How do you keep your employees’ cooperation, collaboration, and engagement high when everyone is working remotely? Virtual team building activities.
Just because your distributed team is now working from home instead of together in an office doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the same camaraderie they did before.
It may take a bit of effort, but virtual team building activities are an ideal way to bring your team together, stimulate their energy and creativity, and help them feel like a unit instead of dispersed individuals.
In this article, the workforce management experts at Sling discuss the best virtual team building activities both you and your employees will love.
Best Virtual Team Building Activities
1) Book Club
One of the easiest virtual team building activities to arrange and execute is the book club.
To get started, create a small list of four or five recent bestsellers and ask team members to vote on which one they’d like to read.
If you want to keep the book club a surprise until the last minute, poll your team on which of the books on the list interests them the most (instead of asking them which one they’d like to read which might hint that a book discussion was imminent).
Send each team member a copy of the book that got the most votes (or ask them to obtain their own) and give them a week to read the first few chapters.
Then, arrange to meet together on a video conferencing app one afternoon towards the end of the workday to discuss what they read.
If you’ve never run or participated in a book club before, there are plenty of resources online to help you structure the virtual team building activity so that everyone has fun.
2) Fitness Challenge
Being stuck at home all day, every day can be tough on your employees both mentally and physically. Get them up out of their seats with a virtual team building fitness challenge.
You can structure this in one of two ways:
- Set up a predetermined workout for everyone — like walking two miles or performing X number of pushups, situps, and bodyweight squats — and then challenge them to complete it every day.
- Encourage team members to set their own fitness goals and take steps to achieve them.
Take time at the end of a daily or weekly meeting and give everyone a turn to update the team on their progress.
If you want to get really fancy with this virtual team building activity, you can invite the group to workout together on-camera.
3) Scavenger Hunt
This virtual team building activity is a twist on the standard scavenger hunt where small teams or individuals hunt for items in a race against others.
In a regular scavenger hunt, you would plant items for your team members to physically hunt and find. But because team members may be separated by large distances, this type of physical participation isn’t feasible.
Instead, you’re going to challenge your employees to find items that hold specific meaning for them.
For example, you can ask your team members to:
- Find the item that makes them the happiest
- Find their favorite way to connect to others
- Find an item that triggers a powerful memory
Encourage them to photograph their items — or even bring them to the next meeting — and share the story with the group.
Or, you can ask them to relate their items and their experiences to the rest of the team via email, or, for a novel change of pace, via hand-written letter.
4) Rose And Thorn
Rose and Thorn is a great virtual team building activity that gets everyone to open up about the things that make them happy and the things that are challenging in their life.
Here’s how it work:
- Pick someone to start (or lead off yourself).
- Ask that person to share one rose and one thorn.
- A rose is anything (person, place, thing, experience) that makes them feel positive in some way.
- A thorn is a challenge they’re experiencing at the moment.
- Roses and thorns can be work related or non-work related.
Here are a few examples of roses and thorns to give you an idea of how it works.
- Rose: I completed my fitness challenge for the day.
- Thorn: Chapter 20 in our book club book made me miss my parents something awful.
- Rose: My daughter is really enjoying her online schooling.
- Thorn: I really miss going to the movies.
- Rose: We just finished a big part of the current project.
- Thorn: The client made some substantial changes that will delay the project.
Rose and Thorn is an ideal way to start all your virtual meetings because it doesn’t take much time (about one minute per person), it gets everyone talking, and it helps everyone connect.
5) Lamp, Fireplace, Or Candle
Lamp, Fireplace, or Candle is a quick virtual team building activity that you can do at the beginning or end of a meeting as a way to get everyone thinking and talking.
You don’t want to do it every week (or even every month) because answers won’t change much. But, if the composition of your team changes periodically, you can work it into the rotation of other team building activities to add a variety.
Here’s what you do:
- Pose this situation to your team: “You’re alone in a dark cabin. All you have is one match, an oil lamp, a fireplace, and a candle. Which would you light first?”
- Allow a minute or so for everyone to think about and choose their answer.
- Give each participant the opportunity to share their choice and the reasoning behind it.
Regardless of whether you run this activity at the beginning or the end of a meeting, be sure to leave a bit of time for discussion.
6) Team Collage
This virtual team building activity takes a bit of preparation, but the employee engagement rewards are well worth the effort.
A week before you want to run this activity, ask everyone on your team to take a picture of something — anything, really, that’s SFW — and upload that image to a shared document.
Arrange the images in a collage and then, during the meeting, share the document on your screen or have everyone access the document. Take a few minutes to talk about the images, say what you enjoy about them, or ask questions.
You can also customize this virtual team building activity by creating themes for the pictures, such as:
- Something that makes you happy
- Your workspace
- Favorite outfit
- Messiest hair
- The most colorful thing in your house
- Contents of your refrigerator
- Your coolest skill
Save these collages and use them again during your team’s end-of-year or other holiday meeting.
7) Emoji Song
Emoji Song is one of our favorite virtual team building activities.
Here’s how it works:
- Each person takes a turn sharing their screen.
- Set a timer for three to five minutes.
- Using a program that generates emojis (a text app, MS Word, Google Docs), the person types out the name of their favorite song (or the one most-recently played on their device) in nothing but emojis.
- The other members of the team take turns trying to guess the name of the song until the timer runs out.
- At the end of the time, if no one has guessed, reveal the song and share what motivated you to play it.
Alternatively, you, as the host of the virtual team building activity, could display the emoji songs and challenge the team to work together to guess the title.
Coordinating Virtual Team Building Activities
Coordinating virtual team building activities can be tricky. Especially when your team works in different cities, states, time zones, or countries.
With a widely distributed team, communication and effective scheduling are the keys to success. The Sling app makes both of those activities easier than ever before.
With the Sling suite of tools, you can:
- Set up all manner of work schedules (from simple to complex) and virtual team building activities
- Customize your communication (to an individual, a location, or everyone on the team)
- Manage time off
- Coordinate availability
- Simplify shift-trade requests
- Streamline payroll
- Track hours worked
- And much more
The built-in artificial intelligence even provides suggestions for better scheduling and notifies you when there’s a conflict.
Sign up for a free account and see for yourself how Sling can improve your virtual team building activities and the way your whole team works together.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.