What are the benefits of virtual/remote awaydays?

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Any away day, remote or face to face, works well when it links team spirit and work challenges, creating a positive improvement in the culture. Where awaydays only exist as “fun” these links are weaker and less effective. “Just fun” also creates cynicism in an overworked and worried team.

A virtual away day, or series of sessions, can affect elements of the team’s culture and create focus on the operational issues of the team; without expensive venue and travel costs.

Virtual away days can help the team to socialise and work together towards common goals (work related and “fun”). Team members can understand each other’s perspectives, and gain confidence (developing trust) and improve communication.

Virtual team sessions can do this in a targeted way by considering the specific needs of different teams and addressing them over a period of time. This period of time allows for more changes to work habits as well as “just having fun”.

Problems with virtual awaydays

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There are challenges you might experience when running a virtual/remote away day, as opposed to face-to-face.

  • Lack of familiarity: Many employees are not used to significant amounts of remote working and find that challenging. Asking them to “have fun” (how many awaydays are perceived) remotely can generate additional cynicism. More advance work is needed to “sell in” the concept to the team.
  • Technological issues (broadband, PCs/ cameras) may affect some people’s ability to “join in”. Advance planning of who has what equipment and knowledge of how they can access the session (using phone, tablet or computer) is important.
  • Communication styles: The difference in communication styles, especially between introvert and extrovert, can lead to introverts not fully participating (or being perceived as not). Virtual sessions can make this worse as it’s harder to judge people’s responses. In addition, it can be harder to get introverts to be heard (or speak) in a virtual meeting. These issues may hamper the team’s ability to meet the objectives of the away day. Introverts are more comfortable with remote sessions when they’re well-structured and find them harder if the session is poorly structured.
  • More tiring: Virtual sessions are also known to be more tiring that face to face sessions. One reason for this is the amount of additional concentration required to capture body language, vocal tone, what’s said and what’s not said. Shorter sessions, with clear structure, several breaks and changes of pace/ presentation methods.

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