As a remote team, we geek out over virtual team building. We’re always looking for ways to bring our team closer together.
But over the years, we’ve learned that online team building is much different than in-person team building.
So, we made this list of fun virtual team building activities for remote teams.
The goal is to help you skyrocket your company culture and employee engagement.
By the way, we recently deleted 20+ activities from this list, so you will only see the best.
Virtual Team Building Activities: Sortable List
Click the blue links to read full activity descriptions.
|Activity||Fun 🎉||Impact ✊||Effort 🔨|
|Online Office Games||High||High||Low||tiny campfire||High||High||Low||Gingerbread Wars||Hi||High||Low||Spreadsheet Pixel Art||Medium||Medium||Low||Online Team Building Bingo||High||Medium||Low||Quarterly Christmas||Medium||High||Medium||Photo Channel||Medium||Low||Low||“Can You Hear Me Now?”||Medium||High||Medium||Guess the Emoji Board||Medium||Low||Low||Remote MTV Cribs||Medium||Medium||Medium||Storytelling Workshops||Medium||High||Medium||Pancakes vs Waffles||Medium||Medium||Low||Werewolf||High||Medium||Low||Typing Speed Race||Medium||Medium||Low||Virtual Pub Crawl||Medium||Medium||Low||Call of the Champions||Medium||Medium||Low||Virtual Dance Party||High||Medium||Low||Arm’s Reach Show & Tell||Medium||High||Low||Exciting Sponge||Medium||Medium||Low||Virtual Pub Trivia||Medium||Medium||Medium||Never Have I Ever||Medium||Medium||Low||Things||Medium||Medium||Low||Spreadsheet Wars||Medium||Medium||Medium||Flight of the Navigator||Medium||Medium||Medium||NATO Alphabet||Medium||High||Medium||DIY Craft Challenge||Medium||Medium||Medium||Video Recaps||Low||High||Medium||Donut Calls||Medium||High||Medium||Icebreakers||Medium||High||Low||Five Finger Showdown||High||High||Low||Virtual Book Club||Low||Medium||Medium||Coworking||Low||Medium||Low||Team Dinner||Low||Medium||Medium||Recipe Roundup||Low||Medium||Medium||Virtual Trash Challenge||Low||Low||Low|
Instructions for all activities below.
37 Best Virtual Team Building Activities (Ranked)
The following is a short list of the best virtual team building activities for remote teams and employees. teambuilding.com, tiny campfire and Tea vs Coffee are run by the same folks as Museum Hack. Which means they are good 🙂
1. Online Office Games with teambuilding.com (Most Popular)
Facilitating team building online has unique challenges, and so you may want help. Our sister company, TeamBuilding, offers virtual team building activities as a service.
Examples of the available activities include Online Office Games, which is a series of virtual team building games/activities like typing-speed races, spreadsheet pixel-art and print-paper origami, and Murder in Ancient Egypt which is a murder mystery that uses “escape the room” mechanics to solve puzzles and challenges.
Learn more: virtual team building by teambuilding.com.
2. tiny campfire 🔥: 100% Virtual Campfire for Remote Teams
tiny campfire runs virtual campfires for remote teams. The experience includes haunted historic ghost stories, icebreakers, little competitions and even a real s’more making experience. It’s fun, wildly smart, and probably the best damn online camping experience in the world. No mosquito repellent needed.
Before your event, tiny campfire sends your participants s’more ingredients and a tealight candle. This event creates unique shared memories, good vibes and strong virtual employee engagement.
Learn more: tiny campfire.
3. Gingerbread Wars (Virtual Holiday Event)
If you are planning a virtual team building event for the holidays then Gingerbread Wars is a great option. For this event, our sister company will ship your participants gingerbread kits in advance and then bring everyone on a Zoom call for holiday themed games and activities — its a cheerful and engaging blast.
This event includes:
- A professional host to engage guests
- Gingerbread kits shipped to participants within the US
- 90 minutes of fun holiday themed games and activities
Check out Gingerbread Wars to learn more.
