Team building activities are essential for bringing your team members closer. The better people know each other, the more they respect and hold one another accountable — and, therefore, the better they can work together. Team building boosts morale, fosters collaboration, and creates a sense of belonging that supports everyone’s mental health — and ultimately, your company as a whole.
Virtual team building is an entirely different animal, though. It’s arguably more important than in-person team building. Remote workers don’t have the same opportunities to socialize like office workers do, which can result in a sense of isolation and loneliness.
Your team doesn’t have to feel disconnected just because everyone is in a different location. Many of us dread traditional icebreakers (does anyone ever really know what to say?), so here are a few virtual team-building activities to drive employee engagement and make everyone happier at work:
Scavenger hunts don’t have to be limited to in-person events. Instead of gathering everyone together and sending them back out with their lists of objectives, you can send everyone a list of silly photos to take and meaningful objects to find around their respective neighborhoods - the results will be more interesting with participants in different locations. Have everyone add their photos to a shared folder. Whoever completes the list first will win.
“Office Olympics” often entail activities you associate with being in-person, such as chair racing or brewing the best cup of coffee possible with one hand tied behind your back. With a mobile-first conferencing app, though, you and your employees still have the freedom to run around and invent whatever games your imaginations come up with! One of our favorites is having everyone walk as fast as they can between two points in their home ten feet apart while balancing something on their heads. One team member watches their screen to see if anyone drops their object, and the fastest person wins.
Obviously, you won’t be walking side-by-side, but that doesn’t mean you and your employees can’t go for walks in your respective neighborhoods while enjoying some friendly conversation. This team-building activity is one of our favorites because it gets you outside with nature and fresh air, free to talk about whatever you please. You can call each other on your cell phones or use an app like Spot, which is designed for walking meetings and can even take notes of your discussion so you can remember details about each other later.
Board game night is always fun, but many people don’t realize it’s still an option when participants have to connect remotely. There are online versions of hundreds of board games you’re familiar with on Board Game Arena — for free, and available on almost any device. So, when it’s time to play online team-building games with your employees, pull up Board Game Arena on your laptop, phone, or gaming system, keep your favorite conferencing app open (video isn’t strictly necessary here), and have fun playing new and old games alike.
Other virtual team games include digital escape rooms. Yes, you read that right — instead of your employees piling into a room with real-life puzzles, you can work together to solve riddles and “escape” an online one. Examples include Minecraft Escape Room and Jumanji: Escape Room, and Wildly Different Escape Rooms can even tailor your puzzles to your industry.
Who doesn’t love happy hour? It’s a classic, and there’s something about it that never feels overdone. It’s simple and doesn’t require much else than asking everyone to prepare their own snacks and beverages (you’d be a great boss if you reimbursed people for them, though!). You can host your happy hour with cameras on or audio-only, which allows for everyone to partake in conversation from the comfort of their homes, while enjoying a meal outdoors, or even while walking.
Never Have I Ever is another classic, but you might associate it with parties that aren’t exactly appropriate for work. As long as you set parameters everyone is comfortable with, Never Have I Ever can be a great team-building activity that allows everyone to get to know each other even better (you may want to save this game for when your employees have been working together for a while instead of using it to break the ice). If it’s helpful, write out questions or have your employees submit their own beforehand.
As a distributed company or one currently working from home, you and your employees most likely spend a great deal of time online. Give your eyes a break and make something together. Mail craft kits with videos for everyone to follow along with and have your device nearby with an audio conferencing app so you can discuss how well (or joke about how not well) it’s going. Creating something with your employees facilitates a unique bonding experience because you have something you can enjoy later.
The possibilities for remote team-building activities are endless, but you can use this list to get started building a more tight-knit group of employees. What are your favorite virtual team-building activities?