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When project teams work together in the same space, it can be easy to gauge the emotions, commitment, frustrations, and energy behind those on the team. When teams work remotely, sometimes those subtle, but very important factors can get lost. What can project managers do to help?

Let’s face it – people do projects. And if your people are not on board with the task, or are feeling frustrated by the status, it can impact others on the team. And putting out reports that contain disappointing metrics may not inspire some people on your team at all.

It can be tempting to think that your team is too busy for team building exercises. It can be pay now, or pay later, as they say. And yet, many teams don’t have the resources for lengthy team building efforts. Here are a few quick and easy tips to help your remote project teams.

Create a fun video of your team

Ask the members of your team to send you several casual photos of themselves and their families, perhaps enjoying their hobbies or vacation times, and perhaps a favorite or dream vacation spot. Put them together in a very simple format and play it at a team meeting. Post it in your online file sharing space so that team members can watch it again. Include the names of each team member with their pictures, and perhaps some interesting tidbits.

Vary your meeting time when your project teams cross time zones

If everyone on your team is not in the same time zone, be considerate of those who may be up in the middle of the night for your calls. Consider changing the time around periodically so that it’s not the same people every time that have to wake at 3 am for a team meeting.

Use your webcams for video conferencing

There are a number of different programs that offer video conferencing and you’ll have to decide what is important to you and your organization. Consider recording your meetings for those who were unable to attend or for further review.

Start a chat thread for positive and encouraging news

Several months ago, a daughter named the chat thread that our family shares ‘Fam Jam Babam WE ROCK!’ It was such a little thing. In the ensuing months, I’ve noticed that our family of nine adults uses this thread to disseminate fun, interesting, positive, and encouraging family news.

Teams are like families. Consider starting an informal chat thread for disseminating positive and encouraging updates. You can use it to praise people on the team when something big has been finished. You can give a shout out to the ones who turned in their time sheets or status reports on time. And you can use it to share vacation pictures. Stay away from anything negative or official. This should be fun and inspiring.

Project teams are like families. Spread the love with frequent positive and encouraging news. Click To Tweet

Turn your project work into a game

There are a number of interactive team building games that can be played remotely. But why not turn your team reports into a type of game?

I’m leading a project now that I’ve dubbed ‘Race for the Blue.’ I have a work breakdown structure that looks like an organization chart. Whenever we finish a square, it becomes blue. Whenever the client approves the work on an individual deliverable, an icon (either a gold star, champagne glass, trophy, or frosty beer mug) is placed in the square. Leads get to choose the icon that they want to see. I look forward to seeing every square turn blue in the coming months.

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