Connecting with your team is hard, and even harder when we’re in the midst of a global pandemic and all working from home. But it’s important to not forget about workplace culture and team building when we’re all distributed and in our own spaces. Enter virtual team building activities.
We recently conducted a workplace survey to learn more about how teams have been interacting and working together throughout this pandemic, and we learned that 79% of remote workers have done at least one virtual team building activity this year. On top of that, 69% of remote workers take part in one team building event per quarter.
Why is team building so important? First off, it builds trust between coworkers. When you’re working on collaborative projects, which most teams do, being able to trust your coworker to help, finalize, or assist with any parts of the project is crucial. Without that trust and relationship, projects often move along at a slower pace, aren’t executed as flawlessly, or aren’t completed at all.
How do virtual team building activities work?
Team building has become more challenging as we’ve transitioned to remote work. This is primarily because we’ve only ever done team building exercises in person before, and there’s a reason for that. One of the main reasons is because it is much easier to garner participation from the whole team when you’re all together in the office in person. When you’re remote, it’s more difficult to corral everyone onto one Zoom call.
Another reason in-person team building is easier is because body language is so important when you’re communicating and building a relationship with someone. It’s been postulated that up to 93% of our communication is non-verbal, i.e. conveyed through our body language, facial expressions, or movements. And while you can definitely see someone’s face through Zoom, it’s likely through a tiny window, and you can’t see much else. Forget reading body language. Safe to say, virtual team building activities have their challenges.
But at this point in time, in-person team building is definitely still off the table. So how can we expect to continue to grow and build relationships amidst a remote work environment? Here are a few virtual team building activities you can employ to keep everyone communicating successfully and engaged with the exercise. Instead of just logging into Zoom for a virtual happy hour (who really wants to do that), level up your team bonding with a few of these tips.
1. Virtual Games With Jackbox
Jackbox video games are fun, engaging virtual team building activities that can be played across platforms. You can easily load up a game on your computer, connect to your entire team with the Hive and Zoom integration, share your screen, and everyone can play along on the game from their phones. It’s a great, low-stress team building activity ideal for groups of 4-10 people. A few of our favorite games in Jackbox include Fibbage, Drawful and Push The Button. Alternatively, if you’re feeling creative and want to be more hands-on, try using a Minecraft server to create your own game!
2. Virtual Mixology Class
Assuming all of your employees/interns are of age, hosting a virtual mixology class with a cocktail making professional is a great way to bond as a team. Companies like Ice & Alchemy, Liquor Lab, and Liberate Your Palate all host live classes taught by expert bartenders who can guide you through the process of crafting a few delicious cocktails. Level-up the experience by sending your team a cocktail making kit beforehand (we’ve done this and used Mouth to deliver some mixing equipment). This is one of our top virtual team building activities!
Trivia is a fun and engaging app which offers a suite of games, quizzes and puzzles to get your peers excited before a big day at work or while working remotely at your home. Trivia introduces real time quizzes and games which strengthens the camaraderie among your teammates. Trivia’s mantra is simple. Teams that play together, bond better.
Trivia offers you a variety of games such as Word search, This or That, Gotcha, Unpopular opinions, Custom Quizzes and many more. As of now, there are about 120,000 users in the world who use Trivia to engage their employees and bond better.
Why is Trivia great? With Trivia you can build a healthier, happier, stronger team and make work more fun right inside Slack & MS teams. You can have a nice time with your teammates talking about the mutual interest you share with them while playing games and answering quizzes.
4. Virtual Scavenger Hunt
We know that scavenger hunts are probably better in person, but there’s nothing stopping you from using a tool like Scavify to host a fun virtual hunt. With this app, you can create a digital hunt for every team member to take part in alone or in groups — and even leave the hunt open for up to a week. Throughout the process, you can also post pictures and interact on a real-time leaderboard. This is one of our favorite virtual team building activities of the bunch.
5. Virtual Escape Room
Teams have been attending Escape Rooms together as long as they’ve been in existence. The quintessential bonding activity, Escape Rooms have now taken a virtual twist since we’re no longer interacting in person. With Virtual Escape Room, you’ll have a host to guide you through the room, and you can all work together to (hopefully) escape. What’s a better virtual team bonding activity than that?
Another great resource for Virtual Escape games is Roobicks, a site that provides customized team escape room, team bonding, and other experiences for your virtual team.
6. Guess The Emoji Keyboard
This game is simple, and can be played in conjunction with other short games over Zoom chat. To play this game, each person needs to take a screenshot on their phone of their most used emojis, and send it to one person who will be collecting all images.
