Once, teams of employees were all found in the same location, working side by side every day, learning from one another. Conversations and interactions were face to face, and successes and failures were obvious to all. Gradually, teams became more dispersed, with members in different cities and even countries. Global companies invested in programs and initiatives that informed leaders how to keep members of a team engaged when they’re not in the same location. In 2020, more businesses have experienced ‘remote’ working in ways they would have never predicted. In some cases, they find productivity increasing. However, one challenge that arises lately during coaching conversations is recognition and celebration as a ‘team.’

Creating a positive culture is difficult in today’s environment. Studies have shown that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Individual share more positive emotions; this is associated with improved health, and the ability to deal with adversity.  Therefore, it is critical for managers to recognize both individual success and also find creative ways to celebrate team success.

For individuals, first and foremost you have to listen to even recognize there is something to celebrate. Five ideas to recognize individuals:

  1. In the moment, verbal praise while you are talking to them.
  2. Quick follow-up with an email. Copy in relevant stakeholders or a senior leader where visibility would be recognized.
  3. Use LinkedIn to celebrate an occasion.
  4. A simple gift card to a local or online shop.
  5. Company recognition through bonus.

For teams, active listening to keep a pulse on the team dynamics and culture is also absolutely critical. Once you decide you’re going to celebrate, treat it as you would an ‘in person’ activity. Plan to make it fun with invitations and agenda, and have an MC/facilitator that keeps things light.

Five ideas to bring the team together:

  1. Identify a theme to center the activity. Have participants dress up for a ‘Day at the beach or on the slopes.’ Pick a decade and dress appropriately for the times.
  2. Create a ‘swag’ bag that supports the activity.Have it delivered to all the members in advance of the meeting.
  3. Have an escape room, murder mystery, or puzzle exercise where the team can problem solve together.
  4. Video chat has the ability to create breakout rooms - use these to ‘house’ different games where people can migrate from game to game as they finish. Some ideas are Pub Quizzes, Pictionary, or Hangman. You could even have a ‘Photo Booth’ to capture the crazy.
  5. Have food delivered to everyone’s house just in time for the meeting. This gives the feeling of togetherness.

As you go through the agenda and time together, take photos or record the notable moments. Pay attention and recognize positive behaviors. Good times to do this are at the start or end of a project, when a team forms or disbands, or even when everyone just needs an infusion of positive energy. Keep a positive focus, active recognition, and involve others to help plan and run.The proactive recognition you provide in these events will pay off with positive and energized teams.