Many people began working from home during the Covid crisis and continued to do so even when it was safe to go back to the office. Although employees find many benefits to working at home, some find the isolation from others difficult. Scheduling virtual team building activities can ensure your employees connect and engage with others.
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There are many benefits associated with team building activities. Virtual team building activities can:
- Improve communication.
It is difficult to communicate with someone we do not know. Virtual team building activities give people things to talk about that are not work related. Learning more about each other makes it easier to discuss work-related issues.
- Increase productivity.
Once communication has improved, employees are more likely to discuss work needs and address issues, leading to increased productivity.
- Create connections.
Working at home can be isolating and lonely. Virtual activities get everyone together, replicating the water cooler, lunchroom, passing in the hallway experience.
- Boost morale.
Making the effort to get employees engaged in an activity displays care and concern on the part of management and supervisors. A good activity creates excitement and boosts motivation and morale.
- Improve mental health.
Working alone can be stressful when you feel you have no one to share your concerns with. Virtual team building activities can create a more relaxed approach to work and open communication.
- Provide fun.
All work and no play make a job just a job. When employees join together for virtual activities, the resultant enjoyment makes everyone participating come away feeling their employment provides more than just a living.
So, the next question is, “How do you choose the best virtual team building activities for your employees?” Think about activities your employees may miss as they work at home instead of in an office environment. Then ask yourself:
- What goal do you want to accomplish?
You need to clearly define the purpose of the team building activity you choose.
- How much money do you want to spend?
Some activities are free, and many activities are very low cost, but do not hesitate to spend enough to arrange a quality team building experience.
- How much time do you want to spend?
Consider the time for preparation, participation, and follow-up for both you and your employees.
In this article, we have brought together some of the best On-Line Team Building Activities, so you do not have to search all over the web or hire someone to provide them for you. We begin with some Remote Team Building Activities to break the monotony and loneliness of your team’s workday. Next, we share some On-Line Team Building Activities and Games for entertainment and fun. Finally, we have some Virtual Team Building Events to celebrate holidays and special occasions.
Remote Team Building Activities
Remote workers frequently spend their days far away from the corporate office and other team members. Feelings of isolation are normal but can be lessened with good remote team building activities that break the sometimes-monotonous workday and provide socialization.
- Office Tour
A virtual office tour connects team members by showing the areas in which they work. The time needed for this virtual event depends upon the number of participants. If you think the event will last longer than one hour, consider dividing the office tour into more than one session.
To begin your office tour, set up a live video call and have each employee provide a walk around their home office space. Although suggestions for better layouts and designs can be offered, allow the participants to opt out of feedback if they are satisfied with their workspace.
- Spelling Bee
You can coordinate your virtual spelling bee with the National Spelling Bee held in May each year or just choose a time convenient for your team members. If you have many players, divide them into teams of five to ten players and then have a spell-off between the winners on each team. All you need is a list of words easily obtained from Google. Ask for volunteers to serve as judges. If this is a hit with the participants, you might wish to consider doing a spelling bee each quarter.
- Scavenger Hunt
Your virtual scavenger hunt can be as simple or complicated as you wish. Use Zoom and name your objects one at a time, giving a point to the first team member showing the item on the screen.
For a quick game, stick to items that might be found on a desktop, some of which may be rare in our tech driven work environment. Here is a list for you:
Paper clip holder
Sticky note pad
To make your scavenger hunt more of a challenge, ask for items your players must search for throughout the house, such as:
A running shoe
A family portrait
A coffee cup
A CD of a favorite movie
A small screwdriver
- Karaoke Night
Used as a stand-alone team building activity or during another virtual event, karaoke provides relaxation, encourages expression, and provides fun. Have your participants pick a song and provide the backing track. Urge your team members to include the team in a sing along if they wish. If they cannot decide on a song, have them pick one of the following:
500 Miles – The Proclaimers
Annie’s Song – John Denver
California Dreamin’ – The Mamas and the Papas
Crazy – Patsy Cline
Dancing Queen – Abba
Don’t Worry, Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
Dream a Little Dream of Me – Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong
Ebony and Ivory – Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
Hey Jude – T he Beatles (or any Beatles song)
Mack the Knife – Bobby Darin
My Way – Frank Sinatra
Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond
These Boots Are Made for Walking – Nancy Sinatra
Up Where We Belong – Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes
We Are Family – Sister Sledge
On-Line Team Building Activities and Games
It’s no surprise that with the advent of work-at-home options, on-line team building activities and games have become prolific. We have collected what we consider to be some of the best out there to share with you, along with links to each of them.
- Mini Marathon
Mini marathons recreate Olympic relays and provide physical activity for those who sit at a desk all day. Have your participants download a running app, such as MapMyRun (https://www.mapmyrun.com). Players jog using the app for a set time limit – a week or a workday, for example. Divide your group into teams or let individuals compete against each other. Award points for the fastest times, the farthest distance, or a combination of both. At the end of the event, look at the metrics, and, if competing in groups, add the scores.
