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Virtual Teams

Virtual Teambuilding for Holidays

The holidays are around the corner and, like everything in 2020, they are going to be different this year. By using our work tools, we can still celebrate this special time of year.

Virtual team building is important. It helps to combat the stress, loneliness and challenges some of us may feel. Working virtually can also lead to disengagement and poor performance. Virtual team building can help form social bonds and build trust which improves communications and helps teams work together.

In fact, 94 percent of workers in one survey say mutual respect and connection are critical to their team’s success, and 19 percent say it’s the number one factor in their sense of well-being at work.

Here are some ideas to help you create a virtual holiday event for your team:

Holiday Icebreaker Questions:

  • What’s your least favorite – Christmas song?
  • What's the best – or worst –present you've ever received?
  • Describe a present you wanted badly as a kid, but never received.
  • Name something about the holidays that most people like, but you hate (or at least dislike).
  • If you could only have one type of holiday food this year, what would you choose?

Virtual Holiday Bingo

Make up a holiday bingo card using a free holiday bingo card generator you can find online. They use images like snowflakes, candy canes or holiday activities such as baked cookies, skating, carol singing to create a bingo card. Distribute the cards, print, and lead a virtual bingo game.

Holiday Costume Dress-up

Some of us decorate our office space: think tiny fake Christmas trees, strings of lights and candy jars. Ask your remote team to get in the holiday spirit by attending video parties in seasonal garb like Santa hats, elf costumes, reindeer antlers and green Grinch hair. Kick it up a notch with a costume contest prize. Share Videos and Photos

Crate a shared photo drive in Teams or post pictures in your chat so remote employees can share decorations, homemade treats, ugly Christmas sweaters and other holiday fun. Make it a guessing game and have everyone on the team try to guess which image belongs to which person on the team.

Friendly Competitions

Get everyone in the spirit by hosting competitions through video calls and shared photos. Challenge your team to come up with the ugliest Christmas sweater or the best home office decorations.

Acknowledge Employees

The holidays are a great time to give out end-of-year awards that recognize hard work and special accomplishments, or are simply good for a laugh. Get creative! All employees enjoy having their achievements recognized and celebrating memorable moments. Fun Fact Guessing Game Ask everyone on the team to submit a fun fact about themselves to you privately – you can even make it holiday related. Then, hold a meeting with the whole team and read out the facts one by one and let everyone else guess which fact matches with which team member.

Collaborate on a Holiday Playlists

We all have a favourite holiday song. Create some needed variety with a virtual team playlist. Everyone contributes one song to build a playlist, team members can download songs from their own favourite music platform.

Posted November 2020

Leading a Virtual Team

Leading teams virtually presents new challenges to leaders and managers who must successfully manage people separated by distance, varying working hours and often, time zones. Building a strong team is challenging but even more complex in the case of a virtual team.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the move to remote work, The Canada School of Public Service (CSPS) took the lead through their GCcampus learning platform to help public service managers better manage their teams virtually.

GC managers and leaders can log in to create an account to access the School's online offerings -- from online courses to podcasts to job aids. The School continues to create learning opportunities and tools to support managers during the COVID-19 pandemic so check the Learning catalogue to stay up to date on new products.

Learning Path for Virtual Managers: CSPS has created a special Learning Path for managers leading teams virtually which includes two courses and a webcast focused on best practices in remote management and how to build and work with effective teams.

Podcasts The School also has two podcasts focused on virtual leadership. Innovate on Demand: Virtual Leadership is a podcast featuring Simon Gascon, Director of IT Research at Employment and Social Development Canada, on his experience as a virtual leader. The podcast is just under an hour. How to Survive as an Executive: Leading Remotely in a Crisis discusses how the Government of Canada pivoted quickly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From coast to coast to coast, executives led their teams in transitioning to home offices while continuing to serve Canadians and adapt to the national lockdown. This conversation addresses:

  • the phases that executives and their teams may experience
  • coping strategies
  • the importance of communication and staying connected

Check here for more information.

The GCFlex group shared a “Leading Remote Teams: Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis” webinar packed with excellent resources for managers. You can watch it on the Cornell ILR Executive Education website

Cornell faculty provided strategies to help leaders “rise to the challenge of leading remote teams, and keeping them engaged and productive in these uncertain times.” One of the GCflex group’s members also wrote an article with 5 key takeaways and specific tooling and resource suggestions which is available in both official languages.

English French

Job Aides

CSPC wrote a series of job aids -- tools to help you carry out your everyday responsibilities – related to virtual team management. They include quick reference tools, checklists, decision trees and worksheets. The series related to virtual teams includes topics like:

  • Helping People Through Transition,
  • a Virtual Team Tool kit,
  • Civility and Respect at Work,
  • Do’s and Don’ts in Remote Work, and
  • Finding Opportunities in Challenging Times.

To access these job aids , you will be prompted to log in to your GCcampus account. Find the whole series here:

Busrides Busrides is new page built in collaboration with public servants interested in sharing resources to help navigate remote work. Busrides offers short segments on digital topics and modern government that appeal to multiple learning styles. For now, Busrides is just getting started, but additional resources will be added.

Check it out here.

Coming Up … The CSPS is presenting “EXecuTALK: Beyond 2020 – Leading Through the Unknown” a webcast aimed at Executives who want to experience a conversation about how leaders prepare for the future in a time of uncertainty on September 28, from 1:30 – 2 pm ET. Join Kristel Van der Elst, Director General of Policy Horizons Canada, who is leading a conversation about the changes spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, how those changes may affect the work of Canada's public service leadership, and how to prepare for the future. You must register before 10 am on the day of the webcast. Link here.

Posted October 2020

Virtual Teams Tips and Guidelines

More information coming soon! In the meantime, check out the links below.

General Guidelines and Tips for Working Remotely

Posted April 2020