5 team-building ideas for remote and distributed teams
Belvo has launched several team-building initiatives to help its team members to continue building meaningful connections while doing remote work from different locations worldwide.
At Belvo we are always focused on keeping things consistent for the team. This is particularly relevant for a distributed and remote team that is spread out like ours. We have different habits, different ways of seeing things –or even of doing things–, but that is exactly why it works. We’ve been able to turn something challenging into something productive and genuine. The result of this is a living company culture that evolves with each new team member onboarding.
To make it possible, we started setting up the practices that allow everyone to feel part of the same team culture, regardless of where they come from, where they are based, or the individual option to work remotely, from one of our offices in México, São Paulo or Barcelona, or a hybrid combination of both.
So what are we doing to make it work?
Taking into account how unusual a year like the one we are living in is, instead of trying to go big, we decided to set up several small ideas that help us to spend quality time together. These are some of these ideas that have helped us achieve a high engagement of 95 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
1 Remote coffee time ☕️
Welcome the newbie over a coffee
Every new belvoer has a virtual one-to-all coffee meeting during the first week with the rest of the team, where everyone is invited. It’s important for the newbie to feel some social interaction, as well as to get to know his or her teammates, get the vibes of our real culture, and feel comfortable to ask questions or just to chit-chat.
It’s hard to get to know people if you don’t interact with them on a day-to-day basis. So, in order to get to know each other better, share some thoughts or some laughs about any subject, we set up quarterly chit-chat meetings with the People team with the only goal of spending some quality time together, being present for each other, and sharing a real “what’s up?”. Trust is something that you build with time, and the more people trust each other, the better they can work together –leaving behind the noisy world that surrounds us.
Random coffee breaks
If we were all sharing the same space, we would end up talking about non-work-related issues or sharing experiences over a coffee break. In a remote distributed team, the space you have is virtual, so in order to make it happen, we use a Slack plugin called Donut. It sets up random coffee breaks according to the team’s individual agendas once per week. We do it through a specific channel in order to avoid spamming the rest of the team in Slack. Here you can see a snapshot of our activity last year:
2 Meetings: let’s have fun!
At Belvo, we have the chance to see everyone during our weekly all-hands meeting, where we can feel each other’s vibes. And I must admit that we do have fun together sharing some laughs.
What makes our all-hands different? During these meetings, we update everyone on what’s going on in the company regarding our main priorities, departments’ updates, OKRs (objectives and key results), product demos, and Q&As.
But we also reserve a space for a spotlight that could be a department one, a personal one, or a project-based one. This is a space to get creative in order to show the rest of the team what we’ve been working on. And all formats are permitted. Some use gamification techniques or tools like Kahoot, others can use memes, random questions, interviews, etc.
The idea is to share information and spend quality time together. The crazier it gets in ten minutes, the funniest it is. And there’s nothing better than to end the week by sharing some laughs.
Everyone at Belvo uses Slack as a communication channel. We have specific channels for company-related matters like marketing, press, product, etc. But, we also have special channels for the team interests like pets, movies, and shows. Or the random one, just to share whatever we feel like.
Being online in Slack is key, especially during the common hours if you’re part of a team with different time zones and locations. It’s like having an open space where we can virtually check in with each other: everyone is there for us and we are there for everyone. Showing yourself available in a proactive way helps us to increase the sense of connection and create bonds.
Connectivity is key in order to improve communication and act as an enabler. But people also need ways to disconnect and to tell others when they need time to focus on a specific task. That’s why we also use Slack functionalities to indicate when our working hours finish, when we are offline, at a meeting or just having lunch. This way, we mimic the type of information we would normally share if we were all in the same office, and we show that we care for and respect each other.
4 Micro team-building
We have quarterly team buildings for all belvoers, that this year have been designed virtually given the circumstances. But, we want to have more chances to mingle so we decided to launch additional micro team-building events once per month, as an experiment.
How it will work: As a company, we preselect online activities for a group of a maximum of ten people. This way we can leave the participation voluntary and adapt better to all our different personalities. With micro team buildings, we will be able to:
- Encourage good relationships among random team members
- Understand the sense of purpose
- Show that we are all team players
- Overcome an obstacle as a group
- Empower everyone to work together
- Encourage discussion and debate within the team fostering the idea that we all can contribute
- And of course, have fun together!
5 Compliment teammates with a taco
To boost engagement and build new ways of recognizing each other’s work while working remotely and from different locations, we just started working with a fun tool called Heytaco. This tool allows us to share appreciation and boost morale with a simple thank you gesture all wrapped up in a taco emoji. In order to use it, colleagues just need to mention one of their coworkers in Slack, add the 🌮 emoji, and explain why they are thankful for their teammate’s contribution.
All the team members share this practice by spreading appreciation gestures and encouraging everyone to think about what we have, amazing teammates that you can count on and have fun with.
At Belvo, we’re empowering the next generation of financial services in Latin America through a powerful set of Open Finance APIs, and our team is growing fast. If you want to join us, take a look at the open positions on our careers page.