And … most importantly, teams that have fun are happier.
So, how do you make work fun when you’re working with an IT outsourcing team?
Step 1 – you need to build personal relationships.
It is much more difficult to enjoy work with people you don’t know than with people you do.
Here are a few things you can do to build those personal relationships:
Encourage non-work conversations.
In an office, you regularly chat about TV, sports, and music with your colleagues, but with your outsourced team, it rarely happens. Dedicate spaces for non-work chat (Slack channels and Whatsapp groups for example). Allow non-work chat before and after meetings. But most importantly, as a leader, model it. In meetings, take the topic off work, start standups with some small talk. Show them it is accepted, show them it is encouraged.
Leave your webcams on.
This is a very simple hack. It is much easier to build a personal relationship with someone you can see.
Meet up in person as much as you can.
If your team is in Vietnam, go and visit them once a year, take them out for dinner, and learn about their families. If they’re in Europe, bring your team over to the UK to meet you. It makes a huge difference to the fun factor and happiness of our teams.
Step 2 – Build a positive team environment
Humans have a negativity bias, we naturally place more weight on negative experiences than neutral or positive ones. So, if left unchecked, meetings and interactions can become very negative experiences where teams focus on the bad things that happen, reducing overall team happiness and their sense of well-being. It can affect the whole culture of a company. You can overcome it though:
Start every meeting positively
In retros ask team to say what went well, in management meetings ask everyone to share their peak of the week. By setting a positive tone at the start of every meeting you set the meeting up for success.
Giving recognition is one of the main ways you can improve your personal happiness, and receiving recognition gives a major boost to morale and productivity. There are many ways to recognise achievements at work. Some ideas include starting every retrospective with a high five to someone in your team, setting up a Slack channel to share thanks and even using old school methods like employee of the month (when associated with specific feedback). The secret is to start simple and make it into a habit. Giving and receiving thanks can become contagious and really boost a team.
Having fun at work is often frowned upon and even discouraged, but having fun at work will improve engagement and positivity and even productivity. Who’d have thought that rewriting the constitution for a human rights group would benefit from a bit of fun?