Let’s just come right out and say it… nobody wants another boring Zoom meeting if they can avoid it! Conference calls are cringey, especially when there are awkward silences and random background noises.

However, it might be worth signing into a virtual meeting if you engage in fun team building for remote workers. According to the BBC, 73% of people miss socializing in person with their coworkers. Virtual team building is one way to get people out of the comfort of their home offices.

Do you need games or activities for your remote team? These virtual ideas are fun, simple to set up, and will help everyone feel bonded.

1. Jackbox Games

girl playing on her phone

What you need:

Jackbox has a ton of fun remote team building games you can buy for less than $20. Your team just needs access to their smartphones, and you’re good to go!

Tip: Break the ice with Quiplash, a fill-in-the-blank game that always yields plenty of laughs. You can then follow up with other favorites like Fibbage and Drawful.

2. Eat Lunch Together

eating lunch at your desk

What you need:

Surprise everyone by making your next Zoom meeting a virtual lunch! You can send a meal right to every employee’s door using DoorDash or Uber Eats.

Tip: Avoid places like McDonald’s or KFC. These fast food chains don’t have as many healthy choices for those with dietary restrictions. Instead, go with a restaurant that has a varied, nutritious menu so everyone can participate.

3. Guess the Baby Photo

toddler playing with toy camera

What you need:

  • Email
  • Baby photos

Before your next virtual meeting, ask your team to email their favorite baby photo. Your project leader or team manager can then share the photos on the screen, and everyone can take turns guessing who’s who.

Tip: It’s possible that some people on your team aren’t comfortable sharing, and that’s okay. Just make participation optional and let them still take part in the guessing.

4. Weekly Movie or Book Club

book club

What you need:

HBO Max, Netflix, Disney+, and Peacock… it’s easy to access thousands of movies and shows with the click of a button. Do you want to do a book club instead? Send everyone free audiobooks, or sign your team up for a Book of the Month membership.

Tip: Not everyone is going to love the latest horror, sci-fi, or romance release. Stick with genres that are usually enjoyable for everyone like comedies or adventures.

5. Virtual Meeting Bingo

virtual meeting bingo

What you need:

This isn’t your grandma’s bingo! Create custom bingo cards with various activities and hobbies. Some examples would be “ran a marathon,” “likes to garden,” or “plays basketball.” You will then have a leader call out the activity/hobby and the first person to complete the card wins.

Tip: When creating the bingo cards, be sure to vary the activities and hobbies. You want everyone to have a chance to check off a box.

6. Steps Challenge

steps challenge

What you need:

Remote work has only made us sit on our butts more. In fact, a 2020 study found that 40% of U.S. adults sit for more than 8 hours a day. Get everyone moving with a steps challenge! Apps like Social Steps or Outwalk make it competitive and fun.

Tip: Mail out custom pedometers as gifts to everyone ahead of time. It’s an easy way to keep track of steps if your employees forget their phone, or forget to log on to the app.

7. Coffee Chat

guy in remote meeting

What you need:

Kick off a Monday morning with a “coffee chat.” Everyone can show off their coffee mugs and talk about their weekends. Do you want to make it even more fun? Treat your team to complimentary Starbucks, or mail out custom coffee mugs as gifts.

Tip: Are there non-coffee drinkers on your team? Send them a delicious tea or hot chocolate mix they can make at home.

8. Show and Tell

cat in virtual meeting

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

Go back to your elementary school days with a game of “Show and Tell.” There are plenty of random things around the house that your employees will love to show off. Plus, if they go on a vacation they could have some cool souvenirs to share! Do this remote team building activity once a month.

Tip: Have your team ask follow-up questions after the employee is done presenting their item. This keeps them engaged and stops them from zoning out when someone’s talking.

9. Pancakes vs. Waffles

stack of delicious pancakes

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

You’ll see “pancakes vs. waffles” on any list of virtual team building activities. It’s an insanely easy, fun game that forces your remote employees to work together. The objective is to get everyone to agree on a choice between two different items. For example, would you rather only eat pancakes or waffles for the rest of your life?

Tip: Keep the prompts fun. Nobody wants to get into heavy philosophical debates and feel bad the rest of the day!

10. Remote Team Trivia

woman working remotely at home

What you need:

Zoom has made it easy to set up virtual team building games. In fact, there are a ton of great plugins for trivia! Kahoot! allows you to create customized team trivia. You can also download “Water Cooler Trivia,” which is a weekly trivia game that gets sent to your email, Slack channel, or Microsoft Teams.

Tip: Mail out prizes to the trivia champions at the end of the year! restaurant gift cards, movie theater tickets, or even a bunch of company swag.

