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Virtual Team Building Activities for Remote Teams

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way companies do business, with many employees moving to virtual positions. According to a survey from Owl Labs, 77% of workers said they’d be happier if they could continue working from home after COVID-19. Keeping your team virtual comes with challenges, though. Working from different physical locations makes it more difficult for your employees to bond, feel connected and feel a sense of teamwork. Plan ongoing virtual team-building activities to help create a sense of community for your employees.

 

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What are virtual team-building activities?

Virtual team-building activities are remote activities designed to help physically distant coworkers in a fully remote business feel more like a team. Not only are the activities enjoyable, but also they have a deeper purpose of helping your employees learn more about one another and learn to work together. Because they’re virtual activities, everyone can participate no matter where they’re located.

 

Some benefits of remote team-building activities include:

  • Stronger virtual team bonds
  • Improved collaboration between virtual employees
  • Increased team productivity
  • Feelings of being valued as a team member
  • Increased comfort working as a team
  • More trust between coworkers
  • Improved communication
  • Improved employee morale and engagement

Ideas for remote team-building activities

The following virtual team-building games and activities are varied to give you a range of options. Some are one-time games to build teamwork quickly and have a little fun. Others are ongoing activities that foster deepening relationships between colleagues. Try the following virtual team-building activities with your remote team.

 

Virtual escape room

Virtual escape rooms offer a fun way to interact with coworkers. They work together to find clues and solve puzzles that help them get out of the escape room. You can find lots of virtual escape room options online that your employees can join from home.

 

How it’s beneficial: Not only is this a fun break from normal work, but a virtual escape room is easiest when everyone works together. It encourages coworkers to communicate and help each other to be successful, which are skills that are essential when working virtually.

 

Employee cribs

Take inspiration from MTV Cribs with this virtual team activity. While on a videoconference platform, team members take turns giving a tour of their “crib” to let others see where they work. Have everyone show their crib in one day, or do one crib tour a day to spread them out.

 

An alternative to doing a live tour is to have each employee record their tour and upload it for others to watch. Screen them all at once as part of a virtual meeting, show one per day at the beginning of your virtual meeting or let your employees watch the videos at their leisure.

 

How it’s beneficial: When employees work on-site, they can stop at each other’s offices and see little clues about their family lives and what they like. When you only see your coworkers’ faces in a tiny square on a computer screen, you miss out on those clues. This home tour shares little details about your employees’ personal lives, which helps their colleagues understand them better. This personal connection can help your team work together better.

 

Virtual happy hour

Virtual team-building activities don’t have to be structured games or formal activities. A simple option is to have a virtual happy hour at the end of the workday once per week. Everyone grabs their drink of choice and hops on a video chat. You can prepare some fun discussion questions or simply let everyone chat.

 

If not all employees drink, change it up to have a virtual coffee chat or a similar option that everyone can enjoy. If you want to encourage individual team members to connect with each other, try the Donut extension for Slack. It automatically connects members for virtual coffee meetups. It has other social features to create a virtual watercooler experience as well.

 

How it’s beneficial: Informal conversations with colleagues can help make new connections and find shared interests. Personal connections can make teammates feel more comfortable with each other, which can make work easier. It also adds a fun element to the team, which can make work more enjoyable. Encouraging one-on-one coffee meetups can improve individual connections and allows team members to go deeper with conversations.

 

Book club

Set up a book club with your employees to encourage reading and conversation. You can create a business-related book club with interesting books that are relevant to your company. Or create a just-for-fun book club with any type of books. If you have a large company with diverse reading interests, set up multiple book clubs or other clubs related to interests outside of reading.

 

How it’s beneficial: Book or interest clubs let coworkers learn more about each other and bond over shared interests. The conversations during club meetings give all employees a turn to share their opinions on something that interests them. This is often easier than speaking up on a work topic, especially if someone has a different opinion than the team. Discussions help improve overall communication skills within the team.

 

Scavenger hunt

Create a scavenger hunt list ahead of time. Include items most people have in their homes and some items that might be less common. Call out items one at a time and give everyone a set amount of time to find that item in their house. You can also limit it to items within arm’s reach or in their home office to make it more challenging. Everyone who comes back with the item within the time limit gets a point. You can also award extra points to the first person who gets back with the item.

 

How it’s beneficial: Virtual scavenger hunts encourage friendly competition between team members. It’s also a fun way to see the things your coworkers have in their homes. Some of the items could spark interesting conversations as employees explain what an item is or why they have it.

 

Pancakes vs waffles

This popular virtual game starts with a debate on whether pancakes or waffles are better. You can use any two items if you don’t want to start with pancakes and waffles. The goal is to decide as a team if you keep pancakes or waffles. The other is eliminated from the world forever. Team members give their support for their favorite option and give reasons why it should be saved. Everyone votes to see which one is the winner.

 

You then put the winner up against another competitor. The debate between those two items begins, and the team votes. You can continue the debates for as many rounds as you want.

 

How it’s beneficial: Choosing between pancakes and waffles isn’t an important debate, but learning to make a team decision is. All team members learn to share their opinions over something lighthearted with no real stakes in the debate, which can be useful for those who have trouble speaking up on big issues. It helps coworkers learn to debate respectfully, make compromises, see things from other people’s perspectives and make decisions together.

 

Monthly challenge

Come up with monthly challenges for employees. This could be healthy challenges like exercising, drinking water or completing steps where employees track those activities to see who does the most. Apps like StepBet let you set up a competition with one another that’s easy to run. Photo challenges can also work. Have a different theme for each day so everyone can submit a relevant photo. Then, vote on the best photo for the theme.

