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Virtual Team-Building Activities: How to Plan the Best Remote Team-Building Events?

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Post-COVID-19 pandemic, some new habits remain and remote work is one of them. As a convenient, flexible, and economical approach to office work, many companies and their employees are happy to embrace it long-term. Yet, for all its merits, it does have downsides too. Building meaningful relationships between coworkers is a challenging aspect of the arrangement as team members don’t get to mingle during breaks or over lunch as they would at the office. 

That’s where remote team-building activities come in. What are virtual team-building activities? How to choose the best virtual activities for your team? Here’s what you need to know.

What Are Virtual Team-Building Activities?

Icebreaker games, company outings, happy hours, corporate retreats… When it comes to traditional team-building activities, there are many approaches to choose from. Depending on the size of your team, the time at your disposal, and your budget, you can find various ways to encourage cooperation and trust to carry over to the workplace. The benefits of a retreat, for instance, go well beyond a nice break from day-to-day routine.

In remote work settings, however, bringing coworkers together for an impromptu gathering is impossible. Even organizing outings and events can be challenging due to locations and work schedule incompatibility. The good news is that you can recreate the fun and bonding effects of team-building activities in a virtual setting, thus eliminating the need for physical get-togethers if they’re inconvenient for you and your team. Virtual team-building activities are like their traditional counterparts in almost every way, except they happen in the digital world.

According to a Gallup study, workplace isolation – exacerbated by remote working conditions – can derail productivity by up to 21 percent. Being cut off from the office means the signs of acknowledgment and camaraderie employees would receive regularly are practically absent, impacting their morale significantly and hindering engagement.

Gallup goes on to say that virtual team-building activities enhance the employees’ performance rate. It also states that virtual teamwork leads to 42 percent lower absenteeism and 21 percent higher profitability.

What Are the Challenges of Working Remotely?

Remote working conditions are characterized by the feeling of isolation they can create. Without the social structure of a physical workplace, the boundaries can become blurred and the expectations unclear, resulting in a fragmented community and employees feeling out of touch. This “cabin fever” is amplified by the fact that loneliness is not just a feeling. It is truly palpable in everything remote workers do.

According to a recent report by RW3, LLC, a cultural training service, 46 percent of employees who work on virtual teams said they had never met their virtual team members. An additional 30 percent stated that they only met the rest of their team once a year.

Ninety percent of virtual team members admit they don’t have enough time during virtual meetings to build relationships. This is not surprising, as the point of these exchanges is not to socialize. The focus is on work matters. The main difference with on-site meetings is that there is no opportunity to continue the conversation after the session, for example. Instead, everyone signs out of the conference call and carries on with their respective tasks. Eighty-five percent of respondents noted an “absence of collegiality” among virtual team members. The same source explains that remote employees tend to work in a silo. Unlike in a regular office, they rarely get the chance to interact with their peers and managers informally.

This lack of exchanges translates into poor communication on a personal and professional level and can be damaging for the company as a whole.

Virtual Team-Building: A Key Aspect of Today’s Remote Work Environment

Virtual team-building activities take the digital environment into account. They don’t just work around it. They integrate it to create bonding experiences with multiple benefits:

•   Virtual team-building activities foster good relationships between employees. When people care about each other, they feel more committed to their roles.

•   Remote team-building activities provide support for new hires who need to feel that they can open up to the rest of the team and ask for help.

•   Team-building exercises in the digital world boost team morale, which is essential for team members who may otherwise feel isolated.

•   Virtual team building supports innovation and creativity by taking the participants out of their comfort zone and promoting outside-the-box thinking.

•   Virtual activities reinforce company values and create a sense of togetherness.

•   Virtual team-building activities offer a well-deserved and energizing break from the monotony of constant Zoom calls. An effective way to kick Zoom fatigue to the curb!

How to Manage Team-Building Virtually?

The resources needed for great virtual team-building sessions are nothing remote workers don’t already possess:

•   Video chat platforms;

•   Messaging platforms;

And that’s it! Depending on the team event you have in mind, being able to interact seamlessly will allow you to try out many virtual team-building ideas.

What Types of Teams Are the Most Likely to Benefit from Virtual Team Activities?

The benefits of virtual team-building activities extend to any workforce that operates remotely. With that said, certain groups would find it more essential than others.

