CEO Scott O Hirsch, the founder of Media Direct, explains the importance of remote team building in today’s climate and showcases several of his favorite associated activities.
According to Scott O Hirsch, the benefits of remote team building have never been more important or apparent. Designed to help overcome obstacles and support well-being and happiness among staff who work remotely, the Media Direct CEO offers a number of suggestions aimed at inspiring a wealth of potential team-building exercises. These exercises are intended to combat remote workers’ struggles and promote improved business performance at the same time.
A recent study undertaken by software firm Buffer—a leader in social media tools designed for authentic engagement—found that of the things which remote workers struggle with the most, loneliness reportedly comes at the top of the list. With this in mind, the first three of Scott O Hirsch’s showcased remote team-building activities each centered around loneliness and communication. “Coffee time, virtual happy hour, and Friday wind-down,” says Media Direct CEO Hirsch.
A simple daily or weekly virtual call lasting for around 20 minutes, an opportunity for ‘coffee time’ with fellow remote workers can represent an important tool both in remote team building and combating loneliness, according to Scott O Hirsch.
Encouraging people to take a break together and to chat, without feeling like they’re avoiding work or shirking their responsibilities is important on several fronts. While taking a breather is known to be important for productivity—a major benefit for all involved—a virtual coffee break also allows time for socializing among colleagues who are working remotely – great for combating feelings of loneliness.
So-called ‘virtual happy hour,’ meanwhile, offers similar benefits, Media Direct CEO Hirsch says, but in a non-work capacity. A chance to grab a drink after the day’s work is done, much like heading to a restaurant or bar after a day at the office, this virtual opportunity to unwind with colleagues is another loneliness-busting team-building opportunity, Hirsch reports.
A virtual call lasting for around 60 minutes as the name suggests, virtual happy hour is an ideal way to round off the week, facilitating casual socializing between team members out-of-hours who may, otherwise, not have a chance to chat in a non-work environment.
Where there’s a desire to keep things in a more office-like setting, however, Friday wind-down—Scott O Hirsch‘s third suggestion aimed at combating loneliness—is a great alternative. Instead, he suggests, issue a virtual call each Friday around 30 minutes before the end of the day to allow people to get together and begin to unwind before heading off for the weekend.
Not only does an opportunity to unwind with colleagues help to combat loneliness and promote improved communication, but it also has the added benefit of allowing people to switch off after work.
In fact, the same Buffer study which found loneliness to be the primary concern among remote workers also identified a difficulty ‘unplugging’ as another leading issue. An almost identical percentage of respondents suggested that ‘not being able to unplug’ was a primary concern as a remote worker. Beyond difficulty unplugging, distractions at home, working across time zones, and staying motivated were the next most commonly raised concerns, according to the report.
The software company’s study utilized more than three years of data from over 3,500 remote workers. Twenty percent of those surveyed suggested that loneliness was their biggest concern, while 18 percent said they had difficulties unplugging. Battling distractions at home was reported to be a concern for 12 percent of respondents, while up to ten percent said that working across time zones and staying motivated posed a challenge for them personally.
Accordingly, Media Direct CEO Scott O Hirsch shares a further three activities and ideas focused on these aspects of remote team building. First, he suggests, tackle distractions at home by promoting remote team-building exercises which take place away from workers’ desks, such as creating shared fitness goals that can be undertaken in an individual’s outdoor space—in the garden, for example, or on a run around the neighborhood—either before or after the working day.
At the same time, to tackle difficulties surrounding time zones, be sure to schedule a variety of remote team-building activities throughout the day to allow everyone to participate.
Then, in an effort to further promote motivation among team members, Scott O Hirsch proposes introducing the possibility of small rewards for those who participate. Reward, for example, the individual who outperforms their team where a shared fitness goal has been established. Alternatively, incorporate a quiz or bonus element into other activities where there’s a prize for the ‘winner,’ or simply he or she who approaches the activity with the most gusto.
Media Direct founder Scott Scott O Hirsch also offers three principles intended to help make remote team-building exercises a success at their core. “Regularity, leading by example, and being prepared to invest in such activities are essential,” he suggests.
By scheduling the vast majority of remote team-building exercises during working hours, these activities aren’t solely a favor to staff, according to Hirsch. Instead, they’re an investment in a remote team’s well-being and happiness, something which is likely to promote improved business performance in the long term while immediately benefiting workers as they continue to embrace remote working in the short term.
Scott O Hirsch is the founder and CEO of Media Direct, a globally recognized communications and digital marketing agency focused on web-to-mobile and mobile content, permission-based email solutions, online lead generation, and more. An internationally recognized expert in digital marketing and analytics, Hirsch has been featured in Time, Fortune, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Fox Business, and The Huffington Post.