Team building activities play a critical role in the workplace. It’s one of the best ways for team members to form bonds to help them work together more effectively.
This fact doesn’t change even in a remote workplace. Team building activities might be even more important for team members who never get the chance to see their colleagues in person.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of team-building activities in a remote workplace and learn about a few fun things you can do to help your team get to know each other better.
Benefits of Team Building Activities in Remote Teams
Team building is just as essential for remote teams as in-person teams. Here are some of the most significant benefits of hosting these types of activities for teams working remotely:
- Allows team members to connect and have fun beyond work
- Improves team collaboration and teamwork
- Enhances the way team members communicate with each other
- Makes team members feel that they are part of the team despite differences in timezones and locations
- Helps team members resolve conflicts more effectively
- Builds a healthy team culture
- Improves relationships between managers and their direct reports
- Boosts morale and improves employee well-being
When planning team-building activities for remote teams, it's essential to consider the unique challenges of remote work, such as different time zones and work schedules. Although this might be tricky, remember that the goal is to create a sense of unity and connectedness among team members, even if they are physically distant.
25 Remote Team Building Activities
If you’ve been in a team-building activity before, you probably remember that most activities require participants to be physically together.
But technology has made it possible for team members to build friendships at work even if they have never seen each other face to face. Many teams have even transitioned their DEI activities and other workplace programs to a fully remote setup, allowing even more people to join, no matter where team members are located.
Here are some team-building activities that your remote team can enjoy virtually:
1. Online Birthday Celebrations
Let’s start with something simple. Especially if you have quite a large team, there are bound to be a few birthday celebrations each month. What better way for the team to bond than celebrating their teammate’s birthday?
Have everyone gather in Microsoft Teams and take turns wishing the birthday celebrant well. You can even play some of the remote games listed below in true birthday party fashion.
2. Weird Holidays
Did you know that there are a ton of weird holidays celebrated all over the world?
You can all celebrate National Alien Abductions Day on March 20 and dress up as extraterrestrials at an online gathering, or take part in Talk Like Shakespeare Day on April 23 and see whose vocabulary is wide enough to keep up their Shakespearean persona all day on all your group chats, emails, and even video calls.
A simple Google search will show you different weird holidays celebrated throughout the year, so you’ll never really run out of things to celebrate together as a team.
3. Two Truths and a Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is a popular icebreaker that became a huge hit when people around the globe started working remotely. Participants will say three statements about themselves – two are true, while one is a lie. Once the statements are given, the rest of the team guesses which of those was a lie.
This activity is a fun way for people to get to know each other. Sometimes, you’d hear the funniest and weirdest statement and expect it to be a lie, only to find out it’s true!
4. Never Have I Ever
Another classic icebreaker, Never Have I Ever, made its rounds as a drinking game but can also be tweaked as a team-building activity for work.
The rules are simple – participants take turns declaring something they have never done before. Those who have never done that same thing before either will perform a specific action. Traditionally, the action would be drinking beer from a red cup or taking a shot. But in a virtual setting, this action could be anything from merely raising their hand or maybe drawing a line on their face using lipstick. The more outrageous the action, the better!
5. Five Fingers Showdown
Five Fingers Showdown is another activity that helps team members learn more about each other in a fun way.
All participants hold their five fingers up. Then, they take turns saying a personal fact or a life experience. It could be anything like “speaks ten languages” or “has visited every state in the country.” Then, everybody else who has had the same experience or could do the same thing mentioned puts one finger down.
The team can decide who gets to be the winner – the one who has all their fingers folded first or the one who’s left with the most fingers still pointing upwards.
6. Virtual Murder Mystery
Who doesn’t love a good murder mystery? There’s no better way for teams to put their heads together and show everyone how good their teamwork is than by solving a classic whodunit scenario.
Check out teambuilding.com for virtual mystery games that last for around 45 to 90 minutes each, depending on the scenario. With a host ready to take the entire team through the experience, you can choose among different storylines like Murder in Ancient Egypt, Murder in the Speakeasy, and so much more.
