One of the biggest challenges you’re going to face in remote work is how to bond effectively with your team.
This is easy in the office, but much harder without the day-to-day regular face-to-face time that comes with that.
Fortunately, we’ve got some virtual team building activities that can help, if you’re the team manager you can implement all of them as you need them – if you’re on the team, you might want to forward this article to your manager to give them some constructive help with their team building.
Classic Icebreakers Still Work
It can really help to run a simple ice breaker exercise at regular team meetings.
These exercises are fun and don’t take long. All you need is some video conferencing software to get the team together and a 5 minute slot at the start.
Then you just need a question to get things rolling such as “What was the last thing you listened to on Spotify?”
Or “Breakfast first, coffee first, shower first or work first?”
Then make sure to include everyone on the call for an answer.
Sharing Highs And Lows
Another easy way to begin a meeting with the team is to talk to them about sharing their “highs and lows”.
That is each person should be asked to share one thing they felt went well in the previous week and if they’re feeling comfortable to do so, one thing they found really challenging.
Don’t let this run forever, 2-3 minutes per person should be about right, unless, of course, you identify a real issue that’s impacting on the whole team – then either take the time to explore it or schedule time to do so.
Online Lunch Dates (Sponsored By Work)
Team members in different cities aren’t going to be able to catch up in town for a coffee or a bite to eat very easily.
However, you can do what the folks at Trello (the time management app) do with their team. Sponsor a one-hour lunch meeting.
The deal is simple: two members of the team have lunch together online via Zoom. They spend an hour on it and the company offers a $25 expenses tab to pay for lunch that they order online.
If nobody has an hour to spare, this can be done as a virtual coffee date with a lower budget for 15 or 30 minutes.
Making Vision Boards
Bring the whole team together online but brief them beforehand so that they know what’s going to be expected of them.
A vision board is simply a collage of images that is meant to motivate and inspire a person.
In the session everyone should be using photos, words, phrases, printed material that best embody their goals and aspirations and create a collage from them.
They can use glitter, paint, stickers, etc. to decorate it too.
And when everyone’s done they can share their board with the group and explain what’s behind it – supportive comments only from the others.
Virtual Show And Tell
Sure, this sounds a bit like being back at school but oddly, show and tell as an adult is a lot more fun than as a kid.
By now, everyone has a hobby or interest that they’re going to want to talk about.
The idea is not to focus on the individual object that’s being shown and told about, but rather to explore the interests of your colleagues.
Find out what they feel and think about their interest, how they got started, what their next project is, that kind of thing.
Throw Down On Your Messy Desks Together
In an office, you probably all have some sort of mutual cleaning ritual where at the end of each day, you all tidy down your messy desks.
Or if you’re like I was in the office before I went remote, this might happen once a week or so.
This ritual tends to disappear when you’re working remotely, so have an early morning slack meeting where everyone has to out the state of their desk and then spend 5 minutes giving it a good old fashioned tidy.
This is good for laughs but it also helps the less organized members of the team get and stay organized.
Hold A Virtual Game Session
A game night or quiz night, on company time of course, can be a great way to bring people together and there are a host of online games that you can use to facilitate these sessions.
We like using Skribbl.io for our events. It’s a simple drawing game, where a team member draws a representation of a word and then everyone else tries to guess in chat what it is.
You can easily host 12 people at a time in a single Skribbl.io room and if you want to, you can pick the words to be used so that they represent your mission!
The My User Manual Game
This is a brilliant game to play when a team is just forming or when a new member joins the team.
In it, everyone gets 5 minutes to present a PowerPoint style lecture on their personal work preferences.
Chat vs Email? When are you least happy to be disturbed? Do you need notice for video meetings?
If you need some ideas for this exercise, check out the Atlassian website where they’ve got detailed instructions for it.
Take A Group Personality Test
Now, you can, of course, as a company opt to pay for a psychometric test and all the joyous insights that come with that.
But it does cost money to do this and if you don’t have the budget for it, you can use the 16Personalities test, instead.
It’s 100% free and offers insights that are similar to the Myers-Briggs personality test.
Just share the link with everyone, get them to test themselves and then schedule a meeting to share your outcomes.
This can really help people understand each other’s preferred communication styles and it’s fun.
Oh, and the website supports nearly 40 languages, so there’s a good chance even the most distributed teams can use it easily enough.
The Virtual Dance Party
Sometimes, you just need a little energy boost. A regular “virtual dance party” helps everyone get back in the mood for work.
We like to do this on a Friday after lunch, when everyone’s just about ready for the weekend.
We take a 5 minute Zoom call, one team member leads it at random, they select their favorite song and then everybody dances to it.
And then we all go back to work with a smile on our faces and a little more energy in our stride than we might have had.
Final Thoughts On Virtual Team Building Activities
Team building is definitely more challenging in remote teams but with our free virtual team building activities, it doesn’t have to be impossible.
The most important thing is to dedicate some time each week to gelling as a team, otherwise, even teams that have worked in an office for years together can start to come a little unglued over time.
We’ve got some handy guides on dealing with other remote working challenges too.
Why not check out how to soundproof a home office, how to handle common work from home technical issues and our guide to avoiding burnout while working from home?