Technology allows us to stay connected with people at any given time, no matter where they are located in the world.
While remote work is certainly nothing new, it has become a drastically accelerating trend in the business world. Successfully managing a virtual team can be a challenge for team leaders, especially when it comes to creating a remote corporate culture. With a growing number of people now working from home, companies not only need to maintain communication with their remote team but also find ways to keep everyone engaged and motivated.
These virtual team building activities and tactics will help you encourage a more connected and inspired remote team.
1. Have Frequent Video Chats
Keeping in touch with your virtual team is an absolute must, not just by messages and email, but also through video calls.
This is a fantastic way to keep team members connected on a more personal level. Video calls allow you to share a wide range of information in real-time with your entire team. With advances in video conference software tools, you can easily record virtual team meetings that you can then share with those who were unable to attend.
But video calls don't need to be exclusively work-related! They can also be used as an opportunity for everyone to bond over casual chats and build stronger relationships with each other.
2. Create a Live Remote Office
A live remote office is an excellent way for your team to feel as if they have stepped into a shared office space, without being physically present.
At the start of each day, employees can log in to the live remote office space and work along with their teammates – even from a distance. This is a great way to bring together your employees through a shared, virtual space.
Once logged in, everyone can crack on with their work, check-in with one another, and hopefully feel more motivated and connected. That being said, if you're running an international team, be mindful of different employees working in different time zones.
3. Use Online Messaging
Communication platforms such as Slack and HipChat are fantastic tools for remote workers. That being said, they also provide a space for colleagues to chat about non-work-related topics.
Communication is essential with virtual teams as they don't have the luxury of casual face-to-face interactions, coffee breaks or brief interludes before or after a meeting. Platforms such as Slack and HipChat, however, closely resemble in-person communication as you can easily see who is online and have a chat with them.
Users can create interest-based channels such as #funandgames, #football, #food or #random and engage with each other over shared interests. These are great for building a virtual company culture and helping a remote team to feel more connected with one another.
4. Do Virtual Tours
Remember MTV Cribs? Why not do a 90s throwback and have your virtual team members give everyone a tour of their homes? There are countless ways to do this, including live streaming or pre-recorded videos that can be shared with the team, or via social media platforms.
You could also get each person to document their favourite areas of the home, show you favourite household items, and even introduce their pets!
This is a superb way to develop a team and help remote employees have a deeper understanding of their colleagues' lifestyles, which is especially useful when managing international teams.
Virtual tours also cultivate a bond between colleagues, sparking meaningful conversations and friendships.
5. Have Virtual Coffee Breaks
Remote employees seldom get to experience the perks of company-provided lunches or team get-togethers, so why not show your employees that you value their hard work with a virtual coffee break?
Set a time for your team to join you online and "meet" from their favourite coffee shop. This will allow them to take part in a team meeting at a location outside of their home and give remote workers a feel for some of the perks that in-house staff often enjoy.
6. Host Learning Circles
Remote work can be isolating, so make a point to connect with your team on a personal level. For example, you could host a learning circle once a month, which involves employees sharing their knowledge about a particular subject with the rest of the team.
From programming languages to leadership styles, there is so much potential for your team to expand their horizons and connect with people across the entire organisation. You could even go beyond professional or workplace-related topics by getting them to share their knowledge about a specialist subject, or demonstrate their expert skill, such as playing a musical instrument, performing a trick or reading a short story they wrote.
7. Play Buzzword Bingo
Encourage your team to get involved in some online games, such as buzzword bingo! To play, simply choose a few words, phrases or actions that are banned from use during a meeting (to make it easier, you could send out the list beforehand). When someone uses the word or phrase, they get a point. The winner is the person with the fewest points at the end of the meeting!
Online games such as buzzword bingo keep team members engaged, helping them bond over a fun activity. Creating small, office traditions will help form better collaboration across your team and friendships, as most games require an element of working together to achieve a common goal.
8. Host Photography Competitions
You can organise a creative photography competition by picking an interesting theme (such as animals, wildlife, family or architecture) and getting your team to share their best shots. There's no need for fancy equipment or photo editing programmes; just a smartphone will do!
This is a great way to unite people and gain insights into their interests, lifestyle and personality, and you might even learn something new and unexpected about them. There are also plenty of ways to reward winners, including gift vouchers, a bottle of wine, or a framed print of the winning shot!
9. Start a Virtual Book Club
A virtual book club is an excellent way for like-minded employees to bond over their love of books. As with conventional book clubs, get members to read the same book and set a deadline to meet online each month to discuss thoughts and feelings about the book.
There's no need to take this too seriously. Instead, make it a relaxed and fun activity – and if someone hasn't managed to read the book, they should still show up to socialise with the team. The purpose of this might be to encourage your team to learn new things, but your goal is also to help everyone to get to know each other better.
10. Do Team Bake Offs
What better way to create team spirit than over food and drinks! Cooking is a fantastic social activity that will help your team engage with each other and bond, whether it is over cooking disasters or the joy of creating a delicious and perfectly formed brownie!
All you need to do is get a team member to share their favourite recipe and have everyone else get baking or cooking while getting to know each other over a video call. You could even add drinks to the mix with team members demonstrating their homemade cocktails (and it doesn't always have to be alcohol).
11. Organise Virtual Movie Nights
Poll your team on a handful of movie choices and then host a virtual movie night with popcorn at the ready! To help the team bond even more, you could also create a group chat so that everyone can discuss the movie while they're watching!
Enjoying a movie is the ultimate way to share time with your team and it’s definitely a great bonding exercise. You could also get a team member to create a movie quiz afterwards and offer prizes to the winners!
Virtual team building games and challenges are designed to emulate activities and experiences that in-house staff often get to enjoy in real life.
Adding fun and humour to your remote team's working day inspires innovation, productivity and efficiency, allowing employees to work together in dynamic and creative ways.
By introducing some of these activities to your team, you can create a better support system for your remote workers, and help them feel more connected, valued and dedicated to their work.
Have you got any virtual team building tips? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!