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 virtual team building activities are much different than in-person team building. With virtual teams, you have to take a different approach to building your company culture and employee engagement.
So, we made this list of fun virtual team building activities for remote teams. The list includes:
- Virtual Team Building Activities
- Virtual Team Building Games
- Virtual Team Building Challenges
- Virtual Team Building Ideas & Exercises
- More Virtual Team Building Activities
- FAQ on Virtual Team Building
For this post, we’ve included 54+ of our favorite fun virtual team building ideas. We’ve scoured the internet for remote team building activities, online team building games, virtual happy hour games, and other virtual activities. All of these online team building activities are easy to implement on virtual conference calls like Zoom and Webex, and some are completely free.
Pro tip: Press “Command + D” to bookmark this list – we update it often.
Virtual Team Building Activities
The following is a list of virtual team building activities for remote teams and employees. You will also find remote team activities and work from home activities.
1. Online Office Games with teambuilding.com
Facilitating virtual team building has unique challenges, and so you may want to have another company do it for you. Our sister company, TeamBuilding, is a 100% remote organization that offers virtual team building activities and online team building games as a service.
Here are some examples of the remote team building activities available. First, Online Office Games, which is a series of virtual team building games/activities like typing-speed races, spreadsheet pixel-art and print-paper origami. You can also do remote employee engagement activities like storytelling workshops, virtual improv games, and training like “How to Manage Remote Teams” to learn best practices for communication, running meetings and giving feedback.
Follow this link to learn more about the virtual team building activities.
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 each person on your team a small package with materials like s’more ingredients, a small candle, and matches. Receiving a package in the mail is awesome and your people will appreciate it. This event creates unique shared memories, good vibes and strong virtual employee engagement at your organization.
Get started with your tiny campfire here.
3. Remote Storytelling Workshops & Training
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.
Storytelling is a useful skill for a wide variety of roles, from marketers to sales reps, to HR, managers, leaders and more. These training workshops will empower your staff to higher levels of productivity and performance, and even give you remote team meeting ideas for your organization.
Read more about Museum Hack’s Online Storytelling Workshops.
4. Tea vs Coffee: Live Virtual Coffee + Tea Tasting Class
Built specifically for remote teams, Tea vs Coffee facilitates an exotic coffee and tea tasting experience with real beverages. A week or so before your event, the company sends each of your employees a care pack with a mix of four specialty teas, coffees and infusions. Each envelope is marked as “do not open” to save the big surprise for the day of the event.
On tasting day, your team logs into a virtual video-cafe, where the friendly barista will share stories, run virtual team building games/activities and lead a tasting ceremony for the tea and coffee. The event is fun, educational, and global minded. All teas and coffees are sustainably sourced from farms with Fair Trade practices.
Learn more about Tea vs Coffee.
5. Spreadsheet Pixel Art
While most virtual teams are intimately familiar with Google Sheets, relatively few think of them as remote employee engagement activities. 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.
Essentially, Spreadsheet Pixel Art is when you add a little code to Sheets that will automatically replace numbers with a color fill for that cell. You can then use these colored cells to “paint the numbers” and create pictures of animals, landscapes and similar. For virtual team building activities, you can do a short-term or long-term competition to see who on your remote team produces the best work of art.
Here is a free template for Spreadsheet Pixel Art.
Bonus: If you comment on this post with your thoughts on virtual team building and include the hashtag #teambuilding we will send you another free Spreadsheet Pixel Art template.
6. MTV Cribs: Remote Team Edition
Throwback to the ’90s!
Because remote teams are distributed around the world, there’s a chance your team members might never meet face-to-face. However, that reality doesn’t mean they can’t open up their homes to one another and participate in some MTV style remote employee engagement activities.
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.
It makes for both an interesting look into the personal lives of your co-workers and is also a hilarious way to get to know your entire virtual team better.
