Team-building activities can be a challenge to organize during the best of times, but even more so when they have to be virtual team-building activities. How can you organize something that appeals to a diverse group of people with different interests?
But it’s worth taking time to organize them. They’re a great way for colleagues to bond, leading to a happier working environment. This can improve communication between team members, promote new ways of working, and create more productive working environments.
Remote team-building activities are difficult to organize, but there are lots of options available.
Virtual team-building activities are also more inclusive for employees who may not be able to go out during the evening because of caregiving responsibilities. It’s also easier for employees with chronic illnesses, and for remote teams or hybrid teams to connect.
Here are a few virtual team-building activities you could try.
Lightning talks (or PechaKucha)
In a lightning talk, people get around five minutes to talk about something they’re really passionate about.
PechaKucha takes a similar approach—people have 20 slides on a topic and get 20 seconds to talk about each slide.
Talking about something they love makes people are less likely to feel nervous than they would in a typical work-related discussion. These talks are therefore a simple way to help someone develop their public speaking skills.
Someone’s chosen topic doesn’t have to be work-related. It could be dog nutrition, novel writing, the environment—whatever makes them happy! It’s an opportunity for employees to find out more about their colleagues and for them to connect through shared interests.
If you’re planning to host lightning or PechaKucha talks, you could also hold a workshop beforehand on public speaking skills.
Sometimes people want to join in but have no public speaking experience, or are afraid of it (public speaking is a really common fear!), so giving them some tips will boost their confidence and may increase the number of people who feel excited about participating.
Volunteering or fundraising challenges
Volunteering and fundraising allow employees to bond over a passion for a common cause.
You could offer a regular window during working hours to volunteer, or several hours per month to donate to a good cause.
Fundraising challenges are shorter, but allow employees to work toward a shared goal, such as walking or running a certain distance together.
Both options provide employees with the opportunity to give back to the world, whatever their situation.
It doesn’t always have to be about donating money—donating time to help those who need it can make just as much of a difference, and provide lots of team-building opportunities, too.
Volunteering and fundraising opportunities also show what your company cares about to the outside world.
Demonstrating the impact you want to have, beyond what your business does, helps employees to feel like a part of something and can attract more job candidates and potential customers.
Hackathons, where participants have a set amount of time to create a solution or product, are another option.
These events can last any length of time, but they’re usually short. The idea behind them is that the shorter time frame leads to more creativity, innovation, focus, and, of course, teamwork.
Typically, they’re focused around a key challenge the company is currently facing, but they can also be more open-ended than that. There should at least be some sort of theme to bring everyone together. And probably some prizes on offer for the best results, too.
Hackathons are an opportunity for employees to play to their strengths and challenge themselves. Which is the perfect environment to grow as a person and an employee.
Informal communication is a key way to build employee morale. Movies are one of the ways you can encourage this. They help us connect with others, and the genre(s) we prefer can say a lot about us.
Horror helps us confront our fears and anxieties in a safe place; romance offers us an escape; true crime helps us subconsciously prepare for something that could happen to us; films we watched as children can give us that nostalgic, warm and fuzzy feeling.
Discussing and dissecting a film is often water cooler chat, but why not organize it so that everyone has seen it at the same time, and they can discuss it at the same time, too?
You could provide a list of questions to think about at the end, or let the conversation flow once the movie is over.
Quizzes can be a great way for different team members to show off their areas of expertise and work together to answer the most questions.
You could do a standard quiz, go for something different, like a Jeopardy!-style contest, or make up anagrams or puzzles for participants to solve. Or even combine different types of questions so that everyone gets a chance to use their knowledge and skills.
Dividing employees into small groups, outside of the people they normally work with, gives employees the chance to connect with others and get to know them better. It also ensures that employees who have fewer work-based friends don’t feel left out because they weren’t asked to be in a group.
In-person escape rooms were growing in popularity before the pandemic hit. Now, the same growth is happening to online ones.
You can do anything from escaping a spaceship to running away from vampires.
Sometimes they involve things being sent to someone’s house in advance, while in other instances, everything is done via email or video call.
Teams usually range from 4 to 8, so this is better for small departments, or when people are separated into small groups.
True crime is one of the biggest genres in the world right now. What better way to build problem-solving skills for true crime lovers than investigating a (fictional) crime?
Online murder mysteries can operate in a few ways, from guided calls to independent, web-based tales.
Book club (work-related)
Establishing a work-related book club encourages an atmosphere of learning, and discussions about that learning.
It also teaches active reading skills, which can improve employees’ editorial and analytical abilities.
Suggesting nonfiction books related to upcoming business decisions can often be more powerful than a manager dictating how something will happen. It gives employees a greater understanding of the situation and makes them feel more like a part of the decision-making process.
Book club (fiction)
If you’re going to offer a fiction-focused book club, make sure to alternate genres each week so that everyone’s tastes are included. You could even give each member of the group a chance to pick a book.
If possible, aim for easy reads so that it doesn’t take huge amounts of time or brain power for people to complete the book. This will be more accommodating to people of different reading skills and energy levels. You’re then more likely to get employees to want to take part and chat about what they’ve read.
Being in different locations doesn’t mean employees can’t still build team skills. These are just a few examples of virtual team-building activities you could try with your employees to foster better communication, a more engaged workforce, and happier employees.
If you’re interested in a better way to market, manage, and measure your team-building activities, check out Workrowd. We’ve got a full suite of tools to help you build transparency and connection for every employee, and track the value of your programs over time. Drop us a line at email@example.com if you’d like to learn more!