Today’s workplace looks different than it did even just a few years ago. Many teams work remotely or with a hybrid arrangement where some team members are remote and others are in the office. With fewer face-to-face interactions during a normal workday, finding ways to create a more cohesive team is essential.
While team-building activities are building blocks that help foster camaraderie and keep the company culture strong, you should consider the personalities of the team members who will be involved.
For example, you’ll likely have at least some introverted people in your team. You should try to find activities and look for ways to include them, without putting them into uncomfortable situations.
Just keep in mind that team-building activities are only successful if the team members enjoy and learn from them.
- Why you need team-building activities
- 10 team-building activities for remote teams
- 10 team-building activities for hybrid teams
- 10 team-building activities for in-office teams
- The benefits of a good team relationship
Why you need team-building activities
The goal of team-building activities should be to develop chemistry and trust. Those are essential ingredients you need in an effective team that these activities can improve.
How we work, and where work happens, has changed. While team building has long been a challenge, that people now work remotely or in a hybrid setting nearly as much as they do fully in-office has further complicated the issue.
In selecting team-activities, remember that your goal should be to develop trust and chemistry between team members. You’ll need to choose activities that take into account whether your team is in-office or remote, as well as the different personalities on your team.
Asking team members to leave their comfort zones can be okay—but keep in mind that people’s boundaries should be respected. Choosing activities that make your team feel they have to compromise on important values is sure to undermine your goal.
We’ve gathered some fun team-building activities that are especially helpful in building an agile workforce.
10 team-building activities for remote teams
Many companies are made entirely of virtual teams, which can pose some challenges regarding company engagement. An in-office team member might stop by a co-worker’s desk for a brainstorming session or to get help with a project. But communication and engagement between remote team members can be more difficult, and can leave some feeling isolated and forgotten.
Virtual team-building activities can help managers improve remote work culture by allowing trust to develop between team members, making it easier to collaborate and communicate.
Here are 10 fun team-building activities for remote professionals.
1. Virtual escape room
Websites like The Escape Game, WithConfetti, and Reason offer virtual escape scenarios. Split workers into small groups so each team has an equal chance. They’ll then use creative problem-solving to figure out puzzles and riddles. The goal is to make it out of the virtual room before the time limit.
2. Traveling Tessa
Draw a cutout of a girl and mail her (postage included) to a team member with instructions to photograph her doing something in their city that has meaning to the person, and they’re willing to share. That team member snaps a photo of Tessa and then mails her to the next person on the list. The photos get uploaded so the entire team sees them. This game lets everyone experience a taste of each other’s city and life that they might not have known about.
3. Virtual happy hour
Remote workers who are scattered all over the world can’t swing by the local bar and talk after work. Why not have a couple of drinks and visit on Zoom or another video conferencing platform? Schedule a virtual happy hour once a month for the entire group to catch up and bond with their teammates in a relaxing atmosphere.
4. Open-mic virtual ice breaker
Before a meeting, give every team member the floor for a minute or so and let them talk about a positive and a negative they’re dealing with. It can be a work or personal topic. A team member can pass if they don’t want to share. This helps teams bond with each other and show support.
5. Tiny campfire
Mail everyone a small campfire kit, including a tealight candle, marshmallow, bamboo skewers, a chocolate bar, and a graham cracker. Toward the end of the workday, all your remote professionals can join a conference call, sit by the “campfire,” and make s’mores together.
6. Virtual board games
While a bit more traditional, board games can still be a lot of fun to play, inspire healthy competition, and increase team chemistry. Find Scattergories, Scrabble, or another favorite online game and play it virtually with your team members. Some of these can run for days, with each player taking their turn when they have a few free moments.
7. Deserted island game
Inform everyone in the meeting that you’re all stranded on a deserted island. There are several items to choose from to help each person survive and escape. Each person gets to choose three items. Everyone then tells why they chose their items. This is a fun way to encourage remote workers to show their creative thinking.
8. Virtual workout session
A healthy virtual activity for remote teams is for everyone who wants to participate to log in during lunch or right after work for an exercise session. You can hire a coach or trainer to lead the exercise session. Remote team members can work out in the comfort of their own homes while sharing in physical activities with other people.
9. Two truths and a lie
This is an especially fun ice breaker game to play with new team members. In a video conference, everyone says two truths about themselves and makes up one lie. Each player tries to guess the lie. The one who guesses the most correctly wins.
Remote workers typically miss out on the quick, random conversations their in-office counterparts have. So, ask every team member to bring an item of interest to the next meeting and have them tell the rest of the team why it’s important to them. It can help get new team members out of their comfort zone and help them know each other better.
10 team-building games and activities for hybrid teams
Some teams are made up of both in-office and remote team members. Here are 10 team-building games and activities that can help strengthen relationships within your team.
1. Name that tune
Ask on-site team members to join you in the conference room and ask remote members to join on Zoom or another video conferencing platform. Play a song and the first one who names it gets a point. Keep playing songs until one player reaches 10 points. You can even use songs from a specific era for more fun.
Everyone can get some face time and enjoy spirited competition. The team leader generates an online Bingo card for each player and everyone joins at the set time. The game leader reads off the letter and number combo until someone yells, “BINGO!”
Set an hour aside during the workday to have team members join a Zoom call and play trivia in groups. You can even make up office trivia questions based on the company or industry you’re in. For example:
- How long has the company been in business?
- Who was the first salesperson?
- Which company is our biggest account?
- What is our mission statement?
Ask the players to put their heads together and use teamwork to come up with the correct answers. Give away virtual gift cards or an expensed lunch for the winning group to make it even more competitive.