Some other simple on-line team building activities you might consider are:
A recipe exchange
Sharing pictures of pets
Doing a craft together
Having a virtual lunch meeting
The challenge of virtual team building games creates an experience that leads to your team feeling more cohesive. Healthy competition can increase productivity, as it creates a motivational impetus that carries over to project and work completion. Playing games requires teamwork, reasoning, and communication.
- Virtual Game Night
Set up a video conferencing tool and play classic games that players know from experience. The comfort level when they do not need to learn new games and their rules makes the experience more fun. Try one of the following games using an on-line ap:
- Digital Card Games
Card games never get old and remind us of some of our first childhood games. PlayingCards.io Virtual Tabletop with over 50 games has choices for multiplayer and smaller teams. You will find games that your team players are familiar with, such as “Go Fish!”, chess, checkers, rummy, and gin. If players are unfamiliar with a game, each game has an overview page with the basic playing directions and rules.
- Guess Whose Workspace
A game that has proved to be a favorite among remote workers, Guess Whose Workspace makes use of Zoom. Simply have everyone take and submit a picture of the area in which they work. Then host a video meeting where each picture is displayed and players match workspaces to teammates. Not only does this connect your teammates in a unique way, but it also provides fun, relaxation, and laughter.
- Online Trivia
There are several apps available for online trivia games. One we suggest is Springworks’s Trivia extension (https://trivia.springworks.in/) with is many choices of word puzzles, quizzes, and trivia questions.
Some of the on-line trivia games concentrate on a specific area of interest. For example, Popcorn Trivia focuses on movie-related questions. You can access the game via the Popcorn Trivia website or download the mobile version (Android or IOS) for your phone or access the game at Homepage | PopcornTrivia.
- On-line Word Games
Begin by setting up a video or telephone call with teammates and then play one of the following:
Wordle Game – Play Unlimited provides many people a daily puzzle that fans hate to miss. Wordle can also be played as a team game with the provided puzzle, or you can create your own puzzle with a random word or phrase or one specific to your team’s work environment.
Words with Friends
Words With Friends – a free online classic word game is a perfect choice for the crossword puzzle fans on your team.
Start with a randomly selected letter to earn points in the app-based version of this game at (scattergoriesonline.net). Note: There are several sites with Scattergorie games available.
Try a new, updated version of this classic game at https://www.scopely.com/.
Virtual Team Building Events
Merriam Webster defines an event as something that happens, a noteworthy happening, or a social occasion or activity. With that definition in mind, we have chosen some virtual team-building events perfect for holiday celebrations and special occasions.
Send out virtual invitations for your event. If you wish, you can use a paid digital invitation service, which provides a way to track who opens the invite. Including an RSVP helps plan for the length of the activity and any necessary favors or other paraphernalia. Since some holiday costumes and games may be offensive to some, so include a dress code and behavior reminder on your invitations.
- The Ugliest Christmas Sweater
On the invitation to your ugliest Christmas Sweater contest, let your team members know the prize categories so they can tailor their sweater choice for a win. Award prizes (a small e-gift card works well) for several categories, such as the most creative, the one with the brightest colors, the silliest, etc. You can have the team members suggest additional categories.
Ask for volunteers to serve as judges, or you can have the other players judge them. Use a scale of one to ten, with ten being the highest score. Tally up the points and announce the winners.
- Virtual Halloween Costume Party
Set up a video call for a fun sharing of Halloween costumes. Include in your invitations a dress code and some suggestions for costumes. Have those who participate vote for the top costume in each category, such as:
You may wish to suggest a theme for your virtual costume contest, or specify a color, or limit the costumes to just hats.
- Virtual Valentine Exchange
Your team members can create their own personalized cards using a program like Canva or opt to send pre-made e-cards from Hallmark or American Greetings or another e-card provider. You may wish to divide a large group into smaller teams of five to ten members to make sharing the cards easier and so that everyone will receive at least one card. Add to the Valentine theme by having participants dress in red, pink, and white, with hearts and flowers if desired.
- Show and Tell
Use a conference call application to create a fun way to get your team to know each other by sharing something that means a great deal to them. Pattern your show and tell after the childhood version, with a display of the item and a short account of why it is important to the sharer. Encourage team members to display something they created from their hobby, a family recipe, a portrait of someone close to them, or a childhood toy they have kept. Set a time limit and allow questions after each person shares.
- Office Olympics
Virtual office Olympics can be held when the international Olympics occur or anytime you wish to promote unity among your remote office workers, increase employee engagement, and have fun. You can use a series of mini games played on Slack or Zoom or create your own contests. Trivia contests and icebreaker games work well and keep the action fast paced. Give points to winners for each event and have a closing ceremony where you award gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Our goal in the article has been to give you one place to find a virtual team-building activity that will meet your needs without the necessity of searching for one on the internet or paying a company to provide one. There are so many options out there. We think we have given you some of the best. Enjoy! And may your team grow closer and become more productive!
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.