In the last year, teams have spent more time than ever working apart. Even as offices begin to open, more offices than ever are remaining or incorporating aspects of remote work. While this time is full of change, one thing remains constant: to maintain a strong company culture, it’s important to bond with your team, even when you’re apart.
Why Remote Team Building Matters
How do you bond a team together? And how can you build a team while working remotely? Team building activities might conjure thoughts of trust falls and human knots, but remote team building looks entirely different. And it could be argued that remote team building is even more important than connecting teams who see each other regularly. In an office, colleagues cross paths naturally and engage in small talk. (You know, good old fashioned water cooler talk!) They also might gather for lunch, impromptu happy hours, or office birthdays in the break room.
Remote teams don’t have the same opportunities to bond serendipitously. The chances of getting to know each other outside of work is less likely. Teammates may have never interacted in person before, and many never will. Remote work can feel isolating and remote employees may feel unsupported or left out. This makes remote team building activities for virtual teams even more important. Despite this challenge, it’s important to maintain a sense of community in virtual and hybrid teams. Without intention around connecting teammates and keeping culture strong, you could potentially lose employees who don’t feel engaged or valued
How do you build team morale remotely? Luckily in the last few years there has been an increase in platforms and activities that cater to remote teams. Remote team building requires more intention to foster a connected team but it’s worth the time and financial investment. We believe that a team that plays together, stays together. Keep morale high and keep your team energized with the best remote team building activities to try with your team in 2021. We’ve chosen these as experts in team building and as a team who is folly remote ourselves.
What Makes a Great Team Building Activity
Your company likely has a diverse group of people which is great. That doesn’t mean it has to be hard to find something everyone will enjoy. Here is what makes a great team building activity.
FunIt may seem obvious, but a very important aspect of good team building is that it’s fun. You want your entire team to be engaged and research shows that people who laugh together like each other more.
While many people love an office happy hour, in-person or even remote, a structured activity provides more opportunities for everyone to be involved. Having an outsider facilitate your remote team building activity is another way to ensure there is structure and also frees up everyone on the team to bond, instead of the person doing the planning being left out as the host. Go beyond just “hanging out” and invest in something with a sense of purpose that will get everyone involved.
- A Learning Moment
A great team building activity also allows people to learn together. This doesn’t have to be a heavy handed lesson and of course the lesson can be fun, as well. Think: learning new facts at trivia night, solving puzzles together in an Escape Room, cooking an entirely new meal in a virtual cooking class with the help of a chef.
The most successful team building activities appeal to a broad range of people. Your team probably has a mix of introverts and extroverts, people from different backgrounds and cultures, and if you’re a remote team, people who live all over the country or world. Great team building activities ensure everyone is considered and comfortable.
- Different Than A Regular Day at Work
The best team building activities have totally different vibes than work. An event should feel like an entirely new experience that takes people out of the setting they’re usually in together. It also splits away from the hierarchy that can come along with a workplace. This allows people to loosen up and opens to the door for connection in a new way on a level playing field.
Make sure everyone can have their first cup of coffee before jumping into an activity. Don’t plan an activity right before the busiest day of the year. Make sure no one is in a time zone where they’ll be asked to play a game in the middle of their night. Timing is important for planning a team building event so everyone can be focused and present. Adjacently, some activities are fun for just an hour or so while others can be day or days-long events. Consider the sweet spot for your team’s schedule, so that as many people as possible can join.
- Opportunity for Celebration
Positive affirmation is a big part of a workplace. Celebrating people’s wins and giving them opportunities to shine helps increase their commitment to a team, boosts morale, and strengthens relationships. Team building activities should have an opportunity for people to shine and be celebrated as well, but in a different environment. This transitions them from just being coworkers to having a relationship outside of their normal rules. From showcasing their puzzle skills to showing off how well they can make risotto, a team building activity should allow people to share potentially unknown skills with each other.
our platform is thoughtfully designed to encourage inclusive participation (and fun!) with live gameplay.”
- Cofounder, Ian Fraser
How to Make Remote Team Building Feel More Connected and Fun
- Build up the hype and camaraderie.
If your teams are competing in something like a game show, send their team assignments in advance so they can coordinate and wear matching colors. Or mail something, such as bandanas or colorful beaded necklaces, that teammates can wear to feel further bonded.
- Make it a surprise.
Turn your event into a surprise party. Block off time for a “team meeting” or “check in” and inform the team when they arrive online that they’ll actually be participating in a fun remote team building activity.
- Build suspense.
If you’re doing something like a cocktail class, send everyone the ingredients in advance but tell them not to open it. Or send costumes to wear while you have a trivia night but have everyone open them on screen. Build some suspense as to what is going to happen. Anticipation is half the fun.
