January 28 is National Fun at Work Day, and a great excuse to kick-off engaging activities to celebrate your people and boost employee morale. Whether you’re in-person or remote, online team building activities keep people connected beyond the office.
Sure, technically every day should be fun at work, but national holidays like National Pi Day on March 14th or National Pet Month in May are also great reasons to come up with fun initiatives for your team.
Celebrating your people with special days shows you prioritize their needs. It builds employee appreciation, showing you notice and recognize their hard work. Putting your people-first is a growing priority for many organizations to support employee retention and experience in their workplaces.
Plus encouraging play and non-work oriented activities like online games or events is a great way to build employee engagement and get your remote team members involved at a deeper level.
Team building exercises might feel cheesy to start but they do make a difference and change up the work day and encourage team bonding.
Read on for a few fun activity ideas to engage your remote team members for National Fun at Work Day at beyond.
Shine a spotlight on your team members as part of the fun! Download our free Employee Spotlight Guide.
Why is team bonding important?
Having fun at work encourages your people to create deeper connections and build trust.
And while remote work has its benefits, it can feel isolating when your main mode of communication is a Slack channel and you're solo in your home work environment all day.
Making a conscious effort to host team building events, or even icebreaker questions at the start of conference calls, are great ways to support your people and get to know your team.
As many employees struggle with change at a personal and professional level due to the pandemic, employee engagement initiatives at work is also important to support their mental health.
Benefits of Team Building Games
Playing games might not seem all that important on the surface, but gameplay encourages skills like teamwork, problem-solving, and communication.
Organizing opportunities for your remote employees to bond beyond work helps everyone develop friendships, deepening employee engagement and creating a more fulfilling employee experience.
In fact, work best friends help increase productivity, learning, and retention— which is especially important during The Great Resignation, where more than 56% of workers are either leaving their roles or actively looking.
With many teams resorting to remote work, hosting virtual team building activities and setting regular time aside to just have fun is a great way to keep your team connected.
Read on for a few remote team games and challenges to get everyone involved and having fun. And remember to keep January 28th marked on your calendar for National Fun at Work Day every year!
1. Bring a Pet to Your Video Call
This is almost a no brainer because who doesn't love pet videos or gifs in the occasional Slack water-cooler channel?
Pet Challenges— costume challenges, pageants, and more— get some of the highest participation on Cooleaf, so why not meet your team's pets?
Have pet owners introduce their pets as a fun icebreaker. For non-pet parents, have them introduce something they feel passionate about and take care of. We've seen plant parents, dog sitters, a robot vacuum with googly eyes— the creativity is where the fun is.
It's a fun idea to change up those weekly team meetings, and a great way to get to know your team members at a deeper level.
2. Sign up for a Virtual Escape Room
Test how your team works under pressure and who's a master of riddles with a virtual escape room.
Like their in-person counterparts, virtual escape rooms are immersive experiences where players follow a storyline and have to solve clues either from a host or the room itself.
A virtual rendition of this team favorite also means tailoring it to suit your team members' preferences!
3. Take a Coffee Break
Give your people time to get to know one another and set an event for fun 1:1s over Zoom.
Teammates can use apps like Donut to match with someone new. Sometimes it's hard to get to know one another on larger, virtual happy hour calls, so encouraging some 1:1 time is a great way for remote workers to build connection with one another.
Try giving your people time during the work week to take a regular coffee break. Set a morning hour or afternoon where no meetings are set.
You can also send along Starbucks gift cards as a way to make the event feel special while incentivizing employee meet-ups.
4. Host Online Trivia
Test your brain power or show off your random knowledge with an online trivia game. You can have small groups play against one another or every person for themselves.
You can find online versions to get everyone pumped and encourage a little friendly competition.
Make it into a larger virtual event and send along gift cards for Uber Eats or Door Dash so people can grab their favorite happy hour snacks too!
You can even level it up by giving the losing team a task— sing a song on karaoke or brainstorm the next fun game.
It's a way to change up a virtual happy hour and play off of pub trivia while remote.
5. Create a Quick Challenge
Online activities or challenges like those on Cooleaf's platform are a fun way to change up the work day and encourage play. But to celebrate National Fun at Work Day why not host a flash challenge?
A flash challenge includes a small incentive for your remote team to participate and includes a time limit — whether that's the morning or the whole day.
The Cooleaf team's Flash Challenge for National Fun at Work Day will give everyone a day to share their favorite fun work moments and ideas for the year. We have one day to earn points and share what activities or ideas we have to build company culture.
6. Virtual Game Night
A game night— or in this instance Game Afternoon hosted during National Have Fun at Work Day— is a fun way to get competitive and let out some steam with your team. You can find virtual board games like Monopoly, Scattergories, or Codenames and host a small tournament bracket in your organization.
