The Vendry quiz: Blue Hat on employee engagement through virtual events and how to maximise it

Answers from Ben Parkinson, Commercial Director and Co-Founder of team building company Blue Hat Teambuilding.

 

Any tips for employers on organizing an activity virtually as opposed to IRL? What are some things they should keep in mind?

My top 7 tips for employees who are asked to research and organise a virtual team building activity for their team.

  1. You will be relying on two external factors (rather than one for an IRL event), those being 1) the video conferencing software and 2) the activity providers solution. Make sure you are using well-known and well-established providers in both these areas to reduce the chance of issues on the day.
  1. Be clear about exactly what you want to get out of the activity – what’s the business case for the investment and how will you know that you’ve achieved it after the event.
  1. Ask for an online demo before you make your final activity decision, so you know exactly what you’re getting as some things sound great in the brochure, but in reality…maybe not so much.
  1. Read impartial reviews and/or ask to speak to previous people who have experienced the activity to get an unbiased opinion.
  1. It’s a great opportunity for participants to learn tips and tricks about how to use their video conferencing software in new and better ways. They’ll do this without even realising they are learning, just by participating in the activity. This will help increase more effective user experience when communicating internally (and externally) after the event.
  1. You can use any provider from anywhere in the world, which means you have greater choice. I’d recommend you find a provider whose first language is the same as yours to ensure no mis-understanding of expectations in the organisation process and on the day of the event itself.
  1. Choose a provider who can tailor the activity to your team. This will create a more meaningful and personalised event experience, which increases delegate engagement levels and help you get your messages across in a more effective way. All of these things increase the value you receive from the investment in the activity.

 

What are some of your most popular virtual team building activities?

To date our Virtual Escape Room experiences have been the most popular. We’ve just launched a new theme called ‘The Mystery Mansion’ which is taking things to the next level – partly from a desire to push the boundaries of what’s possible and also because clients are wanting to re-book for the same groups.

We’ve also just launched a new secret agent experience which will see levels of collaboration between teammates taken to a new extremes.

 

Any advice for companies that have employees across different time zones?

The big advantage of virtual team building activities is that it doesn’t matter where in the world you live and work. For the first time, you can bring wider teams together to play together in meaningful, fun, challenging and collaborative activities.

We’ve hosted numerous events that have included people in different countries. The most so far is participants from 8 different countries in one activity. It’s a wonderful (and very cheap) way to get remote people to connect without the need for time and cost on flights, accommodation, catering, taxis, etc.

This means you can give the same experience to all delegates regardless of location. Naturally you should consider both the activity and the time of day for participants. If you have players in one continent playing at 9am and in another part of the world at 4pm, then activities that include alcohol are probably not appropriate.

 

Is there an ideal time limit for virtual activities?

Yes and no.

It depends on what you are hoping to achieve. Here’s how…

We start by understanding what a client is hoping to achieve before recommending what time of day to set the game up for. For example, we had a client hosting a series of quizzes that included us sending a gift box to each participant prior to the start time. The box included beers and snacks for the group to enjoy together and each quiz started after 5pm.

Equally, we’ve had a group with individuals from around Europe starting work on a new project together. They didn’t know each other at the start, so we ran our ‘Who’s Who’ networking activity in the morning of day 1. This meant delegates could get to know each other better before focussing on the project plan. Getting to know your colleagues better helps develop trust, respect and rapport. This directly improves communication and collaboration, which are two key ingredients in the 11 principles of a high performing team.

So I guess the short answer is, tell us what you want to achieve and we’ll advise on the ideal time accordingly.

 

Michele Laufik