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Creating team cohesion is one of the biggest challenges for remote teams. When team members are dispersed across different time zones, cultures, and even countries, it can be difficult to build trust and cooperation. This often leads to problems such as team silos and low morale, which can be particularly insidious in a remote environment. In this blog post, we will explore the challenges of team building for remote teams, and offer some tips on how to overcome them.

The challenges in building cohesion in remote teams

It is important to recognize the challenges remote team members face. For example, team members may struggle with communication issues due to time zone differences or language barriers. They may also have a hard time forming relationships and building trust among team members who are not physically present together. In addition, remote workers may feel isolated from their team and lack a sense of team identity.

These team problems can have a negative impact on building relationships within the organization, make remote working less productive, and lower overall job satisfaction.

Difficulty building interpersonal relationships

The difficulties arise from different team members being in different locations and time zones, lacking opportunities to get to know each other in more informal circumstances. Additionally, working remotely often means always being online, and thus barraged by a constant stream of chat messages, emails, video calls and phone calls. This, too, limits people's ability to engage with each other just to spend time together.

Communication issues

A big challenge for dispersed teams is smooth, effective communication that neither overwhelms nor leaves anyone in the dark. Team members may be unaware of deadlines and tasks, or lack the time for discussion on key decisions. Additionally, if clear expectations are not set from the beginning about communication channels and working hours, some team members may be easily overlooked or unknowingly use ineffective means of communication and feel ignored.

Language and cultural barriers

These challenges are particularly relevant when remote workers come from different countries and cultures. Language barriers can lead to misunderstandings and team members feeling like they do not belong. The cultural differences may also mean that members of distributed teams have different views on team dynamics, decision-making, communication style and so on, which can make it harder for team cohesion to develop.

Lack of trust

Remote employees are often disconnected from the team, lacking a sense of common team identity and trust. This can lead to team silos with team members working in their own bubble, resulting in less collaboration and shared goals. 

Silos

The creation of silos can also lead to team members feeling left out and not valued, as team members in more remote locations may be excluded from team events or decision-making. This can exacerbate team conflicts and reduce team morale overall. 

Identifying problems early on 

In order for remote team building to be successful, it is important to identify any potential issues or conflicts early on. This can be done by holding meetings and open discussions about the team's goals, values, and communication protocols. Additionally, scheduled one-on-one meetings and a feedback process can be a fantastic way to gather crucial information about team cohesion. By understanding each team member's expectations and needs, remote teams can better work together to bridge any gaps.

Strategies for building team cohesion in a remote team

Once team members have identified the issues that need to be addressed, there are several strategies they can use to build team cohesion remotely. For example, members of a distributed team can engage in virtual team-building activities such as online games or virtual happy hours. They can also set up regular team meetings to discuss their progress and successes.

Additionally, team members can use online collaboration tools such as video conferencing or project management software to stay connected and organized. Finally, team members should make an effort to get to know each other on a personal level by sharing stories and experiences. 

When used properly, these strategies allow remote teams to achieve high performance during work, encourage people to build healthy relationships, improve productivity, and allow for true collaboration among team members from all around the world.

Effective communication

One of the key ways to combat team silos and team fragmentation is through effective communication. It is important for remote team members to cultivate clear lines of communication with each other. This can be done by setting up regular meetings, using video chat services like Zoom or Skype, utilizing instant messaging apps, and having team members connect with each other in team social media groups. 

To ensure team members are informed, team leaders should implement processes such as regular meetings and one to one meetings where team members can interact on a more personal level. In addition, managing employees should include allowing for different communication styles across cultures and time zones to be learned and understood, to ensure team members are hearing each other's ideas clearly and accurately. Sometimes, organizing a workshop that covers some of these topics can be a good idea.

Team building activities

By implementing team building activities and strategies, remote teams can create an environment of collaboration and trust that will make members of a distributed team feel supported and connected with each other. With the right team-building tools and techniques, dispersed teams can be just as successful as traditional in-person teams.

Some ideas for team building activities and events include:

  • Online team building games and challenges
  • Group video chats and virtual happy hours 
  • Virtual team retreats/workshops 
  • Monthly team check-ins or team awards 

By holding team events, remote teams can create an atmosphere of camaraderie and team spirit that is vital for team cohesion. Additionally, remote employees can take opportunities during a team building event to become more familiar with other team members and foster better team relationships. 