4. Spreadsheet Pixel Art (Free Template)
You are probably familiar with Google Sheets, but maybe not as a tool for remote team building.
If you are a nerd like me then you likely enjoy developing complicated spreadsheet formulas and graphs. If you are both a nerd and an artist, then you will love doing Spreadsheet Pixel Art.
Spreadsheet Pixel Art is when you add a little code to automatically replace numbers with a color fill for that cell. You can then use these colors to “paint the numbers” and create pictures of nearly anything.
Pro tip: For virtual team bonding with a little competitive spirit we recommend introducing this activity as a competition.
Here is a free template: Spreadsheet Pixel Art.
5. Online Team Building Bingo (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐)
Online Team Building Bingo is a fun and familiar game, which makes it a quick, easy and free way to get started with virtual team building.
Here is a template you can use:
You start with a bingo board that has a number of action items or accomplishments on it. For example, when you hear someone say “sorry, I was on mute!” you can mark that spot off on your board, and similar for “wearing pajama bottoms to a video meeting.”
6. Quarterly Christmas (Recommended)
Every December 26th, Carly starts counting down for Christmas. This countdown doesn’t have to be a long wait, and instead you can run Quarterly Christmas or Quarterly Care Package for your team.
Basically, once every few months you surprise your team members with a package in the mail. Quarterly Christmas is effective because getting a surprise package is like a little burst of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy day.
Examples of packages you can send include tech gadgets, coffee and tea samplers, chocolate and wine, and gift cards. If your remote workers have furry friends then you can send pet toys as well.
We recommend a budget of about $25 per person per quarter, plus shipping.
7. A Slack Channel To Post Cute Pictures of Pets (Quick & Easy)
This one is a company favorite.
We made a Slack channel called #pets-of-museum-hack where we post pictures of our pets making funny faces and doing hilarious things.
Here are some of our favorite pictures to date:
This channel is really simple and takes very little effort, but there’s a big payoff in the amount of team building and culture boosting it provides! Basically, this channel is a hit in the arena of quick and easy team building activities for telecommuters.
And here are more recommendations for fun Slack channels.
8. “Can You Hear Me Now?” (Team Favorite 🏆)
“Can You Hear Me Now?” is one of the best online team building games. You play this game in a virtual conference room, and nominate one person to be the speaker and the rest are artists. The speaker uses a random image generator to source a suitable image, and the goal is to describe that image in such a way that the artists can draw it successfully.
The one guideline is the speaker must only use geometric shapes. For example, you could say “draw a large circle and then three equidistant triangles” but not “write the letter E.” By limiting instructions, the speaker needs to exercise extremely accurate communication skills, and the artists need to listen and interpret. This game is a proxy for effective online communication, and is also just really fun.
9. Guess the Emoji Board 🤔
Up until a few years ago, emojis were a fun and quirky part of the internet that you weren’t quite sure if you should include in professional emails and messaging. Today, depending on your industry, it may be totally okay to send your colleagues emoji hearts, flames, cocktails and Christmas trees.
With more people using emojis more often, you now also have a fun new category: your most used emojis. You can snap a screenshot of your phone or desktop, and then upload the list for your remote team to see. Sharing which emojis you use and overuse can help create inside jokes. For example: why does Michael use the shrug so darn often?
Here is how to play “Guess the Emoji Board”:
- Create a list of players and distribute this list to each player.
- Each person has up to five minutes to guess the five most used emojis by each person on the list.
- Reveal the answers and award points for accuracy, getting the emojis in the correct order and similar.
Prizes optional 🙂
Guess the Emoji Board is a quick game you can play virtually and will entertain your team for a quick amount of time. We recommend adding the game to an existing virtual meeting instead of making it the main event.
10. MTV Cribs: Remote Team Edition
Your remote team members might never meet face-to-face. However, colleagues can still open their homes to one another and participate in some MTV style fun.
Help Scout recently started an internal MTV Cribs-inspired video series, where team members show off their homes and personality in quick self-made videos similar to the classic ’90s show.