7. Online Team Building Bingo
Online Team Building Bingo is a fun game you can play to engage remote workers. You start with a virtual 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.”
Bingo is a classic game that most people are familiar with, and the version for remote teams is a quick, easy and free way to get started with virtual team building.
Here is a remote work bingo template you can use for your first game:
Other names for bingo for remote employees include virtual team building bingo and work from home bingo. Whatever you call it, online bingo is great for virtual employee engagement.
8. petri: Online Social Engagement Platform for Remote Teams
petri is an online social engagement platform for remote teams. Each week, petri schedules a variety of virtual team activities, online team building games, virtual happy hour ideas and fun virtual meetings. Each experience is led by an engaging host that makes sure all guests can participate and make connections in a way that feels good to them. Example events include pub trivia, guided meditation, language classes, coffee hangs, beat-box harmony and more. The goal is to give your people a fun and relaxing way to connect with remote work peers.
One of the major benefits of petri is that scheduling is off your hands. With virtual events already on the calendar, you don’t have to worry about time-zones, who may or may not attend and what everyone is interested in. Instead, team members can self-organize and choose activities that work with their interests and schedules. Your colleagues can join as a team to build stronger relationships or individually and meet new friends and business contacts.
Learn more about virtual team building with petri.
9. Icebreaker Questions for Virtual Team Building
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 a simple and effective way to build relationships with remote teams, and to increase the personal connections between your people.
Icebreakers are easy to integrate as virtual happy hour activities or alongside other virtual coffee break ideas.
A few tips and ideas for great icebreakers:
- Unless you know each other extremely well, 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 the answer to your icebreaker prompt, 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. As the meeting organizer or leader, you can ask the question and then 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.
Integrating icebreakers into your meeting is a free way to do virtual team building for remote teams. For specific questions to ask, check out our epic list of icebreaker questions for all the inspiration you need.
10. Origami Zoo
For upcoming remote team building activities, mail each of your team members a pack of origami paper, or have them cut squares from printer or notebook paper instead. Then, start building an origami zoo.
Each day or each week, the organizer can teach the team a new origami animal. For example, you make cranes, frogs, penguins, bears, and a host of others. Team members can place the origami animals on the work desk, and build up a replica zoo over a few weeks or months.
Here are some easy origami projects on Instructables.
11. Call of the Champions
One way to make virtual calls fun, and to increase virtual team engagement 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 than someone that doesn’t.
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. This role is perfect for online team games too.
- 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 the M&S’s job is to call it and get everyone back on track.
- Shade Thrower: Someone on your team is probably “that person”, who always plays devil’s advocate or similar. Empower your champ by assigning the role of Shade Thrower, which is essentially permission to politely boo others. This role is mostly for online team building 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, and the better the notes the better the record of the meeting.
Pro tip: Do a quick brainstorm and have the Scribe record virtual hangout ideas and suggestions for games to play virtually.
We named this remote team activity Call of the Champions as a fun way to recognize the heroic roles that participants play in making a virtual call fun.
12. Remote Team Dinner
One of the few nice things about going into an office is the basic social aspect 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.
Even if you are oceans apart, day after day, as a remote team, you can still garner some of these social benefits; you may just have to work a little harder for them.
One idea is to do virtual dinners with your team, and include some fun remote team building activities too. If you are a team of foodies, you may challenge everyone to prepare a variation of the same dish. For example: build your own sushi or pasta. Choosing dishes with flexible ingredients will make it easier for your people to source materials and also create dishes that match their unique dietary preferences.
Otherwise, just have your team members prepare any meal, and then connect for a virtual call while you eat and chat. You can suggest virtual icebreaker questions or games to keep the conversation going, or really just chat. Having low-key connection time like this is a good way to relax and bond without focusing too much on work or team building.
13. Virtual Show & Tell
One place to find inspiration for remote team building activities and virtual hangout ideas is grade school. Teachers are experts at engagement and using individual activities to help support the overall mission: to help people level up a grade.
