Get closer to your remote colleagues with these 7 virtual team-building activities

Ghina Fahs
November 29, 2022
Get closer to your remote colleagues with these 7 virtual team-building activities
Employee experience
Fun stuff

One thing we know for sure is that the last few years brought us the normalization of remote work, and although we’re super grateful for this novel flexibility, we know it can sometimes mean that achieving real connection and bonding with your team requires a bit more effort. Team-building activities like bowling, potluck dinners, or escape rooms just aren’t possible when co-workers are scattered across the globe—but that doesn’t mean you can’t still bond with your team and cultivate an awesome remote company culture!

As articulated in an article by Karina Mojica, “team building is any action or method, which brings a group together and motivates them to work collaboratively. The purpose of any team building exercise is to build a stronger unit of employees”—and with the technology we have today, this can be done from the moon, if you ask us!

There are plenty of fun virtual team-building activities that your remote team can engage in over conferencing tools, but to save you the time and energy it’ll take to sift through endless options, we picked 7 of our favorites—from good ol’ classics to games you may have never heard of—that are sure to help your remote team feel closer than ever. 

Now let’s get to it, shall we? Here are some fun and simple ways to maintain employee engagement, build great work relationships, and improve team cohesion:

  1. Pancakes vs. Waffles
  2. Group wellness sessions
  3. Virtual show-and-tell
  4. Recipe round-up
  5. Karaoke
  6. Guess who
  7. Jukebox

1. Pancakes vs Waffles

Pancakes vs Waffles is a fun exercise to practice making decisions collectively as a team. The name is indicative of the “either-or” choice you’re making.

For the first round, everyone has to decide whether the world is going to keep pancakes or waffles, the one that doesn’t make it is to be obliterated from existence. Anyone can advocate for their favorite option—while justifying their choice, and ultimately you must have a vote of majority to make the decision.

After one option is eliminated, you add a new competitor, and the game escalates from there. For example, if pancakes were obliterated, the game will become Waffles vs Coffee, and then Coffee vs Puppies, and then Puppies vs Smartphones, and then Smartphones vs Romantic Relationships, and so on.

Typically the longer you play, the more intense the conversation gets and the more team members will share their values. The way this game evolves is helpful for virtual team building because the initial conversation of Pancakes vs Waffles is low stakes, and it only gradually becomes more personal as you get to later stages.

2. Group wellness sessions

One way to spark the conversation around employee wellbeing and keep it going is to have a series of virtual group wellness sessions. The wonderful thing about this is that it doesn’t need to look like the same thing every time, and it encourages more empathy and connection among team members.

There’s so much room to get innovative with virtual wellness sessions, and while some activities can get personal and heartfelt, others can be fun and energizing.

Below are some examples:

  • Host recurring group meditations either by using meditation apps or inviting a guide, and you can focus on a different theme each time
  • Invite a trained coach to guide a virtual fitness session
  • Invite a yoga instructor to guide a gentle flow
  • Invite an expert to join the call and give a talk on a specific topic, one way to make your team feel involved is by surveying them beforehand to see what they’d like to learn about
  • Host an online book club and choose some of the most iconic self-help books

The options are far and wide with this one, and it’s an effective way for team members to feel a sense of community within the organization they work for—no matter the distance.

3. Virtual Show-and-Tell

The name says it all; many of us might remember “show and tell” from our school days, and what better way to practice our communication and presentation skills than with a nice classic session of show and tell?

To facilitate this activity, ask participants to look around and find something that’s meaningful to them within arms reach.

You can then set a 2-minute timer, giving each of your team members 2 minutes to talk about their chosen item, including information like where they got it, and why they keep it.

4. Recipe roundup

As if we would ever forget to include a food-related activity!

Invite your remote team to participate in a “recipe roundup”, where everyone submits a recipe based on the chosen theme for the day.

Here are some fun themes to go with in case you’re feeling stuck with this one:

  • My go-to lazy recipe
  • A recipe my mom taught me
  • Rad cookie recipes
  • 5-minute breakfast recipes
  • Go-to smoothies

Assemble the recipes in a Slack channel or a simple Google Drive folder, and if they wish to, participants can then prepare the shared recipes and post photos, share their own spins, or give their feedback.

While this activity is mostly meant to be a fun way to connect over food and culture, there is also a strong element of communication here. When you prepare a recipe, you need the foresight and clarity to know what the reader might have trouble following. Overcoming this challenge is a useful skill to build.

5. Karaoke

It’s hard to go wrong with karaoke:
  • Music is a universal language that when shared, brings people together
  • Team members get to be silly and expressive—lots of opportunities for a heartful laugh
  • Singing is said to have a multitude of health benefits, including releasing endorphins, relieving stress, and boosting your immune system! 

The best part about it? It’s one of the easiest activities to facilitate on Zoom.

This guide explains how to organize a virtual karaoke party on Zoom, how to host a great event for your team working from home, and how to choose a great karaoke song.

6. Guess who

This is a funny one: have your team submit one unknown fact about themselves to the facilitator. The more peculiar and unexpected, the better—think experiences or interests that wouldn’t come up in conversation naturally.

Knowing that you and your coworker share a love for some bizarre food combo or that you both practice the same martial art can make for a meaningful connection that may not exist otherwise.

Here’s how it works:

  1. During the meeting, read each fact aloud to the group, and have the team try to guess which fact belongs to which team member! 
  2. If it’s a small team (5 or less), it works well to read all the facts at once, then have everyone try to match them up.
  3. If you’re 6+, it works well to do multiple rounds, so that everyone can remember the facts that you read.
  4. At the end of each round, the team can cast votes and discover if they got them right.

7. Jukebox

Another lovely way to connect over music; Jukebox is a great game for teams of any size.

The facilitator creates a Spotify playlist each month according to a chosen theme. Each team member will then have to submit a song that fits the theme.

Some Jukebox theme ideas could include:

  • A song by the first band/artist I saw in concert
  • My favorite workout track
  • One song that always energizes me
  • A nostalgic song from my childhood

Create a new playlist with a new theme biweekly or monthly to make this a recurring team activity. 

That’s it for now!

With the changes that remote work has brought upon us, it's interesting to explore how different teams are accommodating and building new relationships or nurturing their existing ones. Share this post with your colleagues and see what ideas they might bring forth.

Before we leave you to it, here’s our bonus tip: assign a different facilitator each time, so everyone gets a turn to take the lead and bring their creativity to the table!

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