The activity makes for both an interesting look into the personal lives of your coworkers and is also a fun way to get to know your entire virtual team better.
11. Remote Storytelling Workshops & Training (With Experts)
Museum Hack tour guides are world class conveyors of stories and information. We’ve honed the craft leading thousands of renegade tours, and refined a framework for telling stories and training these skills. This system includes the Five Elements of a Hack, story shortening and more fun team activities.
Our guide training is 3+ months, and we’ve condensed the essentials down to two hours for your team. This training workshop will empower your staff to higher levels of productivity and performance, and is helpful in a wide variety of roles.
Learn more: Online Storytelling Workshops.
12. Pancakes vs Waffles (Quick & Easy)
Pancakes vs Waffles is a game where you make decisions collectively as a team. The name is indicative of the “either or” choice you are making.
For round one, your team has to decide on whether the world is going to keep pancakes or waffles, and the other is to be obliterated from existence. Anyone can advocate for a favorite choice, and ultimately you must have a vote of majority to make the decision.
After one option is eliminated, you add a new competitor. For example, the game may become Waffles vs Pumpkins, and then Waffles vs Puppies, and then Puppies vs Kittens, and then Kittens vs Romantic Relationships, and similar.
Typically the longer you play, the more intense the conversation gets and the more team members will share their values. The game mechanics are 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.
13. Werewolf (Popular)
You may have played Werewolf at summer camp, in college or on a company retreat. Werewolf is a game of wits, deceit, and skilful manipulation as you seek to survive the night. The entire game is based on speaking, careful listening and voting, so you can run the experience in a virtual conference room like Zoom or Google Hangouts.
Here is a YouTube video on how to play Werewolf:
First, each player draws a card that indicates a role: werewolf, villager, medic or seer. For a remote game, you could use a random generation tool and send each person the role in a private message. Werewolves eat other players, villagers vote on who they think is a werewolf, medics can rescue a player from the jaws of near-death and seers can reveal a player’s status as wolf or not.
Once each one participant has a role, the game master announces that night has fallen, and everyone closes their eyes and does a pitter-patter drum roll for something fun to do and to mask other sounds.
The game master then calls the werewolves to wake-up, select one victim, then go back to sleep.
Next, the medic wakes up, points to a person to save and then sleeps again.
Finally, the seer points to one person to reveal whether they are a wolf or not, and the game master nods yes or no to confirm.
Then, the game master announces it is morning and reveals whether the wolves successfully ate a villager. Usually one villager dies in the night, with the exception of the occasional save by a medic.
The survivors debate who the werewolf is, and then vote to either eliminate someone or skip the round. Anyone that dies or is removed from the game becomes a silent ghost, and can no longer speak or otherwise participate in the game. Repeat this process until only villagers or wolves remain.
Werewolf is great for virtual team building because it fuels a lot of discussion. Your team will love it.
14. Typing Speed Race (Competitive)
Typing speed races are a free online team building activity that you can start right now. To begin, take a typing test using typingtest.com or similar. Then, post your results on your company message board or by email. The more competitive members of your team will reply with results quickly and others will follow.
You can then launch a larger scale challenge by hosting a typing speed relay, which is when you form squads and add up the cumulative scores to see which team wins.
Pro tip: make sure everyone is taking the same test! You can also give team members tips like “keep your fingers closer to the keys” or “if you miss a word, fix it quickly and then power through.”
Typing speed races are ostensibly a fun little challenge to get everyone playing online games together. It is also great skill building; typing speed is incredibly important for remote workers.
15. Virtual Pub Crawl
One way people get together in the real world is pub crawls, where you all go to a pub for a drink and then move on to the next one. You can do a fun virtual equivalent of pub crawls too.
Here is how:
- Join a virtual meeting or conference call with your team members.
- Everyone goes to an interesting website, and chats about the content over a drink.
- Every 15 minutes, move to a new website.
You can start with this cool web page that explores the depths of the ocean: The Deep Sea.