An example of a fun activity you can do both in a classroom and as part of a remote team meeting is Virtual Show & Tell. This virtual activity is quick, easy and entirely free to do. 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.
Virtual Show & Tell is a fun way to get to know your colleagues, and an easy way to increase participation and engagement in virtual meetings.
14. Virtual Pub Crawl
One way people get together in the real world in 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 for remote team building activities too.
Here is how the Virtual Pub Crawl works:
- 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
Virtual Team Building Games
The following are fun online team building games you can play with virtual teams. You will also find virtual happy hour games, virtual meeting games and other fun games to play on video conference calls.
15. “Can You Hear Me Now?”
More than just a sound check, Can You Hear Me Now is one of the best online games for virtual teams. 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 you can find online 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 that makes this task challenging is that you speaker must only use geometric shapes. For example, you could say “draw a large circle and then there equidistant triangles” but not “write the letter E.” By limiting instructions to geometric shapes and positions, 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.
16. 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?
With remote teams that work from home and are looking for virtual coffee break ideas, you can also play a quick online team building game like “Guess the Emoji Board.” Here is how you play:
- Create a list of players and distribute this 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 one of the quick games you can play virtually and will entertain your team for a quick amount of time. We recommend adding the game to an existing event or virtual call instead of making it the main event.
17. That’s Right Bob
That’s Right Bob is one of the quick online team building games you can play with remote workers who are interested in improv. The game simulates everyone on your team working at the same news station, and in particular one that has a wild and creative story to tell.
The first person to go shares a simple news story with no more than a sentence or two, “there was a cat up in the tree.” The next person states, “that’s right Rob”, repeats the original line and then adds to it, “there was a cat up in the tree, and it was having a very bad day.” Each person continues to add to the story in this way, until the story becomes unbearably long or the organizer calls for a commercial break.
That’s Right Bob is a unique way to engage your team, and helps people speak and share in a creative way that has structure and predictability to it. This format is also one of the easiest for games you can play virtually because it is sequential and has simple guidelines.
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 of your remote workers 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. After all of the special roles have taken action, the game master then 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 games because it fuels a lot of discussion. Your team will love it.
19. Exciting Sponge
Exciting sponge is a quick and easy storytelling game that you can use for remote team building. To play on virtual team calls, 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.” Exciting Sponge is to remote team building activities as regular sponges are to washing the dishes; not necessarily essential, but pretty darn useful.
20. Pub Trivia for Virtual Teams
Your team can’t go to the pub together, but they can still do pub trivia and similar virtual happy hour games. For these video conference games, invite everyone to a call and let them know they can bring 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 you can use.
21. Coworker Feud
Like the TV classic Family Feud, Coworker Feud is a digital version specifically for online team building for remote teams. One person, typically the host, does research on a variety of prompts. For example, you can aggregate numbers related to animals, human behavior, food preferences and the solar system. An alternative is that you can send a survey out to your team members and their families, and then use the answers from these surveys as your data source.
Then, on a virtual team call, you play the game following the same rules as the show. For example, a lead member of each team is the speaker and buzzer and can consult with their team on answers. The teams take turns guessing at the most common answers. At the end, the team with the most points wins.
22. Virtual Team Jeopardy
Jeopardy is more than just the second greatest game show in history, it is the perfect framework for virtual team building games/activities. Like some of the other online team games on this list, you can either find pre-built games or do the research to build your own. As you put your scoreboard together, remember to include fun elements like double jeopardy.
For virtual game day, let your team know you are going to be playing Jeopardy and that the purpose is for it to be remote team building. By setting these expectations everyone on your team will know what they are attending. You can upgrade the event with actual prizes you send out to winners.
23. 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 online team building version of this game with a “Rated E for Everyone” version. 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. The game works for remote team building because it is fun and interesting to see who is an exception to each topic, and is one of the easier virtual conference games you can play.
