Remote teams are here to stay. How do you translate in-person team building activities to remote life? Read on for five virtual team building activities to keep people feeling connected and motivated while working from home.
With so many companies moving to remote work and relying more on apps like Zoom or Slack to communicate throughout the day, it can be hard to feel that camaraderie with other team members in real time. But during this pandemic, it's important to keep your employees engaged now more than ever. Along with setting up a separate Slack channel for water cooler talk or setting fun virtual meetings, try leading team building events, and not just a the holidays.
On the Cooleaf platform, we help employees stay connected and feel appreciated with remote team building activities and challenge ideas for online team building, professional development, and healthy habits. So check out these ten remote team building activities you can use to maintain a positive company culture with your remote employees.
Ready to build a more connected culture in the new year? Download Cooleaf's free Health & Wellness Calendar for 2023!
1. Challenge Idea - Hop on a Video Chat for a Virtual Coffee Break
Workplace friendships are proven to boost employee creativity and productivity. While offline friendships are often born out of physical proximity during the workday, there’s no reason to shy away from online friendships for remote workers.
Encourage your remote employees to get to know each other virtually with a video call or virtual coffee date. In the Let’s Have Coffee Challenge, employees schedule a virtual coffee or lunch to get to know their teammates using a video conferencing tool such as Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Discord, Skype, or Zoom. If your team uses Slack, the Donut app can help create pairs for virtual meet ups too!
During the meeting, encourage employees to learn about one another by sharing a fun fact about themselves. You can even come up with a few fun icebreaker questions to get conversation rolling. Just be sure to keep the questions fun and non work-related. And don't forget to encourage taking a “selfie” screenshot!
2. Challenge Idea - Ask Remote Teams to Show Off Their Workspace
In the absence of in-person happy hour trivia, book clubs, or even karaoke, it can be difficult to get to know our remote employees outside of the office. But photos and stories are a great way to keep your team connected.
Encourage your team members to share stories and photos from their day-to-day life – no matter how imperfect it might be.
In the Share Your Workspace Challenge, team members earn reward points for sharing a work-from-home selfie or their home office.
You can get creative with this fun activity by asking team members to share photos of other things in their home. Such as desk decorations, favorite mugs, or favorite "coworkers" (furry or otherwise!). Or, create a work-from-home scavenger hunt and award points to the person who checks off every item on your list. It's a fun way to bring their home office to their virtual office!
Ready to take action and get your team engaged? Download our free Engagement Action Plan!
3. Challenge Idea - Focus & Productivity at Home
Working from home isn’t one-size-fits-all. With video conference calls and Slack channels to keep up with, all the notifications can be overwhelming. By sharing their best tips to stay focused and productive, employees can try out different tactics and learn what works for them.
In the Focus & Productivity Idea Share Challenge, remote team members share their best productivity hacks and resources for some team bonding. It's a useful and fun way to start conversation while problem solving together!
Have remote employees share their time management tips, organization tools, or workday playlists to help you get in the zone are encouraged. Teamwork makes the dream work, and in this case, teamwork makes at home productivity much easier.
4. Step Challenges
While the occasional virtual happy hour or ice breaker game is fun, try mixing it up with some group fitness! Step challenges are a fun way to encourage employees to meet physical fitness goals, establish healthy habits, and connect virtually with their team.
In this literal team building exercise, remote employees connect with a step tracker such as a FitBit, MisFit, or mobile device, and their steps automatically sync to the platform.
For distributed teams, you can even suggest taking one or two team meetings by phone to get steps in while you chat.
With Cooleaf step challenges, employees can compete to see who can reach the highest step count while earning rewards and getting healthy.
5. Challenge Idea - 10-Minute Mindfulness
Practicing meditation can help employees reduce stress and boost their immune systems. It's a great way to encourage your remote team to check-in with themselves too.
Online games and group chats are fun but can be overwhelming one after the other, especially with staying on your screen. Helping remote employees prioritize mental health with a 10-Minute Mindfulness Challenge encourages everyone to try meditating. In this challenge, we ask participants to utilize mindfulness apps such as Headspace to track their meditation time, and everyone's encouraged to try meditation for 10 minutes each day for five consecutive days.
In addition to meditation, remote team challenges can emphasize other techniques for stress-management and self-care during challenging times. You may wish to help employees destress by sharing gratitude, practicing breath work, or encouraging them to set a time to unplug and relax.
6. Challenge Idea - Karaoke
Whether you’re celebrating birthdays or helping the team unwind on a Friday night, you can’t really go wrong with karaoke. These sessions are straightforward to set up and let everyone express themselves without restrictions.
Ask participants to pick a song and get its karaoke backing track. During the session, only the singer will keep their mic on as others enjoy the music — or you can have them all sing along.
Have the team create a playlist ahead of time to spark excitement!
7. Challenge Idea - Office Olympics
This is your typical office Olympics — only this time it’ll be a game show style virtual event.
Create small groups to play spirited virtual team building games, fast-paced trivia questions, and ask icebreaker games. Thanks to the energetic environment and some friendly competition, your employees will grow more comfortable in each other’s company, which will ultimately bolster employee engagement.
Easy to see why employees consider this team building event the most fun they ever had during a virtual meeting!
8. Challenge Idea - Crafting
In the DIY craft challenge, everyone on the team gets 30 minutes to build something using items available at home. You can set the ground rules such as build something using cutlery, draw/doodle a poem, sketchnote a TED Talk, etc.
Keep the challenge as simple as possible, considering some team members are not as naturally artsy. Perhaps you can provide some tutorial videos to help them get started.
You can also ‘Bob Rossify’ this activity by letting an artist teach a simple craft. You can send team members a gift card to buy a list of items required for the session and let the artist guide the team through the session.
9. Challenge Idea - Escape Room
Virtual escape rooms are perfect for improving team collaboration and camaraderie. In these games, the teams use their problem-solving skills to break out of a cabin, find a treasure chest, or reclaim their kingdom within the time limit. Before players start the game, the gamemaster provides the instructions.
Some of the most famous virtual escape rooms are inspired by Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes, Nancy Drew, murder mysteries, and other pop-culture shows and novels.
10. Challenge Idea - Homemade Lunch Competition
Since we’re having lunch at home at home, why not make that into its own fun game?
Choose a day to host your competition and have employees decide on a ‘theme’ for the food competition in advance, so everyone has time to grocery shop. On the day of the food contest, have everyone post a picture of what they made for lunch on Slack, show the recipe with screen sharing, then vote on whose meal is the best! This is also a great idea for a virtual office holiday party!
Ideas for themes can include:
- Cuisine type (Indian, Southern, Italian)
- Color (‘red foods’, however they interpret that!)
- Ingredient that must be utilized (potato, any way they like!)
- Best sandwich
- Healthiest food
Building a cohesive team takes a lot of work but it doesn’t have to be a drag. You can quickly boost engagement and productivity and build ‘fun’ into your core values by introducing these virtual team building ideas.
Interested in learning more about how to engage and motivate your remote team with more team building ideas? Cooleaf can help — let's chat!