Team building activities are simpler when all your employees are under one roof. Companies with fully remote or even partially remote workforces often find team building more challenging. It’s difficult to build a company culture when employees are working offsite and communicating asynchronously.
Management and employees both need to work harder to develop rapport when they don’t see each other in person every day. In this article, we’ll provide some tips on how to continue building a strong culture by creating virtual team building activities.
What is team building?
Team building is an essential component in the creation of a company culture. It can be defined simply as getting everyone on the same page by giving them an opportunity to work together outside of the normal business environment. Historically, team building activities have been done in-person. But, with the rise of remote and hybrid work schedules, team building now requires a different approach.
Why is team building important?
For a growing small business, team building is crucial, especially when your team is spread across the country or internationally. When done successfully, team building can encourage communication among coworkers, which leads to more effective collaboration. Communication and collaboration help form the fabric of your company culture—without strong communication and trust, teams don’t work cohesively and your company mission and values can get lost in translation.
10 remote team building activities
Company picnics and trust fall exercises won’t be possible with a remote team unless you want to foot the bill for travel expenses and airfare. The key to creating remote team building activities is to use the technology that’s available. Video conferencing is the most obvious that comes to mind. Group messaging through tools like Slack and Google Chat can also help day-to-day interactions. Here are a few suggestions for remote team building events you could try at your company.
1. Virtual company events
Scheduling an all-hands meeting once a month is a great way to get the entire company together and build some team spirit. Many companies have different teams or individuals share project updates at these meetings so everyone can get to know them and be familiar with their work. Asking for feedback after a presentation can help stimulate discussion and develop new concepts and processes.
2. Remote classes for fun
Coworkers in a brick-and-mortar environment can get together for drinks and/or activities after work. Folks who live on different sides of the country can’t do that. What they can do is attend a virtual class together. This is something to consider as a quarterly team building activity. Examples are cooking classes, paint and sip get-togethers, or online bread/pastry making classes.
3. Anniversary and birthday celebrations
Having the entire office sing “Happy Birthday” over a store-bought birthday cake may have been annoying when we worked in an office with the same people day in and day out, but we tend to miss those small things when we’re by ourselves at home. An acknowledgement of a birthday or anniversary in a virtual meeting can make team members feel appreciated and seen. Coworkers reaching out after that is even better.
4. Personal trivia
Setting up personal trivia in an online meeting can be a lot of fun and help your employees get to know each other better. One of the more popular exercises in this category is called “Two Truths and a Lie,” where the player tells their coworkers two honest facts about themselves and one fake one. Other players get to guess which two are true and which one’s the lie.
5. Employee resource groups
Encouraging employees to form their own resource groups is a way to empower them to take ownership of their roles as leaders in your business. Many companies maintain resource groups for different communities, which can increase diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). These groups build trust and help create strong connections outside work.
6. Shared work playlist
Everyone likes different music, but many haven’t been exposed to what their coworkers from other backgrounds listen to. Creating a community shared playlist can expand people’s minds musically and even reduce stress. The increased sense of community that can be achieved by this exercise can make your company more productive and culturally diverse.
7. Book club
Frequent reading improves comprehension and communication skills. Find someone who considers themselves an avid reader and appoint them to be your “resident bibliophile.” Task them with setting up a company book club, complete with virtual meetings for book discussions. This will provide your team another opportunity to connect with each other about non-work topics.
8. Virtual escape room
The popularity of escape rooms has increased dramatically in recent years. Groups of friends often get together to visit brick-and-mortar escape rooms in their local area. For a fun team building activity, you can invite your team to participate in a virtual escape room. There are quite a few to choose from—do some research and find one that can sharpen your workers’ analytical and critical thinking skills.
9. Recognition events
Employees come to work every day to earn a paycheck. They stay with companies long-term when their achievements are acknowledged. Carve out time in monthly and quarterly meetings to recognize and reward team members for their achievements. You can even have some fun with it by creating specialty trophies or giving away small gifts that lighten the mood and encourage creativity.
10. Guest speakers and educational sessions
You may view yourself as a great teacher and motivator, but even the best teams eventually need inspiration from an outside leader. Shake it up a bit and invite other educators and industry professionals to talk to your employees. They’ll appreciate the change of pace, and they might even learn something new that helps improve their performance or outlook.
How to organize a virtual team building activity
Planning virtual events used to come with a lot of stress and resistance. But the world has changed, and there are plenty of options available to companies who need to take their team building efforts online. Here are some basic tips to help you put together a virtual activity for your team:
- Determine your budget. Know exactly how much you can afford to spend so you can narrow down your options to 2–3, at all ends of your price range.
- Let your team weigh in. Give your employees the opportunity to choose the type of activity they do. Variety can help make monthly or quarterly events feel fresh, which can reinvigorate your team.
- Choose team members to help plan. Appoint a select few to figure out the logistics for the team building event, including scheduling, final headcount, etc.
- Collect feedback for next time. Be sure to get your team’s feedback on what worked and didn’t work so you can plan an even more effective team building activity next time.
As you can see, creating remote team building activities isn’t all that different from doing more traditional events. You may even find the virtual approach to be more cost effective. There’s no travel reimbursement, venue rentals, or catering required. You don’t even need to get dressed up for a virtual event. Your employees should appreciate that part.
Easily set aside funds for team building activities using sub-accounts, available with Bluevine Business Checking.