Where to even begin the discussion of virtual team building activities? Ever since the worldwide adoption of remote working models, and we know this might come as a surprise to a lot of people, which actually began way before a certain airborne virus got people stuck in their homes, people have been adding the words “remote” or “virtual” before an already existing concept and discussing them as if they have just reinvented coffee!
While some of these reinvented concepts are a bit far-fetched, there are a few concepts such as remote employee engagement and virtual team building that are well worth your attention. Another thing that happens when you add the word “Virtual” before a concept is the phenomenon of questions you already have the answers for gaining relevancy on a whole new level.
Questions such as the ones below:
- How do you build a team virtually?
- What virtual games can you play on teams?
- How do you make virtual staff meetings fun?
- How do you engage a team virtually?
You already know how to build a team! But can you do it without ever meeting the team members face to face? You’ve kept countless teams engaged before! But were those team members working from home, sitting right next to their guitar, PlayStation, and annoying dog?
Building virtual teams is a practice both familiar and alien at the same time. At the end of the day, people are still people and relationships are still relationships. Adapting your team building approach according to the medium of your choice is the best way you can go about it.
To help you in that regard, you will find in this article:
Virtual team building activities, virtual team building games, virtual icebreakers, and so much more!
Table of Contents
15 Virtual Team Building Activities
Building virtual teams isn’t that difficult at its core. As long as you make sure your remote employees interact with each other over non-work matters, have conversations on non-work topics, and get to know each other outside of a work context, strong relationships between team members will form. Your role as the leader, in building a virtual team is to be the catalyst in this regard.
All the virtual team building activities for remote teams that we listed here were specifically selected to help you form those strong bonds between your team members and make your online meetings fun!
1. Virtual Scavenger Hunt
A virtual scavenger hunt just might be one of the best virtual team building activities you can run. It involves everything you need from such an activity. Encouraging conversation, critical thinking, stepping away from the computer for a second, and most importantly, a glimpse into the personal lives of your remote employees!
The game is rather simple to run. One person gives a vague prompt about an item someone can have lying around their house, and the others try to guess what that item is and show it to the camera.
The prompts can grow less and less vague depending on how the guesswork is coming along, and the employees can have fun running around their house, fetching random items, and sharing the stories behind them.
2. Virtual Ice Breakers
This entry isn’t devoted to a single activity, but an entire category of ice-breaker games that can be played in a virtual setting.
While they might not be the best option for seasoned teams who have a long-standing rapport with each other, ice-breakers are a great way to introduce team members who are meeting each other for the first time.
Games like Two Truths and a Lie” or “Never Have I Ever?” don’t really require participants to be in the same room, and they all do a wonderful job in breaking down walls and helping team members get to know each other on a far more personal level.
Even team members who have known each other for a long time, could be surprised at what they could learn about each other through these games.
3. Virtual Party Games
With the overabundance of software and gaming consoles in the market, we sometimes take the number of fun party games our smartphones can run for granted.
There are many virtual party games that don’t require their players to be in the same room. Here are two examples:
Jackbox is a party game platform that has multitudes of incredibly fun party games within it, ranging from mild trivia, to hilarious ice-breakers.
Gartic.io on the other hand, offers a single but incredibly fun party game, mixing “pictionary” with “telephone”, resulting in one of the most creative virtual team building activities. It will definitely result in some new inside jokes being born.
If we’ve said this before, we’ll probably say it a million more times: Employee performance is an ongoing process. It is not a number of isolated incidents and events.
Your team building activities can easily follow that statement. They don’t have to be isolated, singular occurrences.
Having a leaderboard that is frequently updated and always visible can not only be a great virtual team building concept, but an exciting employee recognition and engagement tool!
There are many different ways to implement a leaderboard. Some are easier than others. If you are making use of performance management software, then their recognitions module should easily let you make use of a company or team specific leaderboard.
5. Virtual Camp Fire
Does everything have to be a complicated virtual experience with many extra and more importantly extravagant steps? No. Is it fun to take those extra steps every once in a while?
You bet. This is where Tiny Campfire by teambuilding.com comes in to blow our minds with its simple yet “out there” approach.
They somehow managed to pack all the quintessential elements of going camping with your friends into a single virtual experience which includes them sending you a s’more-making kit and a tiny tealight to serve as your very real virtual campfire!