From there, they will be compiled into a quiz, and everyone will have to guess which emoji keyboard belongs to which person. The person with the highest number of correct guesses wins a prize of your choosing. In terms of virtual team building activities, this is definitely really personal but fun.
7. Zoom’s Virtual Event Marketplace
Just recently, the public beta for OnZoom launched, which is a free and paid online events for teams via the Zoom platform. Overall, the platform is a great way for individuals to create and monetize their own remote experiences with an attendee list of up to 1,000 people. This is a great new option for your team — you can find anything OnZoom from improv classes to fitness classes.
8. Gift Exchange
This is exactly what it sounds like — everyone on your team gets up to $20 to pick out a gift for the person they are assigned at random. You’ll pick a day to have a virtual unboxing over Zoom, and everyone will open their presents on screen and guess who gave them the present. This is a fun way to get a bit more personal and think out of the box.
9. A Virtual Experience With Thriver
Thriver is a cool organization that can help manage your company’s culture programs. They help bring your team together, which is critical now that we’re virtual, and it’s great to have a company totally dedicated to that. The Thriver team has a great app that helps you select the virtual experiences you want your team to take part in, which could range from a cooking class to barista class or team bakeoff. Bonus: They’ve also got a team culture app that you can hook into your Slack to help keep everyone engaged, excited, and participating.
10. Go Remote Game Experience
Go Remote is another great company that helps bring together team members from all over the world, hosting gameshows and events for teams as large as 1,500. They’ve got a variety of games including trivia, pictionary, memory recall, and giphy battle — you can definitely find something that works for your team, which is why their on our list of top remote team building activities.
On top of that, Go Remote gives you the ability to virtually “shuffle” teams, meaning that you can easily mix up the teams and introduce new team members to older ones. Bonus: they also have a tournament mode, where teams can duke it out for the top slot.
11. Netflix Viewing Party
We know, we know. Netflix has been around forever, and it’s not necessarily the most innovative team bonding experience. That being said, the Chrome extension Netflix Party (or Teleparty, as it’s now been branded) allows you to turn your Netflix experience into a virtual watch party with friends, family, or coworkers. You can have real-time chats alongside your Netflix experience, and in a time of social distancing, this is a really fun virtual team building activity.
A few of our favorite options that you could consider watching as a team for one of your upcoming virtual team building activities? Try out Tiger King or Schitt’s Creek, depending on your audience.
12. Airbnb Online Experiences
It might not be your first assumption about the brand that Airbnb hosts remote experiences, but theirs are extremely well organized, fun, and different. Their experiences are live and hosted by experts in the field — think everything from Olympians to concert pianists.
A few of our favorites? Tarot with a therapy dog, positive thinking with a Paralympic hero, and yoga with an Olympic champion. This is one of the most unique experiences on our list of virtual team building activities.
13. Fitness Challenge with Aaptiv
This virtual team building activity is for all you fitness buffs. There are plenty of companies out there that offer workouts for your company or team, but Aaptiv is our favorite for their team challenges. This is less of a one-time team building activity, and more of a group competition you can compete in over time.
With this app, you can join a team and work towards small fitness goals together. Challenges kick off every Monday, and teams will compete against each other in those challenges.
14. Virtual Murder Mystery
What better way to escape from the confines of your home and bond with your teammates than by getting stuck into a dramatic and suspenseful murder-solving investigation? Thanks to the remote team building gurus at Wildgoose you can do just that, with their virtual murder mystery team building activity that can be tailored to fit any group size from 5 up to 250.
And If solving crimes isn’t for you, Wildgoose has created a range of virtual activities, from an arctic survival escape room to an action-packed trivia game. Who said remote team building activities and work socials had to be boring?
15. Team Wellness Challenge
This item on our list of top virtual team building activities was inspired by our friends at Service Direct, who recently wrapped up a virtual wellness challenge and outlined exactly how you can get started on their blog. Their team stretched this challenge over the course of 3 months, which is a great way maintain remote team connection and build long-term relationships that last. Is there anything that brings people together like hard work and the resulting feeling of accomplishment?
Here are the basics. First, you will need to rally a group of participants. Depending on how many people you have, you can choose to go it alone or divide people into teams. Then it’s time to get everyone together (Zoom is great!) and decide on your main wellness activities and corresponding points for each one. Once you kick off the challenge and set your timeframe, participants will complete daily challenges and rack up points for each one they complete.
