The new hybrid workplace is here to stay and some may struggle with creating online team building incentives. The pandemic may have accelerated the growing movement towards remote work but even before working from home became a necessity for many organizations, a 2019 Buffer survey found that 99% of respondents wanted the option to work remotely. 

While the hybrid workplace has plenty of advantages, it also requires that business leaders adapt in-person office operations and resources to support the virtual model, from facilitating how co-workers collaborate to providing innovative new ways to celebrate company wins and special occasions — including holidays. 

Here are some tips for building a remote company culture and the role virtual team building experiences can play in keeping your employees supported and connected through the holiday season and beyond. 

Plan ahead to engage your team

The 2019 Buffer survey showed that loneliness is one of the top struggles faced by remote employees in the hybrid workplace. The blurred lines between work and home life can leave some employees feeling burned out and overworked, while disconnectedness from their co-workers can foster a sense of isolation. 

Video meeting platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts can facilitate virtual team building, making it possible for employees to regularly connect “face-to-face,” even when they can’t be together in person. Plan and schedule periodic video check-ins with each employee. Routine meetings not only add structure to your day-to-day operations, but they’re also an excellent time to remind your employees that you’re available to support them. 

Promote a healthy work-life balance

Encourage employees to incorporate breaks into their work-from-home routines. The time and permission to go out for a walk or prepare a healthy lunch can boost morale and help your employees stay more focused when they are at their desks. Through virtual experiences, these breaks can also offer another opportunity for team building. Thriver’s culture plans, for example, feature weekly group activities like meditation and mindfulness sessions and fitness classes.

Attract and retain employees through virtual wellness programs

Over 80% of companies with 200 employees or more now offer some kind of wellness program. In hybrid workplaces, wellness programs are often executed virtually. For leading companies like Google, Netflix, and Zillow, these programs correlate with consistently excellent Glassdoor ratings and employees that are known for their company pride. 

Employees are more likely to stay with a company that makes them feel valued. Not only do wellness programs improve employee retention, but content employees are more motivated to leave great Glassdoor feedback and help cultivate a positive reputation for your company, which will, in turn, make it easier for you to recruit more top talent in the future.  

Focus on wellbeing and connection through team building

There has never been a more crucial time for business leaders to focus on their employees’ wellbeing, as the abrupt shift to remote work has created new challenges. While a wellness activity can be an enjoyable focus for any virtual event, it’s also a practice that your organization should continue into the new year. 

Group wellness activities that your company can participate in together can help mitigate the isolation of working from home and promote virtual team building. In addition, wellness programs equip employees with new tools to manage stress, which can have a positive impact on their mental health and work performance. A movement-based group activity can be a constructive way to break up the monotony of working at a desk all day, plus daily exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety levels

Reinforce a positive feedback culture

Open communication and honest feedback are more fundamental than ever in hybrid workplaces. A recent LinkedIn report shows that 1 in 3 companies do not consistently act on employee feedback. It’s a critical missed opportunity because as your remote company culture continues to develop, there’s no one more adept than your own employees to share how you can best support their productivity.

Feedback may have happened face-to-face in the past at many companies but, fortunately, new virtual platforms are streamlining the process of communicating feedback remotely. In addition to promoting virtual team building, virtual celebrations are an ideal, low-pressure opportunity to develop your organization’s remote feedback culture. Encourage your team to play an active role in shaping virtual events to help strengthen remote workplace culture. Through Thriver’s platform, for example, employees can vote before the virtual event on which activities they want to participate in as well as provide feedback about the experiences later. 

Taking the time to solicit feedback after any of your virtual celebrations or events is important to creating even more impactful team building activities as your company heads into 2021. Ultimately, the most engaging, productive remote company culture is one that your team plays an ongoing role in forming together.

Original publication can be found on Industry Today