Fun Virtual Event Ideas for Team Building (that won't FEEL awkward)
News flash: working remotely is the new norm. While studies show employees working remotely are more efficient and productive, prolonged isolation hurts employees’ mental health. There are a lot of reasons for that.
A survey conducted by Cushman & Wakefield found that working remotely affected employee interaction, a critical aspect of any company’s culture. Generally, meaningful interaction builds trust and relationships, and enables team members to support their wellbeing. Obviously super important stuff that’s at the very core of employee satisfaction.
Since keeping in touch with colleagues has proved challenging when working remotely, companies have begun spending time on creative team-building activities to keep the team spirit.
Here are some fun virtual event ideas you should try the next time you’re on a Zoom meeting with your remote teams. But first, let’s quickly talk about why you should even bother.
Benefits of Virtual Events for Remote Teams
Virtual team-building events enable team members to familiarize themselves with the new remote work lifestyle. They also minimize the impact online workplace cultures have on employees, e.g., loneliness, lack of collaboration, and inability to separate personal time and work time.
Whether your company relies on external HR services or manages employees internally, virtual events are easy to implement within your team. Here are other benefits:
Team efforts play a critical role in the success of any project. Typical workplaces make it easy for teams to collaborate; but that’s not the case with remote working. Lack of team collaboration increases the chances of miscommunication, which hurts employees’ overall performance.
A 2020 report on the State of Remote Work found that 20% of remote employees mentioned collaboration and communication as their biggest struggles.
Effective team building addresses such problems by ensuring employees remain connected. In addition, employees become aware of individual strengths and weaknesses, which helps them coordinate and complete tasks based on their competence.
It’s the biggest challenge facing employees working remotely. Naturally, humans are social beings, and working in environments that don’t allow them to catch up or have lunchtime chats can be draining on their mental health. Fun, interactive games help combat feelings of isolation and loneliness and create a platform for employees to develop.
Boosts Employee Morale
Remote working can create an impersonal work relationship where teams must deliver work and adhere to deadlines. Virtual team building activities go a long way in encouraging interaction away from actual work-related activities.
They also promote bonding among team members and leaders, which makes employees feel valued. Such positive reinforcement boosts employee morale and reduces internal conflicts.
Develop New Skills
Some virtual team-building activities like, online codebreakers, virtual escape rooms and online trainings help employees brainstorm, communicate (not just through email or Slack) and find new ways of solving problems. Such new skills can also be applied at work.
Reduce Virtual Fatigue
The monotony of running a webinar for the entire company or holding meetings on Zoom and other alternatives to Zoom can cause fatigue. It’s especially true for employees who have long meetings. Introducing virtual team-building activities mixes things up.
And while they’re still held via video calls, the activities create more immersive experiences that reduce monotony and leave employees feeling refreshed and excited.
Reinforce Positive Work Culture
Regular work-related discussions go a long way in fostering a positive workplace culture. Similarly, virtual team building activities ensure collaboration which boosts a positive work culture among team members.
Examples of Virtual Event Ideas
Instead of making the activities another obligation that needs to be marked off the to-do list, companies can make them fun and engaging. Here are some ideas:
1. Start with Virtual Ice-Breaking Games
You want everyone on board, and the best way to ensure this is to kick off with ice-breaking games. Some games to help break the ice include:
Two truths and a lie: One by one, ask each team member to share two facts and one lie about themselves in the video call. Then, give others a chance to try and identify which one was the lie. Not only does this keep everyone engaged, but it’s a fun ice-breaker that brings team members together on a more personal level!
Example: I’ve been cage-diving with great white sharks, I love kale, and I’ve bribed my way out of jail.
In-meeting bingo: This activity helps jog the team members’ minds a little and makes them feel comfortable. It also normalizes the embarrassing things that happen in workplaces. Be sure to create bingo cards ahead of time, identifying common situations that occur during virtual meetings
Riddle icebreakers: Riddles and brain teasers also help engage the team members ahead of the actual group activity. It can be done with groups of any size, whether they know each other or not
Bucket list challenge: It’s fun to hear what your team members want to achieve. If some of them have ticked off some items, they can share their experiences with the team.