All that is left for you to do is to fire up Microsoft Teams or whichever software you are using to communicate and exchange scary stories with your co-workers!
6. A Timeless Classic: Werewolf
If you are in the market for quick virtual team building activities, then you can’t go wrong with everyone’s favorite game from camp, Werewolf!
This is the perfect activity to accompany the previous entry on our list since it is the quintessential campfire game! This game doesn’t just encourage teamwork and effective communication. It is also an exercise in conflict resolution!
Gameplay is rather simple and well-known. At its simplest iteration, there are two roles the players can take: Werewolf & Villager.
One player becomes the moderator who essentially runs the game. When the moderator declares it to be night, the werewolves hunt the villagers down, and in when morning comes, the villagers try to figure out who the werewolves are! You can find a detailed ruleset right here!
7. Video Game Hang-Outs
Sometimes the most effective virtual team building activities and games are the ones your employees are already playing! Or better yet, simply successful gaming titles designed by big-time developers. Let us elaborate!
As Teamflect, we are huge fans of using Microsoft Teams as a tool to hold our meetings in. There is, however, nothing wrong with spicing these meetings up a little bit.
Switching things up and holding your meetings on an online multiplayer game such as Red Dead Redemption 2, Sea of Thieves, or even World of Warcraft could end up being one of the most engaging virtual team building activities you could hold.
Where would you rather discuss the latest expanse reports? Sitting by your computer? Or on the deck of a ship, sharing some grog with your mateys!
8. Virtual Escape Rooms
More often than not, virtual team building games and activities emulate regular team building events in a digital setting. Some activities aren’t best suited for such a drastic cross-medium transfer. Virtual Escape Rooms, aren’t one of those activities!
Through a mix of clever design, intriguing storytelling, and fun puzzles, virtual escape rooms are one of the best directions you can go when you are in the market for some virtual team building games/activities.
The greatest asset a virtual escape room brings to the table is its emphasis on core team building skills. Virtual escape rooms encourage team work and problem solving, more than any of the other virtual team building activities on this list. With the exception of our next entry.
9. Online Tabletop RPGs
When Gary Gygax introduced the world to tabletop roleplaying games, he created a platform through which players can practice team work, problem solving, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and slay dragons all at once!
When these tabletop RPGs became playable online through websites such as Roll20, the world received one of the most exciting albeit complex virtual team building activities ever.
For those who aren’t familiar, here is how these games actually work: One player takes up the role of the Game Master, and the rest of the players create fun characters to roleplay as!
The Game Master then proceeds to create a story around those characters, and the rest of the players influence that story through the in-character decisions they make.
10. Virtual Karaoke
Virtual Karaoke Parties provide the perfect platform for team members to showcase their hidden vocal talents and let loose in a supportive and light-hearted environment.
The beauty of this activity lies in its ability to break down barriers and create a sense of camaraderie among team members, regardless of their musical prowess.
What sets Virtual Karaoke Parties apart is their potential to foster a sense of shared vulnerability and build trust among team members. When someone belts out their favorite tune or attempts a daring duet with a colleague, it creates an atmosphere of openness and encouragement.
It’s a chance to step out of your comfort zones and embrace a playful side that may not often be seen during regular work hours.
11. Virtual Improv Challenges
Virtual Improv Challenges are a dynamic and engaging way to boost team creativity and communication in a virtual setting. They are one of the best remote team building activities you can implement in the workplace. Online team building activities are all about breaking down walls and nothing does that like the spontaneity of improv.
Through short impromptu scenes or witty wordplay games, virtual improv challenges create an atmosphere of positivity and camaraderie, allowing team members to build trust and foster a shared sense of humor.
12. Virtual Office Olympics
As any fan of “The Office” will tell you, nothing engages employees like some good old-fashioned office Olympics! After all, there is a reason Creed still kept his medal! Office Olympics is a really fun way to integrate a friendly sense of competition. There is no real reason for you to not be able to do them remotely.
The best part is, there is no set guide on how office Olympics work! You can invent your own games and have them evolve with each iteration.
Trust us when we say, somewhere out there, is your rendition of Flonkerton! And it is glorious.
13 Online Wellness Sessions
Wellness is one of the best areas your virtual team can bond over. There are some amazing online wellness programs led by professional trainers, easily accessible.
That being said if there is someone in your organization who has the necessary credentials, then it is even better if they lead the wellness session!
