20 of the best remote team building ideas
This week I’ve been planning a virtual team building session and so I thought I’d share some of the best (and simplest) ideas I found around the web when I was doing my research*.
Ongoing team building ideas to add into your normal online meetings/team culture
1. Post things out to people
Who doesn’t love being sent nice things in the post? It doesn’t have to be particularly exciting or expensive – just some thoughtful items to help them work from home. Could be some comfy socks, posh tea bags or healthy snacks.
2. Set up clubs
Encourage team members to set up virtual clubs with their workmates – could be a running club where they share their Strava routes and goals, a book club or a crafty group. Just a simple way for people to feel part of something and closer to their team mates, so they have more to talk about, and in common with than just work. A great way to support their mental and physical health in an unobtrusive way.
3. 20 minute tea break
Match up team members and encourage them to put a 20 minute virtual tea break in their calendars every few days for a catch up. Only rule is they can’t talk about work. If you’re really into alliteration (like me) you could do it on Tuesdays at 10.
4. Dress up Fridays
In the depths of the first lockdown I had a regular session with a client on Friday mornings, which we renamed ‘blouse Fridays’. It gave us both the excuse to make a bit more effort on our appearances than usual on those days and it really did affect the whole day. You could do fancy dress as well (although at least half the population HATE fancy dress with a passion, so you’ll have to deal with their eye rolling.) Personally I’d keep it at dress up – which they can interpret in whatever way makes them feel good.
5. Share pics of your lunch on Wednesdays
Brings out personalities in an easy and non-threatening way. And ensures that everyone does at least have a proper lunch… Can share on Slack channel/WhatsApp/however you tend to share stuff informally. Can also share pics of pets here.
6. My favourite…
Ask everyone to send in their favourite song, book, food, animal etc. At each team meeting reveal somebody’s favourites and ask everyone to guess who’s it is. Then play the song, share the recipe, put up a screen saver of the animal etc. for the rest of the day.
7. Home office health
Nothing to do with government, thankfully. Create a matrix of healthy behaviour (drink water, meditate, walk outside for 30 mins, healthy lunch, chair yoga etc.) and then send it to the team. Suggest that they keep that open on their desktops and mark on it when they do one of them. Aim is simply to make sure everyone is nudged towards healthier behaviour every day. Could have an informal competition to mark the most in a week.
8. Love letters
Each team member is asked to write down something they really like or value about everyone else in the team. These are then collated and sent out to each person in the post so they can see what everyone else loves about them.
9. Virtual happy hour
4pm Friday, bring a drink and create some break out rooms. Play some upbeat music if you all need it.
Simple one this: remember people’s birthdays. Send them a card and make a fuss of them.
The next 10 could be part of a structured team building session or incorporated into your normal team meetings:
1. Through the Keyhole/MTV Cribs – virtual team edition
Team members make short videos touring their homes, introducing pets, showing favourite places etc. I love this idea because when you work with people in an office you rarely get a glimpse of their private lives, and very rarely (if ever!) see their homes. It brings peoples’ personalities to life and makes everyone feel like they know each other much better afterwards.
2. Mysterious cup of Gigantes
This is basically a storytelling game (and probably not one to spring on people out of nowhere!). The idea is that each person takes something from their home and tells a story about it. The more outrageous and crazy the better. For instance they might grab a house plant and tell everyone that it’s a cutting from the Peruvian rainforest and that it’s carnivorous and keeps trying to eat their cat. That sort of thing.
3. Scavenger hunts
You’ve probably done one of these during lockdown, so know how fun they can be. Aim of the game is to get everyone up and energised and sharing parts of their home life with their team mates (extra points for including pets).
4. Bragging rights
Allowing everybody one whole minute to shamelessly brag about anything they like: kids, pets, car, cooking skills, whatever…
5. Chinese whispers
Create a phone tree and then seed a sentence to the first person. Something like ‘my mother went walking with wolves in Wisconsin’. Each person calls the next on the list and repeats what they hear (and says nothing else) and the last person on the list reports back what they heard. Hilarity ensues.
6. Who is it?
This is a variation on a normal workshop ice breaker game. Before the meeting everyone is given the name of another team member and asked to give an introduction of them without saying their name or job role, but talking about their best attributes and little quirks. Others vote on who they think it’s about.
7. ‘Make it’ competition
A bit like Taskmaster – everyone is challenged to make something to show the rest of the team using whatever they have in their home. Could be a den; ultimate sandwich; crazy golf course; strong tower out of food items etc…
8. Embarrassing moments ice breaker
Again, this is sometimes used as an ice breaker in workshops, but is particularly good at the moment as it reveals vulnerabilities in a safe way and brings teams closer together.
One of my most embarrassing moments: I was in my early 20s and my team took a major client to the very nice restaurant The River Café in London. I was on my best behaviour throughout (despite having sunk a reasonable amount of good wine at lunch). I went to the toilet but couldn’t understand the symbols on the doors and ended up in the gents. I quickly realised my mistake but walked straight into the most senior client as I ran out, which of course, he (and everyone else) thought was hilarious. My face was scarlet for the rest of the week.
9. 2 truths and a lie
A bit like the TV programme ‘Would I lie to you?’. Everyone shares three things about themselves, one of which is a lie. Everyone else has to guess which it is. A great way of finding out about your team mates’ darkest secrets…
10. 'Can you tell what it is yet?’
One person facilitates and chooses a random image. They then describe that image using only shapes and colours. Everyone else interprets those instructions to draw what they think is being described. And then, the big reveals…
I hope you enjoy these, and if you’d like some help planning a team meeting (virtual or otherwise), just drop me a line.
*Big thanks to Museum Hack for the Bingo board and some great ideas