The new normal of hybrid work is here to stay.
In fact, a recent Envoy poll found that nearly half (47%) of employees said they would look for another job if their current employer didn’t offer hybrid work.
Although hybrid work brings great flexibility, it also means that team members don’t experience the same camaraderie and day-to-day interactions enjoyed by on-site workers. This can leave remote workers feeling lonely and isolated.
That’s why we at CoffeePals have developed a suite of tools for Microsoft Teams that lets remote workers build connections and interact with their colleagues.
In this article, we take a look at some team-building activities that will help to keep your remote employees engaged and motivated.
Why is Hybrid Team Building Important?
Remote work can lead to employees feeling isolated. Many new hires who join an organization in a remote or hybrid role report that they struggle to fit into their new team and find it difficult to develop meaningful relationships with their co-workers.
That’s why remote team leaders must act to ensure that all team members feel fully engaged.
To foster this sense of engagement and boost team morale, team leaders should:
- Develop interpersonal connections: By engaging with their team members and getting to know them, employees can develop friendships and a good rapport with remote colleagues.
- Establish trust and improve collaboration: By building a rapport with remote workers and allowing them a space in which they can collaborate with other team members, you build trust and camaraderie among your team.
- Break down the barrier between remote and on-site staff: Trust is difficult to build when you have remote and on-site staff separated. Through team-building activities, you can break down the barrier between remote and in-office staff.
Best Team Building Activities for Hybrid Working
Below we take a look at some of the best practices when it comes to building team morale among remote and hybrid employees.
Virtual Coffee Mornings
The power of meeting over coffee cannot be overstated. In a world where meetings are often rigid and formal, the humble coffee break is a perfect way to let new colleagues break the ice and get to know each other better.
Of course, you can't drink the same coffee in your office kitchen remotely, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate the coffee morning experience virtually.
That’s where CoffeePals comes in. Here’s how our coffee morning add-on for Microsoft Teams works.
- Once you’ve added our CoffeePals bot to your Microsoft Teams workspace, we’ll randomly match people within your organization in pairs - or indeed, groups - to have a chat.
- These matches can be customized according to your team-building goals. Are you looking to pair up experienced team members with new hires? You can set those parameters and our matching bot will take care of the rest.
- Once your pairings have been made, CoffeePals’ bot will send each person a "match card". They can then schedule a time to meet.
Suggesting a set time when people should meet may be a good idea to make sure people don’t forget to participate. You should have a chat with your team and find out what time works for them before forcing people to be available for a virtual coffee break.
Need some help with coming up with questions for your coffee chats? Check out our guide on what to talk about over coffee to improve your networking.
Solving a Murder Mystery
Who doesn’t love a classic who dunnit? A murder mystery game can get your colleagues to collaborate by having them solve problems together in a fun and competitive environment.
The first step is to pick a theme for your murder mystery game.
Popular themes include:
- The 1920’s Jazz Age or Great Gatsby.
- 1940’s America.
- Ancient Egypt.
- Haunted House.
- The Wild West.
- The magical world of Harry Potter.
Writing your own intriguing murder mystery can be tricky. We recommend using some online materials to speed up the process.
You can buy murder mystery packs that set out the characters and the story you’ll need to follow. There are a number of free options online.
Free Form Games released a great Wild West murder mystery called Way out West. Need a roaring ’20s-themed story? Why not try Jazz Age Jeopardy. These packs will have all the instructions you’ll need to get started.
You can run your virtual murder mystery pretty much the same as an in-person one. Each player will assume the role of a character and the ‘host’ will detail the events that will occur.
Murder mystery games can take quite a long time - and aren’t suitable for the work day. If your team members are up for it, a mystery game can be a great way to bond after work. This will also give you a chance to dress up and get creative at home.
This team-building game pokes fun at project presentations by letting your team members come up with wacky ideas to present to the group.
Here’s how it works.
You assign your players to teams of around 2-4 members. We recommend letting your teams work over their proposal in breakout rooms. Give each team a creative prompt on a project or product to develop and send them away to come up with a presentation based on it.
What sort of prompts are we looking for? Anything that’s outlandish and vague enough to let your team members come up with something unexpected.
The popular party game Jackbox explores this in their minigame Patently Stupid. In this game, players are given silly "consumer problems" and are tasked with coming up with a product and a tagline to solve them.
Inspired by Patently Stupid, here are some of our suggestions for these consumer problems:
- “I can’t stop losing my keys!”
- “I don’t have a social life because of all the ghosts!”
- “A big scary dog keeps stopping me from working out!”
- “I want to impress people with my impeccable charisma!”
We know, it’s incredibly silly, but lighthearted briefs help inspire wacky creativity and are tons of fun to work with.
If your team primarily works in B2B, why not add a business twist to it?
- “My employees keep getting eaten by lions!”
- “Help! My business is at risk of being bought out by John Cena!”
- “How do I stop my customers from churning?!”
If your team has fewer than eight members, Patently Stupid from Jackbox Party Pack 5 is an easy way to host this activity. It’s not too difficult to do it yourself and you’re more likely to come up with creative results if you come up with your own ideas.
Recreate the "Water Cooler"
In popular culture, a "water cooler moment" is when employees gather round the company’s water cooler to take a moment to chat and share their thoughts on the day’s events.
The idea is that these small conversations happen when employees are huddled around a water cooler to get some refreshment. Small talk and chit-chat is a great way to encourage harmony within your team and can help break up a work day and alleviate stress.
Many remote workers miss casual interactions the most when they work at a distance from their colleagues. That’s why at CoffeePals we have worked to digitize the water cooler so that remote workers can enjoy fun ‘water cooler’ conversations with their colleagues.
With the Coffee Maker, you can easily automate the process. By simply adding our bot to your MS Teams workspace and designating a "water cooler" channel, you can let workers interact in a casual way with one another.
Every once in a while (Wednesday and Friday by default) the bot will post a question or topic to a channel. This should help to spark conversation and get workers interacting.
Build a more cohesive team with CoffeePals
When working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement, it can be really difficult to keep team members engaged and feeling part of the group.
Team-building exercises have always been a great way to promote team cohesion, but when you have some staff working from home, it’s tricky to include them.
That’s why it’s so important to consider virtual team-building activities so that you can keep remote staff onside and engaged.
We’ve given you four brilliant options for virtual team-building ideas, but there are plenty more out there.
Let CoffeePals boost morale
CoffeePals is a Microsoft Teams add-on that adds great team-building features right into your Microsoft Teams workspace. Check out our random matching feature to facilitate coffee mornings or consider adding our Coffee Maker bot to your chat channels to get fun ice breaker questions and prompts.
You can try out CoffeePals for free with a 14-day free trial. Our platform is free forever for small teams!