With over a third of US workers reporting they want to remain fully remote, it’s no wonder business leaders across the country are devising ways to continue work from afar.1 Yet challenges persist for remote work – how can leaders keep their teams engaged in home offices? Team chemistry is crucial for working as a cohesive unit, so how can leaders promote it among remote workers who rarely (if ever) meet face to face? It’s not as hard as you’d think! In this article, we’ll cover ten different team-building activities you can use to keep your employees together while working apart.
What are the benefits of virtual team building?
Morale, productivity, workplace culture – team building activities have a positive impact on all of these and more, even when held virtually. They give employees a chance to work together on something outside of day-to-day responsibilities in an environment that fosters innovative thinking and collaboration. Opportunities to increase familiarity with one another also help team members build trust, making them a more cohesive, effective unit.
10 Virtual team building activities to encourage engagement
Team building activities can range from serious teamwork practice to whimsical, fun activities that increase familiarity. A virtual accountability group might help your team function more cohesively, while a virtual karaoke session offers an opportunity to have fun and break down barriers between team members. Consider what you want to accomplish when choosing your activity.
1. Plan a virtual scavenger hunt
A virtual scavenger hunt is an easy way to have fun as a team and learn a bit about each other. Build a list of items for team members to retrieve (a favorite household item, a pet, etc.) and challenge everyone to finish their list first. The point is not who wins (although some light-hearted competition is good for chemistry), but what team members retrieve for their list. The lists allow everyone to share about themselves and learn where they have similarities with each other.
2. Host a virtual employee wellness event
The working world can be hard on mental health, but shared experience can help bring your team together. A virtual employee wellness event offers everyone a chance to do exactly this. Virtual group meditation, yoga classes and therapy sessions are all effective ways to help your team come together over wellness.
3. Create virtual accountability groups
Virtual accountability groups can help your team support each other in bettering themselves. The idea is simple - have your team partner up or form small groups and pick a healthy habit (drinking more water, exercising, etc.). They then set goals which the accountability partners will help enforce. It’s a healthy way to promote teamwork, a shared sense of responsibility and general health.
4. Let loose with virtual karaoke
You don’t need a stage to do karaoke. Have your team collaborate on a playlist of songs and then spend a memorable hour or two figuring out who the company pop star is. Silliness aside, virtual karaoke is a great way to coax employees out of their shells and learn things about each other, like taste in music.
5. Play a round of remote trivia or Scattergories
The virtual office isn’t always the best place to share non-work-related knowledge. But how else can you find out who the history buffs are, or who spent their childhood traveling the Spanish countryside? Remote trivia, that’s how. Playing some form of trivia or Scattergories isn’t just fun, it’s a great way to learn about niche expertise your employees may have.
6. Start a virtual book club
A book club allows your team to share a good story while also learning more about the ways everyone thinks. Weekly discussions about the book can reveal thought processes and ideas that help everyone understand each other better and grow more comfortable voicing opinions.
7. Plan a game of virtual team building bingo
It’s a tried-and-true classic, and a perfect activity to help your team have fun and unwind together. Virtual bingo can also be customized to help your team learn more about each other alongside a bit of light-hearted competition. Fill in boxes with things like “has been to more than 3 countries” or “speaks a second language” to give your team a chance to share about themselves.
8. Visit a virtual escape room
You don’t have to physically go to an escape room to give your team a similar experience. Virtual escape rooms have grown in prevalence alongside the rising need for virtual team building created by remote work. And the idea is still the same – your team is given an opportunity to practice teamwork by solving puzzles together and “escaping” a virtual space. As with activities like trivia, escape rooms are also a great way to learn hidden talents and passions.
9. Learn more about one another with virtual icebreakers
You don’t need to organize a full activity to help break the ice between team members. Sometimes, the best way to increase comfort levels among your employees is to do something simple like ask questions. What’s a show you’re embarrassed about but can’t get enough of? What animal would you be if you could turn into one? These sorts of questions can be as silly or serious as you like, but they all help your team learn about each other and open the door to further conversation and connection.
10. Arrange a virtual coffee break
Coffee breaks are a tradition as old as time, and to this day there’s still nothing like a bit of caffeine and chit-chat to regrease the mental gears. Many of your employees are likely taking coffee breaks on their own already, so capitalize on that established behavior by organizing virtual coffee breaks for the whole team.
Remote work can feel like it builds up a wall between your team members over time, but with just a little initiative, you can help keep everyone engaged, connected and at their most productive. And the great thing about team building activities is you can get as creative as you want. If you have fun designing the activity, your team is more likely to have fun doing it. Learn more about ways to keep your employees engaged while working remote.
 “Remote Work Statistics & Facts for 2023,” https://teambuilding.com/blog/remote-work-statistics (accessed August 11, 2023).