Busy Executives

Executives tend to work on high-pressure activities that move the company forward. They have busy schedules and, even in office environments, find little time to enjoy unstructured moments to build relationships. Virtual group activities provide this respite and foster growth between executives and team members.

Distributed and International Teams

For employees who work in separate locations and never get to meet the rest of the team in person, it’s easy to feel isolated. Hosting virtual activities in a low-pressure environment minimizes the feeling of isolation and contributes to building a positive workplace culture.

Shy or Isolated Team Members

Some team members have a shy disposition and will find it easier to communicate during virtual activities with little to no stakes. Fortunately, team leaders can identify situations where reserved team members flourish and select remote team-building games or exercises accordingly.

Sales Teams

For salespeople, motivation often stems from competition rather than collaboration. Unfortunately, this can be detrimental to the group. Virtual team exercises can help remote sales representatives understand the value of cooperation. Virtual activities with their coworkers will also develop presentation, communication, and listening skills, all useful assets for the group as a whole and the sales team’s prospects and clients.

Examples of Virtual Team-Building Activities

Team-building activities can be as quick and simple or as long and involved as you are willing to make them, and that’s a good thing! As far as team-building is concerned, there is no one-size-fits-all. Having an array of possibilities will help you ensure your remote activities or exercises befit the situation and the participants.

Icebreaker Activities

Icebreaker activities are quick, easy, and require little to no preparation. In just a few minutes, these fun games and exercises help team members get to know each other and feel more comfortable working together. Emoji storytelling, for example, is a great way to give them a chance to share something about themselves, their mood, their weekend, etc. 2 Truth & 1 Lie digs a little deeper, inviting participants to communicate something more personal. Other options include Choose Your Favorite, Virtual Open Mic, and Rose/Thorn, where everyone shares their highs and lows of the previous week.

Group Challenges

Group challenges take things to the next level and encourage team members to come together to accomplish an unusual task. They must rely on their problem-solving and communication skills to reach their goal and win the game. These virtual team-building activities include virtual escape rooms, where participants come together to solve a mystery. You could also try a virtual scavenger hunt, where each group scours the web in search of images, GIFs, memes, and more to be the first to collect them all.

Gaming Sessions

Gaming is something many employees already enjoy in their spare time. Why not do something everybody loves to wind down at the end of a stressful week? There are so many online games to choose from, and they already include challenges, immersive storylines, and everything you need to connect with the other players.

Virtual Cooking/Mixology Classes

You could organize virtual classes to encourage team members to bond over a shared experience. Learning how to make delicious cocktails or impressive Italian dishes via Zoom will put everyone on the same level and give your employees something to reminisce over. Of course, there’s no limit to the type of classes you can enjoy! Why not learn about urban gardening, musical instruments, or crocheting?

Creative Projects

Fun, artistic, and creative projects are a great way to encourage team members to express themselves and work together on something outside their ordinary work tasks. Classes, collaborative virtual painting, DIY craft competitions using only what participants can find at home… The options are endless.

Wellness Activities

Virtual yoga, meditation, and even virtual book clubs or online breakfast-in-bed meet-ups…There’s no wrong way to go about it. Choosing virtual team-building activities that focus on wellness sends a clear message to your employees: self-care matters, and it’s part of your company philosophy!

Team Retreats

What makes corporate retreats different from happy hours or typical social events is that they can appeal to workers regardless of where they are based. Since the most successful retreats are held at beautiful offsite locations, they can all rendezvous there and spend quality time together in person.

At TeamOut, we’re here to give you all the tips for a successful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day work. If you want to know how to plan a corporate retreat that your entire team will enjoy, get in touch now!

Here’s how it works: A dedicated trip designer will help you select the ideal venue, activities, and transportation based on your needs and budget. We take all the stress and complication out of orchestrating memorable team events!

Closing Thoughts on Remote Team-Building Activities

The convenience of remote working structures is no longer in doubt. Many employees now prefer working from home at least a few days a week. The downside, however, is that these habits can result in a sense of loneliness and difficulty building a genuine connection between team members. Virtual team-building activities counteract the challenges of remote work and can help you foster closeness, trust, and support among them.

About the author
Assia Dalla Vedova
Update on
Assia Dalla Vedova, a marketing maven with a rich background in tech, showcased her prowess at TeamOut (YC W22), enhancing brand presence and SEO strategy. An ESCP Business School alumna, she excels in crafting impactful digital marketing campaigns and fostering brand growth.

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