Use these remote team building activities to boost morale and build relationships between coworkers who can’t make in-person connections.
Whether online or offline, team collaboration is essential to business success and a healthy company culture. Seamless teamwork can boost productivity, improve reporting, accelerate growth, and boost retention.
In fact, 97% of both employees and executive members believe that teamwork affects the outcome of a project. And a whopping 54% said a strong sense of community kept them at the same company.
For many employers, increasing teamwork has become increasingly challenging, especially as the pool of remote workers expands. And that is expected to continue in a post-pandemic world. The good news is there are many remote team building activities you can integrate into routine activities.
Virtual conferencing, virtual meetings, and video calls have become the workplace norm. While most people have adjusted to routine business-related events taking place online, the lack of in-person connections is harder to handle. The loss of these important interactions can dampen communication and hurt the ability of your remote and hybrid teams to connect.
One way to boost your communication is the use of online tools. Letting your employees socialize during their break times is another way to foster relationships. But the most effective method is through regular remote team building activities that allow team meetings to have a more laid-back vibe.
But how can you bring your team together if you are all working remotely?
It’s not as difficult as it sounds. Even before COVID-19, businesses with primarily remote teams found fun and simple ways to boost morale and build relationships between coworkers. While these methods may not be as charming as a full-weekend retreat or a potluck, you’ll find that many of these virtual team building activity suggestions are easy to organize and just as effective. In essence, virtual teams can still gather together to blow off some steam and/or enjoy quality bonding time.
Engage your employees and let them lead team building events
When it comes to team building exercises, the key is to be creative and receptive to employee suggestions. Have the entire team vote on what activities they’d like to try first. Test what works and what doesn’t. From virtual games to online talent shows, house tours, and Slack channels — there are many ways to get your employees on board and involved.
FROM VIRTUAL GAMES TO ONLINE TALENT SHOWS, HOUSE TOURS, AND SLACK CHANNELS — THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO GET YOUR EMPLOYEES ON BOARD AND INVOLVED.
Break up the monotony with virtual team building games and icebreakers
The COVID-19 pandemic kept many team members from bonding over happy hour or during other traditional gatherings. Fortunately, you can find many remote team building activities to replace them. For instance, there’s an excellent episode from The Office that shows Jim in his new branch, playing a first-person shooter video game with the team. You could encourage your team to indulge in full-feature PC games, but there are many low-cost options. You might already be familiar with some of them.
If you want to keep it simple and host a virtual game session on a Zoom call or some other type of video call, you can use traditional games like Pictionary, trivia, or charades. Online vendors also make it easy to play virtual team building games that require group materials like Bingo and popular card games.
But there are also excellent icebreakers you can use:
- Two Truths, One Lie: In this classic icebreaker, each team member offers two true facts about themselves and one lie. Everyone in the group gets a chance to guess at the lie before it is revealed.
- X or Y: This 5-minute game is perfect for jumpstarting a regular zoom meeting. Before each virtual meeting, ask your group about their preferences: Do they like hot dogs or burgers? Comedy or action films? Country or pop music?
- Favorite Things: A more passive game, Favorite Things, can be played in a Slack channel or group phone chat. Simply pick a topic, such as the company, food, or movies, and ask employees to submit an image of their favorite item in that category.
- Lateral Thinking Questions: Everyone loves a good puzzle — and lateral thinking questions are just that. Consider choosing one puzzle a week and asking employees to submit their answer, with small prizes for the winners.
All of these games can be dressed up or down depending on how competitive your team is. Feel free to add a point system or prizes to raise the stakes.
If you’d like to further automate the process you can use programs like OffSite Co, Treasure Mountain, QuizBreaker, Go Games, or Slack integrations like Donut to keep employees connected. Donut also includes programs that help introduce teammates in different regions or buddy programs for new remote workers.
Challenge your remote teams with regularly scheduled in-depth activities
Icebreakers and games are great for short-term fun, but what about long-term team-building exercises for your remote work team? There are several activities and challenges that can bring your team together, no matter how far apart they are:
- Book or movie clubs: Pick a short book or film once a month and let your employees discuss it in a structured meeting. Not only do you learn more about your employees’ personal preferences, but you can better understand their thought processes.
- Fitness Challenges: Encourage your employees to stay healthy with nutrition or fitness challenges. This can be as simple as counting steps or calories, and employees can use whatever scale or app works best.
- Betting Pool: Have a lot of sports fans in your virtual office? Consider starting a friendly betting pool to foster competition and maybe schedule a virtual meeting to watch a game together.
Set aside structured social time for remote employees
LOOKING FOR MORE STRUCTURED TEAM TIME BUT WANT TO GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES SOME LEEWAY TO BOND? FOCUS ON INTEGRATING PLANNED, “NO-TOPIC” WATERCOOLER SESSIONS.
Looking for more structured team time but want to give your remote team members some leeway to bond? Focus on integrating planned, “no-topic” watercooler sessions. This can include virtual lunches, video calls, 15-minute coffee breaks, movie nights, virtual happy hours, and virtual parties.
These suggestions for simulating real office gatherings can make it easy for employees to “catch up” with their teammates. Since remote workers are at higher risk of loneliness — which can affect productivity and morale — structured social time can boost your employees’ mental health, too.
Learn new things, together
In addition to these fun activities, you can also look into upskilling your workforce. Individuals from different departments can offer to share their skillsets with others in the group. For example, an accounting professional can show the rest of the team some amazing Excel or spreadsheet hacks, while your HR representative can offer organizational or operational training.
You can also bring in speakers or do an online course together with your team – the possibilities for remote team building activities are vast! To make it more interesting, schedule a full-day or half-day retreat and plug in some of the online games discussed earlier in between training sessions. At the end of the event, maybe hold a virtual dance party to celebrate accomplishments!
Working remotely can be tough. However, by investing efforts into unique, fun, and consistent virtual team building events, you can cultivate cohesive teams, build camaraderie, and keep everyone connected. Besides, most employees appreciate the opportunity to learn new team tools to add to their skillsets.
Whichever tactic you choose, we hope these tips help bring your work family closer together in 2022.