Remote work is a permanent fixture of our modern workforce, and your company needs to develop strategies to stay connected as a team. In fact, remote team building should be one of the top priorities at your company.
What is Remote Team Building?
Whether your employees work in an office space, hybrid work, or work remotely, team building is essential for managing employees and keeping employee morale high. Team building can often be overlooked in the workplace because of time, workload, or simply failing to understand its importance. As a manager or owner, you need to consciously take the time to plan and execute strategies to engage and build your team. If your employees are working remotely, they may feel a disconnect from other team members, so using different methods of hybrid team-building activities will be essential.
Why Do You Need to Do Team Building?
If you want your company, specifically your employees, to succeed, they need to work as one cohesive entity. A great way to encourage coworkers to work together is by putting them in situations where they need to function as a team.
Obviously, as a manager, you want your business to succeed, but for your business to succeed collectively, your employees need to succeed individually. Encouraging team building will help your team members trust one another more, be more creative, and open up better communication amongst coworkers. Giving your virtual team a place to build social relationships alongside work relationships will help them enjoy their jobs more and strengthen employee retention.
How Can You Arrange Virtual Team Building?
As a manager or owner of a company, you need to prioritize team building. It takes planning and creativity to arrange for your virtual team to meet and do a team-building activity. Make the time each month or bi-weekly to connect as a team—such as a recurring event in your employees’ calendars.
So what can you do to help remote workers with team building? There are many different types of team-building activities and ways to stay connected as a remote team. Lucky for you, we have you covered with some great ideas! Check out these awesome activities and ideas below to plan out your next activity.
Ways to Stay Connected as a Hybrid Team
Staying connected as a virtual team is extremely important. Here are some great ways to make sure that your team is connected, communicating, and building trust and rapport with one another:
Are you taking the time to personally meet with your team each week? If not, this needs to become a regular occurrence. Schedule a permanent time each week for you and your team members to jump on a Zoom call and check in with each other. If you are working on a big project, find out where each person is and let other team members hear what everyone is working on.
Not only will you benefit from knowing how your employees are doing with their work, but it will facilitate open communication as a team and establish more trust among coworkers. Seeing each other's faces and taking a couple of minutes to catch up makes a huge difference in morale.
Along with doing regular check-ins with your team, consider doing round tables. Give your team a place to bounce ideas off each other, learn from each other’s successes and mishaps, even give them a space to air their grievances. As a virtual team, you cannot sit down around a table and converse as you would in an office, so do it virtually. Remote work can feel isolating at times; if your employees know more about what their coworkers are doing and feeling, it would encourage them to be more creative or even help others in their work. This is a win-win for you and your staff.
Helping an employee feel appreciated can have a huge effect on their work. As part of your weekly check-in, allot a period of time to allow your team to thank others by name. Whether it is a simple “I want to thank Jan for helping out on an issue this week” or you as the team lead going through each employee and recognizing them for something they did that week, it will have a big impact on others. It feels great to be appreciated, and it feels even better when you are recognized in front of your peers for the hard work that you are doing.
You can also show appreciation for your coworkers by making each one a Kudoboard! A Kudoboard is a great place for your team to go and post messages of gratitude, fun GIFs, and any photos or pictures they have of the person you are honoring. If you took the time to appreciate a different employee each month, they will each have their own Kudoboard. They can even print that board into a book if they choose. It will be something that they will cherish and appreciate.
Water Cooler Slack Channel
If your company uses Slack to communicate with one another, consider making a channel called “water cooler.” Because your team is not in an office, they do not have a chance to make small talk around the water cooler. Give them a place to go and have small breaks to catch up. It will help them build relationships which will ultimately lead to a happier work environment and trust among peers because they are getting to know one another personally.