16. Call of the Champions (Instant Upgrade for Virtual Meetings)
One way to make virtual calls fun is to assign roles during meetings. If someone has a specific job to do, like cheerleader or shade thrower, then they will be more engaged.
Here are some roles you can assign:
- Cheerleader: Responsible for keeping spirits high during the meeting! This person will enthusiastically cheer on the speaker and other team members, and lead others to do the same.
- Mover and Shaker: This role is like a virtual meeting traffic cop. When conversations get in the weeds or otherwise aren’t moving along, then this person’s job is to get everyone back on track.
- Shade Thrower: Someone on your team is probably “that person.” Empower your champ by assigning the role of Shade Thrower, which is essentially permission to politely boo others. This role is mostly for games with an element of competition.
- Photographer: Throughout your call, there will be opportunities for photos and snapshots of your team. Remote teams need photos too! Give someone the role of group photographer and they can snap a few shots to share by chat or email later.
- Scribe: For some people, Scribe is the least fun role at the meeting, and for others it is the dream job. The scribe is in charge of taking notes.
We named this activity Call of the Champions as a fun way to recognize the heroic roles that participants play in making a virtual call fun.
17. Virtual Dance Party (Recommended)
One of the quickest and easiest virtual team building activities is the Virtual Dance Party. You can either host your virtual dance as a standalone event or add it as a quick one-minute session during a meeting.
Important: You don’t need to bust fancy moves, just turn on a song and move to the beat! Dancing can help cure awkward silences, keep energy high, and inject fun and team building into your team calls.
Some of our favorite songs for a quick dance break are:
- Taylor Swift – Shake it Off
- Rihanna – Work
- Kenny Loggins – Footloose
- Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance with Somebody
- The Beatles – Twist and Shout
Here is a virtual dance party playlist on Spotify.
18. Arm’s Reach Show & Tell (Simple & Fun)
One place to find inspiration for virtual team building ideas is grade school. Teachers are experts at engagement.
An example of a fun, school-inspired activity is Virtual Show & Tell. To facilitate this show and tell, you can set a 1 minute timer for participants to find “something within arms reach that is meaningful to you.” Each of your team members then has one minute to share about their object, including information like where they got it, and why they keep it.
19. Exciting Sponge
Exciting sponge is a quick and easy storytelling game. To play, each team member grabs a random object in arms length and creates a story about it, or can default to describing a generic sponge.
The goal is to exaggerate the truth about what makes that object amazing. For example, if someone picked up an alarm clock, they could say “this is a relic from the past and someday Indian Jones 2.0, AI edition, will travel back in time and snatch it up for a museum collection.”
The more absurd the better 🙂
20. Virtual Pub Trivia (Fun for Large Groups)
Your team can’t go to the pub together, but they can still do pub trivia and similar virtual happy hour games.
First, invite everyone to a call with a pint of their favorite brew; whether that beverage is tea, beer or wine. Then, a host organizes everyone into smaller teams and reads out questions. Participants must answer as a team, and each correct answer wins points. You can do themed trivia like Netflix shows, musical clues and science facts.
Here is a very long list of trivia questions.
21. Never Have I Ever: Rated E Edition
Many people play a version of Never Have I Ever in college, and it often descends into NSFW topics. Instead, play the remote work friendly version of this game. As the event organizer, you can write all the topics in advance or have team members submit topics that you filter for the group.
Never Have I Ever is typically a knock-out game, which means you start with five fingers up and lose a point for each of the topics that you have in fact done. For example, if the prompt was “never have I ever eaten sushi”, then everyone that has eaten sushi would put a finger down.
22. Things (Classic)
Things is a game of talking and topics. Before the game starts, each of the participants adds topics to a common pool. The main guidelines is each topic must start with the word “things”. For example, “things my dog wishes he could eat for breakfast” or “things we want to do during our next video meeting.”
