Managing a virtual team shouldn’t be too different from managing an office-based team. There may be nuances that are specific for each type of organization, but one of the things that stays true is the need to establish a sense of unity and foster teamwork. This is especially true for remote teams since your people won’t normally have opportunities for interaction that are as strong and as solid as people in offices could.
Nevertheless, there are still highly doable activities that can help you ensure that your team is engaged and united. Virtual team building activities are now actually a thing and could be the best resort you have to build a strong sense of community within your company despite the distance.
Here are some of the most fun and easiest virtual team-building exercises you can conduct with your team at no cost:
The Deserted Island Scenario
You might be familiar with this game. It’s quite popular among employee engagements and even student activities. The idea is to picture being stranded on a deserted island. Then you are given a chance to take three items with you out of ten random options provided.
You can do this as an individual endeavor where each member of the team explains the items they chose. This way, the entire team gets to have an idea of how each member thinks, and how they prioritize things in certain situations. You can also do this as a team effort and divide the team into several groups depending on how many people you have, and let them decide as a team what three items they should bring ashore with them and why.
Movie Night Virtual Team Building
If you want something less dynamic and more chill, all you have to do is to livestream a film and let everybody sit back and relax. Just make sure to choose a time that is convenient for everybody. You can also create a poll a week ahead to see which film your team would love most.
To ramp up the team spirit after the movie, have an open discussion where everybody is entitled to share their thoughts and sentiments about it. Initiate conversation with an open-ended invitation that goes something like, “what was your favorite part/line and why?”
Most remote teams, with the exception of digital nomads, normally work in home offices. Sometimes coffee shops are an option, but it might not be economically practical for all. Having a company-sponsored coffee session might just do the trick.
You can distribute coffee shop coupons ahead of time and plan on a date with the team. You can then host a video conference and have a literal “chat” over some coffee. This is the perfect setting to get to know your team on a personal level. Prepare some questions that will help them open up like sharing their favorites, specific memories, hobbies, pet peeves, and more.
Open up a random channel on your Slack where team members can share photos of anything under the sun. It could be something they own, a person they know, or some other thing that inspires, motivates, or fascinates them. If you want to keep track of everyone’s input or want things to be more systematic, plot a calendar where each member has a schedule for sharing.
For the photos shared, make sure to encourage discussion by initiating comments and making mentions. This type of activity is simple, laid-back, and might even encourage more meaningful engagement since there is no direct pressure, and everyone can answer at their own pace.
Everyone would agree that a scavenger hunt is exciting. It gets the blood pumping and the adrenaline rushing. It creates the perfect conditions for bonding with people and therefore strengthens teams. But how do you do it virtually? You might think it’s impossible to achieve online, but on the contrary, it could even be more exciting than a traditional scavenger hunt.
Divide your team into manageable groups so that there is a sense of competition to add to the hype.
Truth or Dare
A simple game of truth or dare is very doable in a virtual setting. All you have to do is to prepare a couple of questions and dares and download a name picker or spinner app. Gather your team at a convenient time and let the fun begin! No matter how simple the game is, it can be an effective way for team members to get to know each other better through the questions and feel a bit more comfortable with each other after going through the dares.
Virtual Dance Party
Break out some upbeat music and have a couple of minutes of live dancing at your next meeting. Let everyone loosen up and have fun showing their best moves. This is the perfect activity if your team is already established and you have a close enough relationship with each other, as everyone is already comfortable enough to dance in front of their cameras at a live conference. This is one of those activities that you could randomly do to break the ice if you feel like a meeting is getting too dull.
Open Mic/ Talent Show
Having some online karaoke with workmates can perk a team up and allow them to discover each other’s talents. You could also host a talent show where your people can showcase some of their best performances. If there’s not much talent going on, at least people are still guaranteed to have some fun.
Happy Hour Show and Tell
If coffee is not your thing, you can easily substitute it with some cocktails or beers to have a company happy hour instead. To hype up the team and facilitate some engagement, have the team prepare something for show and tell. You can choose specific categories such as pets and hobbies, or you can give them the freedom to show the team anything they want to showcase and talk about. This is yet another effective way for team members to get to know each other better through the things they own.
Open Door House Tour
A person’s home, including how they decorate it, and the things they keep in it, speaks a lot about them. Having a different member host a house tour each week can be a fun ice-breaker activity for the team. It would be like visiting each other’s homes and getting to know about how they live. The opportunity could also be an educational, cultural immersion of sorts if your team is composed of different nationalities. It is also an exciting way for the team to get to know each member more personally since they will be virtually entering each other’s homes like how friends would.
Arranging activities that foster team unity might seem like a challenge for remote teams. However, with the help of technology, and with some creativity, you can strengthen your team’s bond just as much as you could with an office-based team, if not even better.
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