Need more ideas for remote team connections via Slack? Try these:
- Currently Watching
- Meme Channel
- Hot Takes
- Channels for specific sports leagues
Team Building Activities
Team building doesn’t have to be all about work! There is no need to talk about projects, deadlines, or any day-to-day grind. Give your employees a complete break from their projects and do fun activities together to allow connections to grow. Check some of these awesome virtual team building activities:
Games are such a great tool that you can use to get to know your staff and allow them to learn more about each other. You do not need to be in person to have fun together. Check out these great remote games that you can arrange for your team to participate in:
Bingo is fun as a kid and is STILL fun as an adult! There are so many different ways to play bingo. You can schedule a time to do a few rounds or try some of the awesome bingo cards made specifically for remote workers. You can even have some small prizes ready for the winners. It is a great way to team build and play a fun game during the workday.
Have you played Wordle yet? It is a fun word game that you can play once a day. Encourage your team to take a Wordle break and see who can guess the word of the day the quickest. You can even make a Slack channel for your team members to post their screenshots of how many attempts it took to get the word that day. This is a simple but fun way to give your team a break and laugh about how hard that word was to get today!
Virtual Escape Room
An escape room is the ultimate team-building activity. You literally need to work as a team to get out of the room. Doing a virtual escape room is just as fun as doing one in person. You can gather as many or as few of your team members as are interested and set up a time to play. Doing an escape room will also be a great way to break up the workday. It will be a fun experience and encourage your team to get to know one another on a more personal level.
A great online gaming site for companies is called Jackbox Games. They offer a variety of different games that can be played as a group while on a Zoom call. Some of the games that they offer include:
- Drawing games
- Trivia games
- Writing games
- Hidden identity games
- Murder mysteries
You will be sure to find a game that each employee will enjoy. Take the time to laugh and smile together and let your team relax by playing a game. It may seem like a small thing, but offering a break to play a game will encourage team bonding and be great for your company culture.
A fun and simple game that can be played at random times throughout the day is a GIF War! The best way to do this is to set up a chat group; you can use Slack or whatever communication program you have in your business. The way the game works is that one person is the judge, and they pick a category. The other players scour the internet for the best and funniest GIF they can find to fit that category. The judge then decides who picked the best GIF, and that person wins!! Remember that game Apples to Apple? GIF Wars is similar to that back all virtual. Your team will love taking a break to do this virtual activity and laugh along with their coworkers.
Murder Mystery Game
A great game to play with a big small group is a murder mystery. There are so many different themes to choose from, and group sizes vary. It is a great virtual team-building activity since you will have to work as a team to solve the mystery. You can even do the game while you host a cocktail hour; make a whole event! It is fun and will get your team talking and allow them to get to know one another’s personalities.
Virtual City Tour
Have you ever wished you could go visit Zurich or Florence? Well, you can with a virtual city tour! Arrange a time for your remote workers to take a tour of a foreign city. You will have a tour guide that will show you all of the city’s sites. This will be such a fun activity for your team and a fantastic experience that they get to share together. You can even arrange for several different city tours so that smaller teams can decide which one they are most interested in seeing. It will be an experience they won’t forget.
Try Something New
Think outside the box and look for classes or things that your team may have never done or experienced before. Ask a team member each month if there is something new that they have always wanted to do. There is a whole world of online classes out there that you can help your remote employees experience. Here are a few suggestions:
Ballet, hip-hop, salsa - there are so many different dance styles out there. The best part is that you can learn all of these styles from the comfort of your home! Online dance classes are a great way to help your team experience something new and have fun doing it. They will enjoy the opportunity to try something they have never before.
Learning to cook with your coworkers can be such a fun experience. When you sign your team up for a virtual cooking class, they will be shipped a box of all of the ingredients they need for the class. You will be able to watch each other prepare a new dish and learn some new skills in the kitchen. Your team will be guided through the cooking process by a knowledgeable chef. Each remote worker will be able to have a great experience while at the same time socializing with their coworkers.
There are so many different mediums of art to learn that you will be sure to find one all your team members will love. Doing an online art class as a virtual team will give them the opportunity to explore something new and foster socialization among your team. You pick a painting class or even a candle-making class. No matter which forms of art you choose, they will love that they get to do something new and fun while getting to know their team members.
