I'm part of a team of 10 and my team is barely 3 months old, with many of us having joined this team very recently. I would love to start some initiatives to help our team bond and get closer as a team. For context, the team very distributed (3 different locations) and travel budgets are tight :(
What are some of the most effective tools you've used and/or seen to cultivate a sense of camaraderie amongst teammates?
As simple as it sounds, people usually bond over common interests and goals.
Given you all work in tech and probably have some overlapping projects, that could be a good place to start. For example, if there's a new piece of tech that is new to many people on the team, form a study group or better volunteer to build training on it that can be as simple as a lunch and learn (pull in people who want to collaborate and help as it comes). Curating and sharing good resources is another relatively low-effort way to get engagements (favourite books, articles, podcasts, etc.).
Both as an IC and a Manager, I found that having occasional office hours and AMAs tend to bring people together and provide an avenue to gather input / obtain feedback.
The best way to build deep relationships is to just lend help to others when the opportunity arises. There is a good Taro video on building relationships here.
You can bond a lot over personal interests that are non-career related as well, but that's situational and may take some time to discover.
Here's a couple things we've tried from my past across Meta and Robinhood after the pandemic hit:
Fostering remote/distributed teams is very difficult, but it can be done with enough hard work and genuine care for your teammates. I also recommend this playlist to help: [Taro Top 10] Growing Fast With Remote Work In Tech
Best of luck!