As talent strategies expand beyond borders and time zones, so too does organizational culture. Getting the best employee engagement in spite of geographical differences will require creativity and a healthy dose of team building activities.
In this article, we'll dig into how team building exercises with remote employees helps create a sense of the company culture and provide some of our favorite examples.
The 17 Best Remote Team Building Activities To Try With Your Teams
- Mystery Round
- One Truth and One Lie
- Never Have I Ever
- Virtual Movie Sessions
- Pancakes vs Waffles
- Virtual Meet and Greets
- Jackbox Games
- Virtual Book Clubs
- DIY Craft Wars
- What Was Popular in the 90s
- Escape Rooms
- Scavenger Hunt
1. Mystery Round
The host prompts participants with a series of questions and clues to solve a mystery. The team asks questions and deduce the answers either together or separately, in Clue-style fun.
This round is great for small teams and encourages decision-making. Write down answers on index cards, whiteboards, or a piece of paper and have everyone hold up their answers at the end of the round.
2. One Truth and One Lie
Have each participant list off truth and a lie about themselves and ask the rest of the team if they can deduce which is which! You can mix some office trivia into this round for a bit of good-natured nostalgia. This is a fun round that can work with any group of people.
3. Never Have I Ever
In this game's remote version, each participant has to voice an activity they've never done. Team members who have participated in any or all of the activities others share must narrate their stories to the group.
Get ready to know your co-workers better while they relate their funny, absurd or heart-warming stories. This game isn’t just a bonding activity, it can also be the icebreaker for a team happy hour and a way to encourage people to go outside their comfort zone.
4. Organize Virtual Movie Sessions
Remote team dinner or lunch activities can get tedious and awkward. But when you pair them up with movies, they're sure to become a hit among your team members. All you need to do is set a time, discuss the genre, and pick a movie.
Google Meet and Zoom might be good options for streaming the movies, but free extensions like twoseven will help you chat, share live reactions, talk, or stay connected through video while you enjoy a movie together.
Skribbl is similar to pictionary but individuals go head to head. The game gives each player a choice of words to draw in what can best be described as basic version of Microsoft Paint.
The player that earns the most points by guessing quickest, and drawing the most realistic pictures, wins. Simple!
To play Charades, divide your team in two. Choose the game's theme or go to Pantoparty to get random words, and hop on a video call.
Each team member enacts the subject given to them by the opposing team while their team members try to guess it within the time limit. If they guess correctly, they will earn a point.
You can make this game more competitive by giving only 60 seconds to an actor.
While charades might seem like a silly coffee table game, it can help develop team chemistry by forcing employees to practice non-verbal communication skills and problem solving.
7. Pancakes vs Waffles
In this game, each team member has to decide whether (and why) they'd like to keep pancakes or waffles in existence while the other would cease to exist. The final decision is made based on the item with the most votes.
As the game progresses, the winning item can be pitched against another new item (pancakes vs pizza, anyone?), helping your team pick up their debates where they left off every week.
The lighthearted nature of the debate keeps things from becoming overly competitive and will challenge employees to think creatively about how they build their case while simultaneously including some elements of improv.
8. Story Nights
Storytelling is a fun activity that can bring your team together. Just one person narrating a story while others listen can get boring, so give your employees free reign to create their own stories.
The rule: the host has to begin the game and set the stage with just one sentence. Each team member contributes one sentence to the story without killing the protagonist.
The host can start the story with something as simple as, "Once upon a time, there was a frog who lived in a well," and other team members can take it from there.
Story Nights foster creativity in storytelling, much like how employee engagement software fosters creative ways to engage and motivate teams.
They also get people comfortable building on each other’s ideas, something that will come in handy during your next brainstorming session.
9. Virtual Meet And Greet
You can host a virtual meet and greet to unite cross-functional team members. These are always a great icebreaker, especially if you add a twist.
Sort your teams alphabetically and pick a letter at random. The chosen team gets 30 minutes to select one of the base skills necessary in their role and prepare their pitch.
They do a live demo of the chosen skill when their time is up. This activity will let teams understand each other's job roles better, encourage them to develop skills not strictly related to their job and help build camaraderie.