24. Things for Virtual Team Building
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 for virtual team building next time.”
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. This game is fun because it gives everyone a chance to share and learn more about how each other think.
Here is a longer guide on how to play Things.
25. Spreadsheet Wars
Spreadsheet Wars is a tiny virtual hackathon, where participants can show off their skills in Google Sheets and similar programs. You can play Spreadsheet Wars as an entirely free remote team building game, or add small prizes to help encourage participation and friendly competition.
To play Spreadsheet Wars, you choose a theme like “most advanced calculation” or “design mini games to play virtually”, 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.
- Cause a list of remote team building activities to sing and dance.
- Automatically sort lists of virtual coffee break ideas.
- Send an email to your boss with a list of fun virtual games.
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.
26. Pancakes vs Waffles
Pancakes vs Waffles is one of the video conference games your people will love, 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 of the delicious breakfast foods 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.
27. Flight of the Navigator
Flight of the Navigator is one of the better movies that came out of 1986, and today plays double duty in the realm of virtual happy hour activities.
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.
Virtual Team Building Challenges
Here are virtual team building challenges you can complete to help boost virtual employee engagement. These activities are sometimes called “work from home challenges” or “remote team challenges” too.
28. Learn the NATO phonetic alphabet
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.
29. DIY Craft Challenge
The DIY Craft Challenge is a 30 minute surprise activity you can play with your team. To do this series of online team challenges, you bring everyone on a virtual conference call, share the rules and then start a 30 minute timer. Each person has half an hour to build something from materials available at home. Repeat on each virtual meeting for ongoing fun.
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, give your team a fun way to interact together, and boost your virtual employee engagement.
30. Typing Speed Race
Typing speed races are free virtual team building activities 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 fun virtual challenges 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 team building games together. It is also great skill building; typing speed is incredibly important for remote workers.
31. 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.
32. 3 Minutes of Push-ups
There are two types of people in the world:
- People who like doing push-ups.
- Everyone else.
Regardless of how your remote team members feel about push-ups, one thing remains true: it is an excellent full body exercise for getting a little stronger. Another advantage of push-ups is that you can do them nearly anywhere, including at home without any special equipment. These criteria are strong indicators of the best virtual team building challenges.
For the three minute push-up challenge, start a timer or turn on a song like Eye of the Tiger. Then, do as many push-ups as you can in three minutes and post your score. Rinse and repeat with a goal of eventually getting to 100 within the time limit.
You will likely find that some people competing in the push-up challenge drop off or stop updating scores, which is totally okay! Encourage people to stay in the competition as long as they can, and rejoin when it feels good to them.
33. WiFi Warrior
WiFi Warrior is ostensibly one of the online team games about WiFi, but really it is just fun framing for a productivity improving activity your remote team can do together.
Basically, most people do not have perfect WiFi connections, and instead rely on mostly fast and mostly stable connections. You can teach your team some of the basics, like channel optimization to reduce signal interference, and the infamous “turn it off, turn it on” technique to reboot the system.
The framing of this game as WiFi Warrior is simple; just award points for completing each task. You can also extend the tech improvements to cleaning up desktop files, removing browser extensions and other computer speed improvements.
34. Hydration Nation
In addition to games you can play virtually for fun, you can also play games that encourage healthy habits. For example, Hydration Nation is a way for participants to drink more water throughout the day.
If you want to do a short trial of Hydration Nation then use it to friendly-haze some of your team members. Grab an accomplice or two before the video call, and have them watch a third party for each time that person takes a sip of a drink. When that person drinks, so does everyone on your crew in sync. The game is to see who notices what you are doing and when.
35. Slack Channel Cleanup
Slack Channel Cleanup is one of the most productive virtual team building challenges you can do to help get digitally organized on Slack or similar platforms. The reason for the game is simple: you probably have too many channels open and it is causing wear and tear on your remote work life.