One person starts as the host, and reads off a single prompt. The other players then anonymously submit answers to the host, which you can do via private message. The host reads the answers out loud, and then you go in a circle giving each person a chance to guess who said what. You can have players accumulate points and win prizes, or ignore points all-together. For the next round, switch hosts and continue with the same game mechanics.
Here is a guide on how to play Things.
23. Spreadsheet Wars (Fun for Nerds 🤓)
Spreadsheet Wars is a tiny virtual hackathon, where participants can show off their skills in Google Sheets and similar programs.
To play Spreadsheet Wars, you choose a theme like “most advanced calculation” or “design a mini game”, and then the only parameter is that participants can only use the spreadsheet software to build a solution. If scrappy solutions are helpful for your organization then you could set a theme like, “cost reduction calculator” to help build useful tools.
Here are some more starter topics for Spreadsheet Wars:
- Design a choose your own adventure story.
- Create a beat-box harmony using sound scripts.
- Compete to reproduce the best pixel art Mona Lisa.
- Build a tool that someone would pay at least $5 to use.
- Make a recipe generator.
Spreadsheets are powerful tools and most people have only scratched the surface of formulas and other features. By playing games like Spreadsheet Wars you can help upgrade these skills and have fun while doing it.
24. Flight of the Navigator (Nostalgic)
Flight of the Navigator is one of the better movies that came out of 1986, and today plays double duty in the realm of online team building games.
For this activity, start by watching the movie, which you can find on Amazon or Disney. Each time something “totally 80s” happens in the movie, like you spot a solid mullet or some rad headbands, take a drink. Your drink can be coffee, tea, water, or anything you like.
Flight of the Navigator isn’t really the point, so you could use other movies too. The goal is to have a common element that you can play some fun virtual games around.
25. Learn the NATO Phonetic Alphabet (Skill Building)
Alfa, Tango, Foxtrot, is more than just a fun phrase that makes you feel more like a fighter pilot. It’s also representative of three code words of the NATO alphabet, and inspiration for one of the best remote team challenges you can do.
If you call anyone literally ever, then the NATO phonetic alphabet will help you have more clear and deliberate conversations. Instead of saying something like, “K as in Kyle” you can communicate in short-hand that is clear and readily understood.
For your team, you may not use the NATO alphabet together much. Still, the skill is fun to learn and when it does come up it will feel like a strong bonding element for your coworkers.
The 26 code words in the NATO phonetic alphabet are assigned to the 26 letters of the English alphabet as follows:
Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
BTW, I call this the “Top Gun Alphabet”, which is wrong but fun.
26. DIY Craft Challenge (Build Together)
The DIY Craft Challenge is a 30 minute surprise activity you can play with your team. To play, each person has half an hour to build something from materials available at home.
For example, a guy in my grade 8 class combined an old school egg beater with a fork to make an ultimate spaghetti twirling machine. You could make pasta art, an epic pillow fort or doodle a poetic harmony.
The goal isn’t to build something museum-worthy; it is to spark creativity and give your team a fun way to interact together.
27. Make Video Recaps of In-Person Events (High Impact!)
With remote teams especially, it’s a good idea to provide your team with regular updates about the impact their work is having. This messaging doesn’t have to be for direct impact, as long as it is related and true.
You want to remind your team “Oh yeah, this is why I do this” as much as possible. Without these reminders, morale can drop and team members can become disillusioned. An easy way to keep morale high is to record videos of any in-person, company-related activities.
For example, a few of our team members recently hosted a booth at an industry trade show, and our founder, Nick Gray, recorded a three-minute video recap of the experience for the entire team.
These videos don’t have to be long or well-produced. Whether it’s a trade show recap, a post-call debrief with an important client, or just a Monday morning pep talk, videos are a quick and effective way to keep morale high and demonstrate to your team you want to keep them in the loop.
Bonus: Here is a great video from Help Scout that demonstrates how video can replace weekly meetings.
28. Donut Calls (💯 Essential)
Since remote coworkers don’t have opportunities to randomly chit-chat at the water cooler, you have to be a little more deliberate in creating these virtual team building opportunities instead.
That’s where Donut comes in!