Top 50 Team Building Activities to Try
Our list includes:
- Virtual team building ideas to connect every day
- Remote team building games to play together
- Active team building activities
- Remote team building activities with food and drink
- Creative team building activities
- Best virtual team building Ideas for introverts
- Best remote team building Ideas for extroverts
- Virtual team building ideas for energizing employees about their work
Virtual Team Building Ideas to Connect Every Day:
- Start Meetings with An Icebreaker
How do you start a virtual meeting? Be more intentional about how you start and end your remote team meetings to implement team building. Use a few minutes as an opportunity to learn more about your teammates. Start with an ice breaker question and every time you leave a meeting your team will know a little bit more about each other. What are some fun icebreaker questions? Start with this list.
- Share A Rose and Thorn
Offering remote teammates opportunities to share and be heard makes them feel valued. In addition to a fun ice breaker at the start of meetings, set up a recurring time to share something positive (a rose) and something that is not going well (a thorn). This can be related to the workplace or personal lives. Sharing a rose and thorn offers the opportunity to share successes and challenges which creates room for empathy. It also opens the door for problem solving and potential collaboration.
- Post Daily Team Building Questions in Your Communication Channel
If your team communicates on a platform like Slack, post a daily question everyone can answer to learn more about each other. What are good team building questions? Rotate through questions that range from fun to serious.
- Have a Way to Share Gratitude Everyday
One of the best ways to retain and energize your team is to make sure they feel appreciated. This can fall through the cracks with remote teams. Set up a gratitude channel on the platform you communicate through and make sure there is an easy and visible way for team members to express their gratitudes and to celebrate their wins.
- Make Space for the Early Bird Crew
Create a space where people can enjoy their coffee together before starting the day. Remote workers miss out on small talk in the traditional morning office shuffle at the coffee pot. Having somewhere to catch up before they get to work is a great way to keep people connected.
- Encourage IRL Hangouts
Connect people who live in the same region and encourage them to meet up in person. Recommend a local restaurant, bar, or park where they can spend some time. Often it's hard for remote workers to keep track of where everyone is. Organize a database to make it easier for them to find each other.
Remote Team Building Games to Play Together
- Host a Classic Game Night, Virtually
One of the easiest virtual team building ideas is getting together for a classic game night on a video conference platform. Many favorite card and board games like Codenames, Monopoly, and Uno have an online version. Everyone can log into from home and play through video conferencing. Find a list of games here and let your team choose their favorites.
- Play a Game Show with a Professional Host
Have a team who loves competition? Book your very own game show. Leave it to the experts to plan and run your remote team building event so your entire team can relax and enjoy the fun. Weve offers engaging game formats, complete with a live professional host that appeal to introverts and extroverts. You can even add custom trivia and branding to the game including personalized “do you really know your team?” trivia questions. The events are perfectly paced and will connect your group of 5 to 10,000+ in completely new and innovative ways.
- Create a Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Split up into teams and compete in a virtual scavenger hunt. You can play this a few ways: -give a list and a time limit or have players bring back an item one at a time for each prompt read aloud. Award points based on speed and creativity.
- Make Powerpoints Fun Again
Powerpoint Karaoke is an improv game in which someone presents a powerpoint from slides they’ve never seen before. It’s a silly twist on corporate presentations with low stakes and a chance to laugh out loud together.
- Act it Out in Charades
The classic party game works well on Zoom and other virtual platforms. No props are required which makes charades an easy game to play at any time. Split up into teams and act out your assigned word or phrase. Remember: no talking!
- Draw It Out with Pictionary
Pictionary is another game night favorite that translates well onto virtual platforms. Plus, all you need is a pen and paper. One team draws and the other teams have to guess what they’re drawing. With a variety of artistic talent in many groups, Pictionary is almost guaranteed to end in laughs.
Turn your game night into a Bingo hall. Use websites like My Free Bingo Cards to facilitate. You can even play thematic games with a cinematic spin. Offer fun prizes such as company swag to winners.
- Plan a Casino Night
Transport to Vegas, mentally. Host a casino night and get together for poker, roulette, online slot games, and more. You can even dress up in your Vegas best, whether that means you lean more Rat Pack or arrive covered in sequins.
- Take On a Virtual Escape Room
In-person escape rooms are a fun way to work together and now virtual escape rooms have become one of the most popular virtual team building activities for remote teams. The escape room pushes teams to collaborate as they try to solve puzzles and riddles before time runs out.
- Play the Not-So-Newlywed Game
Test your team’s knowledge of each other with a similar format to the Newlywed Game. Split into teams and answer questions to see who knows their colleagues best. There are lots of places to find question inspiration online, or have people submit questions prior to playing.