11. Create a Virtual Cookbook

person looking through a cookbook

What you need:

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox

7 in 10 people started cooking at home more often after the pandemic. Their love of home-cooked meals could be a remote team building activity in disguise! Have everyone send in a recipe, gather them together into a digital cookbook, and then share it via Google Drive or Dropbox. Your team will get a ton of new meals to make at home, and they can talk to their coworkers about their favorites.

Tip: Create the cookbooks in chunks. For instance, week 1 ask for breakfast dishes, week 2 lunch ideas, and so on. You can then put it all together at the very end.

12. Remote Scavenger Hunt

scavenger hunt

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

Your remote team wants an excuse to get off their office chairs! Create a Word doc with a list of scavenger hunt items they can find around the house. Set a time limit, yell “go,” and everyone can run around trying to find everything. The first person who completes the list wins!

Tip: Be realistic with the items on the list. Not everyone is going to have a bronze statue of an elephant somewhere in the horse!

13. Virtual Pictionary

woman drawing at her desk

What you need:

  • Drawsize or Scribbl apps

Divide your employees into two teams and have them come up with a creative team name. Take turns so everyone gets the chance to draw once. Apps like Drawsize and Scribbl give you drawing boards and prompts to keep the game moving.

Tip: Pictionary can be a time-consuming game, so feel free to change things up so it doesn’t take all day.

14. Virtual Escape Room

locked room

What you need:

There are a ton of cool virtual escape rooms you can try! Some are free, while others cost only around $25. Your team will bond as they solve the riddles and puzzles to make it out alive!

Tip: Pick a room that has universal appeal. For instance, not everyone is a Harry Potter fan so the Hogwarts Digital Escape Room might not be as fun to them.

15. 20 Questions

woman working at home

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

Remote team building activities don’t have to be fancy! You can simply play “20 questions” during your next virtual conference. Somebody thinks of an object, movie, celebrity, animal, etc. and everyone else asks “yes” or “no” questions to figure out what they’re picturing. Take turns so someone new is “it” every week.

Tip: If you’re on a time crunch, you can change the number of questions to 10 or even 5. It will be a bigger challenge!

16. Name the Common Thread

woman happily working at her desk

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

Someone kicks things off by saying three words like “Batman,” “turtles,” and “pickles.” They then pick a person to find a common thread between the items. In this case, it could be 90s cartoons! The person would then have to explain their connection, which here would be the animated Batman series, the ninja turtles, and Rugrats (Tommy’s last name was Pickles).

Tip: Tell your team not to think too hard about the words they choose. It should just be the first 3 things that come to mind. Part of the fun is finding a thread, no matter what!

17. Virtual Charades

woman laughing as she works at home

What you need:

  • Charades!, GuessUp, or CharadesApp

Do you work with a team of extroverts? Play virtual charades during your next Zoom meeting. You can download apps like Charades!, GuessUp, or ChardesApp to get word and phrase ideas in real-time. 

Tip: Set rules ahead of time. You don’t want anyone acting out inappropriate or controversial prompts.

18. Embrace the Unboxing Trend

girl opening a box

What you need:

Ask your team managers to send care packages to everyone on your team. You can then have them unbox the gift during your virtual meeting so you can see their reactions. 1 in 3 online shoppershave watched an unboxing video, so no one is going to feel bored seeing what’s inside.

Tip: Personalize each box so it fits the employee’s personality. The unboxing will be more interesting if everyone gets something different. You can also record the unboxings and share the videos on your social channels!

19. Virtual Taboo

woman working remotely in her kitchen

What you need:

Are you looking for free virtual team building games? Taboo, the classic board game, is available as an online edition! Ask everyone to go to the website so you can play. You will need to divide everyone up into two teams. The teams then go back and forth trying to describe a word without saying any of the “taboo” words listed on the card.

Tip: Zoom has a feature where you can share your screen with one other person in a meeting. You will need to use this so someone on the opposing team can monitor the word list and “buzz” the person if they slip up.

20. Background Battle

woman working outside

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

Skype and Microsoft Teams allows you to change the background behind your desk. You can make it seem like you’re on the beach in the Bahamas, in outer space, or at an Indy 500 race. Before your next meeting, declare a “background battle” and have everyone sign on with a different scene behind them.

Tip: Ask everyone to write their vote for the best background on a piece of paper (they can’t vote for themselves) and hold it up to the camera. The winner can get a free order on DoorDash or a gift card in the mail.

21. Alphabet Game

Scrabble tiles

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

This is one of the easiest virtual conference games to set up! You just need to know the alphabet! Decide on a category and then take turns going from “A” to “Z” naming items that fit. For example, the category is “food,” so the words are “almonds,” “bananas,” “chicken,” “donuts,” etc.

Tip: “Q,” “X,” and “Z” are difficult letters. Let everyone have some creative freedom!

22. Virtual Photo Share

woman taking a picture

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

A few times each year, give your team a chance to share photos from their personal lives. You will get to know each other beyond your roles with the company. The photos could be anything – dogs, kids, vacations, delicious dinners…whatever makes your team feel happy and proud!