Donut is a Slack extension that automatically pairs your colleagues up, and then they can plan a 30 minute video call together.
At Museum Hack, we have a soft rule that work should not be discussed during Donut calls, this is really just a chance for team members to get to know each other.
And since the Slack extension is automatic, this is a really lightweight way to incorporate team building into your remote company.
29. Icebreaker Questions (5 Minute Activity 🕐)
Icebreaker questions are simple prompts that allow you to get to know your peers better. For example, you can start a remote meeting by having each attendee share their name, role and what they like to eat for breakfast.
Icebreakers are easy to include in virtual meetings and virtual happy hours.
A few tips for running great icebreakers:
- Start with “green level” easy icebreaker questions. Some of your team member will be nervous to share, and so you can start with simple questions like “dream vacation” or “cats vs dogs?”
- Before any person shares an answer, announce who the next few people to share will be. This process helps create order and is especially important for online meetings where you don’t have as many visual cues.
- Go first. You can be the first to share as an example to others. By starting, you give your team members a little longer to think about answers, and also model what a great answer can be.
- Keep it short. We recommend no more than 30 seconds per person.
30. Five Finger Showdown (Great for Large Groups)
Five finger showdown is a gem on a list of virtual team building activities, and a perfect icebreaker for large groups. For this game, everyone on your virtual conference call holds up one hand with five fingers extended. Then, either the host alone, or team members taking turns list of specific and unsuaul life experiences. For example, you could say, “has visited a beach this year” or “speaks more than one language.”
Here are some more fun prompts:
- Adopted a dog
- Ate ice cream in the last 24 hours
- Knows all the words to O Canada
- Visited three countries
- Knit something wearable
- Made pizza from scratch
- Can say thank you in at least five language
If a team member has the mentioned life experience then they can put one finger down. Either the player that puts all fingers down first wins, or if you want a twist then the last player with fingers remaining up wins instead.
31. Virtual Book Club
Kindle readers unite! A virtual book club is an opportunity to connect with like-minded people on your remote team. Like real world book clubs, the basic function is to organize members around reading the same material at a similar pace and to discuss thoughts and feelings about it.
We recommend you start with a novelette or even just an essay. The goal is for the material to be short enough that you can read the entire thing in one or two sessions. This duration is great for testing commitment to the book club and deciding whether you should do something larger and longer.
Then, when you are ready, check out this list of books.
32. Live Remote Coworking
Since your team is distributed around the world, it’s likely not possible for everyone to meet up at a coworking space. And while working from home has many perks, it’s not always easy to tap into the implicit motivation and social accountability that comes from working together in person with your team.
No need to worry! Remote coworking is a real thing, and it might help your team be more productive. To set up a session for your team, simply create a Slack channel called #coworking. The first person who’s online for the day can create a video call that’s open for anyone to join, with the understanding that the purpose of the channel and call is to get work done.
Note: If no one else is online or in the #coworking channel, you could always use a tool like Focusmate to find someone to work with.
33. Remote Team Dinner (Fun for Foodies)
One of the nice things about going into an office is the social outlet of being in rooms with other people. For example, you can say hi in the morning, have lunch together, or go for drinks or a meal after work.
For remote teams, even if you are oceans apart, day after day, you can still garner some of these social benefits. You may just have to work a little harder.
Have your team members prepare any meal, and then connect for a virtual call while you eat and chat. You can suggest ice breakers or games to keep the conversation going. Having low-key connection time like this is a good way to relax and bond without focusing too much on work or team building.
34. Recipe Roundup
In the last few months, sales of dumpling making ingredients in China have skyrocketed; people are cooking and eating at home more often. This love for cooking and eating is generally popular worldwide.
Invite your remote team to participate in a recipe roundup, which could have themes like “that one thing your grandma makes better than everyone else” and “rad cookie recipes.” Assemble the recipes in a Slack channel or a simple WordPress install, and if you like you can do a challenge where participants prepare the other recipes and post photos.
