02 June 2020

Building Resilient Teams When Working In A Virtual Space: Tips for HR and L&D

Digital Transformation



How can you learn and apply techniques to build resilience, especially in a remote environment and within virtual teams? Which are the best strategies to focus on personally as well as professionally in order to grow resilience? And how can you utilize these strategies to build an inclusive workforce and meaningful relationships, now as well as in the future?

Below are some tips shared by intercultural coach Dr Tomomi Kumai, who has lived, studied and worked abroad for over 17 years and has made it her mission to help people connect in order to learn from and empower each other. Currently living in South Korea, she has been working as an intercultural trainer, international educator and ICF (International Coach Federation) coach since 2003, serving expatriates, international students and nationals in the U.S., Korea and Japan.

How do we adapt to change?

  1. Change is defined as an act or instance of becoming or making different.
  2. One of the most important factors in successfully bringing on change is the quality of resilience, which means the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties and going back to our initial empowered state whilst also adapting to the new circumstances.
  3. Acceptance and positive change can be brought about by reflecting on an “option B”:
  • Finding the reason for any experience, reflecting on what we can learn from it and come to a positive outcome.
  • Being contribution by telling our story to support others in building resilience.

The 6 pillars of resilience


  • Gratitude means focusing on what you have right now: appreciate what you “still” have and what is possible to change.
  • Ask yourself and your team what has gone well, how you can improve, or what can be done to improve a situation, express your gratitude to each team member as often as you can.


  • This refers to being aware of the present: take a step back from your own thoughts, accept the past as unchangeable and the future as uncertain.
  • Welcome and check-in with your team before starting any session, invite them to a short meditation, deep breathing or a positive body-awareness scan for a couple of minutes. Be present and keep eye contact during virtual meetings.


  • Refers to being vulnerable with others and receiving help equals courage and strength. Being able to be authentic and show true feelings is very important.
  • Encourage your teams to share their stories and check-in how everyone is doing, personally or professionally.
  • Provide a safe space where people feel comfortable sharing, offer one-on-one sessions to those who do not feel comfortable to share in a group.


  • Is being able to understand and share the feelings of others.
  • Practice active listening without judgment, summarizing and paraphrasing by using phrases like “I hear you”, “it seems like”, “it sounds like”, utilizing open-ended question like “How did that make you feel?, “What are your thoughts?”, and the AWE coaching technique asking “And what else?”, inviting them to go on and share their feelings.
  • Reach out to others when you feel you have the personal capacity, use interactive tools such as polls, breakout rooms, chat functions, shared whiteboards, videos.


  • Is about maintaining and taking care of your physical and emotional health.
  • Create small groups depending on interests, regarding workouts (for example a push-up challenge group), nutrition (diet accountability group), reading, sleep, etc.


  • Means focusing and maximizing strength by establishing strength finders (ways to empower yourself and others through sharing) and by recognizing that going through adversity IS your strength.
  • Share your story and what you find challenging, know each person in a team has different strengths, invite them to share their strengths, contribute to the team with your strengths.
Further reading

Mind exercises

  1. What are you and your team doing well during these times?
  2. What are areas you can work on to exercise your resilience, mindful or vulnerability muscle?


During challenging work times, focus on yourself and your own improvement. Establish new habits for yourself so you feel a sense of control over your mind, especially in uncertain circumstances. Focus on one area at a time. Think how YOU can contribute to others with tasks and specific areas, without taking on too much at a time.


I learned that when life pulls you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again.” – Sheryl Sandberg

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