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Bringing a team together can seem a little tricky when employees work remotely and don’t share a workspace. Companies that have embraced the remote work culture and have organised team-building activities have learned that online team building is very different than in-person team building; however, the purpose remains the same.
Remote team building is very different from in-person team activities.
Boosting employees’ morale, increasing teams’ productivity, encouraging teamwork and cohesion, and forming connections and bonds among workers ultimately results in successfully working toward a common goal.
There are so many ways we can function as a team remotely, from document sharing to virtual team meetings and remote project management, but team-building is essential for a virtual team to be successful.
Remote workers often feel isolated, lonely, and lack face-to-face connections.
With the right techniques, a remote team can be even more closely knit than an office crew.
Sure, remote work has its merits, but its people that make or break a company, so here are some fun virtual games to extend work relations to a friendlier level and build a shared team identity.
We all have experienced the weird silence and awkwardness at the beginning of a Zoom meeting, so this game can be played at the start of a meeting or played separately as a fun team-building activity. Depending on the culture of the company and the team, you can easily adapt the questions to meet a certain atmosphere.
Each team member should get about 30 seconds to one minute to answer an icebreaker question. Prompts can vary from “What’s your name, role, and where do you work in your home?” to “What is your phone wallpaper?” or “If you could create a new fashion trend, what would it be?”
You can browse icebreaker questions online or create your own and have fun with your colleagues while breaking the tension in the group.
Create a Slack channel where team members can post pictures of their lives and get more familiar with each other. Slack and other social collaboration tools improve communication and culture in remote, hybrid, and office teams. You can set up Slack channels that are just for fun to break down communication barriers and brighten everyone’s day.
A “photo of your day” channel can be for breakfast pictures, your work station, your outfit for the day, or a cute coffee mug. A “show your pet” channel is popular among Slack-ers and their furry friends. A “good news” channel can be great for positive work-related announcements or more personal news colleagues want to share with the team. A “Hi5s” Slack channel can show all the Hi5’s given in the company with animated GIFs.
We are long past the time when emojis were only for group texts among friends and personal messages. We now include emojis in almost every Slack message and in some of our emails.
We encourage each other with the flexed biceps emoji, congratulate each other with flowers or fireworks, and clink virtual glasses with the cocktail emoji. With so many emojis to choose from, we all have our favourite ones and, surprisingly, the most often used emoji boards are very diverse from one team member to the other.
A great remote game to play is to make a list of every member playing and collect emoji boards. After the lists and boards are distributed, each member has a few minutes to guess who the owner of the board is and get points for each correct answer. This game is perfect for smaller teams and colleagues who are somewhat familiar with each other.
Some members of a remote team might never meet, and most of them will probably never visit each other’s homes. Now that we use our homes as an office, too, a fun way to peek into your teams’ personal lives is to virtually introduce living and working spaces.
For larger groups, this can be organised as a separate virtual event where each team member welcomes you into their home, shows off the space, and chooses three items in the home they would like to share a story about.
Music brings people together, and working to the same musical tune can be magic. It allows people to get familiar with their team members’ music tastes and create playlists together.
Remote teams can enjoy this bonding experience by adding to the playlists from their computers or smartphones. Festify is a great app for this (collaboration app with Spotify), and everyone can contribute by adding songs or voting for their favourite tunes to move up the list.
Working in your PJs on the sofa became the norm during Covid-19, but if you have ever worked in an office before the remote work trend, you might miss the chit-chat around the water cooler.
The Slack extension called Donut comes in handy to make up for human connections in work-from-home culture. The app automatically pairs two co-workers from a Slack channel, and they can schedule a virtual coffee meet-up to have a more personal conversation and meet a colleague from a different location.
The aim of this “coffee date” is to strengthen personal connections. It is best to keep work-related subjects like sales methodologies and prospective clients off the table and focus on getting to know your co-worker.
For employees that live in the same city, they can even meet up in real life and share drinks or lunch.
When we switched from office work to remote work, not only did we need to create a workstation at home and learn how to schedule our day and when to turn off work, but we also had to change our entire daily routines. That routine might include a walk or bike to work, gym before or after work hours, or some mid-day yoga class.
Physical activity has many health benefits, and by organising corporate virtual workout sessions, you can create a team-building experience for your employees while taking care of their physical and mental health.
This is a great way to include team members that might have not worked out before, as colleagues can motivate each other and see this as a social activity.