Active Virtual Team Building Activities
- Sweat it Out Together
Start the day by moving together in a group fitness class. Kick off the day with a high energy kickboxing session or wind down as a group with a chill yoga class. There are plenty of online classes and ideas to connect your team through fitness. Ask around-there may even be trained instructors on your team who are willing to lead a session.
- Sweat It Out Apart
If people want to work out on their own schedule, start a team fitness challenge where everyone sets a goal and tracks their progress. A little competition will encourage everyone to get moving. You can even offer prizes as motivation. (Unfortunately you probably can’t start a company kickball team virtually.)
- Dance the Night (or Day) Away
Find out who on your team makes the best playlists and put them in charge of being DJ. Or have everyone contribute a few songs to the mix. Plan a virtual dance party for an end of week shake off, a mid-day energizer, or even a morning power hour.
Remote Team Building Activities with Food and Drink
- Cook a Fancy Meal Together
Whip up something in a virtual cooking class. (Yes, eating together counts as team building.) Chefs across the world are teaching classes that can be catered to the tastes of your team and ingredients are shipped right to your door. Some options even include bonus virtual team building content to help your team learn more about each other while you’re cooking. Of course, if you have any expert chefs on staff, you can have them teach the class and send an ingredient list out beforehand.
- Upgrade Happy Hour with a Virtual Cocktail Class
Mix it up with a virtual cocktail class. Learn to shake and stir in an online cocktail class taught by an expert bartender. Use your knowledge for happy hours for years to come. Of course, make sure you’re inclusive and include a non-alcoholic beverage option for those who don’t drink. Mixologists can adjust to make mocktails as well.
- Do Lunch
Remote workers miss out on the camaraderie of a cafeteria or group lunch break. Set a regular time when everyone has lunch together. Just each, hang out, and chat. These unstructured times to bond make a difference in connectivity.
- Start a Pizza Nights Tradition
Once a quarter, end a Friday workday a little early and make pizza together. It’s a fun way to end the week. Pizza always feels like party food and it’s easy to make at home. This helps your team wind down at the end of a week and start the weekend while making a meal together.
- Recipe Share
Create a place where your team can share recipes with each other. It might be a channel or internal forum. In a time when a lot of people are cooking at home more than ever, a recipe exchange is a great way to share interests and passion.
- Learn How to Homebrew
Learning how to make beer is an exercise in science and patience but with a delicious outcome. If your team is full of beer lovers, have someone teach you how to make your own.
- Taste Wines with an Expert
Have a crew that prefers wine, instead? Hire a sommelier for a virtual wine tasting.The wines can be shipped to everyone’s homes so you can enjoy them together and learn about what you’re tasting from an expert.
- Try a Tea and Coffee Tasting
The aptly named Tea vs Coffee mails your team a selection of unusual teas, coffees and infusions. On the day of the event the experts will share unique aspects of tea and coffee, along with stories about the origins of the ingredients and explain the flavor compounds.
- ….Or Even Try a Water Tasting
You read that right. There are water sommeliers who will lead your group in a water tasting. It’s a unique new experience that will let your team taste waters from around the world and learn about where they come from and their flavor profiles.
Creative Virtual Team Building Activities
- Craft Night
There are plenty of artistic activities that are perfect for a bonding break. Mail everyone the supplies or send out a list of what they need to get in advance. Then, log into a video conference, throw on some music, and start creating. You can also ask people what project they’ve been meaning to finish and work on them together, virtually.
- Paint Party
Embrace your inner Bob Ross and get creative as a team. Hang and paint nights are popular in bars and restaurants, but your team can paint happy little trees, or anything else, right from home. Set up a camera to point at your canvas so everyone can see your progress or keep your masterpiece hidden and do a surprise reveal at the end in a virtual art show. You don’t need much facilitation for this but there are turnkey events with supplies and you can book teachers if you want an expert artist to lead the way. (Bonus points if your entire team dresses up like Bob Ross for your event.)
- Play with Clay
Get creative in a more three-dimensional medium. Let your team’s creativity flow while engaging in a crafternoon. Your team will be sent all the supplies to work on a piece of pottery separately while hanging out virtually. You’ll also receive step by step instructions and cards to facilitate conversation while you mold your clay.
- Go “Away” Together
Plan a virtual travel day. Choose a location—maybe somewhere no one on your team has been or maybe the hometown of an employee—and do activities together based on that theme. For instance, a “trip” to Brazil might involve listening to samba, practicing some Portuguese vocabulary, or watching a movie that takes place in Brazil.
- Show and Tell
You may have not had a chance to show and tell since elementary school. This is your team’s chance to go back to the classic game. Have everyone bring a tangible object that’s special to them in some way and give them 2 minutes to share anything they want. (It’s really that easy—show, and then tell.)
- Celebrate Animal Friends with a Pet Show
Furry friends are constantly walking across keyboards and barking in the background of meetings. Take some time for your team to show off pets in their lives. It’s not exactly the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, but this remote team building idea is just as cute.
