Virtual team-building events can offer teams a new way to connect, which is so needed at this time. This article will explore how work from home environments have affected employees’ well-being and mental health. And we will also look at how virtual team-building events can support employee well-being during this time.
In a recent YouGov survey of over 1,000 business leaders, it is clear that while most companies are not considering changing to full-time remote work, many will make a move to Flexi work. Flexi work combines work from the office and work from home.
It is clear that the pandemic has shifted the perception of remote work and created an environment in which workers can expect remote work to become a regular part of their working life.
This is a big trend with benefits and risks associated with it in terms of employee mental health. On the one hand, remote working opens up the opportunity to have a better work-life balance. Average commuter times pre-pandemic were around an hour or more, with many workers paying over £150 per month in travel costs. Remote work gives employees both time and money by cutting out commuting.
While there are some key benefits to working from home, there are also some challenges, particularly to mental health.
Lean meetings post Covid
The move to remote working has meant teams are not as connected as they once were. Many employees identified this issue early on and put in short-term fixes to ensure that they could communicate with their co-workers.
However, one study has found that many employees have reported that the solutions they have implemented are inadequate and do not provide the level of connection they are trying to replace. (Anna Rudnicka1 , Joseph W. Newbold1,2, Dave Cook1 , Marta E. Cecchinato2 , Sandy J.J. Gould3 and Anna L.; Cox1 2020)
Remote meetings are an obvious way for employees to stay in touch. However, these interactions are scheduled in and formal. Meeting times have dropped post-Covid and have become leaner. We could argue on the one hand that this has led to improved efficiency; however, remote meetings are now a critical time for employees to connect.
Gone are the informal chats by the kettle or the quick coffee break to stretch the legs and talk about the latest Netflix show or football score. In part, solutions such as virtual coffee breaks, social chats, and video social events make up for this lack of connection. However, they don’t provide a complete solution.
Remote team-building events go one step further in providing a truly immersive experience for remote teams. The technology is new, exciting and offers remote teams the opportunity to reconnect and have some much-needed informal fun.
Solving communication challenges post Covid
Central to a well-functioning team is communication. It is how teams share information, coordinate activities, and form bonds. The stronger the connection between team members, the better the communication. Employees are more likely to speak frankly to managers they can trust.
One study found that poor communication leads to poor performance and increased work stress. Bin Wang,Yukun Liu,Jing Qian,Sharon K. Parker 2020 What’s more, the study also found that high-quality virtual communications for remote workers could be the answer.
Providing employees with the chance to interact, let their hair down, and connect socially improves connection and allows employees to communicate in new ways not currently provided for in remote work settings.
Get-togethers such as zoom coffee breaks or even zoom happy hours just aren’t hitting the mark. During a qualitative study where employees were interviewed about the difference between in-person and virtual happy hours, one employee stated, Pakdaman, S., & Clapp, J. (2021);
“I would say they’re different because the energy is not the same. It just doesn’t feel the same. It doesn’t feel the same, being around my friends and family and stuff like that. It has a very different vibe to it. I feel that we’re just don’t connect nearly as much. It just kind of feels more strained, more stressed, if you will. And so, to me, it’s just not nearly as much fun.”
No doubt, mental health and outside stressors are at play here. Employees are likely to be feeling more anxious during these meetings than usual. However, this means that HR and heads of departments must work extra hard for their employees to keep morale high and offer new ways for them to enjoy getting together virtually.
From clients who have attended a virtual team-building event, the most common feedback is one of surprise around the sense of presence, “I feel like I have spent the day with my collegaues”. We are proud that we can facilitate these “real feeling” virtual interactions between team members.
Before we conclude, I think it is also important to point out that more research needs to be carried out regarding how online social interactions benefit employees long term. We work hard to address this to ensure that online interactions are as positive as possible for employees.
It would be foolish to paint a picture of perfect levels of trust, connection, and communication pre-Covid and say that all is lost now. Organisations have always struggled with these issues, and good leaders have always strived to solve them.
Rather than viewing these changes through the lens of all is lost, perhaps it would be better to view it through a lens of opportunity. Covid has enabled organisations to focus on new business areas such as trust, connection, and communication.
Our vr team-building events provide something that online meetings cannot. They provide the opportunity for employees to have the experience of being in the same room as their co-workers, something they have truly missed.
Remote teams need team building so they can stay connected. Team building is essential for their mental health and ensures the team can perform at their best. Formal meetings have replaced informal ways of communication and connecting.
Employees have tried to solve this issue by organizing virtual coffee meetings and more one-to-one chats. However, employees report that these meetings do not provide their co-workers the connection they are craving.
This leaves space for HR departments and heads of departments to step in and provide a solution. With many companies moving to Flexi work, a combination of work from home and coming into the office, these issues need to be addressed.
The landscape of how we do business and work together is changing. While technology certainly does not have all the answers, it can provide some solutions.
One of those is virtual team building events which offer employees the chance to get together for informal, social, fun. Fun is the most important word, which is often lacking in the post-pandemic world.
Rudnicka, Anna & Newbold, Joseph & Cook, D & Cecchinato, Marta & Gould, S & Cox, AL. (2020). Eworklife: developing effective strategies for remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pakdaman, S., & Clapp, J. (2021). Zoom (Virtual) Happy Hours and Drinking During COVID-19 in the US: An Exploratory Qualitative Study. Health Behavior and Policy Review, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.14485/hbpr.8.1.1
Wang, B., Liu, Y., Qian, J., & Parker, S. K. (2020). Achieving Effective Remote Working During the COVID‐19 Pandemic: A Work Design Perspective. Applied Psychology, 70(1), 16–59. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12290