7. Virtual Escape Room
If you’re not a fan of murder mysteries but are still keen on solving a puzzle or two, then maybe a virtual escape room is a better fit for you. Fashioned after the usual escape rooms where groups find clues and figure out how to get out of differently-themed rooms on time, this activity has been recreated to cater to remote participants.
Escapely can lead your team through this activity, giving you a choice among themes like Escape the Desert Island, Escape the Ice Palace, Escape the Basement, and more.
8. Virtual Movie Session
If hosted events are not for you, you can keep things simpler by choosing a movie to watch together! Hoping to get a few screams out of the group? Go for a horror movie and schedule it at night. Would you rather let them roll on the floor laughing? Then a good comedy can do the job.
You can even make things more interesting by sending popcorn and soda to your team members so everyone can have the full movie experience right from home.
9. Virtual Dance Party
Witness how everyone busts a move by having a virtual dance party! This is another simple activity that requires nothing more than sharing audio from Spotify or iTunes on your chosen virtual platform like Microsoft Teams or Zoom.
See how everyone dances to the latest pop hits, or you can choose an era like the 70s or the 80s to make things more interesting. You can give a prize to the best dancers, or even a special award to team members who also choose to dress up for the event.
10. Music Hangout
Not everyone dances, but everyone surely appreciates a tune or two. Gather the team and have them share songs on repeat on their playlists.
This is a great way to see each other’s musical tastes. It would also be a good way for everyone to add new music to their playlists.
You can even create a collaborative playlist on Spotify and have everyone add a few songs to it.
Yes, even this classic now has an online version. This isn’t surprising, knowing that even the original game is simple enough to play anywhere, anytime.
Just split the group into two teams. Whoever’s acting out the word or phrase will be spotlighted so everybody else can see the visual cues. Use an online generator to create a phrase or word to guess.
12. War of the Wizards
War of the Wizards is a hosted game experience where everyone plays the role of wizards caught in a war. By solving different puzzles and completing challenges, team members can earn items that will eventually help them end the war.
It’s a mix of the things that make murder mysteries and escape rooms addicting but with the added element of magic!
13. Show and Tell
Go back to one of the activities that made school exciting and have a virtual show and tell! You can assign members to present something interesting every week or decide to hold one grand event and have everyone share on the same day!
You can assign themes for every session too. Have them talk about their pets one day, then do a “most prized possession” or “oldest thing you own” theme on other days.
14. Pancakes vs. Waffles
A short team-building activity that could be nicely inserted in your monthly team meeting, Pancakes vs. Waffles allows team members to exercise their right to vote by choosing which breakfast staple they can live without.
Team members can justify their choices, allowing others to think about the reason behind their choices, too. Once the votes have been cast, you can think about the next food to pit against whichever option wins the first round. You can go for pancakes vs. pizza next or waffles vs. burgers. It’s up to you!
15. Guess the Background
This one’s another easy-to-do activity that would require some early preps for your team members. Just have everyone prepare a virtual background that could range from a part of their home to notable places around the world.
Once everyone has set their chosen backgrounds, put one team member on spotlight and let everyone guess what the background is. The first one who guesses correctly wins a point.
If you have a lot of time, ask team members to have a few backgrounds ready so that you can play a few rounds.
16. Scavenger Hunt
Have everyone running around the house, looking for a list of items! This modern version of a scavenger hunt will be the ultimate test of how fast people can find the required objects and how well they know where everything’s hidden around the house!
You can make things more interesting by giving them item descriptions instead of an actual list. For example, you can ask them to find ten things they use on their head or seven things that start with the letter P.
17. Craft Wars
Why stop at a regular scavenger hunt? Take it a step further by getting team members to take everyday household items and build something. You can have a theme and have everyone build robots or planes using anything they can get their hands on at home or give everyone free rein on what they want to build.
You can ask the entire team to vote for another team member who they think did a great job or get someone from a different department to be the judge.
18. Name One
Prepare a list of categories, then group the entire team into pairs. Choose a pair to start with, then have them take turns naming one item each under your chosen category.
For example, you can use the category “Pasta.” The first person can say “spaghetti,” then the other could say “lasagna.” Then, the first person goes again, then the second person. The first person to run out of something to say is out of the game. Then, go to the next pair and do the same thing.
