Whether it was the office potluck, birthday celebrations, or going out for drinks after a day’s work — office-wide social and cultural events have always played a critical role not just in boosting employees’ morale, but also in strengthening bonds. 

Today, however, as many of us continue working from home, it’s not feasible to get the team together to cut a cake for someone’s birthday, and rigid happy hours over Zoom might be losing their excitement. But this is not to say that bonding among team members has lost its place in this atomised time. Quite the contrary, especially as virtual ways to engage your employees outside of work time become creative and exciting, with much of the physical world becoming accessible online. Virtual team-building experiences are not just fun to participate in, but also can mean growth for your company in the long run. They help to maintain a company’s identity, and as such, are a worthwhile investment. In other words, because virtual experiences are uniquely capable of catering to present-day anxieties and difficulties encountered by a scattered team, they’re a much-desired win-win!   

We asked our customers whether they are or would be interested in providing virtual culture programs to their teams in this new reality. We found that 62.5 percent of our customers are already providing or are interested in providing a stipend toward these experiences, and 54.6 percent said they would provide a stipend toward physical and mental health services. 

The feedback we received is one of the reasons why we expanded our platform to support businesses adapt to this new reality. And while we continue on our journey to help you improve your company’s culture, consider these four benefits of virtual team-building experiences in this socially-distanced world.   

Alleviate feelings of isolation and connect team members.

Let’s face it, the kind of remote working situation that we’ve been seeing for the past few months due to COVID-19 is something even the most devout fans of working from home have to get used to. Not only are our work days isolated, but so too are the social aspects of our lives. Communicating through emails, Slack, and video-conferencing, we forget the third dimension that makes us all human, a kind of fallibility that comes when we don’t have our game face on for that important conference call. 

As employees get in touch with their co-workers on an as-needed basis, feelings of isolation from other people and the inability to get out of our own heads could become pronounced. Additionally, when the way we connect with our colleagues during work hours is through the same medium, especially the same app used to speak with them during work, it can be hard to separate the person from their job title. 

This is where virtual team-building experiences come in. Virtual Experiences now offered in the Thriver platform make it easy to provide your team the opportunity to connect through team-building activities, such as arts and music events. Fun, interactive, and virtual experiences allow members the space to make mistakes and learn from each other, to hold up their full-bodied selves in front of their colleagues, and, most importantly, to see the multifacetedness that exists behind the two-dimensional email salutations. By coming together to overcome challenges or for some friendly competition, feelings of being stuck behind a screen will make themselves scarce, and trust and solidarity among members will grow.

Foster creativity through collective learning.

Sometimes, the best way to tackle a difficult task is to step away from it. Whether in nature or while doing a hobby, the answer or solution has a way of finding us, because the gears in our brain are always working behind the scenes — after all, the mind hates a cliffhanger. This is all to say, you can foster creativity in your team through collective e-learning opportunities, or introducing them to a potentially new hobby as an alternative to treating them to perks like meals and snacks. Backed by a well of knowledge, teammates will be inspired to start thinking outside of the box, looking for new ways to tackle a problem.  

Combat burnout.

Along with the arrival of the office into the home came a blurring of our personal and professional spaces. With work being done where we play or rest, it can be hard to mentally tap out at the end of a long day, because we remain in the same environment. As a result, we may experience burnout. 

Burnout can be caused by constantly being “on.” Defined as a state of extreme exhaustion emotionally, physically, and mentally, burnout is caused by sustained feelings of stress, of being overwhelmed, and difficulty in feeling motivated. An impediment to creativity, burnout is very common in remote-working situations. Among burnout’s effects are absenteeism, health problems relating to stress, and even substance abuse issues. Virtual entertainment and arts and music experiences, in addition to access to mental health services, are a great way for you to provide a comfortable setting for your team to be casual and interact in experiences that don’t expect too much from them other than their enjoyment and comfort. 

Have FUN. 

Ultimately, the goal of virtual social events and fun strategy-based games is to make sure everyone has a good time. No matter where your team members are, they can all be included. Team members get to see their coworkers having fun and feel together even if they’re far apart. 

Virtual Experiences, powered by Thriver, offers companies the ability to curate packages of team-building activities such as culture-based experiences and events, physical and mental health services, and e-learning programs. With the choice of over a hundred highly-skilled, Thriver-certified instructors and vendors from across North America, every member of your team has the opportunity to learn, be entertained, keep busy, and improve. 

Connect with Thriver for more information about how our virtual experiences can keep your team thriving together in a changing world.