To make it more accessible, choose a workout that suits all body types and is free of charge.
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is reading a book a month, or reading more in general. A virtual book club operates just like any other real-world book club. The members of the club have the same reading assignment within a time frame and discuss their impressions of the book.
A book club within the company can contribute to better working relations as it helps members to build trust within the team, express thoughts with liberty, discuss similar interests, and create a safe environment to share and debate ideas.
Book clubs can contribute to decreased stress levels in teams, providing new perspectives, and improving vocabulary and writing skills.
Organise lunch or dinner with your crew over a Zoom call. Everyone can prepare a tasty dish or get some takeout and bond over food in a virtual meeting room. You can break the ice with some fun questions or talk about the food you are having.
For a special experience, the company can surprise employees with food deliveries so they can enjoy different dishes to what they’d normally have.
This is particularly convenient and fun if a team member is celebrating a birthday or if the company has exciting news to share. To make it more of an event, suggest a dress code and ditch the pajama look for a night.
Treat yourself to a bottle of fine wine or add flowers to the table. A little luxury never hurt anyone.
What did everyone do during lockdown? Work from home and do endless and constant cooking and baking. Even though love for food is no news to the world, the global pandemic encouraged everyone to try their hand in the kitchen.
Our news feeds were packed with banana bread, sourdough buns, homemade burgers and pizzas, countless pancakes, and chocolate chip cookies. We saw it all, so now that everyone is experienced with the stove, let’s share some recipes and learn from each other.
Invite everyone from your team to join a cooking challenge or create a separate Slack channel for recipes only. You can participate in theme cooking, where everyone cooks the same dish, or share a specialty of yours that colleagues would like to try out at home.
This cooking activity can be educational, practical, and fun, but it will also improve communication among colleagues as they talk about clarifying instructions or sharing photos of the end result.
This is an event that is very unlikely to happen in real life, so embrace the opportunities of the virtual world and watch a movie with your remote team. Everyone on the team can vote on which movie to watch, and once you have decided on the title, you can stream the movie via video conference call.
For a better bonding experience, pause the movie to share thoughts or keep the messaging open to discuss characters and the plot. Invite family members to join and have a laugh over the newest blockbuster comedy.
If you can’t find an hour and a half that is convenient for everyone, choose a movie that everyone can watch on their own time and meet online afterward to debate the storyline together.
This fun game is ideal for competitive teams and suitable for both smaller and larger groups. Typing speed games are played on free online typing tests and are an amazing team-building activity.
This game is easy to facilitate as each member plays in their free time and posts the results in the remote team group. It is also a great way to improve and build your typing skills, as you can never type fast enough.
To make the most of the challenge, form teams and cumulate results. Make sure that everyone uses the same website, as online tests can vary in content and result presenting.
An authentic pub crawl experience is when you get together with your group and have a drink in one pub, then move to the next one. An imaginative way to recreate this activity in the online world is to join a conference call with your colleagues, share the screen, and visit a fun webpage.
Discuss the topics on the page and talk about what you find there. After some time, move to another website and continue in this fashion. Choose websites that would be fun for the team and match the general interests of the people involved, and sip some drinks to enhance the fun.
This bonding game is popular worldwide, and even though it starts rather innocently, it can easily end in an R-rated version which is not suitable for a team-building activity. However, the game reveals a lot about one’s character and, if kept professional and subtle, can be a great way to get to know your colleagues on a more personal level.
This is a classic game and is easily played remotely and online. Each player starts with five fingers and you lose a point if you have done the action that a player states. Use topics like travel, food, school, or sports to get to know your teammates better.
Some examples are “Never have I ever had a vegan phase,” “Never have I ever played tennis,” “Never have I ever been to Paris,” etc.
As clubs are still not properly open in some parts of the world due to Covid-19, a perfect way to brush up on your dance moves is to join an online dancing event.
Show your quirkiness to your team members and dance to classic move-your-body songs on a short break from work. Everyone can enjoy a tune on a shared screen, so get up from the desk or sofa and engage in a virtual dance party with your workmates!
Nicholas Rubright is a digital marketing specialist at Mvix — a company that provides digital signage to improve business communications. Nick has several years of experience writing and loves creating fresh content that is informative and helpful, usually revolving around marketing and business management. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys playing guitar, writing music, and building cool things on the internet.
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