 

How it’s beneficial: An ongoing monthly challenge adds some friendly competition, but it also encourages team members to support one another. Some monthly challenges, such as photo challenges, give coworkers a glimpse into each other’s lives.

 

Show and tell

Bring back a childhood favorite with a virtual show and tell. Each person chooses one item that’s important to them or represents them in some way. Team members take turns showing the item and telling everyone else about it. You can also limit it to something within arm’s reach or other guidelines to make it more interesting.

 

How it’s beneficial: Sharing something that means a lot helps team members get to know one another better. Understanding what’s important to coworkers and learning more about them can make it easier to interact with them on work projects. It can also help team members find things in common with one another, which can help them feel closer.

 

Virtual celebrations

When everyone works remotely, you don’t get to share cake to celebrate monthly birthdays or pat your coworkers on the back to congratulate them on a milestone anniversary. But you can still celebrate those special events virtually.

 

You can let the guest of honor know ahead of time or surprise them with a celebration when they log onto a scheduled team video chat. Plan games or simply share warm wishes for the milestone. Everyone can hold up a sign on the video chat, for example.

 

How it’s beneficial: Celebrating together adds a personal touch to team relationships. Individuals feel valued when their coworkers acknowledge important milestones. This can improve overall relationships and make everyone happier to be a part of the team.

 

Talent show

Encourage each of your employees to be the star of the show with a virtual talent competition. Each person chooses a talent and performs it via video chat. It can be a serious talent or something funny.

 

How it’s beneficial: A talent show gives each employee a chance to show off their personality, which doesn’t always come through at work. It shows a different side of team members. Getting to know each other in that way can improve bonding.

 

Photo challenge

Have each person submit one photo ahead of time. You can set guidelines, such as a photo of the person as a child, something that’s important to them, a part of their home or a past vacation photo, or you can let each person decide what they want to send. Upload the photos to a document, online whiteboard or another format that’s easily accessible by the team.

 

Everyone goes to the pictures and tries to guess who submitted each one. Once everyone guesses, reveal the photo owners one at a time. The person who submitted the photo can share background info on it if they want.

 

How it’s beneficial: This virtual activity is another one that helps team members learn more about each other. Having those personal connections makes them feel more like a team and can help them work together better.

 

Cooking challenges

Choose a type of food, such as chili or grilled cheese sandwiches, and have each employee cook their own version of it. You can also choose a more general category, such as desserts or a main dish that includes cheese. Everyone hops on video chat and shares their finished product, including details of what they put in the dish. All team members vote for the best version, but they can’t vote for themselves. Stick around on the video chat and enjoy the meal together virtually while chatting or answering icebreaker-type questions.

 

How it’s beneficial: This activity lets people show off their creativity and learn more about one another. It’s also a lighthearted competition that helps your employees bond. The dining portion at the end offers a chance for informal conversation.

 

Put a finger down

On a video chat, everyone holds up a hand with all five fingers up. One person lists off things that a person might have done. They say, “Put a finger down if you (fill in the blank).” Examples include: put a finger down if you know how to knit, sing in the shower, have ever been to Paris or have a pet bird. The statements can all be related or random. The first person to put all fingers down is declared the winner, or do the opposite and have the winner be the last person with at least one finger left up. This game can be done multiple times with different statements. Give a different team member a turn to create and say the statements each time you play.

 

How it’s beneficial: Watching as people put their fingers down helps you get to know your colleagues. It lets employees find common facts about themselves. Plus, it can be funny to see what kind of statements colleagues create and who has done those things.

 

Online quizzes or trivia

Online trivia or quiz platforms like Kahoot! make it easy to set up friendly competitions between teammates. You can create specific questions to make the trivia challenge relevant to your team. Each employee answers the questions to see who gets the most correct. You can also use Kahoot! for presentations and as an interactive way to learn. Employees can train each other or present content from their area of expertise in a fun format.

 

How it’s beneficial: The friendly competition helps your employees bond. When you have employees create the trivia or quizzes, they get to take on a leadership role and interact more closely with teammates.

 

Off-topic Slack channels

If your team uses Slack or a similar collaboration platform, create special channels just for off-topic or personal subjects. Examples include a channel to share pictures of your pets or your most humorous work-from-home stories. Encourage employees to share and comment on photos and stories often. This is a simple, ongoing bonding activity that takes very little work to manage.

 

How it’s beneficial: Sharing personal photos and stories helps coworkers get to know each other. Think of it as a virtual water cooler or breakroom. Since your employees don’t get those spontaneous bonding moments in the office, the Slack channels help recreate them virtually.

 

Guided drawing

The goal of this virtual game is to get everyone to draw the same thing. One person is the announcer and chooses a random image. The announcer describes the image without saying what it is or providing any hints. They simply give directions on how to draw it. Everyone else draws what the announcer describes. When you’re done, everyone shows their drawing, and the announcer shows the image to see who drew something similar to the original.

 

How it’s beneficial: This activity requires accurate communication from the person giving the instructions and active listening from the people who are drawing. It helps your employees practice effective communication, which is often more challenging when you work online. It shows the importance of being precise when you communicate and not assuming your coworkers know what you’re looking at or thinking.

 

Praise train

If you have a small team where everyone knows each other or is familiar with each other’s work, start a praise train. As the leader, you start by complimenting someone for something specific. That person then compliments the next person. Continue until everyone has praised someone else.

 

How it’s beneficial: It’s sometimes easy to pick out the things coworkers do wrong, so focusing on what they do well can help flip the group dynamic. It encourages your employees to focus on the positive. It also makes people feel good to hear sincere, specific praise about what they do. When people feel valued and realize that their colleagues notice their accomplishments, they feel more committed to the team.

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