There are many benefits to team-building activities: building group trust, fostering creativity, increasing productivity, and creating a sense of belonging. With millions of Canadians now working remotely, things like team-building activities are even more vital to support the health and well-being of employees who could otherwise feel isolated and disconnected. While social distancing and lockdown measures continue, business owners and leadership teams need to generate virtual ways to promote team unity and belongingness.
We polled several HR gurus to come up with a short list of virtual team-building activities that are fun and easy to initiate with any remote team.
Here’s what we found:
1. Guess Who – a game where team members get to learn a little bit about each other. Before meeting, simply send each virtual team member either an open-ended survey or an email asking trivial questions such as “What career did you want as a child?” or “What is your favourite vacation spot?” or “What was the first concert you ever went to?” Then during the meeting, responses are read by the meeting facilitator while team members try to guess whose response it was.
2. Riddle Me This – a riddle or brain teaser game where team members have to answer a riddle such as “I’m tall when I’m young, and short when I’m old. What am I?” Riddle or brain teaser games are a great way to engage the team and get them talking. Oh, if you are wondering what the answer to the riddle is – it’s a candle.
3. Would You Rather – this classic game has been enjoyed by millions for years and is a great way for team members to get to know each other. Before the team meeting, come up with a mix of fun, random and sometimes difficult questions to ask team members. Question examples include:
“Would you rather live where it’s constantly winter or where it’s constantly summer?”
“Would you rather have more time or more money?”
“Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button on your life?”
“Would you rather be able to talk with animals or speak a foreign language?”
4. Virtual Team Bingo – with this game, team members receive a bingo card (sheet) ahead of the meeting listing common situations that happen in virtual meetings. Some examples include:
Dog barking in the background
Phone ringing in the background
Someone on the team forgets to turn off mute
Someone on the team is wearing pink
As the meeting progresses, team members are asked to mark any of the list of situations that happens off their card. The first team member to reach a row of 5 wins.
5. Online Rock, Paper, Scissors – here’s an old throwback that’s still plenty silly, fun and so easy to play. To play this one, team members need to visit the Rock Paper Scissors website Rock Paper Scissors - Play Online with Friends (rpsgame.org) to play together online OR you could simply implement the game the old-fashioned way. The game continues until one player wins all 3 rounds.
6. Corporate Spirit Week – remember joining in on the fun for school spirit week? Well, this is the corporate adaptation. To help build a sense of camaraderie amongst team members, encourage themed meetings where employees either get to dress up or submit pictures of themselves in spirit week costumes. Spirit week ideas include:
Fairy tale day
Corporate colours day
Favourite movie character day
You get the idea. Plus, you can come up with your own nifty costume themed days. And, the award goes to the best-costumed employee.
7. Coffee Break Water Cooler Moments – remote teams don’t get to enjoy those impromptu moments and get togethers. So, with this game, ask team members to pair up for a virtual coffee break together. You can provide a short list of ice-breaker type questions to help them get started and help them get to know each other better. You might also send them a small gift card for coffee or a company mug to make it more enticing.
8. So Bad, It’s Good – this one is for movie buffs, and who doesn’t like movies? Some movies are so bad that they are fun to watch and make fun of. In this game, ask team members to name one of the absolute worst movies they have watched more than once. Then, post the movie title in your team group chat and have them discuss why the movie was so bad, yet good.
9. The Weirdest Thing – have team members share the weirdest thing they own. It could be a pet rock, a dinosaur bone, a weird pet or any one of 100 different and equally weird things. The idea is to have team members share something unique to them, giving other members of the team a glimpse into their personalities.
10. Health and Wellness Challenges – group challenges bring people together, helping them connect with a shared goal. Plus, everyone loves a good challenge – don’t they? With this game, you can set fitness goals as a team. Give each member a way to track their progress online and you can also provide a virtual space where they can post updates, celebrate personal accomplishments, and share resources with each other. To make it fun, you can also host weekly draws for small prizes.
11. Favourite Recipe Exchange – food brings everyone together – who doesn’t like a good meal? With the favourite recipe exchange, team members are encouraged to share one of their favourite recipes with the team. Ask them to share a bit of history about the recipe. Then give everyone else on the team a week to try it out. After the week, ask the team to share their experiences about the recipes they’ve tried.
