The excitement is almost palpable. Thanks to social distancing, lockdowns and vaccines, members of the UK public are preparing to cautiously emerge blinking into the light, many all too ready for sports matches, festivals, parties and other events. But I think we are a long way from returning to normal life and on-screen meet-ups are going to be with us for quite a while yet.
There are still going to be restrictions for a while and given the uncertainty my friends have just cancelled their big wedding for the second year in a row.
My son who works for big global company is still working from home but hopefully looking forward to what he hope will be an IRL (in real life) Christmas works "do" even though it is only April. I do hope he won't be disappointed but at least if the physical event is cancelled he won't have to worry about booking taxis I suppose.
His employers actually have been amazing at motivating and engaging their teams with lots of weekly online events ranging from the ubiquitous lockdown quiz night to group cocktail-making classes. I'm sure if a physical get-together isn't possible they will organise a virtual treat for their staff.
Other companies, big and small have also resorted to organising online team building events, realising that good morale and an opportunity to get experience the sense of working as a team is more important that ever with so many people working from home.
From the initial stages of enjoying working with PJ bottoms hidden under the desk for online meetings and the novelty of setting up an office at home, many workers have felt increasingly isolated and disconnected, deprived of their familiar working environment.
Regular online team building events can re-create those bonds between employees and allow new or redeployed employees to develop positive relationships and even friendships. Events will encourage conversations, both formal and informal, which should go a long way towards developing a great networking environment and easier collaborations.
It sounds mad that a virtual cookery lesson, escape room or TV style game show could have such a positive effect on the way people work but working together on a fun task can really help teams build trust, understand each others talents, strengths and weaknesses and bring members closer together. You can see why this would be so important after a year when team members have been physically disconnected.
There's a reason some employers have been offering online mental health support as working from home can be very lonely and stressful, especially if you are trying to juggle family life alongside your career.
Virtual team building can really help with these issues as well as potentially increasing productivity, encouraging creativity, enhance skills and of course boost morale. Fun sessions can help promote leadership skills, creates momentum and encourage a positive mindset across the team.
Most importantly virtual team building sessions can be lots of fun and as well as being of benefit to the employer, can act in some way as a "thank you" to all of those hard working employees who have struggled on through these extraordinary times.