virtual team meeting
  • Company culture

10 virtual team-building events to help your employees

Isadora De Angeli

Do you work with a remote team? Have you tried out virtual team-building activities?

In 2020, more and more businesses opted to go online due to restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home is part of the new normal, and not everyone is keen to go back to how things used to be. And if you still hasn't tackled the digital HR transition yet, here are some working remotely tips and tools that can be very helpfull.

Even employers who want some employees back at the office are considering creating hybrid workplaces. This means that virtual team building is more important now than ever.

But what is virtual team building, and how can you implement it into your office? Does it even matter? 

We're here to talk about it. Keep reading to learn everything that you need to know about bonding your virtual team as well as a few of our favourite virtual team-building activities that you can try out today.

What is virtual team-building? 

So what is virtual team building anyway? 

Virtual team building is the process of bringing remote teams together. When everyone is separated, you want to make sure that there's still a sense of unity that would otherwise be present in the in-person workplace. 

During these team-building activities, workers learn to collaborate. They would do this in person if it were available, but due to an increasingly online world, it's now easy to have fun activities that everyone can partake in from their own homes. 

Teams that feel connected and able to communicate with each other will be happier and more productive. Your workers will feel more comfortable collaborating on projects and less like they're all on their own. 

Happy employees are employees that will stay with the company, and any good business owner knows that retaining employees is great for your reputation, your future efforts in hiring new talent, and your budget

Why is virtual team-building important? 

In a "real" workplace, team building happens naturally. While you may have some activities to further encourage team bonding, people who share space and work together are going to be more unified by default. 

With remote work, you don't have this luxury. 

It's easy to feel like you're on your own when you work remotely. You don't have the support and communication from other workers. It can be isolating. 

These team-building activities help to facilitate a feeling of "belonging" so employees are more comfortable. 

What are the advantages of virtual team-building activities?

Virtual team building can do great things for your business. 

First, it encourages better productivity. Employees who feel sad or isolated won't be as productive as happy employees. It also allows employees to collaborate which helps them work faster. 

It helps to combat loneliness. As we mentioned, working at a remote workplace is isolating. When you use activities to bond your remote employees, they'll remember that they have support from the other people that they work with, even if it's not in person. 

You'll help them build relationships with each other (and with you). While online friendships are common in 2021, anyone who isn't familiar with forging real connections online may have a hard time bonding. With team-building activities, you help employees build trust. 


Online vs in-person

You need to get creative when it comes to doing online team-building activities. You don't have the luxury of hosting morning fitness classes, nights out, or fun in-person games. 

Instead, you need to modify things so they fit a virtual environment. How can you do that without making your employees feel patronised? 

You want to make sure that the activities feel natural. Remember the awkward icebreaker activities from school? Don't do that. Create natural conversations and collaborative efforts.

It's best to use some kind of chat client that allows bonding in real-time. If your employees are comfortable with it, using a video conferencing platform is a great idea. You can also use audio calls or real-time chat clients. 

Fun and creative virtual team-building activities

So what can you do to bond your employees without making them cringe or roll their eyes? 

It's hard to come up with things that will entertain adults, especially when you have a wide variety of remote workers. You have to get creative. 

We've come up with a brief list of activities that will entertain your remote workers without making them dread all of your bonding days. Here are some of our favourites. 

1. Online Office Games

While in-person games are ideal, you can also play collaborative games online.

Some people choose to use things like virtual escape rooms, but you don't need to spend money to have a fun game night. We love things like trivia and virtual murder mystery games!

With trivia, you have a lot of flexibility. There are trivia questions for any topic under the sun. We recommend avoiding work-related questions if you want to keep this fun rather than stressful.

If you do frequent trivia nights, make different themes for different nights. Establish teams and prizes before you get started. Prizes don't have to be substantial. Gift cards and vouchers are great prizes that don't cost a lot of money or require in-person participation. 

Murder mystery games are also a lot of fun. Think of it as a real-life Clue or a kind of virtual scavenger hunt. Come up with a story and a theme, prepare your guests, and make a night of it. If you have a creative team, consider making it a dress-up video party based on the theme. 

2. Virtual Happy Hour

You won't be going to happy hour in-person, but why not have an online happy hour instead? 

If you're able to, send out personalized happy hour sets to all of your employees so you can enjoy them together on a video call. Make sure that you know everyone's dietary restrictions. Not everyone drinks alcohol or consumes certain things (like grains or animal products) and you don't want to leave anyone out. 

