Remote Working: 10 Online Team-Building Activities To Do With Your Employees

One of the challenges posed by remote working is reduced interaction among employees. It can lead to poor communication and impaired teamwork. If not properly managed, it may also result in mental health issues like depression. However, this isn’t a lost cause. You can still encourage socialization and camaraderie in remote teams. Try online team-building activities!

Traditional office-based companies usually organize team-building events. Some hold out-of-town trips over the weekend to play team sports that allow employees to work together in a different environment while having fun and sweating it out in the sun. Others have regular get-togethers after work. Some use their office space for team building activities.

Obviously it’s not practical to do any of the above in-person undertakings with remote teams, because it’s likely that your people are scattered around the country or the world. But thanks to technology, people can still come together regardless of their location. Make best use of what’s available to help your employees grow closer to each other and start organizing virtual team-building events. 

Here’s a list of tried and tested games and activities that your team members can easily do together online!

1. Ice Breaker Questions

Like they always say, nothing beats the classic! It has always been a stable in every online team-building activity. As the name suggests, ice breaker questions are random prompts that can get people talking. You can ask your team about their craziest dream when they were a child, the funniest thing they saw online lately, the weirdest item on their bucket list… anything, if fact, that gets them sharing something about themselves. You can also use this as an intro to your main activity.

Asking ice breaker questions is the easiest and the most fun way to get to know one another. They can also establish personal connections within a team. You don’t need any props for this. Just think of interesting questions and you’re all set. Another plus is that you can do it for as little as 5 minutes or for as long as 45 minutes. You can include up to 15 people in the game but it’s just as effective for smaller teams.

2. 4 Facts & 1 Lie

This game is ideal if the members of your team don’t know much about each other. For this activity, players have to list down 5 statements - 4 of them should be facts about themselves and 1 should be a lie that they will present as fact. After making their lists, they’re going to read them out loud. It’s up to the other players to guess which among the 5 statements is not true.

The goal of this activity is for employees to introduce themselves in a fun and interesting way. It also helps to build trust. Moreover, it gives everyone a chance to share something about themselves that can become conversation starters in the future. Similar to ice breaker questions, you don’t need any tools to do this. However, you can ask your team to bring along a pen and some paper.

3. Show & Tell

Sounds childish, right? That’s a natural reaction! After all, it’s an activity popular during your early years of school. But believe it or not, it can work as an online team-building activity as well. Like 4 Facts & 1 Lie, the goal is to get to know each other, establish trust, and create strong bonds within your team.

All they have to do is talk about something for one minute. It can be something tangible like their pet, favorite book, or recycled art. They can also talk about something abstract, such as their future dream home, unforgettable childhood memory, or food they hope to make someday. After the sharing, allow a few minutes for discussion so others can ask questions or provide their reactions.

4. Desk Photo Contest

A homage to our ever-growing Instagram culture, this activity requires participants to take a picture of their desk from above. It aims to encourage everyone to organize their desks. Because let’s be real, we tend to forget what our workspace looks like when we’re working from home. It’s very different from our office workstations, which we clean up every time we make even the tiniest mess. 

But there’s no need to make a perfect flat lay photo of your desks like those you see on Pinterest. What is important is that everyone will get a chance to organize their desks even though they have to do it for the sake of taking a decent picture. As for those naturally tidy, this is their chance to show off their work setup, which can help inspire their colleagues.

5. Trivia Contest

Nothing beats trivia! People just love random questions, so playing this game is bound to be a hit. All you have to do is prepare a series of weird and wonderful questions - and then ask them! To avoid any confusion, have your team submit their answers in your video call’s chat box. Give prizes to the top three winners to make things more exciting. They don’t have to be grand - they can be just in the form of modest cash incentives or coupons that allow them to choose their schedule for a week, for example.

Trivia quizzes are customizable. You can focus on one specific category like movies or travel. Another thing you can adjust is the level of difficulty. So, play around with it. It doesn’t have to be a one-time thing, too. You can do it every week. Apps like Water Cooler Trivia prepare a set of trivia questions that they automatically send to your team’s email addresses or Slack channel.

6. Perfect Vacation

This game is going to test your team’s listening skills. In this activity, pair up your employees (or you can also let them choose their partners). Have them move to their video call where they will talk about their ideal vacation if they have all the money and the time in the world. 

After that, gather everyone back to the main video conference and ask each of them to accurately repeat their partner’s perfect vacation for everyone to hear. If they don't listen carefully, they won’t be able to recall their partner’s answer perfectly. In addition, this game allows everyone to learn whether they have colleagues that share the same interests as they do.

7. Make A Story

If you’re looking for an online team-building activity that you can play with the whole team, this is the one. Not only is it simple and fun, it also allows your employees to practice creativity. Aside from that, it enhances cooperation. Start by forming a virtual circle on the video call. You can assign everyone a number for less confusion since people appear in varying order on different screens. 

Once that’s settled, Person 1 will begin the game by giving one complete sentence and an incomplete sentence to start the story. For instance, “On a fine Monday morning, Jessica decides to stop by her favorite coffee shop before going to work. She’s about to join the queue but…” Then, Person 2 will jump in and continue the story. They will complete the sentence and give another incomplete sentence for Person 3 to follow, and so on. You’ll be surprised by the strange twists and turns the story takes, and it will also give everyone valuable insights into the personalities of individual team members.

8. Aliens Have Landed

This is another creative online team-bonding activity. In this game, you have to divide your team into smaller groups of three or four members. After finalizing the groups, provide them with this scenario: The aliens have landed and they don’t speak English or any other Earth language. How are you going to describe our company using 5 symbols and pictures?

You can allot around 10-20 minutes for this activity. It will help your team to enhance their communication and problem-solving skills. In addition, make sure to check out the pictures and symbols that your employees choose. Take note of similar images as these could help gauge how your employees feel about your company and its culture. 

9. Deserted Island Scenario

If you like Aliens Have Landed, you can also try the Desert Island Scenario. In this game, you’re also going to divide your team into smaller groups and give them this scenario: You and your members are stuck on a deserted island with 7 objects. Pick only 3 to survive. It’s up to you what these objects are, but make them as random as possible to give your employees enough of a challenge. 

Have the team break up into different calls so that they can discuss their answers among themselves. This game puts your employees in a situation where they have to use critical thinking to make a perfect plan. It also teaches them to collaborate even though they are not physically in the same place. Last but by no means least, the activity aims to make them realize that they can achieve better results with teamwork. 

10. Movie Night

Online team-building activities don’t always have to be competitive and adrenaline-pumping. They can also be relaxing and laid back, like watching a movie. Believe it or not, this passive activity can boost your team’s morale as employees tend to open up more when you invite them to a non-work-related gathering.

Watching the same movie from different places in the world may seem challenging, but it’s simple. All you have to do is decide on a movie to watch. Have everyone vote in a poll to make it more democratic. Then, stream the movie over the video call. Keep the chat box open so that your staff can leave their comments about the movie - it’ll be like the usual chit-chat when watching a movie in someone’s living room. You can also ask about their thoughts when the credits start rolling.

Team building activities (whether in person or online) should always be designed to develop stronger teamwork inside the company. They should aim to build trust, enhance communication, and eliminate conflict. Giving your team a chance to interact with one another outside of work (even just virtually) allows them to become familiar with each other, connect on a personal level, and learn to collaborate. When your team members can work together, they'll be more productive and your organization will enjoy better outputs.

These are just 10 online team-building activities that are simple enough to do together with your employees over a video call. There are still more games and ideas out there that are effective and worth trying. So, have fun with your staff and create a better company culture in the process!

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.”
-Steve Jobs

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