- Celebrate with a Virtual Holiday Party
Show your team some appreciation with a virtual holiday party. Remote workers miss out on in-person holiday celebrations and it's easy to feel left out. Boost morale with your own themed event. What are some fun virtual activities for a holiday party? Think: a gift exchange, holiday trivia competition, holiday singalongs and letting people share their holiday customs. (You can also do this as a costume party for Halloween.)
- Guess “Whodunnit” at a Murder Mystery Event
It was Miss Scarlet in the study with a candlestick...or maybe it was John from sales in the kitchen. Play detective during a virtual murder mystery event. There are premade packages you can purchase or have a creative teammate write a script.
- Camp “Out”
Grab the s’mores supplies and gather ‘round a virtual campfire. Stream a roaring campfire from YouTube, play some games, or even tell ghost stories if you’re up for it. This is much more fun (s’more fun if you will) if everyone actually does make a campfire treat at home
Best Virtual Team Building Ideas for Introverts
- Host a Book Club
Choose a new book each month and invite teammates to get together and virtually talk about the book. Create a channel where everyone can share their thoughts as they read. (No spoilers, of course!) This is the perfect way for bookworms to bond at work and invite people to read for pleasure to relax outside of the office.
- Set Up a Writer’s Group
If anyone on your team has a passion for writing, set up a writer’s group. Think: book club but instead people bring their own original work to share and get feedback on. It’s a great way for introverts to spend time together and bond with the written word.
- Set Up Live Remote Coworking
Sometimes it's easier to get work done when you see other people working, but when you work remotely that’s not always easy. Set up a Zoom Room where teammates can log in and work at the same time. Live remote coworking creates the chance for spontaneous conversation and collaboration as well as silent heads-down work time that is fueled by community productivity.
- Speed Friending
Help employees connect one-on-one. Once a week at meetings, create breakout rooms where two people are able to meet for 5 minutes. Provide a new prompt or a list of questions each time. This gives people who are intimidated by large groups to connect and allows people to go deeper with each other than larger group meetings allow.
- Screen a Movie Night
Choose a monthly movie and host a streaming party. Services like Netflix allow viewers to have a watch party and chat while the movie is playing. This is a great way for teammates to relax while still spending time together.
- Watch a Live Show
Many comedians are still performing online and some are even available for hire. Have your own stand up comedy show for your company. You can hire other artists such as musicians and magicians to perform for you, as well.
Best Remote Team Building Ideas for Extroverts
- Show Off at a Virtual Talent Show
A talent show needs both a group of performers and an audience. Those who want to perform can show off anything from magic tricks to ballads to stand up comedy. Let the audience (non-performing teammates) vote on the best talent and award prizes.
- Sing It Out at Karaoke Night
Have everyone choose their favorite singalong song and get together for karaoke night. With just a little bit of tech prep, you can find karaoke videos on YouTube and elsewhere. Encourage costumes, makeshift microphones, disco lights, and thematic backgrounds. Make it a recurring event by choosing a different theme each karaoke night, such as 80s night, songs about work, pub favorites, diva night, and more.
- Storytelling Night
Shows like The Moth have shown the power of storytelling. Not only is telling stories a great skill to use at work, it’s a great way to learn more about each other. Pick a broad topic such as “Turning Point” or “Summer” and give everyone up to five minutes to share a story. For an added team building activity, hire a storytelling expert to facilitate and help people prepare their stories.
Virtual Team Building Ideas For Energizing Employees About Their Work
- Host a Vision Board/Goal Setting Event
Vision boards help employees articulate and visualize their future hopes and successes. Have everyone collect newspapers or magazines for a few weeks before. Then everyone makes their own vision boards at the same time on a video conferencing platform so they can chat. At the end, those who are comfortable can share their boards so everyone can see their visions and help them reach their goals at work and beyond.
- Journal Together
Similar to vision boards, this gives your team a chance to reflect and engage at a lower energy level. Send everyone a journal and provide a few minutes for them to respond to work-based prompts. Do this on a video conference if possible so everyone can write at the same time. You can do this at meetings, weekly, monthly, or whatever works for your team. Leave time for voluntary sharing.
- TED Talks
In a TED Talk, a speaker talks about something they’re passionate about and an expert on. Give your colleagues a chance to shine by sharing their own expertise about something related to your workplace. Maybe someone has figured out the most effective way to organize data, or something else wants to show off a hack that’s improved a system. Your team will leave inspired and excited about new ways of doing things and feel proud of what they can share.
- Plan a Book Exchange
Everyone buys a book that has inspired them in their personal or professional life. Then they are assigned someone to send that book to, along with a short note about why that book was chosen. You can open them all together, or not, but either way everyone receives new inspiration and tools.