You could also ask employees to exchange things on their own. Think of it like a "secret Santa" where employees send things that they think their teammate will like. Set a price limit so no one feels uncomfortable. 

3. Icebreaker Questions 

As we mentioned, icebreakers can reach "cringy" territory in no time flat. You have to tread carefully. That doesn't mean that you can't use them at all.

Icebreakers are a great way to get your employees acquainted. Make sure that you don't include questions that could make anyone uncomfortable. It's best to avoid anything too personal. 

Try some of the following:

  • What's the best thing that you've watched on Netflix lately?
  • What's the best live music show you've ever seen?
  • Can you speak multiple languages? Which ones?
  • What is your favourite meal to cook or eat? 
  • What is the last book that you read? 
  • Who's someone, alive or dead, that you'd like to have dinner with?

These are basic icebreaker questions, but they're a great starting point.

You can pair this activity with the trivia activity. Personalized trivia can include employees either answering questions about each other with the icebreaker answers or trying to pair icebreaker answers with employees. 


4. Online Team Building Bingo

Bingo might seem outdated, but that doesn't make it less fun. You don't need to sit in a crowded room juggling bingo boards to have a good time. 

This isn't like the bingo that you're used to. Instead of calling out numbers, you identify things that happen during a video conference call or chat. This means that you can do it any time, not just during specific activity times. This keeps the fun alive all the time. When you get five in a row, you win!

Consider things like:

  • Someone mutes themselves by accident
  • A pet shows up on video
  • Someone wears pyjama bottoms and a suit top 

5. Tea vs Coffee: Tasting Afternoon

Similar to happy hour, you don't have to gather in real life to have a coffee or tea tasting event. 

Everyone should work together to decide which teas or coffees they'll be drinking during this month's tasting. Send out tea or coffee packages (with snacks!) to everyone so that you're all able to enjoy it at the same time. 

You can do normal drinks or you can choose something more unique if you want to liven things up. 

6. Remote Team Dinner

You aren't going out to a fancy restaurant with your remote workers, but that doesn't mean that you can't have a lovely team dinner from home. 

Team dinners are a great way to relax and take time to talk without the pressure of work or the fun of problem-solving activities. 

There are a few ways that you can do this. The first is to provide a voucher for a restaurant that everyone has nearby. This isn't always accessible.

The other is to have everyone try to cook the same dish. Again, make sure that you consider dietary restrictions and make adjustments if necessary. You can hold the conference while everyone is cooking or start it at dinner time. 

This is a great start to a virtual game night!

7. Movie Night

Why not bring movie night online?

There are a few online options that allow everyone to synchronize their movies. Teleparty is an easy option. You can also all agree on a single movie to watch and start it while on a conference call, even if it's not perfectly synchronized. 

Make sure that you have a text chat open so people can still talk amongst themselves without interrupting the movie!


8. Virtual Book Club

Who doesn't love a good book? A book club is an easy virtual activity because there's no real reason that you need to gather in person. The internet actually makes it better.

You can look at current best-sellers if you want, or you can work together to pick any book throughout history. You have endless books to choose from. Make sure that the books are acceptable for the whole group.

Pick a set number of pages or chapters for employees to read each week. Make it accessible enough that the book club doesn't feel like more work.

When it's time for your book club team meetings, have a list of conversation topics that you can use to discuss the book.

9. Personality Tests

Personality tests are popular and for good reason. It's fun to learn about yourself and even more fun to learn about other people. 

You can write your own tests, but there are also plenty of pre-made tests online. You want to make sure that nothing is too personal so that you don't make any employees uncomfortable. 

You can ask people to share their results amongst themselves, or use the same strategy as the icebreaker questions. Turn them into a trivia quiz! 

10. Birthplace 

Are your remote workers all around the country? What about all around the world? If so, why not bond by discussing birthplaces? This is a great opportunity to allow your employees to know each other on a deeper level and share elements of their cultures.

Everyone sends facts about their home countries, districts, or towns to the moderator. That moderator then goes through them one-by-one and allows employees to guess their origins. 

When they guess correctly, the person from that country can talk more about it if they choose to. This is an awesome learning opportunity. 

How to unify your team today

Working from home doesn't need to mean that your employees feel isolated from one another. With virtual team-building activities, your workers can connect and feel like a genuine team. 

There is an abundance of online platforms (such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams) that can help your employees connect. Take advantage of them to make your virtual team-building activities a success.

Managing a remote team isn't easy. With kiwiHR, you can manage your remote workers with ease so you're able to focus on what matters: your team. Sign up for a free trial and see the difference today.

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