2. Light Scavenger Hunting
Scavenger hunts are fun and fast-paced. The idea is to invite coworkers to a virtual meeting and start sending clues like ‘get your favorite pen,’ ‘show your coffee machine,’ or other such fun ideas. The first person or group to complete the clue earns a point. You can also create videos that will make the game even more vivid.
3. Virtual Escape Rooms
Escape rooms are an awesome way of strengthening communication and collaboration within your team. With The Escape Game Remote Adventures, you can experience all the fun and laughter as irl escape rooms, but virtually over Zoom.
This 60-minute challenge includes a live host, as well as a game guide in the physical room acting as the team’s hands and feet. There are several themes to choose from, including exploring a hidden temple, discovering an underwater sea lab, breaking out of prison, and more! Working together, your team will solve clues and puzzles to help them escape before time runs out!
4. Revealing Quiz
The activity involves asking team members questions to reveal their personalities. The quiz can be fact-based, truth or dare, based on a celebration or tradition. It’s essential to keep the game objective because the purpose is to foster collaboration among the employees.
5. Words with Friends
This is another collaborative challenge that forces employees to work together to develop words. Playing the games is pretty straightforward as you only need to download the app and pair the employees to contest against each other. Every player has letters that they must combine with their partner’s to create words.
6. Aliens have Landed
If your primary goal is to foster communication and creative thinking among your employees, this one is absolutely worth trying. If it’s easy for staff to talk and share ideas, it’s a telltale sign that they can work together.
Split your employees into remote teams of 3-4 and announce the arrival of aliens on Earth. The aliens are interested in learning about your company but aren’t acquainted with the native language. Thus, you are required to use five pictures or symbols to explain the company.
The groups can discuss among themselves and use five images that describe the company best. Google Slides works well for organizing your collective thoughts.
The manager then looks at the photos to determine if the employees understand the organization and can describe its goals in a simple, straightforward way.
How to Plan Virtual Team Building Activities
The idea of engaging in virtual team-building activities is exciting, but the planning process seems a little daunting. Here’s a simple six-step guide to help you:
Step 1: Plan Ahead
Like traditional team-building activities, it’s essential to plan and inform all the participants about the event. You don’t want some employees showing up to the activity in a suit. Be sure to have a timeline too. A two-week preparation timeline should suffice. If you are pushed for time or you have a large team to organize, consider asking colleagues for help or even head to a Virtual Assistant website for an extra pair of hands. You’d be surprised by how affordable and helpful this is.
Step 2: Define the Goal of the Activity
Zoom out a bit, and start thinking about what you’re really trying to get out of this. It could be a lot of things:
- Develop relationships: Working remotely creates a disconnect among employees, and virtual team building activities go a long way in revitalizing relationships
- Have fun: The activities may also help ease your employees’ minds and reduce the uncertainty caused by the pandemic
- Strengthen communication: If your virtual meetings are wrought with conflicts and arguments, the virtual team building activity should focus on strengthening communication
Step 3: Identify the Attendees
Who is the event designed for? Is it new employees, existing ones, or a specific department? If the audience comprises new employees, it’s crucial to provide more information about its vision and history.Sometimes you may need to invite a facilitator or a dedicated event host to help level the playing field and foster open communication.
Step 4: Ask your employees to share activities they’d like to play
You want to engage your teammates right off the bat. One way of doing it is by asking what they’d like to participate in. Create and send a quick poll and collect feedback.
Then pick an activity that aligns with the primary objective of the activity.
Step 5: Create and Share the agenda
You don’t want to keep your colleagues in the dark or kill the fun. It’s important to tell them what to expect and the amount of time scheduled for each activity.
The rule of thumb for team building activities is they shouldn’t last more than two hours. Beyond that, attention and enthusiasm wane, especially for virtual meetings.
Step 6: Collect feedback
Most facilitators overlook this step, but it’s critical to determine if the objective has been achieved. Feedback and constructive criticism also hone your organization skills.
Be sure to set up an organized way of collecting feedback, because some employees rarely provide opinions on company gatherings.
Working at home should no longer be boring or monotonous. With these fun virtual event ideas, your meetings become lively, and your employees strengthen teamwork which may be long lost.
And that’s all for our favorites. If you have any other recommendations for virtual team-building events, please feel free to leave them in the comments. We’d love to try them out!
Ready to start building a guide for your next virtual event? It’s easier than you might think. 🙂