These sessions can include a diverse range of wellness activities, from yoga and meditation to stress-relief workshops and nutrition tips. Team members can participate from the comfort of their homes or any remote location, breaking down geographical barriers and ensuring everyone can be a part of the experience.
14. Recipe Swap / Live Cook Along
When you have a team of people, working from home, there is no guarantee that everyone will be working in similar conditions. One thing every one of your employees will have in common, however, is a working kitchen! So let’s take advantage of that.
During the Recipe Swap, team members can share their favorite recipes, whether it’s a treasured family dish or a delightful dessert they’ve mastered. Your team can exchange these culinary gems and try your hand at cooking each other’s specialties during the Live Cook Along.
It’s a chance to connect over shared culinary experiences, swap tips and tricks, and, most importantly, savor some seriously delicious treats!
15. Happy Hour / Coffee Break
In the introduction to this article, we discussed how some virtual team building activities can be a bit over the top and unnecessary. We want to close out this list with an entry that is stripped of all the fluff and fancy terminology surrounding team building activities for virtual meetings. You don’t always need a fancy game with a cool design or smooth interface. Sometimes, all you need is to have your employees have simple, everyday conversations over drinks!
Remote work takes away the so-called unnecessary interactions between coworkers. Teammates in a remote setting, only need to interact with each other when their tasks require them to. Those non-work discussions born not out of necessity, but curiosity form the foundations of strong teams.
This is why holding coffee breaks or happy hours where employees have casual conversations over drinks, even through a camera and a microphone, just might work better than anything else on this list. These meetings can be set at any meeting cadence. Whether you want them to be a staple of your organization or a special event is up to you!
How is virtual team building any different?
An even simpler approach to this question is: What is virtual team building? Virtual team building is the effort to strengthen the relationships between remote employees, with the aim of creating a strong unit at the end. It is essentially just the definition of team building with the word remote or virtual snuck in between.
It is, however, a far more complicated process. When actual face-to-face interaction is taken out of the equation, the senses of accountability and camaraderie are also adversely affected. Is it really that surprising for people to not care about coworkers they’ve never once shared a cup of coffee with before?
Why are virtual team building activities necessary?
This is where virtual team building activities and exercises play an extremely important role. These activities, give your remote employees the opportunity to spend time with each other, talking, playing, and breaking down walls, outside of the context of their work life. These activities help your remote employees peel the curtain back and see the people on their computer screen for the complex individuals that they are, instead of soulless avatars and floating portraits!
Are virtual team building activities enough?
With all the benefits a remote model brings, a sense of isolation from the rest of one’s team will always be one of its main drawbacks. That isn’t to say that through the correct practices, those drawbacks can’t be taken care of. We here at Teamflect, are strong believers in the efficiency of remote work. That being said, we know it takes more than just ice-breakers and scavenger hunts to keep a remote team engaged.
Virtual team building activities, while fun and certainly beneficial, aren’t enough in keeping remote teams engaged and functioning at their highest level. There are other key aspects of remote team management that play a huge part in getting positive results!
Remote Performance Management
Once again we are faced with a familiar term with the word remote placed at the very beginning. Remote performance management is a long and difficult road to navigate. Your greatest allies on that road will be clarity and simplicity. Whether you are setting goals, assigning tasks, or integrating particular software to your day-to-day practices, you need to make sure all the steps you are taking are clear, simple, and easily comprehensible, leaving no room for lapses in communication.
That is why we highly recommend you invest in performance management software that can help you in every step of the way as you are building your remote team.
Whether it is coming from management or in the form of peer recognition, recognitions are one of the best team building tools a people leader has in their arsenal. An effective employee recognition module can easily go hand in hand with any of the corporate virtual team building activities we listed above. One key aspect to look for in a great employee recognition tool is customizability. You should make sure that the recognitions you are giving can be customized in order to fit your existing company culture.
Using performance management software alongside other team building activities is a surefire way to boost employee engagement. As stated multiple times throughout this article, employee engagement is all about the strong relationships you form with your team. In order to achieve this in a remote setting, you have to make sure that you are getting the most out of each communication channel. Every one-on-one meeting or performance appraisal has to be as effective as possible when you are working in a remote setting. With features such as built-in 360-degree feedback, customizable recognitions, and streamlined meeting notes, using performance management software can help you immensely with increasing employee engagement.