While these team activities are mostly meant to be fun, there is also a strong element of communication. 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.
35. Virtual Trash Challenge (Productivity Booster)
You may have seen the trash challenge trending on Reddit or Twitter, but you probably have not seen the digital “work from home” version.
In real life, the challenge involves taking a picture of a trashy park, beach or other public place, then cleaning it up and taking an after-photo of the clean space and all the bags of garbage.
The online team version of trash challenge has the same mechanics. Take a before screenshot of your desktop, then delete all the files you no longer use and empty the trash. Finally, take a screenshot to show your progress and share it with your team.
The participant with the cleanest desktop wins sanity and productivity for the week.
A Few “Must Know” Virtual Team Building Tips to Try With Your Remote Team
Team building online isn’t quite the same as with a team at the office. With virtual team building, consider the following tips for maximum benefit. You may also want to consider how to 10x your team.
1. Include the Introverts
In an office setting, even the introverts may participate because of the sheer pressure of physical presence. With virtual teams, it is too easy to scroll off into the “cute pictures of cats” part of the internet and avoid meaningful participation.
To make sure everyone participates in your team activities, use mechanics like breakout rooms for small group dynamics during your virtual meetings, and icebreaker questions so everyone has a chance to share.
2. Follow the 2.5x Rule
Basically, do 2.5x as many virtual team building activities as you do local team building. For example, if you dedicated five minutes at the beginning of office meetings to icebreakers then your virtual meeting equivalent is 12.5 minutes. If you organized one company offsite each quarter, then you should organize at least two and maybe three virtual off-sites in that same time period.
3. Make Virtual Team Building Part of Every Meeting
In an office setting, you may be able to get away with just jumping into the business part of your meeting. With virtual meetings on Zoom, Webex and other platforms, we recommend including team building elements each time. You could play a quick game of Online Bingo, or do a mini scavenger hunt. Many of the activities on this page will help!
4. Send Packages in the Mail
Remember when we were little, and fun stuff sometimes came by mail? Now it’s mostly grocery junk-mail and bank statements. You can give your remote team members a boost of nostalgic dopamine by sending fun packages in the mail. For example, snack packs, tech gadgets, cute socks and other items.
5. Find Opportunities for Real World Meetings
We are a 100% remote team that also runs local experiences. Our team members in large cities sometimes have opportunities to meet and hangout, but for the entire team these opportunities are few and far between. When we have projects or big meetings, we sometimes fly team members in, and we also plan company retreats. For example, we did a company cruise of the Caribbean that was equal parts business planning and fun.
Here are some more tips for remote team building.
More Resources to Power-up Your Virtual Team Building
The following tools and resources will help promote successful virtual team building.
Virtual Meeting Software
You can use these software tools for video conferencing and telecommuting.
- Zoom – Maybe the gold standard in video conferencing software, and our favorite for virtual team building because of the breakout rooms feature.
- Microsoft Teams – Robust security settings.
- Google Meet – Easy to access with just a URL.
- Webex – Powerful platform with enterprise features.
- Jitsi – Open source and secure.
- Jami – Peer to peer technology and highly secure.
- Lifesize – High quality video.
- Skype – The original video conferencing platform, with the advantage of familiarity.
- Talky – Very simple option.
- Whereby – Works directly from your browser.
Learn more about conference call applications.
Tools for Teamwork and Collaboration
The following tools will allow your team to work together while working remotely.
- Slack – Popular asynchronous messaging tool for teams.
- Trello – Boards organized into columns and cards. Perfect for project management.
- Google Docs – We rely heavily on Google Sheets for tracking team goals and progress.
- Zoho Docs – Alternative to Google Docs.
- Ziteboard – Virtual team whiteboard for real-time collaboration.
You can also look into how to use Instagram for team building.
Here are additional resources to continue learning.
- How to Manage a Remote Team – Guide by Zapier CEO, Wade Foster, on how to manage a remote team.
- 16 secrets of engaging remote meetings – Miro’s tips and ideas for running successful virtual meetings.
