TeamWorks Academy (TWA) is a team-building and team-bonding enterprise, which helps organizations in bringing their teams together through experiential and fun-based learning programs. These interventions help the teams to collaborate and work in harmony for enhancing team performance, resolving conflicts, and managing change effectively. TWA thus focuses on helping organizations become great places to work.
In August, TWA conducted virtual team-building exercises for our Rare Crew teams across many countries. We have received very positive feedback from our teams about their experience in those sessions and their takeaways. We interviewed Co-Founders and Team Building Coaches, Mr. Selvin Arockia and Mr. Ujval Shankar.
While some employees worked remotely / from homes prior to the COVID-19, pandemic full-time remote work has been a drastic change for most workers. For many, working remotely has meant isolation from team members, friends, and even families. The situation is so alarming that WHO is providing guidance and advice during the COVID-19 pandemic about the health of workers, and tools for managers to help look after their teams’ mental health. Stress and the feelings associated with it are by no means a reflection that one cannot do one’s job or that one is weak. Managing mental health and psycho-social wellness during this time is as important as managing physical health. We feel team-building exercises during this rough period are even more beneficial than ever before.
Do you agree?
TWA: Absolutely. Team Bonding and Team Building are much more needed now than ever before. As you rightly mentioned, the direct fallout of working remotely for a long period has led to stress and has impacted the mental and emotional health of the workforce. This is a huge concern for organizations today. Loneliness and a feeling of distance from your co-workers have led to more demand for Virtual Team bonding sessions, where they bond as a team, have fun and also connect online with their colleagues, not in a formal meeting atmosphere, but where they let go of their worries and stresses and feel relaxed and at ease & come out of their boredom.
What are the benefits of Team Building?
TWA: Team Building is all about coming together and connecting with your co-workers. Team Building is about recognizing that you are a part of a bigger family at work, not just a lone worker sitting in your home workstation, churning out action items day in and day out. We all know the adage that “TEAM stands for Together We Achieve More”. This message of togetherness as One Team is the biggest benefit of team building.
Here are some of the benefits of our team building programs as experienced by our clients:
1. Boosts Team Morale
2. When a team exhibits good morale, there is excitement and enthusiasm generated among the teams
3. Combats Loneliness
4. Increases Productivity & Versatility
5. Increased Collaboration & Motivation
6. Encourages Creativity & Positive Reinforcement… Things that are much needed today when everyone is gripped with fear and are anxious about their own health and the health of their near and dear ones.
What can people expect from the virtual team- building sessions?
TWA: Employees can expect happy and fun times with their colleagues, although they may be thousands of miles away in another country or city. We may be speaking daily to a colleague or a manager who is remotely located, but we may not even be aware of him or her as a person — their talents, their challenges, etc. In our virtual team-building sessions they see the other person as a human-like themselves, and not just as a peer or a boss. During these hard and uncertain times, they can expect team building as a shower of happiness and fun. In virtual team building, they can expect team-based activities, virtual games, group bonding activities, collaborative experiences with a lot of energy and momentum.
What have you found to be common obstacles during virtual team building, and how do you overcome them?
TWA: The two most common obstacles in virtual team building are technology and distance.
Dependence on Technology is so big during virtual team building that even a small technical glitch can hamper the entire virtual team-building experience. Dependency on Internet connectivity, Internet speed, the features, and limitations of the meeting platform are the main technical challenges. We usually overcome these by ensuring multiple back-ups — back up for the Wi-Fi, back-up for the content by hosting it at multiple cloud locations and also the back-up for the coach, in case the coach drops off due to connectivity issues at home!!
Distance between team members and also between the coaches is another big issue. There are many team-building programs that we offer in a physical location, which cannot be offered in a virtual environment. However, initially, we were confused, but instead of making it a showstopper, we decided to innovate on team building programs for a virtual environment. And guess what, we have realized that there are more team-based activities, team games and fun activities that are possible digitally and a host of digital tools available. So now we have more team building activities virtually, than otherwise.
What do your clients appreciate the most about your team-building programs?
TWA: The uniqueness, creativity, and energy that we build in our team-building sessions make us stand apart. For every client, we work for days together to innovate and create a great team-building experience.
Further, it is the experience and the energy of the coaches that our clients appreciate the most about us. There are dozens of teams building activities available on the internet, but the manner in which we conduct our sessions, engaging every participant, is what makes us unique.
Is virtual team building as good as the physical team building? Are the results the same? How do they differ?
TWA: As mentioned above, there are many differences in virtual and physical team building and the challenges also vary. However, with innovation and the use of creative digital tools and technology, the time has come for employees to bond well even in a virtual environment.
We have realized that the team building results of collaboration, fun learnings, relaxation, joy, bonding, and a feeling of one team are not the same, but much more in our virtual team building programs & experiences.
From your experience in working with teams globally, what are some common core team values? Especially, what are the common values of high-performance teams? How can employees bond with their companies better? And vice-versa?
TWA: We at TeamWorks have worked and still continue to work with a lot of teams across the globe via our experiential team programs and a few attributes of high-performance teams that we have experienced in our sessions thrive on Building Trust, Celebrating Team Success & Learning Culture, Leadership, One Vision, Time-Oriented, Culture of Accountability & Responsibility, Effective Planning & Communication, Comfort Zone Expansion, Team Participation, etc.
What kind of investments do we need for activities?
TWA: The best part of our Team Building programs is we customize all our programs according to company budgets without affecting the quality of the experience. The only expectation from us is 100% participation.
What are some interesting options to foster company culture while employees work from home?
TWA: The answer to this question will be different for each company depending on their values and resources. The main focus needs to be on how to keep your team psychologically knitted together during this challenging time, which can include
· Virtual Team bonding programs
· Promote Employee Hobbies & Interests
· Encourage employees to share their hobbies via the company communication mediums & social media
· Virtual Team Meditations & Wellness programs
· Virtual counseling services to help your workforce in facing challenges relating to work, family stress, finances, and other personal issues.
· Online Community services for exhibiting company values.
· Special Online programs were your teams could donate towards the Covid-19 response fund via NGO tie-ups.
· Virtual Fun Activities that involve employees & their families.
· Online Fun Cook-Off events, Virtual Master Chefs, Pot Lucks & Food Meetings.
· Virtual Birthday Celebrations, Work Anniversaries, Recognitions & Rewards programs via the online way are great ways to foster company culture while employees work from home.
Thank you for the interview 😊