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Remote Team Building Activities in 2021 and Beyond

Sally Hetherington, June 30, 2021
remote team building activities in 2021 and beyond

Looking for ways to bring remote teams together to create an environment that keeps teams unified? A great way of doing this is through remote team building activities.

You may feel that we already spend too much time on Zoom and Teams, always having to be on our best behavior and remembering our virtual meeting etiquette, and therefore offering team building remotely is just going to add to this overuse of screen time. Your team is after all doing quite fine working individually – as long as they are getting the job done surely? 

While there may be some validity to this argument, if you think out of the box you can offer remote team building activities that are fun, engaging, that allow your team to let their hair down and add to a positive employee experience, which can only be a good thing!  

Why Remote Team Building Activities are Important

In order to get the best out of your team, they need to feel like they belong, and physical distance can easily feel like emotional distance. Feeling lonely and disconnected can impact not only mental health, but also work-life balance and performance. 

Offering remote team building activities not only counteracts loneliness, but also improves communication and collaboration, increases creativity and productivity, helps with conflicts, builds trust and creates general team cohesion.

Team building also helps us to understand individual differences and diversity, whilst encouraging engagement and building confidence and forward momentum – and of course having fun in itself provides some light-hearted relief from the daily grind. 

Ideas for Remote Team Building Activities for Larger Teams

Having a larger team can prove a bit trickier to manage in a remote setting. Offering team building in smaller groups is an obvious option, however, there will be times when you want the whole team to get together and there are some options for virtual team building activities for remote teams. 

Quiz night ❗️❓

Decide on your quizmaster and set up your teams for a night of virtual trivial pursuit. Choose a number of different categories such as sports, science, history and music, and make it interactive by including pictures of celebrities and song clips. 

Make sure there is a prize for the winning team such as online vouchers that can be emailed at the end of the night. You can also make it more personal by asking everyone to submit their own tricky questions and answers. 

Name five things 5️⃣

This is a great improv game, particularly as an ice-breaker, as it can go on for one or many rounds, as long as everyone gets at least one turn. For this game, somebody gives the first person a topic, for example, ‘dogs’ – and then the player has to name five types of dogs as fast as they can before choosing the next topic for the next person. 

You can also switch it up with a rapid-fire round moving quickly from person to person going through the alphabet as they come up with answers, for example, ‘afghan, bull-dog, corgi, dachshund…’ and so it goes on.

The yes/no game ✔️❌

Another simple icebreaker, where everyone can get to know each other by asking questions, but you are not allowed to use the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in answering. Should you accidentally use one of these words, you have to turn off your camera until there is a winner. 

Out-the-Box Fun Remote Team Building Activities for Smaller Teams

A quick search of the Internet will show that there are plenty of ideas out there for smaller groups for team building activities for remote staff. Here are some more creative out-the-box ideas to get you started:

Show and tell memory game 💁‍♂️

For this game you would need to get your team to choose ten objects in their homes in advance – something that means something or says something about them – place them neatly on a workspace, and take a photo. They would then remove an object and take another photo, and continue until the desk is empty, but without disturbing the original placement of the objects.

Each person then has a turn to share their original pictures on their screens and explain what the objects say about them as a ‘get to know you’ exercise. Once everyone has had a turn, the second round of pictures can be shared (deleting the first), with an object now removed. Everyone then has to guess what is missing by writing it down and then all holding up their answers at once, getting a point for each correct guess. This continues until there are no objects left and the person with the most points wins!

Virtual scavenger hunt 🕵️

You would be surprised at all the random objects you can find in your home! Get everyone to send some crazy ideas of weird and wonderful things beforehand to find in your home and then get started. Items could include something soft, a travel memento, a framed photo (which could lead to sharing a special memory), a foreign coin or the most exotic thing in your pantry.

At the end of the game, everyone can share an object that is special to them and tell the story behind it, which is a great way of teams getting to know each other on a more personal level.

Singer behind the screens 🎤

This one is for the extroverts in the team – a virtual variation of ‘The Masked Singer’! Everyone logs into the meeting with fake names and keeps their screens off. The host will then give everyone a turn to sing a verse from a song (choose a theme beforehand to make it more entertaining!) and then everyone else guesses who is singing using the chat bar. Once there is a correct guess the singer reveals themselves by turning their camera on.

Remind participants that nobody is expecting a West End performance, but that they can make it crazy or obviously bad if they feel shy about their voices! 

Online cooking class 👨‍🍳

This is a great way to get interactive and demonstrate your cooking skills. Ask the foodie in the team to teach everyone their favorite recipe, have a package of ingredients delivered in advance to all participants and get started! Choose a theme related to the menu such as Mexican or Thai and ask everyone to dress up accordingly. 

Make sure that the recipe chosen isn’t overly complicated or time-consuming and allow a bit of time at the end of the class to share the meal and chat with a drink of choice at hand. 

Using Technology for Team Building Activities for Remote Teams

Our current day and age comes with the advantage of having access to all the technology we could possibly need to run our lives, from grocery shopping and travel bookings to mental health apps and even medical consults, and, of course, video conferencing. There are plenty of apps on the market that can facilitate your virtual team building activities for remote teams. Some of our favourites include: 

  • Zoom. Zoom offers plenty of features to easily run your virtual team building activities for remote teams. One can join from anywhere on any device, and the calendar syncs with your calendar system ensuring that everyone is invited to attend, connecting your video conference from mobile or desktop. The built-in collaboration tools allow multiple participants to share their screens simultaneously, with support for up to 1000 video participants. Zoom will also shortly be introducing an all-in-one events platform for virtual experiences. Check out how this company used Zoom to host a virtual social during lockdown
  • Whereby. Whereby is a video chat service that doesn’t require an app download or login and you can join a video with a simple link. It is ideal for smaller organizations to connect team members, offering a fast, streamlined service for desktop and mobile. Meeting rooms are customizable, and virtual whiteboards are perfect for visual games, with break-out groups for smaller collaboration opportunities. Rooms are securely locked until access is granted by the host of your team building activities for remote employees. 
  • Google Meet workspace edition. Google has introduced premium features to Google Meet in Google Workspace, including breakout rooms, polls and noise cancellation to avoid background distractions. Google Meet also has a number of accessibility options for a diverse workforce, such as live captions, screen readers and magnifiers, high-contrast color options and keyboard shortcuts to control the camera and microphone. Google Meet is accessible from mobile and PC and is ideal if your team is already using the Google Suite of products, with participants simply being able to click on a link without the need for extra plug-ins or downloads. 

Remote Team Building Activities: In Closing…

Building a company culture that is nurturing, inclusive and dynamic is so important, but even more so in a pandemic.

Company culture is after all not just a byproduct of what happens when you build a team, but is something that needs to be consistently worked on. People are spending more and more time working remotely so nurturing that culture is difficult, which is where virtual team building activities for remote teams come in.

So grab a coffee, sit down with management, and start to brain-storm! 

Amy Roberts

Sally Hetherington

Content Writer for Staff Treats, an employee benefits platform that offers bespoke employee perks and reward and recognition solutions to help achieve employee engagement. When not writing and researching, Sally enjoys baking, traveling and reading.