By Bond Collective Staff
As remote work becomes the rule rather than the exception, virtual team building activities take on a new level of importance for the success of your business.
In this article, we discuss effective virtual team building activities you can use to build unity among your employees and in your business as a whole.
What Are Virtual Team Building Activities?
Team building, in itself, is a collective term for various types of activities — often involving collaborative tasks — used to enhance social relations and define roles within a team.
The activities serve to transform a group of individuals within a business into a cohesive team all working toward the same purpose and goal.
Historically, fostering a sense of camaraderie in your team meant gathering everyone together on-site for a video game tournament or an office happy hour. In many cases, though, those things just aren’t possible anymore.
Employees are working from home and can’t get together in the same physical space to share a meal or play board games. Everything is now done online, and team members don’t even have to live in the same country.
Enter the virtual team building activity.
Much like team building as a larger concept, virtual team building activities are meetings conducted online with the sole purpose of building trust, clarifying norms, and fostering understanding between team members.
The difficult part of the whole process is finding activities that work well online — some traditional activities do translate, while others do not.
In the next section, we discuss the team building activities that have successfully made the jump from the real world to the digital world.
Effective Virtual Team Building Activities
1) Then And Now
This activity takes a bit of preparation, but the results are well worth the effort.
A few days before the meeting, ask team members to email you a baby picture of themselves. Then, once everyone is gathered together online, display the pictures one at a time and challenge your employees to match the baby picture with the coworker.
The variations for this game are endless — teams vs. individuals, penalties for wrong guesses, a maximum number of guesses per turn — so be creative and this will quickly become one of your favorite virtual team building activities.
2) Typing Test
As virtual activities go, this is one of our favorites. For those of us who spend the bulk of the day pounding keys, our WPM is a source of pride that can lead to some healthy competition among coworkers.
There are several ways to run this game, but the easiest is to direct everyone to the same typing test website. Ideally, find one that lets everyone type the same piece of text so that the race is fair.
If you have a small number of participants, have them share their screen one at a time and try for their fastest WPM.
If you have a large number of participants, consider running all the typing tests at one time and then sharing the results.
3) Crossword Puzzle Race
At the start of the meeting, email identical crossword puzzles to everyone in the group.
Make an agreement that no one will use the internet to find answers, set a time limit, and then send small teams into breakout rooms to see who can get the most words.
If no one completes the crossword, the team with the most correct answers wins.
This virtual team building activity requires access to a digital drawing app like Microsoft Paint or some equivalent. It also requires the ability (and the skill) for participants to share their screens.
If an individual doesn’t have one or the other, they can be a guesser instead of a drawer.
Here’s how the actual game works:
Divide your employees into two teams (A and B).
Draw a Pictionary card and choose a word.
Direct-chat or IM the word to one player on team A.
Have that player share their screen and give them two minutes to draw while their teammates try to guess the word.
When time runs out, give team A one more guess. If they don’t get the right answer, give team B one guess as a chance to steal.
Switch sides and let team B draw.
Because these rounds are short, you can conduct a number of them throughout the meeting. Keep the same teams and calculate the total score at the end to determine the winning team, or treat each session as its own game and mix the teams every time.
5) Fact Or Fiction
Before the virtual team building activities commence, have your remote employees email you two facts and one fiction about themselves (make sure they label which are true and which is false).
For plausibility’s sake — and to make the game harder — tell your employees not to make the fiction too outlandish. “I’ve been to the moon” is much more of an obvious lie than, “I’ve been to the steppes of Russia.”
At the start of the game, choose someone to reveal the three pieces of information about themselves. Better yet, you go first and start the process. Then allow the rest of the group to decide what is fact and what is fiction.
To foster discussion, leave plenty of time for questions if the facts are really unique.
6) Emoji That Tune
Emoji That Tune is another of our favorite virtual team building activities. The premise is relatively simple, but the execution itself can make for a lot of laughs.
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, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or some other tech), the person types out the name of their favorite song (or the one played most recently 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, the screen-sharer will reveal the song and share what motivated them to play it.
Alternatively, you, as the host of the virtual team building activity, can display the emojis and challenge the team to work together to guess the title.
Location And Virtual Team Building Activities
At first glance, real estate and virtual team building activities may seem drastically different. And, in most ways, they are. But, in one very important aspect, the two share a strong influence that can make or break their success. That variable is location, location, location.
It might seem like an insignificant thing, but what your team can see behind you has a very real effect on how they engage with you and the rest of the team. It can even affect their attention span and their enjoyment of the whole process.
Would you rather your team’s attention be on the dirty laundry draped over the chair behind you or on each other and the game you’re playing? Our vote would be the latter.
That’s why it’s so important to choose the right space from which to host all of your online meetings — location really is everything for virtual team building activities.
If you’re running the meeting from your home or apartment, at the very least, position the camera so that it captures as little of your living space as possible. A blank or sparsely decorated wall is best.
The best option, of course, is to run your meetings from a conference room or other professional workspace. The coworking spaces at Bond Collective are the perfect solution.
At Bond Collective, we provide:
Private meeting rooms
Private phone booths
Fast, reliable WiFi and Ethernet connections
Unlimited black and white printing
Access to other portfolio locations
And other industry-leading amenities
With access to those spaces and that infrastructure, your virtual team building activities will go off without a hitch and bring your distributed team closer than ever before.
Visit any one of Bond Collective’s many locations in the United States, including workspaces in New York, California, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Illinois, Tennessee, and Texas. Or call us today to find out more about everything we have to offer.
And while you’re at it, schedule a tour to experience first-hand how the boutique work environments at Bond Collective can benefit your business.