Virtual Teams

Celebration in virtual teams

One of the key challenges in managing virtual teams is celebrating on the occasions when we can get together.

Celebration is an important virtual team process. It allows us to feel good about achievements, to mark milestones and gather energy for the next phase of our work. It provides an opportunity for recognition and ‘feel good factors after all of the effort of working together – and getting together.
The problem in virtual teams is that all of these things are easier when we are face-to-face. Without the human interaction, and the energy it creates, celebration can often be difficult to achieve.
The first thing we’ve learned in working with virtual teams for over 16 years is that anything is better than nothing. Even a congratulatory e-mail is better than not marking the end of something. However, there are more creative things we can do to create a sense of celebration in our virtual team.
Here are two examples from our work:
A marketing team based in three locations has most of its members in Paris with colleagues in Brussels and New York. There was a tendency for the smaller number of individuals in Brussels and New York to feel excluded when the larger group, in Paris, had meetings which they joined by audio conference. The team leader organized a virtual team celebration, where the group in Paris was given cakes. At the same time he had arranged for cakes to be delivered to the Brussels and New York locations so that everybody felt they were part of the same experience.
It may seem like a small thing, but the remote members of the virtual team really appreciated it.
The second example was when I worked with a team of Webmasters around the world. They invited me to their project and celebration, which involved all of us dialling up to an online karaoke site and singing along together on a conference call line. It may sound like something that would only work in IT, but even I enjoyed it!
If you do have the opportunity to get face-to-face in your virtual team then make sure that celebration and recognition are on your agenda.
If you can’t get together, think about the virtual cake or online celebration – just make sure you do something.

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