Once each month, post a prompt that everyone should spend the next two minutes leaving channels that are no longer immediately relevant to them. You can optimize this process by copy and pasting “/leave” into any channel.
The player that leaves the most channels wins both the game, as well as the work week.
36. Virtual Trash Challenge
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.
37. Caricature Competition
Most people on your team probably don’t draw particularly well, which is what makes this virtual team building activity fun. For the event, arrange your people into small groups of two or three people. Give each team 15 minutes for each person on the team to draw one other person on their team. At the end of the 15 minutes, bring everyone into a main virtual meeting and play a guessing game for which drawing is who.
Virtual Team Building Ideas & Exercises
The following is a list of virtual team building ideas and exercises you can do with remote teams. You will also find virtual happy hour ideas, virtual coffee break ideas, virtual employee engagement ideas and more.
38. Quarterly Christmas
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 one of the most effective virtual employee engagement ideas 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.
39. Strong Teams ✊
Strong Teams runs group fitness classes for remote teams. The classes are specifically designed to support health and fitness while working from home. Each session is 45 minutes, and includes stretching and activities like pilates, core work and postural exercises. No special equipment required.
Strong Teams working with an “instant book” format, which means you can choose and pay for a number of virtual activities. After that, a Strong Teams organizer will contact you to schedule your events. Strong Teams is perfect for remote team building and improving virtual team engagement. International clients welcome.
Learn more about Strong Teams groups fitness classes for remote teams.
40. A Slack Channel To Post Cute Pictures of Pets
This one is a company favorite.
In March we made a Slack channel called #pets-of-museum-hack where we post pictures of our pets making funny faces and doing hilarious things.
This is a really simple channel and it takes very little effort/maintenance, 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.
Here are some of our favorite pictures to date:
41. Make Video Recaps of In-Person Events
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: for example, a web developer might not have any involvement in the design of a trade show booth, but everyone in the company has contributed to keep all aspects of your organization working properly to make attending the trade show possible.
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 CEO Nick Gray recorded a three-minute video recap of the experience for the entire team. This effort takes a real world experience and develops it into meaningful virtual team building.
Since your team is remote, they’re not always going to be able to see the real-world impact their work is having. Recording videos of in-person activities and events are great ways to keep the team connected to your company’s mission. These videos don’t even 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, easy, and effective way to keep morale high and demonstrate to your team you want to keep them in the loop.
Bonus: during our research for this post, we came across another great video from Help Scout that demonstrates how video can replace weekly meetings. Not only is this medium an efficient way to deliver information, people are likely to enjoy it and absorb what is communicated.
42. Renegade Garden Collective
In college I discovered the life changing magic of planting leftover fruit seeds. I would plant apple seeds, watermelon, avocado and mango. The mango always died, but the rest brought me a surprising amount of joy every time a sprout popped up.
You can channel that joy into effective virtual team building. For a one-month competition, have your team members plant and cultivate a “scrappy garden” from scratch. The competitors can sow seeds from fruit snacks, propagate vegetables and otherwise do what it takes to grow a garden. By the end of the month, two things happen. First, you see who has got mad gardening skills, and second, you’ve made participants desks a little greener.
43. Donut Calls
Even at a remote company, each member of your team can truly benefit from getting to know their co-workers. But since there aren’t opportunities for your team to randomly chit-chat at the water cooler, you have to be a little more deliberate in creating these virtual team building opportunities and virtual coffee break ideas instead.
That’s where Donut comes in!
Donut is a Slack extension that, once a week, automatically pairs everyone in your company up for a non-work-related 1-on-1 call. These are fun calls that give an opportunity for remote employees to get to know people they normally wouldn’t be working with on a daily basis. Generally these calls run anywhere from 15-30 minutes, and lots of fun is had.
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. If you aren’t sure where to start with your calls then try a prompt with icebreaker questions.
Note: You can also change the frequency with which Donut pairs people up for calls, anywhere from 1-4 weeks. For more information on incorporating Donut calls into your team’s culture, here’s a link to the Donut Slack extension and their website.