12. Virtual Book Club – have team members pick a book genre for the virtual book club to focus on or keep the genre open or have a different employee select a book each month. Let book club members know what the book of the month is and give them a few weeks to read it. At the end of the month, ask team members to discuss the book and compare perspectives. If the budget allows, you could even spot them eBook copies.
13. Pets and Family Photos – everybody loves pics of adorable puppies, kittens, and children. Maybe even a lizard? With this online photo sharing op, remote employees can have the chance to share personal photos of those closest to them and give other team members a peek into their lives. How about hosting a themed photo contest?
14. Virtual Team Lunches – much like virtual coffee breaks, virtual team lunches give team members an opportunity to hobnob together. Decide how often to hold virtual team lunches, and what the best time is for everyone to participate. You might have to stagger lunches or rotate lunch times so everyone can participate. Set up a Zoom conference call and have everyone bring lunch, hang out and enjoy each other’s company.
15. Virtual Pictionary – another team building classic that everyone can participate in, while having loads of fun. Rules are simple, split remote team members into groups. For each round, designate a team member per group to draw for their group. You can use the Zoom whiteboard feature and a Pictionary Generator (randomwordgenerator.com) to randomly select a word to draw. Give each team 1 to 2 minutes to draw and solve. Points are collected for each correct guess. The team with the most amount of points wins.
16. Virtual Awards Ceremony – award banquets or “partays” are a great way to bring the entire team together to have a little fun while recognizing a member of the team for a job well done. However, with this game, instead of recognizing the hard work of team members, you get to come up with a mitt full of silly awards for your team members. Have team members vote on each award, have fun and make sure everyone on the team is a winner. Award ideas include:
Team Spirit award – for the team member with the most team spirit or the most excited to participate in virtual team building activities.
Fashionista award – goes to the best dressed team member.
Best Hair award – goes to the obviously best coiffed.
Mr./Ms. Fix it award – goes to the one employee that everyone counts on when technology fails.
Always Prepared award – goes to the employee who always comes prepared.
Have fun with this game – everybody likes to receive an award. Maybe have the award winners make a short acceptance speech.
17. Virtual Trivia – host a company virtual trivia game. To get started, select a series of questions, get the team together, break them into groups, facilitate a string of trivia rounds and keep track of team scores. Include a mix of fun company-related questions. Some examples of company trivia questions to ask include:
“When was the company founded?”
“Who was the company CEO/President in 2000?”
“What is the most popular product we launched last year?”
“What award did the company receive last year?”
Come up with your own questions – about 10. Then, ask the questions and give each group time to come up with their answer. Award points to the team that comes up with the right answer.
18. Air Guitar Competition – who hasn’t had dreams of becoming a legendary guitar player? Well, here’s your chance. Host a virtual air guitar competition. If you have a few shy team members, you can always give them an option of either a live or recorded air guitar session. You can have employees vote on the best performance or just have fun.
19. Remote Scavenger Hunt – scavenger hunts are always fun and a great team building activity. With this game, create a list of interesting but common items for team members to look for in their own homes, cars, backyards, etc. The only rule – it has to belong to the team member hunting – nothing borrowed from neighbours. Scavenger hunt items could include:
A wilted plant
A cookie jar
Multiple coloured Post-It notes
A pack of pencil crayons
A socket wrench set
Ask employees to take a picture of the items found. The first employee to round up everything on the list wins.
20. Virtual Karaoke – seriously, who doesn’t like to belt out a favourite tune? With virtual karaoke, team members can share some laughs and blow off some steam. With Zoom, host a team karaoke evening, create a song list using Watch2Gether - Watch Videos. Together. (w2g.tv). when your list is ready, invite team members and share the Watch2Gether link. Have team members take turns performing and use the chat feature to share the lineup and give each other praise for their performance.
There are plenty of other fun ways to promote team-building and encourage better relationships amongst team members. You can try implementing one of the 20 activities we’ve listed here or do a Google search for other fun team games. Strengthen the bond of your virtual team, and have fun!