October 13, 2022
Recent statistics underline the extent to which hybrid working is now a permanent fixture of US business life. A recent report suggests that 74 percent of US companies are using or plan to implement a permanent hybrid working model, whilst 44 percent of US employees prefer a hybrid work model, compared to 51 percent of employers. 55 percent of employees want to work remotely at least three days a week and 59 percent of employees are more likely to choose an employer that offers remote work opportunities over one that doesn’t.
The challenge for those employers is to find ways to enhance the workplace experience for hybrid workers; foster a sense of collaboration and mutual respect between in-office, hybrid working, and remote team members such that each understands, appreciates and respects the differing personal experiences and needs of each of their colleagues in a way that brings the team together and makes it more productive.
Human beings are social creatures, we’ve been coming together since the stone ages – it’s part of our nature. We crave connection as part of our basic human psychology, and during an age where most things are virtual, it’s never been more important to continue to foster those relationships in the workplace (both digitally and in person)! Team-building events and experiences in general (virtual, hybrid or in person) provide an opportunity for people in hybrid working cultures to connect with their teammates on a deeper level.
These events can be used directly to improve morale, culture, engagement and to foster relationships between team members.
Around 95 percent of teens rank having a job or career they enjoy as a top priority for their future adulthood according to Pew Research, and a workplace experience that cultivates relationships contributes to that satisfaction. Younger generations coming into the workplace now more and more value finding friends in the office. Studies show that if employees don’t have a best friend at work, there’s only a 1 in 12 chance that they’ll be engaged (via Gallup). People also often appreciate experiences more than they do physical gifts, and we believe that in the workplace, experiences and events can directly enhance the company experience for distributed workers.
To achieve such palpable positive results from team building events and experiences, it is important that companies are proactive with their team building approach instead of reactive. This means that these events shouldn’t just occur when times are good or times are bad, they should be a part of the company culture year-round. The goal is that team building events become an implicit part of the workplace experience. Your team is also a relationship that needs consistent work and effort just like any other.
The best way to get started on building culture to foster a sense of collaboration and mutual respect is by sending out a survey. This helps to gauge interest on what people in the team generally like to do and if they prefer in-person or virtual activities.
Get on the cycle
When scheduling team building events for your team, we recommend doing a cycle that changes between individual teams, departments and company-wide. Ideally these events would happen monthly, and then you can cycle that every quarter if your budget allows. For example, Month 1: Team, Month 2: Departmental, Month 3: Company-wide and then repeat. Having an overview where team members can view a calendar of upcoming events also helps to reflect the differing personal experiences and needs of each individual member of the team. That way, for example, someone who doesn’t drink can skip the wine tasting one week but go to another department’s Virtual Trivia session instead!
Ultimately these team building experiences give teams a moment to interact in a non-work environment, which has so many deeply positive effects. For example at Confetti, we enjoy doing cooking classes because all team members have at least a kitchenette, and they can bring in roommates and significant others to the event as well. It’s an opportunity for the rest of the company to meet those people and see just a bit of what that team member’s life looks like outside of working hours. These experiences humanize us all – we stop seeing our team as just their workplace roles, but as humans leading full lives. Especially when partaking in DE&I events as well, team members really start to celebrate each other and understand each other, leading to greater mutual respect.
Puzzle-based or problem-solving games, also foster collaboration and improve communication. Many companies who have played this expressed wanting to do something like this “more often as it has allowed [them] to work better as a team.” Problem and puzzle-solving in a different capacity that takes place outside of work and is a bit more fun shows us that these exact same skill sets and tools can be applied in a work capacity later as well.
The best part of these experiences, however, is that we allow these interactions and this newfound understanding of each other to flow back into work-related situations. Once we’ve learned and seen these other sides of our co-workers, we consider them in our daily workplace interactions and maybe approach situations differently and with greater understanding.