With more than 95% of our workforce at FIS working virtually now, the question of teaming has come up time and again. As someone who has run a global team for several years now, team-building in a virtual environment is something I have been honing for a while now.
Over the past several months, I have seen people coming together in really creative ways that prove that teaming can happen virtually, it just takes a different kind of approach. If you are in a role where you are working virtually full time, the chances are the camaraderie of an office and the collaboration are what are really missing. A colleague of mine recently told me she missed inconsequential conversations and with people running from video call to video call, finding time for casual chat seems almost impossible.
So first, the basics:
Remember everyone’s circumstances are different and many folks are making do and working where they can
- For call fatigue, consider shortening meetings to 50 minutes or 25 minutes by default rather than the standard 30 or 60. This will give you much-needed breathing space between sessions. If you use Microsoft analytics, there is a wonderful feature that automatically allows you to schedule ‘focus time’ and tells you if you haven’t had any in the past weeks. However those that don’t have it can just as easily get in the discipline of reviewing your diary and manually building in breaks. Arianna Huffington mentioned in a talk I heard her give at a recent HR Policy Assocation conference that she uses a short break between meetings (even if it’s just a minute) to physically turn away from her monitor and change the energy she is bringing to her sessions.
- Use video if you can when you connect and collaborate with people, but remember not everyone will be in a position to use video and so contract upfront ‘are you ok to use video today’? or ‘if you are comfortable using video, would be great to see you’. Backgrounds are another great leveler, remember everyone’s circumstances are different and many folks are making do and working where they can, they may not want to invite you into their home. Backgrounds are also a fun way to create collaboration and conversation – ask people to use a picture of a favorite holiday destination for example as a conversation starter, or bring backgrounds into the facilitated conversation for example if you are splitting people into teams.
Second, the ‘teaming’:
When was the last time you pinged someone just to see how they are rather than because you needed someone?
- Our Global Learning team is spread over 11 locations and our team members decided to hold a bring your child to work day. People brought their kids into the video frame to introduce them to their team mates. Folks also took the opportunity to share some information about their location which resulted in one of the team members’ children doing a project on London and videoing in one of the learning facilitators to do a Q&A on her hometown.
- Our Talent management team is spread across the US, Australia, Singapore and India. One of the team members loves running marathons and was always saying how much fun it would be to run together. On his birthday, team members each took a photo of themselves running holding a banner with a happy birthday message to him! They shared via whatsapp and created a collage he could save. He said it was the best birthday present he had ever received!
- The Talent Acquisition team every year celebrates the end of year with each regional team lead (US, India, APAC and EMEA) putting together a short presentation of their respective team members’ key strengths and achievements for the year, with a theme, from superheroes to filmstars. These are then shared across the function in a virtual end-of-year celebration and recognition event via Teams.
- Our Capital Markets team has been holding virtual coffee connects, so-called ‘mystery coffees’ where you are paired with someone random to get to know them, no agenda and plenty of time for inconsequential conversations that create a network and renew energy.
- Our Risk team organized a series of activities to raise awareness around cyber security which included virtual escape room sessions that teams could sign up to.
- And I know it’s hard to find those downtime moments, but sometimes just a virtual ‘check in’ over chat can make someone’s day if they are working remotely. When was the last time you pinged someone just to see how they are rather than because you needed someone?
This crisis is human and therefore needs a human response, don’t underestimate the connections and collaboration that come with office working and think about how you can build this into your virtual working pattern.