Whether your Business Team is normally remote and works together via Virtual Conferencing or your team has been forced to work partially or completely remotely due to COVID19.
We have put together this list of ideas to use to continue to build team work and a higher team engagement. Sometimes just taking a few minutes can really pay dividends in helping your team stay connected.
There could be a number of buckets you fall into such as:
- Experienced working Remote/Virtual
- New at working Remote/Virtual
- Forced to work Remote/Virtual for a short term basis
Regardless of the reason for your virtual work, this list of ideas and activities will be helpful to you in improving and sustaining team engagement.
If you want better engagement or to maintain the team work you have now within you team then maintaining and building trust is key.
It is important to understand the objective of the activity as you plan on what you want to do. Many team building activities and games can meet multiple objectives but understanding where you want to go makes it much more likely for you to get there when you start with the desired outcome in mind.
Table of Contents
- What is Virtual Team Building?
- Why is Virtual Team Building Important?
- 18 Easy Virtual Team Building Activities & Ideas To Get You Started
- Virtually Building Real Teams & Relationships Remotely
What is Virtual Team Building?
Virtual Team Building is the process of motivating and encouraging your team through stronger team relationships remotely. This is done through some form of a virtual team building activities, games or exercises.
This should be part of everyone’s toolkit for building trust and improving their teamwork.
Why is Virtual Team Building Important?
Virtual Team Building activities are important because they can build trust within your team. Yes, even though you aren’t physically present together you can still improve team trust and strengthen positive team dynamics.
- 74% less stress
- 106% more energy at work
- 50% higher productivity
- 13% fewer sick days
- 76% more engagement
- 29% more satisfaction with their lives
- 40% less burnout
The data shows that developing and maintaining a high-trust company will provide a range of significant impacts to improving your teams work and life.
As a leader you might be concerned with:
- Are your team members feeling isolated and demotivated?
- Is there a lack of trust within your team?
- Are your remote team members struggling due to personal reasons?
- Dealing with a loss of productivity
Or a team member concerned with:
- Lack of motivation individually or as a team
- High levels of stress
- Low team engagement
- Declining job satisfaction
- Increase in feeling burnt out
The statistics are quite compelling in helping to show the value of building a culture of trust and a team that operates together.
See 4 key points that Harvard Business Review suggests for Virtual Teams.
This should help you start to see why this is important and understand some things you can do to improve the way your team operates.
As your team members feel valued and connected they will do better work and be more productive. This productivity can be the difference in improving your bottom line.
Some of these ideas and activities will be more structured and reminiscent of what you would typically envision when you think of team building activities. Many people have a love-hate relationship and really connect or disconnect with these types of activities.
This is why you will see a mix of ideas that help teams to be connected. Some ideas are personal actions, others are group activities. Please don’t discount something just because it is easy or simple.
Really think about what your team needs and set some goals to consistently take action in moving toward your goal.
Some examples that focus on strengthening your company or team cultures in certain ways are listed below with a general thought followed by some potential specific goals.
- Showing more appreciation by taking the time to recognize others
- Recognize 5 Team members each week by text, phone or email when a team member does something positive
- Sending 5 E-cards each week to team members to recognize positive team behaviors and accomplishments
- Taking time to bond or get to know each other on a personal level each staff meeting
- Adding an agenda item to the weekly or monthly staff meeting to spend 5 mins on a team building moment* each week.
- Facilitate one team building activity each month
*This can look very different for each team depending on what you need. It could be get to know you type ideas listed below or others you come up with.
It could be a Team Building Spotlight to highlight positive behaviors and accomplishments of the team or team members.
These are just a couple ideas for you to start your mind thinking about this in a way that you can take action and hold yourself accountable.
Some of the ideas listed are individual actions that you could do to strengthen team relationships and effectiveness as team member or leader.
Others engage the whole team together and should be done as a team.
8 Team Strengthening Ideas
1. Show Gratitude
“Expressing gratitude improves well-being for both expressers and recipients”
So send an E-card to a team member saying Thanks or Good Job!
2. Say “Thank You!”
“Saying “thank you” — sincerely and with heart — feels good.”
Peter Bregman, CEO of Bregman Partners 
Who doesn’t like feeling good? No one! So remember to literally say Thank you.
Julie Stillman, Inc.com Contribtuor 
3. Team Get-To-Know-You Quizzes
This could be done as part of a meeting or standalone by email. It could be done as a series of questions or a single question. It could be multiple choice question or True/False question. It could be done one team member at a time and rotated between the team or it could be done as a group.
This gives the ultimate flexibility to make this fit in a very small window of 5 mins to a more involved activity.
4. Virtual Team Meetings
This will look different for everyone but figure out what is right for your team and hold virtual team meetings.
The format and style also can change from team to team and company to company so don’t be afraid to adjust.
But video is a huge factor in how effective your virtual meetings are based on these recent stats.
- 94% of businesses say video conferencing increases productivity 
- 90% of respondents say video makes it easier to get their point across 
- 89% of respondents agree that video conferencing reduces time to complete projects or tasks 
- 89% of users say video conferencing helps them feel connected 
5. Team Building Moment
Take a few minutes to recognize or share a team building characteristic or team work principle with your team. This is most effective if you can also recognize someone in your team for demonstrating this desired team building characteristic.
This could easily be added to your weekly or monthly staff meeting as a 5 min agenda item.
6. Picture Sharing
Set up some time to spotlight a team member and let them share some photos or pictures they like and explain why they picked them to share.
They could be personal photos or based on a hobby or interest or even something funny that is appropriate to share with everyone.
You could also do this as a group activity and take turns sharing. Everyone could share why they like
7. Fact Sharing
This is another Get-To-Know-You better activity where you could spotlight one team member or do it as a group.
