Most managers know that their staff work better when happy and motivated… and work best when working well as a team. With the coronavirus pandemic permanently shifting more UK staff towards home and hybrid working, what does this mean for worker morale and for teams in the business world?

Since social distancing came to an end, working from home has remained a reality for many.

How many UK workers are now home based?

According to Personnel Today, homeworking has more than doubled in the UK from 14.5% before the pandemic to 30.6% (https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/homeworking-statistics-uk-2022-ons-hybrid-working/) in 2022.

The number of people working from home in the UK

why remote working makes team building crucial

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

So how does working remotely affect employee work-life balance and morale? Even for traditional office workers; home-working involves many differences in environment, communication and location.

Pro: Reduced Stress and Better Focus for More Home Workers

While there are some that thrive in a typical office and environment, more remote workers report that they feel more productive working remotely without interruptions from colleagues and other background noise.

Con: Working from home can be lonely

The physical isolation and lack of face-to-face interaction can have a negative effect on morale and well-being; especially for those living at home.

Pro: No daily commute

For those based further from the office, not travelling to work can save hours of time per week; helping them stay fresh and motivated.

Con: Challenges of remote communication

When a team is spread across many remote locations, working together and communicating effectively can be more difficult, especially when dialogue is required between a larger number of colleagues. Organisation, planning and technology are needed to overcome communication barriers

Pro: Work-life balance/flexibility

Home-working enables staff to get work done when it suits them with more flexibility for school-runs, appointments, walking the dog during daylight hours and many activities much harder to fit around a rigid shift pattern.

Con: Harder to build a company culture

With team-members spread across many remote locations, it is more difficult to communicate as a group and for team members to get to know one another. It is also less easy for team members to get to know each other personally, especially if they are new to the team. With a lot of communication being none-verbal and through tone-of-voice, some elements of interaction are lost. While video messaging services such as Zoom allow more visual remote interfacing between colleagues, this is less spontaneous than workplace interaction.

Working from home – a good thing overall?

Naturally, the pros and cons of homeworking differ between different industries, demographics and staff personalities. However an ONS survey found that overall; staff generally found that working at home, they had an improved work-life balance, could complete work faster and had improved their wellbeing.

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home So how does working remotely affect employee work-life balance and morale? Even for traditional office workers; home-working involves many differences in environment, communication and location. Pro: Reduced Stress and Better Focus for More Home Workers While there are some that thrive in a typical office and environment, more remote workers report that they feel more productive working remotely without interruptions from colleagues and other background noise. Con: Working from home can be lonely The physical isolation and lack of face-to-face interaction can have a negative effect on morale and well-being; especially for those living at home. Pro: No daily commute For those based further from the office, not travelling to work can save hours of time per week; helping them stay fresh and motivated. Con: Challenges of remote communication When a team is spread across many remote locations, working together and communicating effectively can be more difficult, especially when dialogue is required between a larger number of colleagues. Organisation, planning and technology are needed to overcome communication barriers Pro: Work-life balance/flexibility Home-working enables staff to get work done when it suits them with more flexibility for school-runs, appointments, walking the dog during daylight hours and many activities much harder to fit around a rigid shift pattern. Con: Harder to build a company culture With team-members spread across many remote locations, it is more difficult to communicate as a group and for team members to get to know one another. It is also less easy for team members to get to know each other personally, especially if they are new to the team. With a lot of communication being none-verbal and through tone-of-voice, some elements of interaction are lost. While video messaging services such as Zoom allow more visual remote interfacing between colleagues, this is less spontaneous than workplace interaction. Working from home – a good thing overall? Naturally, the pros and cons of homeworking differ between different industries, demographics and staff personalities. However an ONS survey found that overall; staff generally found that working at home, they had an improved work-life balance, could complete work faster and had improved their wellbeing.

 

Many businesses have also embraced the strategy of ongoing homeworking with improved staff wellbeing the most popular reason given according to the ONS.

why remote working makes team building crucial

 

Navigating the challenges of homeworking

With homeworking appearing to be a success for many businesses and industries; how do businesses embrace the opportunity of team members working remotely whilst navigating its challenges?

The challenge for working relationships between colleagues and the difficulty of developing a company culture are two of the most significant challenges highlighted when team members are working remotely.

One solution that many businesses are turning to is team building. Enquiries for team building events at Team Tactics have increased by 27% since the start of Covid.

Team Building and its benefits

Team building is any group activity where participants take on a collective challenge outside of their normal routine. Such activities often take place away from the workplace with work best when they are fun for those taking part.

There are many examples of team building activities from treasure hunts and obstacle courses, to raft-building or group cooking challenges.

It has many benefits for team and interpersonal relationships as well as the individual participants.

Better communication and cooperation

An enjoyable, cooperative team activity away from normal works tasks; encourages staff to relax and be open with each other as well as requiring them to work together, in order to complete tasks and solve problems.

The reward of a fun, social experience as well as the achievement of a common goal provides positive reinforcement to continue working together.

Getting to know each other better can be particularly beneficial for team members who work remotely and may normally not communicate face-to-face or might rarely interact with those outside their immediate team or department.

Improved morale

A team building activity will not only strengthen bonds and positive feelings between staff but also make them feel that they are being rewarded for their hard work and that they are valued by their employer.

This will help staff feel good about their job and contribute to a positive company culture.

Developing and identifying skills        

Team building tasks are not just a social day out but require skills to complete.

This might be communication and teamwork on a group obstacle course for example with leadership to direct and coordinate teammates or problem solving and adaptability to overcome challenging obstacles. Thinking outside the box and creativity may be needed to problem solve or create something from scratch.

Team building activities not only help develop these skills and attributes but also give staff the opportunity and confidence to exercise skills they may not in their everyday work activities – and for managers to discover skills in team members they may not have seen before.

Trust, respect and confidence

A teambuilding exercise can bring staff from different levels and perhaps departments of the organisation together away from the pressures of work.

By requiring everyone to work together, it builds trust and respect between them as they all pull together to complete a task and individually gives them the confidence in their own abilities as well as to communicate with anyone in the organisation, regardless of role or seniority.

Is team building the answer?

Team building encourages staff to communicate better and work together in pursuit of a common goal. Back in the work setting, this improves productivity through reduced duplication of work, the sharing of ideas and the more cooperative working as well as individual performance by boosting morale and motivation.

Despite its many positives, home working can pose a challenge for cooperation between staff, as well as making it harder to build a company culture.

Team building can not only help overcome communication difficulties by building better relationships and reinforcing cooperation, but helps contribute to a fun and positive company culture where staff feel valued, motivated and enjoy working together.

Furthermore, teambuilding offers the added benefits of improving individual confidence, trust between staff, the development of skills and a refreshing and invigorating break from normal work activities.

Get in touch to find out more about our team building activities.