Remote work is incredibly popular these days, with more and more people seeking remote work opportunities. Remote work opportunities can be unparalleled when living a flexible, individualistic lifestyle. However, this emphasis on individuality and flexibility can come at the cost of team cohesion. It can be difficult to ensure your team is bonding and working together optimally from such a distance. This is especially true of asynchronous employees working from different time zones.
Team building activities have long been a go-to method for companies to help team members connect with each other. And just because your employees are remote doesn’t mean you can’t make use of such activities to promote team-building. It does mean you’ll have to adapt those activities to fit your company’s remote situation. But you may be surprised to find how simple a proposition that is, especially given the near-ubiquitous prevalence of video chatting software. With this in mind, here are six team-building activities that you can host to promote bonding between your remote employees.
Ice-breaker conversations are great if your company is relatively new or your employees simply don’t know each other well. That’s because “breaking the ice” is all about fostering conversations to help employees get to know each other better. And it’s no secret that conversations between relative strangers can be challenging to get flowing at first. So you get the ball rolling by introducing common ice-breaker games and discussion topics. You want to encourage employees to share simple, albeit slightly personal, information.
Some great video-chat icebreakers include Two Truths and a Lie, show-and-tell sessions, and family introductions. In Two Truths and a Lie, one person presents three facts about themselves, and everyone guesses which one is false. Show-and-tell allows your employees to show something special to them and tell the story behind why it’s special. And, if your employees feel comfortable with it, they can introduce their family members to provide more context for their lives. These are just some of the many kinds of icebreakers out there your team can use to start bonding.
In addition to ice-breakers, you’ll want to try and find other activities that easily translate from in-person to online. And, as a very low-barrier-to-entry kind of game, trivia is exactly one of those activities. That’s because almost everybody knows something about something. And even those who don’t fancy themselves informational connoisseurs will usually be surprised to find they know a few answers. Trivia nights provide your employees the opportunity to flex their individual knowledge.
Another aspect of trivia nights is that the game of trivia itself can be particularly compelling yet safe. As with any game, there are usually winners and losers. And while that’s still the case with trivia, it’s a game that doesn’t often leave the losers feeling like they never had a chance. The winners can still feel good about winning, but the losers don’t feel so bad about losing. So it’s a particularly good option for conflict-averse teams and just plain fun.
3. Online Games
If you feel your team is up for more competition, you could give online gaming a shot. One of the benefits of gaming together is that it allows teammates to have visceral shared experiences. And those experiences can be something that will help your team bond now and in the future. Because overcoming adversity together will also give people something to reflect on later. And, depending on how into gaming your employees are, you’ve got many options.
Some of the best, and now classic, online games to play as a team are Jackbox Games. They and others like them are a series of quick mini-games where your team might create funny new words or drawings. Think of them as a stand-in for Pictionary or charades. Alternatively, if your team has the hardware for it, you could play more competitive games, like MOBAs or online card games. Because gaming naturally provides structures and goals, playing them together can be a good way to practice conflict resolution and cooperative teamwork.
4. Coffee Break(out Rooms)
For a reason, employees bonding over chit-chat at the water cooler is a classic scenario. A short, refreshing break gives your workers an organic way to connect. And while icebreakers and other games encourage connection, they don’t replicate this natural, organic form of socialization. Organic connection can be challenging to facilitate for remote teams, though it’s not impossible. It may take your employees’ clever use of software and some openness of mind. But giving online coffee breaks a shot can be well worth it in the long run.
Use virtual breakout rooms to your advantage by using them to hold space for organic interactions. Keep a perpetual virtual room open for people who need to take a break. That way, when an employee needs to take a minute, they can do so with anyone else who’s also on break. People can talk about their work, what kind of coffee they drink, or whatever else naturally comes up. This more organic interaction can help your teams feel like they are working together, even from afar.
5. Story Club
Some of the best team-building activities are those that provide your employees ongoing opportunities to connect. It’s one thing to have a nice one-off experience with your co-worker. It’s another to feel like you’ve part of an ongoing, evolving dynamic. And one of the simplest ways for people to connect over time is through shared interests. And you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone with no interest in a good story.
Reading books and watching movies has long been a way for minds to connect and share their similar or differing perspectives with one another. And having a common narrative gives people something that can be easier for people to talk about than themselves. Yet it’s also another way to gain insight into someone else’s perspective; for them to share their experience. Because in explaining their own perspective, people have the opportunity to share a bit more of their own story. So if you want a more intellectual bonding activity, a book or movie club can easily fit the bill.
6. Fitness Challenges
On the flip side, you can encourage your team to bond over shared fitness challenges. Exercise produces endorphins and other feel-good hormones that encourage bonding. So your team members that want to participate in a fitness challenge can connect deeply, even at a distance. And fitness challenges, by their very nature, help people get into better shape. Improved health means your employees will be feeling better, so they can enjoy their lives (and work) even more.
Like a coffee break(out) room, you can create a Zoom room or Slack channel for fitness. People can upload photos or videos of their workouts or chat about how it’s going. Fitness challenges that everyone can do are things like stretching and yoga. But even making sure employees drink enough water each day can be a challenge in its own right. Fitness challenges are another form of ongoing activity, giving people more chances to connect over time.
It’s no surprise that getting your team to develop their connection remotely can be challenging. By its very nature, remote work doesn’t lend itself well to people connecting as deeply and organically as in-person work. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t help your team deepen their bond. In fact, by focusing on facilitating remote team-building activities, you could help your team bond more than an in-person team.
There are tons of different team-building activities that work very well despite being remote. You could help your employees open up with icebreaker games or deepen their bond through competition. And if you need more activities, you can always ask your team for some ideas! Asking them is the best way to figure out what they’re interested in doing in the first place. And people participating together in activities they care about is a strong way to encourage them to connect.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio; Pexels; Thank you!
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