Tip: This virtual team building idea could take a lot of time if you have a big team. Break it into multiple meetings, or keep it just within a department.

23. Top 5

man holding his hand to the camera

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

Take turns sharing your top 5 in a particular category. You can do favorite movies, ice cream flavors, winter activities, cartoon characters, singers, vacation spots…anything that sounds fun. There are endless topics to choose from!

Tip: You don’t want awkward silence after the employee shares their top five. Pull out one item from the list and ask if anyone else likes the same thing. You can keep a tally and share the stats after the meeting!

24. Spirit Days

people having a virtual holiday party

What you need:

  • Nothing at all!

Many high schools do a spirit week with fun themes for each day. You can do the same with your remote team! Pajama Day, Crazy Hat Day, Hawaiian Day, and Sports Day are all popular ideas, but mix it up with anything you want.

Tip: Take screenshots of everyone in their fun attire and share it on your company’s social media channels.

25. Bring Your Kids to Zoom Day

mom and her son on a computer

What you need:

  • Kids

The kids sometimes end up in the background of Zoom anyway. Why not invite them to sit in on the call? Plan activities and virtual games they can play while they’re on the screen.

Tip: Kids are unpredictable, and things may not go according to plan. Just embrace the craziness and have fun!

Helpful Tips for Remote Team Building

If you’re new to virtual team building, it can be tough to know how to make it go smoothly. Follow these tips to ensure everyone on your team has a good time!

free graphic

Try Free Activities – Gas, milk, and toilet paper aren’t the only things that are really expensive right now. Stick to your budget by looking for free remote games and activities.

pizza graphic

Don’t Be Lame – Cheesy is good for pizza, but it doesn’t belong in team building for remote workers. Make sure the activity or game you plan is actually appealing to your employees.

shy face graphic

Include the Introverts – Not everyone is comfortable being silly on a Zoom call. Make participation optional for most of your team building games and activities.

stopwatch graphic

Keep it Short – As fun as it would be, you can’t spend the whole day playing virtual Pictionary. Try to keep the remote games somewhere between 30 to 90 minutes.

confetti graphic

Make it Fun – Save the serious talk about goals, figures, and SWOT analyses for another meeting! The team building activities should be fun and give your employees a chance to let loose.

Final Thoughts

Harvard Business Review reports that close work friendships can increase job satisfaction by 50%. Maybe your employees won’t be standing in each other’s weddings, but remote team building is a step in the right direction!

It’s also not a bad idea to try to meet in-person a few times each year. You want your team to bond in real life away from the screens. Plus, places like mini golf, movie theaters, and restaurants need customers now more than ever. Support them however you can!

References

York, J. (2022, March 17). The ‘Ghost Colleagues’ of the Remote Workplace. Retrieved from, https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20220315-the-ghost-colleagues-of-the-remote-workplace

Belin, A. 13 Remote Team Building Activities for a Happier and Productive Workforce. Retrieved from, https://www.brosix.com/blog/remote-team-building-activities/

Carruthers, R. (2021, August 18). 34 Virtual Team Building Activities for Remote Employees. Retrieved from, https://www.togetherplatform.com/blog/10-virtual-team-building-activities-for-your-remote-employees

Britt, H. Remote Team Building Activities to Bring Your Team Together. Retrieved from, https://www.goskills.com/Resources/Remote-team-building-activities

Contact Monkey. 22 Virtual Team Building Activities, Games, and Ideas for Remote Teams. Retrieved from, https://www.contactmonkey.com/blog/virtual-team-building

Sussman, J. (2022, February 2). 37 Best Virtual Team Building Activities for Remote Teams in 2022. Retrieved from, https://museumhack.com/virtual-team-building-for-remote-teams/

Jaouane, B. Tips for Leading an Effective Virtual Team Building for Your Remote Team. Retrieved from, https://thriveglobal.com/stories/tips-for-leading-an-effective-virtual-team-building-for-your-remote-team/

Streeter, J. Roche, M. Friedlander, A. From Bad to Worse: The Impact of Work-From-Home on Sedentary Behaviors and Exercising. Retrieved from, https://longevity.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Sedentary-Brief.pdf

Devenyns, J. (2021, January 19). Survey: 7 in 10 Consumers Say They Will Keep Cooking at Home After the Pandemic. Retrieved from, https://www.fooddive.com/news/survey-7-in-10-consumers-say-they-will-keep-cooking-at-home-after-the-pand/593532/

Khan, M. (2021, April 5). Unboxing the Unboxing Experience: Why Are Unboxing Videos So Popular? Retrieved from, https://bettermarketing.pub/unboxing-the-unboxing-experience-why-are-unboxing-videos-so-popular-ebdae7fd0463

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