Make it a true party and send out snack packs to team members ahead of time or you can even issue gift cards to restaurants or online shops so everyone can treat themselves for this virtual party.
Take the festivities up a notch and send out a fun trophy or memorable prize to the winners of Game Night. For organizations hosting recurring Game Nights, create a virtual winner’s wall or award ceremony to really amp up the competition.
7. Make a Book Club
There probably are plenty of readers on your team who would be happy to hop into a discussion on the latest best sellers or classic favorites.
Book clubs can bring people together and start a conversation outside of work deadlines or team projects. Consider hosting a book club to support diverse writers or even certain themes.
For Fun at Work Day, why not host a poll to see what book everyone would want to dive into this year? Then set a virtual book club date and get some questions to get the discussion ready.
8. Try Ice Breaker Speed Dating
Encouraging connection and giving your people the opportunity to get to know one another outside of work talk.
Ice breaker games are a light-hearted, easy way to get people chatting. To up the ante for National Fun at Work Day why not host a few rounds of ice breakers in a speed dating-style event?
Find a few simple ice breakers and randomly match up participants, then give everyone a few minutes to chat before moving on to a new team mate to learn about.
9. Make a Scavenger Hunt
Think a regular scavenger hunt but put it on its virtual head. Host this scavenger hunt for the day as an opportunity for everyone to share about themselves. Have remote team members work individually as they find the items around their homes, snap and upload a photo to share with the team, and share a little bit about the item. Get creative with what’s on the list. It can include anything from a favorite souvenir or something homemade.
Host this either through a Slack channel, on a team call, or with apps like Cooleaf as an online challenge. On Cooleaf, once everyone uploads their photos and stories about the item, you can see it all in one place too!
10. Host a Virtual Wellness Day
Help your people in mind and spirit with a wellness day. You can kick off with a morning yoga session to start out and host more health and wellness oriented events throughout the day.
Get creative, this can be anything from cooking classes for an easy and healthy week-night meal, a workout class, or art therapy sessions. Best of all, you can take all of these events and host them online through Zoom or a webinar-style session.
Make it a full experience and give out healthy snack packs or even plant subscriptions to everyone to celebrate the day.
11. Make an Ice Cream Party
An ice cream party is a welcome event that brings the kid out in all of us. Take inspiration from Cooleaf partner, Eminent Medical Center, who hosted an in-person ice cream party complete with an ice cream truck for their healthcare services team.
Whether in-person or virtual, you can host your own ice cream celebration with your team. To make it remote-friendly, host an online sundae-making event.
Send out a list for everyone to make their own sundaes. Leave it up to each person to select their own sprinkles or even ice cream flavors. Have someone lead the sundae making and have everyone share their creations on camera.
12. Host an Online Cooking Class
A cooking class is a great hands-on party idea that gets everyone involved and ends with a meal to enjoy together. Invite a chef to host an online course with your team and send out grocery lists people need to assemble or recipe boxes ahead of time.
The chef will go through a live cooking demonstration as everyone follows along, creating a great opportunity for anyone to ask questions or share their own cooking tips.
13. Send Out Team Swag
What better way to celebrate team spirit than new team swag? But before you order another t-shirt with the organization’s logo, take a step back and ask yourself what items would be useful or practical for your people
For instance, if you’re hosting a wellness day, you can send out water bottles or yoga mats. Tech gadgets make great gift ideas like new headphones, charging stations, or battery packs are always a much needed gift.
You can also host a team spirit day. Host an online all-hands, and ask everyone to sport their team gear in a very fashionable or unique way. You can even give superlatives for best outfits.
14. Do a “Potluck” Recipe Swap
Host a potluck recipe swap to encourage everyone to share their family favorites or weeknight mainstays. Cooleaf partners also use potluck recipe swaps as a way to encourage team members to try recipes from other cultures.
For an online potluck recipe swap, pick a theme, and have everyone share a recipe. Then as part two, have everyone select a recipe a teammate shared to try on their own.
You can take it up a notch and make it a cook-off as everyone votes on their favorite recipes. It’s a delicious way to connect everyone and support employee morale.
15. Host a Spirit Dress-Up Week
While working from home might not include a dress code, add a little spice to National Have Fun at Work Day with a dress-up week. Think of themes from vacation swag, team spirit, or even suit up.
Have everyone submit a photo of their outfits for a Who Wore It Best poll for the day, and award winners with prizes and gift cards.
Now, Have Fun at Work!
Keeping the fun going can easily be incorporated into your regular planning. A few additional ideas to engage your remote teams on an ongoing basis:
You can also select a team member at random to act as facilitator for more ideas. It's another way to get more people involved and immediate excitement.