Team building is crucial to a high-performing workforce, and even more so when you’re part of a remote work group. Whether your business is founded on using a remote workforce, an unexpected calamity has dispersed your employees out of the office, or even for an on-site team, virtual team-building activities provide a way for coworkers to connect and work better together. To get you started, we’re also bullet-pointing a list of 15 virtual team-building activities we find especially compelling.
- Why are virtual team-building activities important?
- The 15 best virtual team-building activities
- Software for virtual team-building activities
- Kaltura solutions for virtual team-building activities
- Final Thoughts
Why are virtual team-building activities important?
The importance of virtual team-building activities is nearly identical to having them in person. Team building activities, in general, are a great way to break the ice (i.e., create less awkwardness during meetings) and to improve team spirit and communication. However, under a variety of circumstances such as we mentioned above, going virtual might be your best or only option.
List of 15 best virtual team building activities
Ready to jump in with some virtual team-building activities? Here’s a list of some of our favorites –but you don’t just have to take our word for it. Let these online team-building activities serve as your recommendations and jumping-off points, and let yourself think outside the box. While icebreakers, for instance, are fairly standard, maybe some novelty is the real feature that can bring your team closer together. Feel free to explore, research, or even create your own, virtual team-building activities!
● Icebreakers and energizers
Icebreakers, (depending on their level of complexity), are some of the most well-known activities for promoting camaraderie in workplaces, events, and meetings. They generally take the form of short activities that can be done at the beginning of a meeting (or another virtual or physical event) to create quick, personal connections with your co-workers. Often, they’re simple prompts that allow one to get to know peers better.
Energizers on the other hand are quick, fun activities meant to liven up a group. They might occur at the beginning of an event or meeting, or at times during a longer event when the group may be getting sluggish and losing motivation (such as after a meal, or late in the day). The games may be similar to icebreakers, although they’re intended to facilitate enjoyment and engagement with the group rather than serving the purpose of getting to know others.
The best-known type of icebreaker are short, straightforward questions (“What is your favorite sandwich?“ or “Cats or dogs? “) that tell you something about a person and can be part of their 30-second introduction during a meeting. Examples of more advanced icebreakers and energizers include minigames like “Two Truths and a Lie”, virtual show and tell, riddles, “Animal Roundup” and many more. It’s a big topic area with a lot of options, so be sure to engage your own research and creativity to come up with ideas that stand out.
● Virtual escape rooms
Outside of (or sometimes during) the regular workday your group might be looking for a way to have some fun but also cooperate as a team. This is where virtual escape rooms shine as online team-building games. Usually set up as a browser-based game, virtual escape rooms took a few bounds forward during the 2020 pandemic when in-person escape rooms were closed. There are tons of examples, but in general, your team will need to apply problem-solving and teamwork to achieve a shared goal in a virtual environment.
● Virtual murder mysteries
Virtual murder mysteries share similar qualities to virtual escape rooms, or for that matter, the popular board game Clue. Your group applies problem-solving skills to figure out “whodunit?” either individually or as a team. There are a variety of game types out there to sample including historically accurate mysteries or fictionalized novelties like “Murder on Mars”. A good one should involve both suspense and fun! It’ll provide a remote team-building activity that’s anything but boring and predictable.
● Online office games
If you’re willing to put some time into planning online team-building activities and make a full event of it “Online Office Games” are an all-remote type of “Office Olympics” that include things like fast-paced trivia, communications challenges, typing speed races, and spreadsheet pixel-art. Devise your own event, or check the web for one of the virtual event companies that can set your games up for you.
● Virtual team building bingo
This is a fun activity for conference calls. It has a few variants, and you can either build a sheet yourself or look online for a template. The goal is to engage your team in either finding out how well they know their teammates or focusing on call content.
● Virtual Employee Wellness
On a somewhat more serious note, these types of virtual team-building activities make sure that remote workers are not neglecting their mental and physical health. The type of activity can vary, anywhere from a fitness challenge (make sure to keep it reasonable unless your staff is composed of athletes or similar!) to something less strenuous like mindfulness sessions to help remote workers relax and improve their work focus.
● DIY Craft Challenge
If you want to encourage creativity, typical DIY craft challenges give team members 30 minutes to build something using items available at home. Be sure to keep the challenge simple and set some ground rules, such as specifying a construction material or dictating an end goal. Above all, keep things light and encouraging, as some team members may not be naturally artsy.
● Accountability Groups
People tend to persevere and build good habits when working in groups. An accountability group, or even just partners, for people working toward the same goal, is designed to improve follow through–especially when the distractions and disengagement of remote working are a concern. This type of team building can be used in conjunction with other activities (such as health or fitness challenges) or set up to backstop project work or quotas.
● Holiday-Themed Activities
Acknowledge the outside world and add some flavor to remote team-building activities by incorporating upcoming seasonal holidays! You can use this idea to set up something as significant as a virtual holiday party or spruce up other virtual teambuilding activities with some holiday decorations and themes.