For instance, the Design team can give a simple demo on how they use Figma or Canva.
10. Jackbox Games
Jackbox Games is an online game-making studio that covers various games, which can be enjoyed on any web-enabled device in person or remotely.
Perfect for small teams (between 2-8 members), Jackbox's party pack offers games such as Quiplash, Fibbage, YOU DON'T KNOW JACK, Tee-KO, Trivia Murder Party and Drawful.
Virtual team building games are fun for employees of any age and provide a fun way to interact in small groups.
Donut is a Slack extension that can give your team-building efforts a boost. This extension automatically pairs team members who can coordinate and set up a video call to get to know each other better.
To ensure that your team gets to know each other better, forbid work-related discussions on this video call.
12. Virtual Book Clubs
Book clubs will allow your diverse team to collaborate and share their thoughts on the book of the week or month. This virtual activity will help everyone communicate with each other freely.
Similarly, if your team members are not big on reading, you can start a virtual movie club, a podcast club, a fashion club, and so on.
13. DIY Craft Wars
Each team member gets 30 minutes to build a 'craft' using the materials available at their home. It can be as elaborate as a Lego palace or as simple as a sketch.
The goal here is to spark creative thinking and get everyone to participate in an activity together.
14. What Was Popular In The 90s
This activity is akin to the childhood game: Spot The Mistakes. Pick a random 90s movie or clip and point out the elements that remind you of the 90s.
Payphones, bomber jackets, scrunchies, Nintendo, fanny packs, rollerblades and VHS tapes are sure to spark nostalgia.
This game is great because it can done in small or large groups. For younger workers, it will help them understand the music, movies and culture that their older colleagues grew up in.
Trivia is a fun team-building suite of games you can enable on Slack. This is a great way to engage remote teams and build friendships. The game's winner gets a unique GIF with their name on it.
The Trivia bot will also help you remember and celebrate your coworkers birthdays and anniversaries.
16. Virtual Escape Rooms
Escape rooms have taken off in real life, but their virtual counterparts are equally as engaging and still require the same level of team work from group members.
Keeping the common goal of escape in focus while incorporating different perspectives inspires team collaboration and makes this one of the best team building activities you’ll find.
It can also tell you a bit about your people. Who transformed into a team leader? Who showcased their problem-solving skills in a new way? Seeing their strengths on display can help leaders understand how to build an even more effective team.
The best part is it doesn't have to cost much. There are several free online escape rooms to choose from. Many are based on stories most people are familiar with, such as the Romeo & Juliet Escape Room or the Oregon Trail: Escape to Willamette Valley.
17. Scavenger Hunt
Of all the fun team building activities, few get your team up off their seats like a virtual scavenger hunt. Literally.
Simply pick a variety of random household items and unveil them to your group and start the clock. Once the time limit is reached, call everyone back to their screens to reveal what they found.
Pick some items that the whole team will have, such as a spoon or trash bag and get increasingly more specific. Maybe the last item is a sticky note or a favorite board game.
The person with the most items at the end wins a prize.
This is a great ice breaker game and can be a fun addition to business activities such as onboarding new hires.
Why You Should Get Your Remote Teams Together Virtually?
The core objective of virtual team building is to build stronger relationships among team members, enhance communication and create an inclusive and engaging workplace culture, regardless of physical distances.
This approach not only bridges the gap caused by remote working arrangements but also introduces innovative ways to boost team morale and productivity.
If there is an opportunity and available budget to bring everyone together in person, it's worth the time and effort it takes to coordinate a bit of face to face team bonding time.
If bringing everyone into the office sounds like a logistical nightmare, there are tools which can help you manage your spaces more efficiently, such as hot desk booking software.
How Virtual Team Building Benefits Remote Teams
The aim of the above games and activities is to bring teams together in an informal setting to help build relationships through play.
- Closer relationships
- Team problem solving
- General joy and merrymaking
- A stronger workplace culture
- Opportunities to promote your employer brand on social media.
For further guidance, check out our guide for individual contributors, managers, and organizations to help build relationships working remotely.
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