A great remote team-building activity that you can offer to your staff is a virtual book club. Your team can choose different books that they have been wanting to read each month and then find a time to meet virtually to discuss opinions about the book. It will be a great bonding experience and a way for them to share the same interest and get to know one another at the same time. Not everyone may want to participate in this activity, but those that do will be able to form a friendship over their love of reading.
Many people have heard about meditation, but not everyone has practiced it. Offering your remote team a chance to experience meditation could lead to a great new skill they could practice throughout the workday. There are some great online meditation groups that will be led by a knowledgeable facilitator. This team-building exercise will help them learn how to clear their heads and cultivate mindfulness.
There are subscription plans available that you can take advantage of. Signing up for a subscription will allow your team members access to meditation when they feel they need it. You can get subscriptions through Calm and Headspace for a long or short period of time. Meditation is a great way to encourage physical and mental health in the workplace.
Catch Up While Having Fun
Being given a space where you can talk, catch up, and learn more about your coworkers is vital for team morale. There are different activities that you can do while you and your team members talk. Here are some fun remote team building activities to choose from:
Virtual Happy Hour
A virtual happy hour is a great way to gather your team, have a great conversation, and end the workday. Tell each of your coworkers what time to log on to your video call and have them bring their favorite beverage as well. You can have a conversation or plan questions for the group to answer. You can offer a toast virtually that everyone can participate in; what a great way to build office morale!
A great remote team-building activity is to build something new! There are DIY plant terrarium kits, Boba tea-making kits, there are even kits to make your own baskets. The great thing about these DIY kits is that you can all enjoy making something new while talking and getting to know each of your team members. Not only will your team enjoy the conversation, but they get a souvenir from the occasion! It will be a great experience to put work aside and focus on the people you work with.
A fun and unique virtual team-building activity that you can arrange is a tiny campfire. You will be sent a small candle and the supplies to make smores. Then a camp director will lead your remote workers through an activity that will include ghost stories, ice breaker games, challenges, and of course, smores! Your team will be able to get to know one another on a more personal level through the different games held. It will be a fun and different virtual activity that you can do with any group size.
Virtual Chocolate Tasting
What better way to break up the workday than by trying different types of chocolates?! Schedule a time to gather your virtual team and have them each try different chocolates that they have been sent from a gourmet chocolate company. Arrange for topics of discussion and give each member a chance to talk so that you all can get to know one another. Learning more about someone on a personal level will help your staff work together. This will be a virtual team-building occasion they will love!
Even though your team is remote and spread out all over the country or world, take the time to celebrate holidays. Throw a Halloween or Christmas party. Plan a New Years' bash. Taking the time to celebrate the holidays will help your remote employees feel appreciated and give them the space to converse with one another. You could even do a secret Santa gift exchange and have each team member send another gift. You can set up a fun virtual photo booth with different holiday-themed backgrounds. Your employees will love feeling like they can still have the same type of experience that they would if they were together in an office.
Create a Plan
Remote work can be challenging because of the lack of human interaction. It can feel isolating at times. Even though you cannot see your coworkers in person, you can still plan significant remote team events.
Keys to planning successful remote team events include:
- Remember when planning events to include introverts. Some people may be nervous about doing things on camera and may need some encouragement to join.
- Make it a regular thing. Suppose team-building activities are normal (i.e., do a ‘Fun Friday’ or even make it a monthly thing). In that case, your team will look forward to it and expect an activity.
- Let your team pick and plan the activities. Your coworkers will want to engage more if they are part of the planning process.
Virtual team-building activities are a must if your employees are working remotely. Since there are so many different virtual team build activities to choose from, you will be able to find one that will suit your team members. Keeping your virtual team members connected is so important. When you plan your next virtual meeting be sure to add one of these activities. Your company will only benefit from taking the time to plan an activity.