- How to Get People to Actually Participate in Virtual Meetings – Guide on Harvard Business Review about how to encourage virtual meeting participation. Includes the “5-minute rule”.
- ‘Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens. – National Geographic’s resource on how to understand your remote team’s interaction with Zoom.
- The ultimate guide to remote meetings in 2020 – Slack’s guide to running successful remote meetings.
There is definitely a lot more on virtual team building out there too!
FAQ: Virtual Team Building
Here are some of the common questions we see about virtual team building.
What is virtual team building?
Virtual team building is the act of building stronger relationships between remote workers. Like team building in the real world, the virtual counterpart focuses on improving skills like communication and collaboration, while also promoting friendships and alignment. You can work with a third party on these efforts, or DIY by adding games and activities to your team calls.
Why is virtual team building important?
Remote work can be lonely, disengaged and unproductive; or the complete opposite. What makes virtual team building important is that it is the catalyst to the more positive outcome. Organizations that invest in virtual team building have work-forces that are more creative, communicative and productive; which is a huge competitive advantage.
What are the benefits of virtual team building?
The benefits of virtual team building include:
- Improved team collaboration.
- Better internal communication.
- Increased job satisfaction.
- Measurable increase in retention.
- Happy remote workers.
- Productive remote teams.
- Build team culture.
- Improve your company’s reputation.
- Give your people something to tell their honey bunches about.
- Improved relationships between managers and direct reports.
There are more benefits too!
What are virtual team building activities?
Virtual team building activities are games, challenges and exercises you can do with remote employees to help build stronger bonds. For example, Virtual Team Trivia is a fun exercise, and so is Online Team Building Bingo.
What are online team building games?
Online team building games are games that are specifically meant to boost employee engagement, morale and connection. You can play these games over video conference calls, video games, or even games you play via email, Slack and other platforms.
How do you make a virtual meeting fun?
One way to make a virtual meeting fun is to include elements like icebreaker questions and group photos. A rule of thumb is to make these activities quick and easy for remote workers to participate in; it’s not meant to be stressful or a skill challenge.
How do you build team morale remotely?
In addition to strong leadership, one of the most effective ways to build team morale remotely is to do games and activities together. For example, virtual trivia, online bingo and icebreaker questions are all popular options.
How do you engage a virtual team?
To engage a virtual team you can follow many of the same principles that apply to engagement at the office. For example, ask your people questions, do phone calls, and participate in team building activities. Another way to boost engagement for remote workers is to schedule calls between colleagues where the only rule is “no talk about work projects.” These calls help build relationships and friendships between coworkers, which leads to more engaged remote teams.
How do you bond with a remote team?
Spend QTT together, which stands for Quality Team Time. If all your remote colleagues do together is work projects, then that is all they are going to know they have in common. Instead, plan activities and conversations that allow team members to learn more about each other personally. When people learn they have common interests outside of work, like travel, pets, music and more, they form deeper bonds.
How do you make a team call fun?
One of the best ways to make a team call fun is to include breakout sessions. If the main call has 30 people on it then you can schedule breakout rooms with four or five people. The advantage of these smaller conversations is more people will have the opportunity to speak and share their ideas.
How do you make virtual meetings fun?
An easy way to make virtual meetings fun is to include icebreaker questions or games. For example, you could do a quick prompt like “which Disney character would you most like to be your BFF?” or play a quick round of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
What is the purpose of a virtual team?
The purpose of a virtual team is to accomplish a goal, virtual or otherwise. In some cases a virtual team will pursue a business purpose like profit generation, while other virtual teams may have a mission based or community purpose.
What is a virtual activity?
A virtual activity is any activity that you can do online as part of a team or otherwise. For example, virtual activities include Spreadsheet Wars, Werewolf and Dance Parties. Some virtual activities are nearly identical to real-world counterparts, while others are unique to the virtual format.
How do you create a team remotely?
One way to create a team remotely is to do fun and engaging activities together. By giving your remote workers time to connect with each other you create organic opportunities to build meaningful relationships.