All projects face challenges and uncertainty—but if you’re leading a virtual project team, you know that remote environments introduce a completely new level of complexity to your project team dynamics.
As project leaders, we know it’s important to build team cohesion and celebrate wins, even in a virtual setting. But how do we do that when we’re not able to spend unstructured time together in person? How do we maintain energy and a shared sense of purpose, even across long distances?
In geographically dispersed teams, project leaders must find new ways to connect and support their project teams. If you’re on the hunt for fresh ideas to encourage and celebrate your project team in tough times, this list has you covered!
5 Ways to Celebrate Project Success With Your Remote Team
- Big thanks from small businesses
Supporting a local small business while thanking your team is a huge way to help your team feel appreciated and show your community some love. In our hometown of Tulsa, OK, there is a fantastic chocolatier, Glacier Confections, where you can build a custom box for less than $10 and send one to each of your team members. When it comes to thank you's, taking the time to send a small gift can send a big message and make the physical distance seem less substantial.
- Anyone hungry?
When leading teams in-person, one of my tried-and-true approaches to say thanks to a project team is to bring in lunch. Now, with many teams remote, calling in pizzas or BBQ for the whole team isn’t always viable. But that doesn’t mean the team can’t have great food delivered. A good virtual option is to get Door Dash gift cards for your team so they can order lunch to their home or office. Consider opening a “virtual conference room” to share a meal together. It also gives everyone the option to pick the type of food they love the most or that fits in with their dietary restrictions. Plus, research suggests that teams that are able to spend unstructured work time together experienced reduced social isolation and increased spontaneous collaboration and creativity.
- Share a laugh - from a distance
While working apart, a lot of teams are still meeting project deadlines and putting out deliverables, but they aren't able to chat in the break room or catch up over coffee. Finding ways to incorporate some laughs and comradery into your project celebration is a great way to help the team unwind and feel more connected. Here at The Persimmon Group, we've incorporated custom bingo cards into some of our meetings and held a trivia competition to help the team unwind. Establishing a virtual happy hour or coffee break where people take a step away from work and engage with each other can be another great way to help your team feel a sense of togetherness while giving them a brain break from project work.
- Give praise
While this is also critical in non-virtual environments, recognizing people's contributions through praise is a great way to show the team that their efforts are valuable. Make sure, though, you take the time to learn how people like to be appreciated. Some enjoy the spotlight of a public thank you while others prefer a one-on-one acknowledgment of their hard work. Taking the time to learn how your team likes to be recognized and then using that knowledge is a great way to thank your team from afar.
- Keep an open channel
Particularly when your team is spread out across time zones, opening a “chatter channel” in Teams or Slack can be a great way to keep people connected and talking to one another—without cluttering up the main channels you use to get work done. At The Persimmon Group, we call our channel “Awesome and Weird” (which is also how we describe what it’s like to work here!). Peek into our A&W channel, and you’ll see idle chatter, funny memes, and vigorous debates about the merits of crunchy vs. creamy peanut butter.
How ever you choose to build up your remote team and celebrate project wins, make sure it remains a part of your project management approach even as your project environment changes. Many of us have found ourselves taking on new stresses to keep all of the different aspects of our lives moving forward - work, kids, family, and finances. Reminders that we're appreciated for the work we do mean even more when we’re working remotely.