Using Technology to Build Team Culture (Even Remotely!)

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By: Jamie Pagliaro

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Whether you are using Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts, every platform offers similar tools that you can leverage to build team culture, which is especially important with so many employees working remotely due to COVID, or performing their jobs in geographically dispersed locations. With some planning, these tools can stimulate employee engagement, and help team members feel more connected to one another.

Technology Tools To Build Team Culture

Here are a few common technology tools that can help you build team culture:

Chat Function

Ask a question to begin your meetings. Immediately, people are paying attention and engaged with what you have to say. For example, on Valentine’s Day I asked team members to chat what they love most about their team. 

I also like to play some inspirational music at the beginning of team meetings (you can source suggestions from your team!), and prompt people to engage with the chat question while waiting for everyone to join. As people chat comments, I read some of them aloud. It always sets a positive tone for the meeting!

Breakout Rooms

I must admit that despite working at a tech company, I am sometimes intimidated by advanced features like Breakout Rooms. But this feature can be really valuable in creating interactive meetings when you have more than 5-10 people. 

When I run culture building activities, there is always a specific theme or topic, such as defining our team values. Breakout rooms offer an opportunity for everyone to speak and listen to one another. A question like “what do you value most about working here” can stimulate positive conversations and help team members get to know one another. 

You can also ask more provocative questions like “what are your weaknesses” or “what is something we should start doing” as you build trust with your team.  

Pro tip: give participants a reflection period before the breakout so they can write down their ideas. Not everyone enjoys being on the spot with colleagues if they haven’t had a chance to prepare. 

Team Vision Board 

This can be done with a simple Google Sheet. The board is a place for team members to post reflections and share more about their personal journey with others. Sharing your personal mission statement or communication style in a public form can help team members get to know one another. 

As a leader, it can also help you learn more about team members that you may not interact with regularly. It can also help you assess employee engagement, as participation should never be mandatory.

Resources for Building Team Culture

If you want to start or expand your focus on developing your team culture, check out some easy habits to build team culture, or if you’re still not convinced that focusing on team culture is worth your time, check out three reasons why team culture matters. I hope these reasons inspire you to commit more time to culture building activities.  

If you would like to see some examples of easy exercises that you can begin doing with as little as one hour per month, check out some of my recommended culture building activities and tracking tools. Feel free to download, modify and make them your own!

Jamie C. Pagliaro

Executive Vice President & Chief Learning Officer

Mr. Pagliaro currently serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Learning Officer of Rethink, a global health technology company providing cloud-based treatment tools, training and clinical supports for individuals with developmental disabilities and their caregivers. Prior to joining Rethink, Mr. Pagliaro was Executive Director of the first charter school for children with autism spectrum disorders in New York City. The program has received national recognition from the media and a number of professional publications as a model for children with autism in the public school system. Mr. Pagliaro has worked directly with individuals with disabilities in all stages of life across a variety of home, school and clinic settings. Mr. Pagliaro has an MBA from Villanova University and a BA with honors in Psychology from Wesleyan University. He speaks nationally, serves on several professional advisory boards, and has authored numerous articles.

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