From there, you can have the winners paired up and face each other in the next few rounds until only one winner is left.
Alternatively, you can skip pairing the participants up and have everyone take turns naming one thing under the category. This is ideal if you’re only inserting this activity as a quick icebreaker.
19. Remote Work Bingo
Bingo is always fun, even when done remotely. Using the usual Bingo card layout, you can fill the boxes up with things like “can speak more than three languages,” “has been working here for over five years,” or “has their own YouTube channel.” Then, send copies of the bingo cards to each team member.
Have them print out their bingo cards. Then, have everyone discreetly approach each team member through direct message and start marking the boxes. The first one who fills up their card wins.
20. Virtual Book Club
Books are a great way to give team members time away from their screens. You can put together a list of books everyone can read and have them meet weekly to discuss their insights about the book.
Not exactly a team of bookworms? That’s okay. You can make variations of this activity by changing it to a virtual podcast club, a virtual movie club, and so on.
21. Team Walks
Take a peek at everyone else’s community by holding team walks. You can have everyone simultaneously walk around their neighborhood for a few minutes and admire each other’s surroundings.
Alternatively, you can assign one person each week to walk and show you all around while the rest of the team observes from their home offices.
22. Trivia Nights
Trivia nights are also a fun way of getting the entire team together and finding out what kind of stock knowledge they have. Whether you want each session to focus on a different theme or prefer having a single event where players get to answer random trivia questions about anything and everything is up to you!
The number of teams you form would depend on how large the group is. You can even have everyone competing against each other individually, with players getting eliminated each round.
23. Question for the Week
Though trivia games might be fun, some team members might feel intimidated, especially if they’re not exactly the competitive type. So if you want to tone it down while still giving everyone a chance to participate, having a question of the week could be a great way to do that.
It can be anything from “What’s your favorite color?” to “What are the top 3 things on your bucket list?” This activity is actually simple enough to be done via any of your channels or chat groups if you don’t want to put people on the spot during a video call. Either way, it’s a great way to learn new things about each team member.
24. Remote Team Lunch or Dinner
Who says eating together has to be done in person? By having virtual team lunches or team dinners, everyone gets to have the usual fun banter over meals while still enjoying the comforts of home.
You can either have food delivered to each team member’s home or just have everyone prepare their own meals. Then, everyone can join a video conference and pretend you’re all eating together.
25. Virtual Coffee
Not enough time for a full lunch or dinner? Then virtual coffee breaks could be the thing for your team.
Virtual coffee breaks are a great way to continue the traditional water cooler talk but done remotely. Despite the name, everyone’s free to bring their beverage of choice, especially for non-coffee drinkers!
What’s great about virtual coffee chats is that there is no pressure to stick to a program. It’s just two people hanging out online, asking each other different questions about work, life, and anything under the sun.
It’s truly amazing how the workplace has evolved, and how team-building activities have shifted to remote platforms makes it even better. This means that there is an endless list of activities and programs you can initiate to help team members find meaningful friendships at work.
Why CoffeePals is Great for Team Building
Team building activities are a must-have in any workplace setting, whether in-person, hybrid, or remote. The great thing about CoffeePals is that you can use the app in all three settings.
CoffeePals seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Teams and provides a platform not just for virtual coffee but also for mentoring programs, one-on-one meetings, and group conversations.
The app does it all for you, removing a considerable amount of work from your plate. From automatically matching people and scheduling their virtual coffee meetups to coming up with weekly questions that the entire team can answer, it’s a great solution that automatically promotes team building on a regular basis.
CoffeePals is great for:
- Growing deeper connections among team members through one-on-one and group conversations
- Building more extensive networks through cross-team or cross-department communication
- Connecting mentors and mentees by providing a space where they can learn and grow together
- Creating a positive experience for new hires being onboarded
- Showing team members that your workplace is not just about work – it’s also about fun, friendships, and meaningful connections
It all starts with the decision to give your employees the kind of workplace that promotes growth. So set the right tools in place and create a calendar for your remote team-building activities. By doing this, you help your people grow as individuals and as entire teams.