44. Yoga Norman Neck Stretches
One of the challenges of working from home is that you tend to spend a lot more time on the computer. Instead of commuting to the office, you wake up to phone notifications and roll out of bed and to the computer when one of the messages is important enough to require immediate action. Instead of a lunch break with colleagues, you eat a quick salad or smoothie at your desk.
All of this computer work can lead to poor posture, hunched shoulders, and tense neck muscles. Healthy remote teams are significantly more productive than exhausted counterparts, so schedule time for health and healing as part of your upcoming virtual team building activities.
Here is one example. Yoga Norman is a mindful pro that will lead your group through a series of muscle-relaxing movements. These movements are very intentional for releasing the tension that builds up in the neck and shoulders of remote workers.
Pro tip: The video gets good around the three minute mark.
To take this from good health habits for remote workers to “this is pretty darn good remote team building”, do two things:
- Schedule a recurring time your team can do the Yoga Norman session each day, or at least a few times each week.
- Add a quick gratitude icebreaker at the beginning of each session. Each team member has up to 30 seconds to share what they are grateful for that day, which could be as simple as waking up to a sunny day or as complex as a generally optimistic predisposition to world events.
Even if you just do solo Yoga Norman sessions, your body will thank you; and strong team members make for strong teams!
45. Remote Tai Chi
Similar to the benefits of doing neck stretches, tai chi is a light and effective exercise that will help limber up your bodies as you settle into remote work. One of the major advantages of tai chi is that it is a series of gentle movements that is accessible to many people. You don’t have to contort your body into difficult poses or life heavy things, you just have to feel your energy and the air and move with it.
Tai chi, practices regularly, can be a great way to get your blood flowing. One way to create more of a virtual team building experience around this exercise is to make it an ongoing competition. Each team member tracks how many days in a row they complete the exercise, and the longest chain wins a small prize. You can also do a squad version where you set the competition for 30 days, and see which team does the most tai chi sessions in total. This second option can help bring out the spirit of more competitive team members.
46. Virtual Museum Tours
We f***ing love museums, and have been leading team building experiences at museums throughout the US for years. If you can’t make it to the museum with a remote team, then consider a virtual tour instead, maybe as one of your upcoming virtual happy hour ideas.
Some of the most prestigious institutions in the world put collections online for you to view, including:
You can make your virtual museum tour into a virtual team building event by joining the experience together, adding a team cheer at the beginning and end, and taking fun photos of your people. You can also play fun virtual games like Matchmaker Matchmaker. For the team cheer, put your hands “in the middle” like a sports team does, and go down in “mu-” and up on “-seum.” This chant is a quick way to raise the energy in the room.
47. Online Team Building Lunch & Learn
A simple way to start with online team building is to get your remote workers together on a call, and invite an expert to lead the session. You can find people to speak about topics like science, history, health and wellness, productivity, how to work from home, and more. You can expect most of these virtual team building sessions to be about 60 minutes, and you typically schedule them at meal times and encourage your team to eat during it. If you have the budget then you can also cover the bill for your team members to order food.
One tip to generate a list of the best virtual hangout ideas is to shortlist three experts, and then ask your team which topic they most want to learn about. If you have a team of five or more people then you likely won’t have consensus, but you can either do “majority rules” or have some mechanism for resolving the choice. For example, you could say “the person with the longest hair” gets to choose first, or play a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.
48. Karaoke for Remote Workers
If you’ve tried singing or keeping any kind of harmony over a Zoom room or Google Hangout or other video conference call then you’ve likely learned that it is pretty darn difficult. The subtle delays in video conference calls with lag in audio and video tends to lead to musical chaos more than it leads to musical bliss.
Instead, there are two ways you can do karaoke with remote teams:
- Assign a song to each person or let them choose their own. Everyone records an individual karaoke session singing the best they can. After, each person sends the clip to the karaoke organizer, who then runs a virtual award ceremony that includes showing the best songs and awarding prizes.