● Virtual Happy Hour
It’s the next best thing to meeting your coworkers for a drink in person. Everyone can prepare an adult beverage of their choice, hop on a video call and hang out for a bit. If it’s a concern for anyone, you can also go alcohol-free (it’s like virtual coffee). The main point is to give everyone a place to relax, chat, and get to know each other better. The personal connections will remind everyone that while they may be working in their own space, they’re still part of a wider team.
● Virtual Karaoke
This one is for the brave and bold, but if you’re relatively confident that singing with your remote co-workers will not be a disaster (or the disaster will be something you can all laugh about and bond over) then virtual karaoke could be a great virtual team activity. Remember this is the type of online activity for teammates to unwind and have fun together. All you need is a multiparticipant video call and, if you want to be fancy, some halfway-decent mics. Invite everyone to pick a song and its karaoke backing track online, and then everyone else on the call mutes when it’s someone’s turn to sing. Or if you like, you can even create a sing-along so everyone can join in!
● Learn the NATO Alphabet
This is a skill-building activity you can do with actual real-world usefulness! The NATO phonetic alphabet is the most widely used set of clear code words for communicating letters. It was developed for radio communication and telephony and first used by militaries (hence “NATO”), meaning if you ever make any type of work call it’s immediately useful for spelling out words or things like serial numbers. Also spelling out “Charlie, Alfa, Tango” can make you feel like a cool “Top Gun” pilot or an astronaut. In short, your team can bond over learning the 26 code words for the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet.
● Post Your Pets Channel
Everybody likes pets, or at least most people! This is a quick and easy way to get your remote team members interacting and bonding. It’s usually a snap for virtually any work-related messaging app that lets you post pictures and/or videos to create a dedicated “Pets” channel. Everyone can jump in and post pictures or videos of their pets doing hilarious things or being generally cute. These “work-sanctioned hangout channels” are low-effort but usually a big hit.
Werewolf is a popular party game, one that many people may also have played at summer camp, college, or a company retreat. It’s a relatively lengthy set of rules to explain, but the summary is that it’s based on careful listening, speaking, and voting–exactly the type of experience you can easily replicate in a virtual hangout. Players draw cards giving them the role of a werewolf, villager, medic, or seer: werewolves are there to devour other players, villagers can vote a werewolf out of the village, medics can save players, and seers try to spot the werewolves. Play goes on in rounds as the players, with the aid of a moderator or game referee, try to survive an eventful night. Each role requires a different type of strategy to meet its game goal! Here’s a YouTube encapsulation of the game rules.
● Virtual Trivia
Trivia as a virtual team-building activity works a lot like an in-person or online trivia game, it should just be optimized for online team-building. In the most general sense, virtual trivia events are usually 30 or 60-minute online team-building games held over video. It’s a facilitated trivia session (i.e., utilizing a moderator or referee who reads the questions) which you can hold over video. Depending on whether you want to manage the trivia content yourself or outsource to one of a few companies that design online experiences for remote-work teams, you can decide on your own theme or look for a package that your workplace will find appropriate and enjoy.
Software for virtual team-building activities
You will need the proper tools to implement online team-building activities –there’s a relatively cluttered field of free and subscription-based SaaS products for creating a custom, unified digital workspace. As we mentioned before, there are also several services whose business it is to craft custom virtual team-building activities, and you might want to explore those as well. Whichever way you choose to go, keep in mind these key needs:
- Video conferencing platforms: Conferencing platforms are something that tends to come up around this blog. Suffice it to say that your video platform is the foundation on which your virtual team building rests.
- Collaboration tools: This is a catchall for software and apps that enable work sharing, project management, scheduling, and communication (although not specifically chat or messaging apps)–if you have a quality platform, these types of tools may be bundled in. In short, how will your remote team be able to meet for a game, class, or activity if there’s no shared calendar to schedule it with?
- Communications apps: The chat and messaging functions. Whichever messaging app is the tool of choice for your work team, keep in mind some additional apps and add-ons can further improve team bonding and communication, particularly through gamification.
Kaltura solutions for virtual team building activities
The good news is Kaltura is here to help—we provide video solutions for every enterprise video need, across any industry. Our video products are suitable for implementation in many use cases, from virtual events and webinars to virtual team meetings. We enable any virtual team-building activities with industry-leading interactive features, from leaderboards to polls, breakout sessions, multimedia playlists, and interactive video. Kaltura can power any online video experience and has the features to help you realize any virtual team-building idea you can think of.
Virtual team-building activities are a great way to break the ice and improve team spirit and communication. There are many ideas to choose from—if nothing we’ve listed above strikes your fancy we hope at least we’ve provided a jumping-off point. Lastly, just be aware that your technology will need to be up to the task. Implementing your online team-building activities with an industry-leading video platform and a suite of collaboration capabilities will always put you on stronger footing!