Regular meetings

Regular team meetings are key for team cohesion and should be held on a regular basis. During meetings, team members should discuss their individual successes as well as team goals and objectives. Team members can also take the opportunity to problem-solve any issues or conflicts that might arise and share ideas for improvement. Furthermore, team leaders can use team meetings to ensure team members are aware of processes and expectations for the team. 

The regular meetings should also reflect team dynamics, with team members being given a chance to voice their opinions, ask questions, and share ideas. It is important that team leaders take the time to listen to team members' feedback in order to create a positive team environment where team members can have their voices heard. 

However, it is very important not to organize team meetings too often, as this will only lead to resistance from team members and only grudging participation. A meeting every three to six months, with additional sessions organized whenever a specific issue becomes known, should suffice.

Workshops

Workshops are a great way for team members to learn from each other and get to know one another better. These workshops can involve a fun activity that promotes team building, team projects, or brainstorming sessions, as well as plain old social interaction. A positive culture, which facilitates the appreciation of innovative ideas and different cultures, should be cultivated during such workshops.

By giving team members the opportunity to work together on tasks, they can develop communication, problem solving, and collaboration skills while also learning more about their team members and team dynamics. This can also help team members to better understand each other's roles, responsibilities, and expectations. 

By organizing team workshops, team leaders can ensure that team members are supported in their work and foster a culture of collaboration among team members. Team leaders should make sure workshops are organized regularly so that team members have the opportunity to build team cohesion and create strong team relationships. 

Inclusivity and respect

Finally, team leaders should ensure that each team member is given equal opportunities for growth and development. Team leaders should actively promote inclusivity and respect among team members, as well as creating an atmosphere of collaboration, mutual trust, and understanding. 

Team leaders should set clear rules and expectations when it comes to communication and behavior among team members. Team leaders should also be aware of team members' differences, such as cultural and language backgrounds, and create an inclusive team environment that embraces diversity. 

By creating an environment of inclusivity and respect, team members will be more likely to feel supported and connected with each other, leading to better team cohesion. 

Feedback sessions

Feedback sessions are an important way for team members to stay connected and provide insights into team dynamics. Feedback sessions should be a safe space for team members to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences without fear of judgment or criticism. 

Team leaders should make sure that team feedback sessions are held on a regular basis so that the entire team can discuss team successes, areas of improvement, and team dynamics. This will help team members to identify issues early on and work together to come up with solutions that are beneficial for the whole team. 

Work life balance

Team leaders should ensure team members have a good work-life balance. Working remotely can make time management difficult and team members can easily become overwhelmed or burnt out. It is important for employees working remotely to take regular breaks and unplug from work when necessary. 

Managing remote teams also includes being aware of team members' workloads and making sure no one is overburdened with tasks. By promoting a work-life balance, team leaders can help team members maintain their wellbeing and ensure team cohesion is maintained. 

Occasions for face to face interaction

Although team members may be geographically dispersed, team leaders should still try to organize occasional face-to-face interactions. In-person team building sessions can be organized for members of remote teams who are able to travel, and team leaders should always strive to ensure team members have the opportunity to connect with one another in person. 

Team bonding sessions held in the same place for the whole remote team can help in establishing relationships and build team cohesion. This can also be a great opportunity for team members to discuss team dynamics, share ideas, and collaborate on future projects. 

Team building for remote team members

By recognizing team members' needs and utilizing team building activities, remote teams can develop trust and cohesion, and become more successful. With the right strategies in place, members of remote teams can work together seamlessly, maintain focus, and keep their energy high, which will help them improve productivity and achieve their goals.  

Team building techniques are a great way to build team cohesion in dispersed teams. By implementing strategies such as effective communication, team meetings, and team-building activities, remote teams can create an environment of collaboration, trust, and team spirit that will help team members feel connected with each other. With the right team building tools and techniques, dispersed teams can be just as successful as traditional in-person teams.

Olga Trąd

Marketing Manager

Fascinated by the spirit of innovation that permeates the IT industry, Olga has never abandoned her roots as an IT content marketing specialist. She draws on years of experience in the technology sector to shed light on interesting trends, solutions and practices.

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