So how can you encourage connectivity? Use a #WellnessChallenge Slack channel to announce the scoreboard each week so people can see their standings in the point system. You can also set up a final wrap-up Zoom call (Service Direct did this!) to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. So fun!
16. Virtual Jeopardy
With Jam, a company that caters to virtual activities for companies of all sizes, you can participate in a ton of activities. Our favorite? A virtual Jeopardy game. With this “Jeoparty,” as they call it, you’ll be able to divide up into teams and participate in this fun gameshow that everyone knows and loves. This could be a great option for newer team members as well, because this is a game most people are going to be familiar with.
This event is also very reasonably priced, at around $20 to $30 per person!
17. Virtual Beer and Cheese Tasting
With City Brew Tours, you and your team can take a *virtual* tour of a variety of beer and cheese menu options. This is a fun way for teams to bond over delicious menu items and try something cool and different that you typically wouldn’t find as a virtual option. If you want something more hands-on, you can also do a full Beer Making Experience, where teammates can try their hands at creating their own brews.
18. Water Cooler Trivia
There’s a reason Jeopardy’s been on the air for 50 years: people LOVE trivia. That’s the same reason why teams flock to Water Cooler Trivia, a platform for automated weekly trivia quizzes. It’s a virtual team activity employees eagerly anticipate each week. Offices are emailed a Monday morning trivia quiz with responses due that night and results sent the next morning. That schedule is totally customizable. Importantly, it’s not a one-off event but a source of weekly fun and conversation for the team without any ongoing setup or maintenance tasks.
Water Cooler Trivia sparks conversation and competition between colleagues asking HOW Alyssa knew THAT. The thrill of pub trivia without the two-hour time commitment and logistics. WCT has thousands of trivia questions along with features like an office leaderboard, the “funniest wrong answer” each week, the option for departments to compete against each other, and even a bobblehead trophy for your team to move to the winner’s desk each week (when back in the office).
The contests are super customizable, meaning you can decide the:
- Categories (Pop Culture, Current Events, Science & Tech, etc)
- Difficulty (Easy, Medium, Hard)
- Timing (day of the week and the time for the quiz and results)
- Region (if you have global teammates and want to exclude US-centric questions)
19. Host a virtual book club
Encourage your team to bond by creating a virtual book club. You can custom a form using Hive and collect the titles suggestions from the team. The second step is to run a pool with the recommendations and collect votes for the book of the month. If a title ties with other, consider creating two different clubs. Having a small group on a virtual meeting can make bonding stronger and organization easier. Pro-tip: Set-up recurring meetings using Hive, create a meeting agenda to document the best insights of your team’s literature discussion using Hive Notes.
20. Organize an Online Bingo
Teams who work remotely have their own particular way to operate and collaborate, but when it comes to Zoom meetings and WFH lingo there are some universal things, such as “Can you hear me now?” How about making these jargons part of a fun virtual team building activity?
Plan an online bingo with your team! It’s a fun and familiar game. All you need is a board with numbers for each action or accomplishments. Distribute it to your team and start playing. For example, when someone says “sorry, I was on mute!” make sure to mark that spot off on your board or when you “spot a pet or a baby in the background of a video meeting.”
Museum hack created this template that you can use, but feel free to customize yours with your team’s jargon or internal jokes to make it even more fun! Pro-tip: surprise your team with a gift-card or a fun gift to encourage participation.
21. “Name That Emoji Song Title” Virtual
Everybody likes music and learning about people’s preferences can be a great bonding exercise. That’s why we love this game! You can start by selecting one person to start the game. All they have to do is to choose a song and use only emojis to try to give hints to the title of the song. They will drop the emojis in the chat and let others take turns guessing the song’s title. Make sure to set a timer for one to 3 minutes, and adjust accordingly to the number of players. The first person to guess it right gets to go next. If at the end of the set time no one guesses correctly, ask the person to reveal the song’s name. Pro tip: Make it even more fun by playing the actual song at the end of each turn! You can also create a playlist and share it with everyone at the end of the game.
Here are some examples:
- 💵 💰– “Money Bag”– Cardi B
- 🛫➡️ 🌙 – “Fly Me to the Moon” – Frank Sinatra
- ❌⛰️🔼✅ – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
- 🚀👨 – “Rocket Man” – Elton John
At the end of the day, virtual team building activities will benefit your business, improve workplace collaboration, and create trust between teammates. Making sure that we’re keeping team ties strong is imperative while we’re all remote. Have you tried any of these team building activities at your organization? Or do you have any ideas of additional, inventive games that others could try? Let us know in the comments below.