Share something interesting, fun, or even boring with you team that they don’t know. This is a quick chance for team members to get know each other a little more.
8. Perfect Vacation
This is another Get-To-Know-You better activity where you could spotlight one team member or do it as a group.
The idea with this one is that you share what your perfect vacation is with your co-workers. This is also another way for team members to get know each other a little more.
10 Team Building Activities or Games
1. Show & Tell
Good old fashion show and tell everyone can bring something to show and share with the team.
Another simple and quick way to get to know your team better.
2. Psych! Outwit Your Friends
Psych is an app that you can play a game of wits on for free. Several decks are free and they do now offer some paid “decks” or versions within the game as well. (usually $1-$3)
Download this app to play a game that is a lot of fun and you get know folks better in a fun environment.
Each person playing takes turns stating two true statements about themselves and one false statement.
After each person says their statement, the other group members have to try to figure out which one they made up.
Check out our 4 different variations on this game to change it up a bit.
4. Bucket List
If this is new to you a Bucket List is a list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket” or pass away. It could include anything they want but commonly might be places to visit, food to eat, or activities to do.
Give team members a heads up on this one as some folks may need to take some time to create one or may want to update one they have. This is an opportunity to for team members to share what they have on their bucket list.
This is again a quick and easy activity that can help your team get closer and have some fun together learning more about each other.
5. Creative Story Telling
This will be a story made up by the whole team together. You start by numbering the group in order by number. It also works if you are sitting in a circle and just go around the circle in order.
Have each team member complete 1-2 sentences of the story and then state the same “hand off” phrase.
For an example lets use and then as the “hand off” phrase. The first person starts by making something up such as “One day I went on a hike into the forest and saw a bear on the trail and then…”
This is the hand off to the next person who is #2 or the next person in circle and they continue for 1-2 sentences saying “I stood deathly still until my dog started running towards the bear “and then…” this hands it off to #3 or the next person in the circle and this continues until everyone has had a turn.
The team member drawing the picture can use a program such as Paint to draw and share their screen to draw the word they are trying to get the others to guess.
Then the other team members try to guess what it is. You could have your group divided into two teams. The team that guesses what is being drawn wins that round and gets a point.
This can be a fun way to loosen up and have some fun as a team acting out during words for your team to guess.
If everyone has Guesstures you could also play with virtual team members anywhere.
Additionally this could be a great gift to your team members as well so everyone has it and can play together at a team activity.
Back to Back Drawing has a full description in the link and can also be done virtually with some minor adaptation.
Typically you would split the whole group into partners but doing this virtually can be done more effectively in several other ways.
You could have one person describing the shape and everyone else drawing and then they share their drawings at the end or you could have one set of partners go at a time while everyone else watches.
The second partner will draw the shape based on the first partners verbal description of it. When doing this virtually this could be drawn normally on paper and show everyone when they are complete or you could even have them draw it on an art pad or online white board.
9. Simulated Problem
Come up with a Realistic or Unrealistic Scenario that you put out hypothetically to the team to see how they would work through it.
In fact it is actually better if they try to work through it as their learning and team work would be more representative of what you might expect for a real problem.
This could be a fun and far out problem that doesn’t relate to your team or it could be a practical dry run of something that could happen or has happened in the past.
10. Virtual Book club
Survey the group to see where their interests are and come up with a book rotation that meets the interest of the team or team members that would like to participate. This also gives an avenue for folks to connect with an extra curricular activity and hold regular group meetings to review the books read in the last month.
Some of the activities are really no different than what we would do in person except that they are done virtually, while others are tweaked or updated a little to make them more effective in a remote environment. Others just work best remotely.
Many of these would literally take a few minutes to add onto an existing meeting and can really help improve the unity of your team by strengthening relationships and trust.
Virtually Building Real Teams And Relationships Remotely
Building stronger teams means more engaged teams that demonstrate high levels of the following characteristics.
- Better Communication
- Greater Understanding & Empathy
- Stronger Trust
- Good Personal Connections
- Higher Motivation
- Excellent Team Work
- Excel in Problem Solving together
- Higher Productivity
These characteristics resemble the attributes of an all star team that provide an awesome working environment.
Who doesn’t want to be on a motivated, skilled, productive, fun, and happy team?
Everybody wants to lead and work on a winning team.
So take the time to help your team be a winner.
There are also many more traditional team building games & activities found at 100+ Team Building Activities. Many of these can be adapted to make them work virtually as well.
Hoping your team, remote or not, takes the next step to winning.
Did we miss something you think should be on our list?
Are there other activities or games you’ve tried that your really liked? or really hated?
Let us know in comments below.
- Patrick Lencioni, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/218850-remember-teamwork-begins-by-building-trust-and-the-only-way
- Paul J. Zak, The Neuroscience of Trust, https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-neuroscience-of-trust
- Amit Kumar, Nicholas Epley Booth School of Business, The University of Chicago, Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation
- Peter Bregman, Do You Really Need to Say Thank You?https://hbr.org/2012/11/do-you-really-need-to-say-than
- Jessica Stillman, A New Study Busts All Your Excuses for Not Saying Thank You More, https://www.inc.com/matt-haber/jcrt-fashion-direct-to-consumer-masks-black-lives-matter-pride.html
- 10 Must-Know Video Conferencing Statistics, https://www.slideshare.net/bluejeannw/10-must-know-video-conferencing-stats
- Erinn Wolfe, Video Conferencing Statistics for 2019, https://www.lifesize.com/en/video-conferencing-blog/video-conferencing-statistics#:~:text=94%25%20of%20businesses%20say%20video,helps%20them%20feel%20connected%20%5B1%5D