5 Tips for Powerful Virtual Cooperation-1: Build connection and Trust.

5 Tips for Powerful Virtual Cooperation-1: Build connection and Trust.

We have been pressed to work remotely with our teams and to find our way through the crisis of COVID-19 and survive. Suddenly, we are working remotely and trying to be effective as survival entails much more than basic amenities in the 21st century. But most of us lack the tools to achieve this effectiveness personally and with our teams.

We need to continue to work even harder to make sure we can successfully sail through these difficult times without being out of business.  Leaders need to make sure that their teams continue to work effectively, be creative and pragmatic and deliver results irrespective of these ambiguous times.

However, there are many underlying elements of team effectiveness. As a leader we need to ensure that people are connected, they trust each other, share experiences, interact and have good energy. In the absence of social contact, how do we ensure that we still are stimulating our teams to interact, connect, co-create?

I am an academician and business consultant due to the nature of my work I interact with a diverse network of stakeholders and with hundreds of students every day. Discussing various topics, issues, projects, and assignments. Each stakeholder has its own complexity and ensuring proper connection and interaction during the remote meeting is difficult. I personally struggled the first few weeks to accomplish true connection, interaction, relationship, and to tap into people’s emotions to get them in an open mindset and creative zone. It was even harder to break the ice with new stakeholders with whom I had no previous shared experience. I often found myself pondering over how to build truly meaningful connections in a virtual environment.

I started experimenting with some icebreakers to make my meetings and online interactions easy, fun and effective. The experiments gave me and my team really good results. These exercises helped in building connections which is the ultimate trust-building tool, it builds empathy and helps teams to open up and get in the creative zone.

Here are some warmup tools which we used:-

  1. Ask people about their value: This is one of my favourite among all the virtual connection building tools. We often do not know what is most important for the people we work with. Ask people to share one Value that defines them and the value they keep in mind whenever they make any decision. Knowing people’s value is powerful. Knowing people’s value is knowing the person and what This exercise opened great dialogues and helped build connection and trust immediately. Let everyone post their value in the chat window of the meeting and take turns to talk about it. Picture6
  2. Morning Rituals: We did this exercise and it was a hit. Ask people to share details about their morning rituals and what do they do? Trust me you will be surprised to know what your team has to share about their rituals or moring struggles. You get to know people better, understand what part of the day works best for them. A great connection building tool to crack jokes, appreciate and compliment each other. Picture5

3. Object next to work: At the start of the meeting ask everyone to share a picture of an object on their desk which best describes them and how they work. This can be posted in the chat window of the meeting. Let everyone take turns to explain their picture. (Tip: Participants can also show the object during  the video call ).


4. Permission Slips: I learnt this exercise while reading Daring greatly by Berne Brown. Another powerful icebreaker. Ask everyone to allow themselves permission to do something during the meeting…. permission to be grateful, permission to ask questions, permission to express feelings, or permission to be kind etc. Something which each one finds difficult to do. I gave myself “permission to clam down” during one of the meetings.  This is an essential self-compassion tool where each person allows themselves to do something which they usually would not do. Keep last few minutes of the meeting to discuss what permission each one gave to themselves and if they were able to accomplish it.


5. Mediation: I cannot explain my love for this one…what 2-3 minutes of deep breathing experience can do to our mind and body is remarkable. Use it as a tool to stimulate your team’s energy and uplift their spirits. This can also be used as a calming and focus exercise at the start of a meeting. 

These are the instructions:  Ask your team to close their eyes. Put a hand on their heart and breathe in slowly to the count of 1…2…3…4 and exhale at the count of 1…2….3…4……5……6……7. The breathing should be very slow, exhale longer than inhale. Ask everyone to feel the breath moving slowly in their body. Repeat this a few times.  End my sharing the intension of the meeting and what you want to achieve by the end of the meeting.  It would be a refreshing experience for everyone stuck at home. 


Ask your team members to propose new ways to build connection and exercises to do build connection, trust and empathy. Give your team an open opportunity to contribute it helps all voices to be heard, build connection and stimulate creative-mindset. Seek actively ways in which you can make joy, happiness and laughter as part of your meetup and digital experience.

My next article would be about how to engage to make your virtual meetup experiential for your team and participants.