How to Build a Cohesive Team No Matter Where Your Employees Are

How to Build a Cohesive Team No Matter Where Your Employees Are

Relationships within your organization matter. And team building is more important now than ever with a mix of remote, hybrid, and onsite companies.

Fostering familiarity, empathy, and shared purpose among team members has proven benefits for both employees and the organization. In a randomized clinical trial of medical residents and nurses in an inpatient medical service, it was found that the more familiar the team was with one another, the better they performed on complex tasks in medical simulations.

Organizations are aware of the need to build cohesive teams. Gartner research found that 71% of human resources leaders are more worried about employee collaboration today than before the pandemic.

Here are some of the strategies that we have seen companies adopting to create high-performing human teams in this new work landscape.

Prioritize Effective, Transparent Communication  

Clear communication is foundational for a well-functioning team, no matter where your employees are.

Ensure that there are plenty of opportunities for people to connect with their supervisors, colleagues, and reports. Come to a shared consensus about things like

  • Acceptable email response time
  • Criteria for calling a meeting
  • Communicating feedback

Consider using tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams, especially if your team is remote or hybrid. These tools allow you to set up topic-specific channels for professional and personal conversations. The work-focused channels you establish can be valuable for project management, while personal message sharing can foster relationships and replicate the breakroom chat that some employees might be missing.

Establishing communication norms that support remote employees' well-being is also beneficial. Putting on a "Do Not Disturb" notification in chat can replace closing an office door. Meanwhile, raising points or celebrating in a virtual meeting might be accomplished with specific options within your video conferencing software.

Host Regular Opportunities to Socialize as a Team

Employees with friends at work tend to be more loyal and engaged. Their feelings toward their workplace are more likely to be positive and social support can help reduce stress and promote psychological safety. Consider hosting in-person or virtual opportunities for teams to connect outside work responsibilities.

Fortune 500 Companies like Google, Dell, and Coca-Cola as well as smaller organizations across the United States have found game play to be a fun and effective way to connect. Meanwhile, Microsoft held a Build-A-Bike charity team building workshop as part of a corporate conference to give employees a chance to connect and do some good. 

Big events like this are great, but remember, team socialization doesn’t have to a huge production. Begin by asking your employees for feedback about the types of activities they would enjoy most. Some popular options include:

  • Trivia competitions
  • Escape Room challenges
  • Tastings (think chocolate, wine, or cheese)
  • Paint nights
  • Cooking classes
  • Volunteering together
  • Participating in a sports league or interoffice tournament

One silver lining of the pandemic is that there are now more resources for making many of these options—like trivia or cooking classes—work for virtually!

Fine Tune How You Work Together

Many assessments are designed to help people increase self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and team effectiveness. Some popular options include DiSC ®, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ®, Enneagram, and CliftonStrengths. There are practical benefits to understanding how to best collaborate with colleagues. But beyond that, these tools can also be fun ways for each person to get to know themselves and one another better.

Establishing a mentorship program is another way to build connections that lead to a cohesive team. With clear goals, guidelines, and structure, mentorship programs can promote a learning culture, build lasting employee relationships, and increase job satisfaction. According to Women Ahead, 82% of those surveyed found mentoring helpful in fostering meaningful connections across the organization. And Harvard Business Review notes that mentored employees had less anxiety and saw their job as more meaningful than those who did not have a mentor. Join successful companies like Mastercard and Novartis who are prioritizing mentorship to break down silos and bolster efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.

Give a Gift Your Team Can Use Together


Consider mixing appreciation with team building by giving your employees a gift they can enjoy together. Great examples include things like:

  • a book they can all read and then discuss in a book club format
  • a game they can play to get to know one another better
  • ingredients for a cocktail, hot chocolate, or another treat that they can enjoy together

These gifts can work well for both onsite and remote employees. To encourage participation and respect your employees' time, schedule any book club discussions, virtual happy hours, or gameplay during work hours, perhaps as part of a standing meeting. At PlumTree, we offer several curated team-building gift boxes and create custom boxes to meet specific client needs. Here's a look for a bit of inspiration:

Want to kick off some team connectedness with one of these boxes?

Get in touch today. 




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