While working remotely during a pandemic, building activities for virtual teams is encouraged in order to keep the team connection alive and well. Read below for details.
Team building activities promote team cohesion, improve productivity, reduce stress, and help new as well as long-time employees feel connected to one another and the company.
All of these are critically important qualities that have been tremendously impacted by the pandemic. We know that building activities for virtual teams can be an effective tool in addressing these issues, and helping companies and teams combat the long-term effects of remote work, such as social isolation and a feeling of distance from other team members.
1. An Online Lunch/Dinner Date
Something simple but relatively refreshing and effective for helping teams feel connected on a personal level is a team lunch or dinner date. On the surface, it’s nothing more than sitting in front of your computer during mealtime and having a friendly chat with other coworkers while you ea. But eating together is an ancient and ingrained bonding activity, and integral to any team.
Even if it’s over the Internet, a virtual lunch break complete with audio and video can help your team feel truly connected, even across the globe. Even if that means some people will be having their lunch while others are eating dinner, or just joining in for a quick snack and coffee break.
2. A Cooking and Plating Competition
Competitions can be an amazing team building activity for specific teams and cultures, where a little competitive spirit can build stronger bonds. Cooking and plating competitions help each individual team member show off their improvisational skills, creativity, problem-solving, workflow, and design philosophy – all in a simple dish. Pick a recipe, set a time and timer, and use a simple online poll to decide whose attempt was the best-looking, most creative, and/or most original.
3. Daily or Weekly Icebreaker Questions
While it’s a relatively straightforward one, icebreaker questions can be a useful virtual team building tool outside of the onboarding process. Consider introducing them as a weekly or even daily occurrence.
For example, build a pool of icebreaker questions (25 to 50) and pick one at random at the start of every scheduled meeting (i.e., non-critical or time-sensitive). Examples include – what was your favorite toy as a child? What animal do you most identify with and why?
4. A Gifting Competition
Another interesting way to build team cohesion and let everyone get to know each other is to host a gift exchange – but with a twist. “White Elephant” and “Dirty Santa” gift exchange games involve prank items or impractical gifts. They can be much more entertaining than trying to guess what your gift target might actually want or appreciate, or going for the same old boring and safe options as always (mugs, clothes, and gift cards).
5. Reinvent Ways to Introduce Yourself
Team building activities are usually an important part of the onboarding process for new hires – but with the pandemic, that tradition has taken a hit for many companies. Some have turned to new ways to introduce fun and entertainment into the onboarding team building process. This is by turning simple introductions into more elaborate projects.
For example, you can try creating a tongue-in-cheek PowerPoint presentation on yourself, in lieu of a company project or prospectus, or even write a User Manual on how to be a coworker in this company. The goal is to loosen things up, parody your company culture a little bit, and help the new hire feel comfortable and connect with the team on a more personal level (which can be very difficult over the Internet).
6. Take Up an Online Class Together
Learning something can be fun. But it’s much more fun when you’re learning with other people. The pandemic is a perfect opportunity for many to continue to brush up on their professional skills and seek out a whole slew of online classes and courses to improve and expand their toolkit.
Individual teams and departments can consider taking classes together or getting through a course together as a team building activity and professional exercise rolled into one.
7. Test Your Team’s Strength
The internet is full of personality tests and quizzes. These can be a fun way to just goof around and see what Disney character one best mirrors, or what superpowers they might have.
But more in-depth “strength assessment” tests can serve as an interesting and in-depth way to reflect on yourself and both your professional and personal skills and share these with the rest of the team. While intensely personal, these tests and quizzes can reveal to one another what every team member brings to the table, and how you all best work together.
8. Arrange Weekend Virtual Games
From board games to chess tournaments to cooperative video games, there’s a nigh-infinite treasure trove of games to play virtually and as a group.
Some excellent examples depending on your connectivity and tools-at-hand include the classics like Clue, small stakes poker, and Monopoly, or popular party and co-op video games like Mario Party, Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes, or Ultimate Chicken Horse.
9. A Virtual Watercooler
While not an activity per se, setting up a dedicated chatroom or channel to serve as an after-hours hangout or place for coworkers to socialize during breaks can massively improve team cohesion and help your team members get to know one another.
There are pros and cons to setting up a virtual watercooler. If left uncontrolled or unattended, it can contribute to a team’s distractions and get endlessly clogged with unrelated or lengthy conversations and arguments. Keep your channels or chatrooms lightly moderated to avoid workplace toxicity.
The Bottom Line
Virtual team building activities can help teams socialize, greatly improve the onboarding process, reduce the effects of remote work stress and isolation, and improve your team’s overall cohesion and productivity. Even through entirely unproductive games and activities.
While we have had a long year to learn to cope with the changes introduced by the virus, this pandemic isn’t quite over. Many of the changes it has forced onto the workplace might be here to stay. Learning to improve on the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of working remotely will continue to be an important goal for this new year, and many years to come.