Remote working is more common than ever, and these days it’s the new ‘normal’ for a lot of teams. Technology has made it easy to collaborate with our colleagues, but how do you bring your team closer together when everyone is in a different room? And how do you bond socially when you don’t casually meet for a coffee in the kitchen?
It can feel lonely when you’re in your home office, so getting creative with virtual team building can help you stay connected with your co-workers. After all, if you feel a sense of camaraderie with your team, you’ll be more productive and happy at work. At Vistaprint, we’ve been working in global teams for a while, and recently the majority of the company is working from home. Here, we’ve collected twelve virtual team building activities ideas to help you stay connected - many of which are tried-and-tested.
12 easy virtual team building activities
- Team tai chi
- Virtual book or movie clubs
- Happy hour
- Weekly quizzes
- Dance sessions
- Online co-working spaces
- Virtual coffee breaks
- Chat channels
- Recipe swaps
- Gif battles
- Team music playlists
1. Try team tai chi
We all know that exercise is good...and it's extra-important when you’re in front of a screen all day. Make it easy to stick to daily movement by doing it as a team. Tai chi is great as it’s accessible to most, and the slow, deliberate movements are doubly beneficial for soothing your mind as well as your body. You can even turn this into a team challenge by seeing who can do this the most days in a row.
2. Create a virtual book or movie club
This is a great option to open up to anyone in the company, not just your team. Choose a book to read, then set up a meeting to get together and talk about it. This works equally well with movies, which can suit a lot of people better if they don’t have much spare time. Make sure to keep everyone accountable for actually reading or watching by setting up your club meeting in advance and sticking to the schedule.
3. Host a happy hour
This is a popular one! Don’t miss out on after-work drinks - just grab your favorite beverage (alcoholic or not) and settle in for a chat with your co-workers on a conference call. Set the mood with some background music and relax. You can throw games or virtual ice-breakers into the mix, but we’ll leave that up to personal taste.
4. Compete in a weekly virtual quiz
Another idea that’s borrowed from bars is the weekly quiz night - Kahoot is a great tool for this. Each week, one person takes the role of quiz master and sets up questions on a topic...and everyone uses Kahoot to submit their answers. You can set up a leaderboard and even send a prize for the fastest responder and the overall winner.
5. Have a dance session
This can be a fun way to start a meeting or just a good way to blow off some steam. Put on a catchy pop song and get everyone to show off their best moves - even if it’s just the side shuffle. (We would recommend Taylor Swift’s Shake it off - it got us moving!)
6. Make an online coworking space
If you haven’t tried coworking before, you can still give it a go while working from home. The idea behind it is to continue working as usual, but in the company of your colleagues. It can do wonders just knowing that other people are around, and you can try the Pomodoro technique together by working in a focused way for 25 minutes then taking a 5 minute break to chat. The first person “in the office” can set up the meeting link, then others can join the video call if they want to co-work.
7. Grab a coffee or virtual lunch
It’s good to take a break, so take one virtually by setting up some time to have a coffee or eat lunch with teammates over a video call. Make sure you keep ‘shop talk’ off the table in order to create a real break from work tasks and get to know each other better. If you’re a new team, it’s a good opportunity to learn more about each other.
8. Add a chat channel to your daily life
Create a chat channel dedicated to non-work content. At Vistaprint, we have a "watercooler" Slack channel where we share cute pictures of our pets, interesting articles, and fun videos. It does wonders for bonding and gives people a space to have a bit of fun.
9. Swap recipes
As people spend more time at home, cooking is becoming more popular. For those that like to get creative in the kitchen, set up a space for a virtual recipe swap. This works best as a chat group where people can post their favorites and share pictures of the final result. It can also inspire you when you’re stuck on ideas of what to make for dinner.
10. Ready yourself for (gif) battle
If you’re in a competitive mood - try a gif battle. Using gifs to express yourself can be a lot of fun and can get your team LOLing together. Copy this Trello template and get ready to battle it out with your colleagues.
11. Collaborate on team playlists
Create a public music playlist where team members can add their favorite songs. You could even make multiple playlists with themes to use at different times. For example, upbeat music to work to, best of the 90s, or even a playlist to use during a happy hour session.
A fun way to build rapport with colleagues is to play online bingo...especially during daily video conferences. Create a bingo grid with some common themes and phrases related to working from home, and cross them off when they happen. Some of our favorites: when someone says “can you hear me?” or “had a pet or family member join the video." Click here to download your own and play at home.