- Another way to do virtual karaoke is to do a mashup harmony. Each team member sings the same song and records the session. Then, a video-editing master mashes the clips together into one song. This video is something you can watch together, share on social media, or give to your remote employees for them to share with family and friends.
Pro tip: If not everyone on your team is comfortable with the idea of recording a solo-karaoke then option two is a better choice.
Here are some songs that work really well for virtual karaoke harmonies:
- Ben E. King – Stand by Me
- Bill Withers – Lean on Me
- Neil Diamond – Sweet Caroline
- The Beatles – Hey Jude
- Billy Joel – Uptown Girl
You can add some of your own favorites into the mix too!
49. Virtual Dance Party
One of the quickest and easiest virtual team building exercises for remote teams is the Virtual Dance Party. You can either host your virtual dance as a standalone event or add it as a quick three-minute session during a scheduled team call or virtual happy hour.
Our preference is to do the three-minute version, which fits nicely into virtual coffee breaks too, and have the music playing when your team members login to a call. If you choose an upbeat song then you can start the meeting with high energy which will help boost employee engagement throughout. You can also add a short dance break later in the video conference call to bring the energy back up.
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:
- Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still
- Taylor Swift – Shake it Off
- Rihanna – Work
- Kenny Loggins – Footloose
- Hall & Oates – You Make My Dreams Come True
- Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance with Somebody
- The Beatles – Twist and Shout
- Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go Go
- Snap! – Rhythm is a Dancer
FYI, another advantage of starting video conference calls with a quick dance party is virtual team members can join in instead of making chit-chat or surfing away.
50. Virtual Happy Hour
One of the easiest ways to engage a virtual team and build team morale remotely is to ditch the usual agenda. Most virtual meetings are kind of boring, and so people attend these meetings expecting to disengage and surf off to other areas of the internet.
Instead of doing the same old thing remote teams expect, make your next virtual meeting fun by hosting a Virtual Happy Hour. Let your team members know they can each bring a beverage of choice, which doesn’t have to be alcohol. For the virtual call, include quick online team building games like icebreakers and use breakout rooms to have themed conversations. We recommend giving each of the breakout rooms prompts to start the conversation, to make sure the chat flows well. You can also suggest some fun virtual happy hour games and activities from this list.
51. 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.
A virtual book club has a few important guidelines you need to follow to run it successfully.
First, build in accountability. In the real world, if someone doesn’t read the book then they probably just don’t show up to the meeting. In virtual, folks may skip the reading and still show up for the social aspect. Create accountability for members to do the reading, for example peer pressure which could dictate that if one person doesn’t do the reading then the meeting doesn’t happen. This outcome may sound drastic, but it’s not an unrealistic parallel for completing important work projects as a team.
Second, choose short source material. You could 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.
52. Live Remote Coworking
Co-working spaces exist for a reason — they help people feel the social accountability of an office environment, and the smell of “get to work” fills the air. Among other things, working from a co-working space (or an office) is a constant physical reminder that you’re supposed to be working and helps you get into that flow.
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.
A few more options: everyone on the call could follow the same schedule using the Pomodoro Method — 25 minutes working followed by a 5 minute break. Being “in-sync” like this with other team members could help create a sense of camaraderie and motivation. You could also make a “coworking Tuesday” where everyone gets online together or make this channel completely optional. Finally, you can mix-up the co-working with co-playing and integrate some fun virtual team building games into the schedule.
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.
52. Host Virtual Social Events
Much like a “virtual happy hour” of a “virtual coffee break”, Virtual Social Events are dedicated time for your team to do something fun and casual together. Virtual socials are a broad category, and here are some ideas and activities you can use:
- Host a themed event. You can do a costume party, decade themed event like “wildly 80s” or similar.
