to jump right into business at the beginning of every meeting. It’s okay to ask what they’ve been up to, how their days have been going so far, how their weekend was, etc. We’re all humans and it can be easy to forget about that stuff and just get down to what you need to ask about or that project you need to check in on. However, it’s okay to make the time for those little chats too. Just be sure to respect each other's time and communicate if you only have a limited amount of time to chat at that moment.

Deciding What Events to Do

When it comes to planning your team events, virtual or in-person, make sure they are things your team actually likes to do, don’t just google ‘events for team building’. Ask your team! Figure out what they like to do for fun, and what they’d like to do with everyone. Go from there. Create a list of what the possible ideas are, and then see what you can start making happen. You’ll have much more fun and so will they.

The Eternity Team having a group photo taken inside an escape room after completing it

Lead by Example

Leadership participation in team bonding activities is crucial. By sharing personal experiences and stories, leaders can build rapport with their team and emphasize the importance of these events.

A huge reason all these events and team building activities at Eternity are so successful is because our leader, Mike Lannen, is right there alongside us, sharing about his weekend, telling us some childhood stories about boy scouts, or helping us stop an alien from escaping Area 51.

As a leader you get to set the standard for what you want to see from your team. So choose carefully and don’t be afraid to make the decision to choose to play and have some fun every now and then!

Gather Feedback and Adapt

Regularly solicit feedback from employees on team events and bonding activities. Be open to adjusting and improving based on this feedback to ensure the activities remain relevant and engaging.

Not every event is going to be a hit, and that’s okay. What’s important is that you learn what went well and what didn’t and use it to come up with better and more effective events in the future. We usually take some time to ask everyone what they thought of events after they’re over and take everything that is said into consideration. We get new ideas for events or how to make an event even better when we do this.

Remember too that not every event is going to be as exciting for every team member, so make sure you switch things up so that every team member gets a chance to feel really excited about the event that you’ll be doing. Also, don't make attendance at your events a requirement! Events are more fun when your team wants to actually be there instead of being forced to be.

Work Remotely and Build Connections

In conclusion, team events and bonding activities are essential for maintaining a cohesive and motivated remote team. By implementing these strategies, you can foster a strong sense of community and collaboration within your remote workforce. Encourage your team to participate in these activities and continuously seek feedback to adapt and improve your approach.