4. Digital scavenger hunt
This team-bonding game is sure to spice up the workday. Split the entire group into teams, with each team containing on-site and remote members. Each team gets a list of things around the house and items in your workplace. The teams try to complete their lists by snapping photos of every item. The first team with the most items at the end of the set time wins.
5. Murder mystery
Hire a virtual master of ceremonies to set up a mysterious “death” via a conference call. Your team members divide up into small groups, follow the clues, and work toward the common goal of unmasking the murderer.
6. Drop a pin
Upload a map to your digital whiteboard before the meeting. Ask everyone to “drop a pin” of their favorite place. It can be their hometown, favorite vacation spot, or where they went to school. Each team member then gets one minute to explain why it’s their favorite place.
7. Write a story
Divide players into small teams and assign each person a number. The first person starts a story with a character and an action. It needs to be four or five sentences. They send it to the next team member through email or Slack, and so on until everyone adds to the story.
The last person on the team sums up and concludes the story. The entire team gets together and reads their stories. Everyone votes, and the story with the most votes wins.
8. Where am I?
This is a great game for smaller teams. Half the people are assigned teller roles and half are assigned guesser roles. The tellers describe a play and the guessers need to figure out where it is. Each teller has five minutes to explain where they are. The guesser who gets the most answers right wins.
9. Co-worker feud
Co-worker feud is based on Family Feud and can be played on Zoom. Each team is asked a question and tries to come up with answers. The team with the most correct answers wins the round. The overall winning team is the one that wins the most rounds. Have a makeup of different teams every time you play.
Use an online Pictionary generator, split into teams, and see who can guess what’s being drawn. This is a fun game that fosters creative thinking.
10 team-building activities for in-office teams
On-site team members have the luxury of seeing each other face to face and can congregate in the break room, conference room, or outside the office after work. They can enjoy many fun team-building activities, both in the office and on location.
1. Take a field trip
The field trip possibilities are endless for on-site teams. Take a few hours off work to go on a picnic, visit a museum, enjoy an amusement park, visit an arcade, go to a karaoke cafe, or have lunch at a local restaurant.
2. Set a lunch with all team members
Eating together helps new team members get to know everyone better and promotes cross-departmental bonding. You can ask everyone to bring in a different dish to share, have a local restaurant cater, or hire a food truck. For large groups, have assigned seats to mix up the employees.
3. Make a memory wall
Ask employees to bring in photos from past meetings, field trips, trade shows, dress-up days at work (like Halloween), and past team-building activities. Use disposable cameras to snap some new memories! Choose a wall to put the photos on so everyone can enjoy them.
4. Have an egg drop contest
Split into smaller teams to compete with each other. For an egg drop contest, one team member runs with an egg on a spoon and transfers it to their partner. The second partner runs back to the finish line. This must happen without dropping the egg. The pair that does it the fastest wins. Make it harder by requiring the participants to wear a blindfold. This contest promotes healthy competition, physical activity, and co-worker engagement.
5. Do a jigsaw puzzle
Find a large table somewhere in the office and set up a huge puzzle. Employees can work on it during their breaks. This gives them a mental break from work and they may talk to someone they don’t normally hang out with around the puzzle.
6. Set up individual meetings with each team member
Ask for an “idea session” with each team member. The sky’s the limit. Ask them what they would like to see implemented at the company if money and time weren’t issues. This exercise can inspire their imagination and encourage ownership thinking.
7. Have company sports teams
Softball, volleyball, and other sports offer local intramural teams. If you have some athletic folks on your payroll, sponsor a team. They can bond as players and the rest of the group can cheer them on.
8. Sign up for classes together
Classes like cooking and painting can be great team-building events. These events foster engagement and help employees get to know each other outside of a work setting.
9. Play Jenga
Add a Jenga game to the break room. See which player is the best under pressure and which knocks down the whole stack. Jenga is a fun game to help people decompress for a few minutes during the workday.
10. Run a “minute-to-win-it” race
A team leader can set up a relay course around the office or in the parking lot. Divide into teams, with every member having a role. One team member completes their part, then hands off the baton to the next one. The team that finishes fastest wins.
The benefits of a good team relationship
Building a high-performance work culture starts with strong relationships. Teams that function well as a unit, that are respectful of each other, that have developed good chemistry, and that trust each other are more engaged and effective.
Some benefits of having good team relationships include:
- Better workflow. A great team has strong communication. They can proactively address obstacles and work through them to find solutions. They also share a common goal of what needs to be accomplished.
- Improved morale. Research by PeopleMetrics shows that highly profitable companies have 50% more engaged employees than unprofitable companies. Team members who feel their work makes a difference and contributes to the broader company vision tend to have more pride in their work.
- Less burnout. According to a 2019 Gallup study, 28% of full-time employees reported feeling burned out at work “very often” or “always.” Managers know the impact of burnout and want to lessen its effects on their teams, especially remote teams. Team bonding can give workers a chance to decompress during office hours and interact with coworkers outside of the office.
- Enhanced problem-solving skills. Some games require creative thinking, others need critical thinking, and some need both. These skills can carry through to the team member’s job.
- Better communication skills. Socializing between team members increases communication patterns by 50%. Team-bonding games and activities teach coworkers how to talk to each other so they can progress.
Create better team relationships by getting to know one another better
Remote, hybrid, and on-site workers can all benefit from better relationships and stronger communication with their peers. While they may seem like simple games, team-building activities can produce far-reaching results and help solidify your company culture.
Another way to create an effective team is to hire independent workers to round out your current team. Upwork can help connect businesses to the top talent around the world. Explore Upwork today to find the perfect fit for your workplace. It’s how work should work.
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