Working From Home is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
The world of work has changed quite a bit in the last twelve months. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers across the globe to ask their staff to work from home to protect them from a terrible virus that has cost many lives.
However, one thing that has refused to lie down and be beaten by the pandemic is the resilience of employees, and more specifically, their commitment to being part of a team.
Virtual team-building activities have been crucial to this and grown in popularity as the year has gone by.
While there are many challenges and struggles to achieve a fun team bonding session remotely, there are plenty of activities that can stimulate the mind and get your despondent team smiling again despite the working from home restrictions and lockdown.
What Is Remote Team Building?
What exactly do we mean by remote team building, though? These sessions matter because they provide employees with an opportunity to build relationships, improve their productivity, and reduce the levels of isolation some your team may be feeling. They are also a brilliant way to combat burnout in the workplace and will allow your team some time away from their work to relax and enjoy themselves together despite having to work from home.
All successful remote team bonding sessions rely on two key ingredients. Firstly, the ability to instigate natural, free-flowing conversation, and secondly, the use of video and being able to visualize the person or people you are having a fun time with. Having webcams switched on during these sessions is essential, as it adds that human element to the experience.
Here is a rundown of some of the best working from home team building activities.
1. Having A Regular Chat
Often, something as simple as getting your employees together for a bit of an off-the-record chat is all that they need. Many organizations across the country are scheduling regular sessions to allow for this. Crucially, be sure to hold these chats within working hours – as workers will not appreciate having to give up their free time. However, what you will find is that employees are more than happy to open up during work time and this provides you with a great opportunity to check in with everyone and look after the group’s collective wellbeing.
2. Quiz Nights
One of the most popular virtual meeting activities is to host a quiz night because who doesn’t love a pub quiz, right? However, be wary, your team will have taken part in a whole host of these Zoom quizzes by this point in the pandemic, so you will need to put plenty of effort into one to capture the attention of your employees. Don’t rely on downloading a ready-made solution from the internet, you will need to curate your own quiz questions for your team building session to be a right laugh, and ultimately, a brilliant success. Don’t slouch on this!
3. Virtual Drinks
If your team really is tired of quizzing, then it’s okay to try something else. Employees always appreciate it when their employer is flexible about alcohol in the workplace, so why not throw a drinks evening to get your employees bonding together? There’s nothing like alcohol to spark a discussion – just be sure to mediate matters to ensure that nothing NSFW such as politics pops up, as this is unhelpful and can cause the opposite to team building.
4. Escape Room
If your team needs a bit more stimulation than simply discussion to keep them on task, then why not arrange for them to take part in a virtual escape room? Just like the popular in-person activity, virtual escape rooms require participants to work closely together to solve riddles and puzzles to unlock keys and, ultimately, escape the virtual room. Escape room organizers have pivoted brilliantly to the virtual world and these are just as much fun as they are in person. Why not give it a go and bring your team closer together as a result?
5. Murder Mystery
Similar in design to the virtual escape room, a murder mystery party can be a whole load of fun and really bring your team together as they try and decipher who the (fictional!) murderer amongst you may be. If you like, you could split your staff into two teams and see who can solve the mystery first? This adds that extra bit of competitive edge that might be required to pique certain employees’ interest and really help them to get stuck in and involved.
A bit of a family fun classic this one but a game that can easily pivot from the living room to the small screen as part of a team-building exercise. You know the premise by now, participants mime a chosen book, TV show or film and everybody else has to guess what it is – points go to whoever guesses correctly first. This game becomes a little more challenging over services like Zoom or Microsoft Teams but is still loads of fun nevertheless.
7. Never Have I Ever
A bit more of a risque option is the infamous drinking game known as Never Have I Ever. Again, you want to make sure that things stay E-rated if you’re going to let your employees take part in this one. That said, Never Have I Ever can be a great way for your staff to get to know one another and also serves as a good way to integrate new employees.
8. Book Club
A slightly more work-friendly activity comes in the form of a virtual book club. This is a great way to get your team reading more widely around a particular subject that could either be related to your industry or focused on something different each week entirely. Simply gather a group together, give them the name of a novel, and allow them a week to get their teeth stuck into it before reconvening. This is a great way to encourage your team to debate together and learn how to exchange differing opinions, which is a good transferrable skill.
9. Movie Night
Sometimes, it’s nice to switch off for a little while and enjoy a relaxing time watching a movie together with colleagues. Apps like Netflix Party make this possible by unifying every participants’ stream so that you’re all watching at exactly the same time. Pick a film that will inspire a sense of optimism, energy or ambition in your team and you’re onto a winner.
10. Personality Test
An interesting way to capture your staff’s attention during a team-building exercise is to hold a personality test for everyone. This is a great way to learn more about your team dynamic and is also fun for your employees to watch along from home. Those with leadership qualities will naturally become apparent, while those who hold the group together socially will also become clear, which can be useful information for you as their manager.
11. Scavenger Hunt
A virtual scavenger hunt is loads of fun and can really bring a team together. You’ll learn a lot about who has what in their homes with this team-building exercise. The premise is straightforward, simply call out the name of a fairly obscure household item and watch your team dash around their homes to try and be the first back to their laptop with the promised item. This really gets the energy flowing and is great for those with a competitive edge.
12. Get To Know Each Other’s Pets
This is a nice one that really brings the animal lovers among you together. Get everybody on a conference call and ask each individual to introduce the wider group to their pet or pets that they’ve been working from home with this whole time. This can either be live over a webcam or in the form of a short photo album. Dog and cat lovers alike will love this activity and it’s a nice quick win to get your employees in a good mood and sharing things together.
13. Tea & Coffee Tasting
We all run on caffeine in the workplace, right? If your team is like most, then they are probably all partial to a cuppa. Therefore, why don’t you organize a virtual tea or coffee tasting morning for your team? Simply ship out the samples as a nice surprise for your staff and pop a meeting in the diary where you can all sit down and identify your favorites.
14. Snoop Around Each Other’s Homes
If your team hasn’t been able to get together due to social distancing restrictions, then they’re probably missing going round to their work friends’ homes and seeing them. To counteract this, why not offer people the chance to show off their homes on a call? Plenty of us have been doing up our homes during lockdown and with nobody allowed over, most of us won’t have had a chance to show off the end result. Perhaps you might have repainted your home office. If so, then why not use this opportunity as a team-building exercise?
15. Two Truths, One Lie
Finally, why not try the really popular game of Two Truths, One Lie? The rules are simple. Participants all put forward two factually correct statements about themselves, and then one that is false. The rest of the team will then take a punt at guessing which is which. It’s great fun and can really help to bring your team together as they learn more about one another.
In summary, team-building exercises needn’t be dull just because we are in a pandemic. Some of the best staff bonding activities are just as much fun when carried out virtually too. Remember, try and schedule these sessions during or towards the end of working hours to get the maximum attendance and input from your team, that way you will benefit most when their mood, productivity and relationships with other colleagues all improve exponentially.