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Team building in online workshop – does this really work?

For quite some time already, workshops and meetings have been converted into online settings. Additionally, Christmas parties, coffee breaks and other informal get-togethers, which are important for teams and their cooperation, had to be canceled. But in both, online and face 2 face settings, you teams need to know each other, get along well, trust and understand each other in order to be able to successfully collaborate. Even though It is out of question, that the quality of online meetings and workshops has clearly improved during the last one and half years, team building in particular is still a challenge in online settings. As already mentioned, it is important that meeting participants develop a sense of togetherness and team spirit. The more important it is not to forget to plan sufficient space and time and to consider which formats and methods are adequate to support team-building in online settings. To do so there are various approaches and tools for this. Here are some hints:

  • Getting to know each other in online settings: For instance, at welcome rounds, we advise to ask the participants to turn on their cameras. An option is to invite them to grasp symbols or things they show in the camera, which are important for them, or which are representing a topic and theme of the workshop. It is always interesting what people associate and bring to the workshop or meeting. Additionally, this way of introduction round already warms participants for further sessions.

  • Visualization of commonalities: With the help of a list of online whiteboard tools, groups can find commonalities and visualize them. Through this approach, participants can find commonalities beyond the business context. This helps the group to form and later perform successfully.

  • Collect pictures of your participants and use them: already before the meeting or workshop takes place, participants can send pictures of themselves, which can further be used in introduction sessions. Having a face to a name makes it easier to remember the people.

  • Common goals and values: also in online settings it is important, that the groups commonly agree on goals but it is also supportive to define common values and document them. The clarification of common expectations, discussion of fears and insecurities and having clear common goals, strengthen trust within the group.

Of course, there are many further ideas and even software like Miro offer templates, which are absolutely worth having a look at. There one can find new ideas for interactive introduction rounds or methods helping the group to warm up and to build trust among the participants. When designing the meeting or workshop, we suggest to choose methods and strategies to make the team work solution oriented. Additionally, it is important that there is sufficient time planned to clarify possible misunderstanding and to build up the necessary trust. It is a goal that all participants feel comfortable and safe to bring in his or her skills and that all participants take responsibility for their commonly agreed goals and results.

In summary, it is a fact that team building is key for all workshops, no matter if it takes place in face to face settings or online settings. It always has to be well planned and time for team building activities must be allocated.

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