Thanks, in part, to the COVID-19 pandemic, the remote workforce is here to stay – and, especially for entrepreneurs, global talent is both an opportunity and the reality of competing in today’s marketplace.
Keeping these far-flung workforces engaged, excited, and connected is a challenge for even the most creative of enterprises.
In the past, a manager could take their team to an escape room or pit teams against each other at the company picnic tug-of-war to help build camaraderie and build stronger teams.
But if your team is comprised of people working in the office, at home, and spread across the country or the globe, such activities end up being exclusionary and making some team members feel even more isolated from their team.
How can enterprises keep their far-flung workers engaged, excited, and connected?
One answer is the same way that some people found out that they could “travel” to Paris even in the middle of a pandemic, when the City of Lights, along with the rest of the world, was locked down: virtual travel with team-building exercises built into the tours.
Since physical travel was so highly restricted during the COVID-19 outbreak, Paris-based tour agency Woyago found a creative workaround that would give people the travel outlet they craved without ever needing to set foot in an airport or train station.
Truly connecting people virtually
The key would be the very thing that had always been the hallmark of Woyago’s tours: interactivity.
This could not be canned videos like you can easily find online, but highly personalized and live streaming tours that keep people laughing and learning while forming the kinds of personal connections we normally think can only happen in person.
Woyago found that businesses (including Google, Netflix, PayPal, Apple, McDonald’s, and others) looking for better ways to team-build are a perfect fit: a company can get an entire team together virtually for a team-building experience, unlike anything they’ve ever done.
Why team-building virtual travel works
The team-building tours offer a selection of options, but usually follow a format of light-hearted ice-breaking activities designed to get people laughing and engaging; Paris-themed team-building exercises that bring team members together with silly questions and tasks; a live customized tour with a certified Parisian tour guide who can answer questions and even divert from the planned tour for spontaneous detours in real-time; and unstructured time for conversations.
The Woyago team-building tours can even include pre-shipped French goodies so that team members can share and bond over a taste of Paris together.
There’s also an option for team members to participate in a flaner (flah-nay) around their office space, whether it’s at home, at corporate, or in the local coffee shop with free wi-fi. A uniquely Parisian hallmark, flaner means to stroll aimlessly with no goal or destination. Taking co-workers on a flaner of where you do your work is a great way to tell people more about you, share your pets, your favorite artwork, whatever.
One note of caution for those considering a team flaner: always let team members know in advance to minimize the risk of embarrassment or killing the fun of the moment by refusing to “play along” because they’re not prepared to share their space. The goal is to build connections in a positive, light, and fun way.
Because teams are laughing and sharing, along with some creative problem-solving, while sharing a Parisian tour experience, they come away knowing each other better and feeling connected in a way that’s hard to achieve on your standard teleconference calls.
One of the “gifts” the pandemic bestowed upon us was a dramatic acceleration in the use and technical performance of virtual technologies for collaborating and socializing. Team-building via virtual travel experiences is yet another way companies can take advantage of the opportunities that were born during lockdown.
Anto Montani and Peter Topercer are international entrepreneurs and founders of workforce team building and virtual travel experience platform, Woyago.
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