- Traditional cocktail party. People like cocktail parties, and you can host one to help bring your people together.
- RPG night. You may think that Role Playing Games are for nerds, and you are right; but it turns out that everyone on your team can be little nerdy. Play Role Playing Games together as a way to break the ice.
You can upgrade your Virtual Social Events by inviting special guests too.
53. Virtual Pizza Party
A Virtual Pizza Party is just like a real-world pizza party but online. To execute on this event, either collect preferences for all your people and place the order, or have them order themselves. The key is to get the timing right so that everyone receives the pizza at about the same time. Then, you can enjoy a slice or two while doing pizza themed trivia or watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
54. Donate to causes that match your team values
A risk many remote teams face is having the company feel strictly as an online presence in the minds of your employees — i.e. once the laptop is closed or the phone is turned off, it doesn’t exist, or it’s easy to forget about. In other words, the impact your team is having can sometimes feel limited to Slack channels without a real-world presence.
One way to remind your employees of your remote company’s real-world presence is to donate to a cause that matches your team’s values. Donating to a company-chosen charity can make people feel proud to work for your organization and that their work is helping to make a difference in the world.
For example, Zapier helps to sponsor events in towns where their employees live. Even if the company can’t be there physically, they can still have an impact. And this impact can help give back to the world and leave their team members beaming with pride.
55. Play online team building games like trivia and quizzes.
When you share an office it’s easy to find moments to have little conversations where you get to learn about the people you work with. Those simple connections are a lot harder to do in a completely online environment. However, you can simulate the experience with the help of virtual team building games like online trivia and quizzes.
One example of online team building games to play on Webex, Zoom and other video conference platforms is “guess the icebreaker.” To play, you anonymously prompt team members with icebreaker questions and then once a week have participants guess who said what. The game is a really fun, simple and quick way to get to know each other within a remote team. You can play via Slack, email or other remote work platforms.
More Virtual Team Building Activities
There are a nearly endless number of virtual team building activities for remote teams. Here are resources with more virtual team building ideas:
- 55 Unique Virtual Team Building Activities for Remote Teams
- 28 Online Team Building Games for Remote Employees
Reminder: Press “Command + D” to bookmark this list – we update it often.
FAQ: Virtual Team Building Activities
Here are some of the common questions we see about remote team building and engagement activities for remote workers.
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 to do virtual team building, 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 workforces 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 stronger team cohesion, increased employee engagement, a boost to team morale, and improved communication. A benefit of doing team building online is that the activities are relatively quick compared to office or offsite equivalents.
What are virtual team building activities?
Virtual team building activities are games, challenges and exercises you can do with remote workers to help build stronger bonds. For example, Virtual Team Trivia is a fun remote team building 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. Online team building games can be games your team plays over video conference calls, video games, or even games you play via email, Slack and other platforms.
How are virtual team building, online team building and remote team building related?
Virtual, online and remote team building are closely related and have some subtle difference. For example, your team may do online team building activities locally without working remotely. Similarly, “virtual” suggests some technology element like video conferences, while remote could conceivably be completed without technology.
What makes virtual team building activities work in 2020?
There are at least three efforts that make virtual team building activities work in 2020. First, finding unique, engaging activities for your team to participate in. The second element is continuing to invest in virtual team building throughout the year, and finally you need to be intentional about the process. Intentional team building means setting aside time for it even when you have other priorities and demands for your attention.
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 virtual team building activities and online team building games. You can work with a third party services like teambuilding.com, Tea vs Coffee, tiny campfire or Museum Hack. You can also do free remote team building activities like virtual trivia and other online games.
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?
To bond with a remote team, spend QTT together, which stands for Quality Team Time. If all your remote workers 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, which is a way to increase the “fun factor” and engagement in the meeting.
How do you make virtual meetings fun?
An easy to 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 virtual team building activities. By giving your remote workers time to engage in a person and fun way you create organic opportunities to build meaningful relationships and teams.