Here is our list of virtual team building activities for remote teams.
Virtual team building activities are group activities that you conduct online or remotely. Examples of activity types include icebreaker questions, virtual campfires, and group fitness classes.
These activities are a type of virtual team building.
This list includes:
- remote team building activities
- online team building activities
- team building activities for conference calls
- team building activities for telecommuters
- fun activities for remote employees
- work from home activities
And more 🙂
Let’s get into it.
List of virtual team building activities
From Sweatpants Dilemma to Mister Rogers Calls to 3PM with Yoga Norman, check out the virtual team building ideas below.
1. tiny campfire 🔥 [most popular]
tiny campfire is one of the most popular virtual team activities in the world. We created tiny campfire as a way to engage remote teams around a “semi-virtual” experience that includes s’mores and an actual small campfire.
Here’s how it works:
- A week or so before your scheduled event, we send each of your team members a s’more kit in the mail. The kit includes graham crackers, mini marshmallows, Hershey chocolate, wood matches, and a tiny tealight campfire.
- On “camp day” your team members login into a secure video conference room that we provide for a 90 minute experience.
- The virtual activities include camp games like Pack It: Home Scavenger Hunt, smart trivia and historic ghost stories. The entire experience is run by one of our senior “camp counselor” facilitators.
- During the ghost stories, your team members each light a little campfire and prepare real s’mores.
tiny campfire is fun, nostalgic, wildly engaging and the perfect “hands on” activity for teams that work remotely. Also, we’ve run tiny campfire events for organizations like Google, Uber, Square Space, CVS and the US Department of Homeland Security. So, you are in good hands 🙂
Learn more about tiny campfire 🔥.
2. Tea vs Coffee 🍵 × ☕ [relaxing]
Tea vs Coffee is another semi-virtual experience that includes games, stories, guided meditation and real tea and coffee tasting experience. The event is engaging, calming, and a centering experience that guests describe as “helping you forget about everything that is going on in the world right now.”
Tea vs Coffee is another event where we send your team members a kit in the mail. In this case, the kit includes four exotic beverages, including two teas and two coffees. For example, your mix might include turmeric tea and a specialty mushroom coffee with immunity boosting properties.
The event is a 90 minute facilitated experience, conducted over a secure video conference line. an experienced instructor will weave your team through guided meditation, games and challenges and imaginative stories about the origins of tea and coffee. While you sip and enjoy the beverages, the instructor will also share facts about the flavor compounds and associated health benefits.
Learn more about Tea vs Coffee.
3. Online Office Games 🎏 [high energy]
Online Office Games is a form of virtual “Office Olympics” that includes spirited challenges, games and activities for remote teams. Example activities include fast-paced trivia, Go Get It lightning scavenger hunts, and a communication sharpening game called “Can You Hear Me Now?”.
Watch this video to learn more about Online Office Games:
Online Office Games is a 90 minute online team building event and is run over a video conference line. Your host will divide your people into teams and encourage them through a series of fun games and competitions. Online Office Games is energetic, spirited, collaborative, competitive, and everything you need to build some serious team engagement while working from home.
Learn more about Online Office Games.
4. Online Team Building Bingo
Online Team Building Bingo, sometimes called Remote Work Bingo or Work From Home Bingo is a fun game you can play on conferences calls.
Here is a template you can use for your first game:
Here is how to play:
- Start by distributing cards to your team members.
- If you have more than 10 people then use breakout rooms to encourage small group dynamics.
- Award prizes to whoever finishes a row or “x” first.
Check out our resource on Online Team Building Bingo for a blank template you can customize, plus more rules and tips too.
5. Sweatpants Dilemma
Anyone that works from home has faced the challenge of deciding between comfy pants and hard pants. Now, you can use this dilemma as a fun way to bring your team together for virtual team building activities.
Here are the rules:
- Create a list of players in the Sweatpants Dilemma.
- Decide on a timeline, which should be at least one week and no more than one month.
- At any time, a team member can shout “pants” and everyone participating has to stand up.
- If everyone is wearing sweatpants then everyone gets 1 point. If one person is wearing hard pants then that person gets 3 points and no-one else gets any points. If more than one person is wearing hard pants then those players get zero points and everyone else gets 3 points.
- Tally scores and have players compete for the most points. Awarding prizes is a cool way to jazz up the activity and keep your team engaged.
Sweatpants Dilemma is somewhat modelled after a decision analysis framework called Prisoner’s Dilemma. The game mechanics are fun and easy to understand, which means you can get started quickly.
6. Tree or Bob Ross
Tree or Bob Ross is an online game you can do entirely through the spoken word. The game mechanics are similar to 20 Questions or Eye Spy and other virtual activities where players aim to identify the object of another player’s attention.
To start, one player chooses an identity, which can be anything from an object to a concept. On a road trip to Canada, one friend chose to be a small rubber ball and another was famine. Explore your imagination and feel free to choose really difficult identities.
The player with the identity is known as The Post, and all other players can bombard The Post with unlimited questions to figure out what the identity is.
The opening question is traditionally, “is it more like a tree, or more like Bob Ross?”, to which The Post must answer only by naming one or the other. For example, if the secret identity was a sunflower then the answer is probably “more like a tree.” If the identity is Pinocchio then you have a choice to make, and must commit one way or the other.
The following questions are framed as “is it more like _______ or more like _______?”, where the first blank is the answer from the previous question. For example, if the answer to the first question was tree, then the next question is “is it more like a tree or more like _______?”, where the second blank could be literally anything that may give you some clue to the answer.
Tree or Bob Ross does not have a limit on the number of questions; only on your sanity. Repeat the questions over and over again until you get to the exact right answer. When you get the answer, everyone cheers and The Post role passed to the next player to choose an identity and continue.
7. Mister Rogers Calls
Mister Rogers Calls may be the single best way to do team building with remote teams. The name comes from the goal: to get to know your remote work neighbours.
We have been doing Mister Rogers Calls for years, and follow a simple format. First, we use an app that randomly selects conversation partners every two weeks. You could do weekly or monthly if that frequency works better for you.
The call itself should be exactly 30 minutes and conducted over video. The only guideline for the conversation is to avoid talking about work. Instead, encourage your remote employees to talk about hobbies and interests outside of the job. For example, you can talk about pets, favorite recipes, how long you can keep a house plant alive, and similar.
Mister Rogers Calls are a powerful way to connect your people via conversation and sometimes shared interests.
We use Donut for these calls.
8. Cheers to the Governor
Cheers to the Governor is a college drinking game, and I learned it from a roommate’s friend in Beijing. The game relies on the spoken word, which makes it easy to adapt for virtual team activities and happy hours.
How it works:
- Join a video conference call with your group, and establish a consistent order of turns. You could go youngest to oldest, geographically West to East or similar.
- Count to 21, one digit at a time, with each player taking a turn.
- After the count, everyone says “Cheers to the Governor” and takes a sip of a drink.
- The person that said “21” then creates a rule to modify the count for the next round.
- If a player misses a number or one of the rules then that player takes a drink and starts the round over.
- Continue playing until no-one can reach “21” or you are ready to move on to another set of virtual activities.
The rules you establish are an opportunity for creative engagement with your team. For example, the rules could be:
- Instead of saying “10” say “octopus”.
- If you say “5” then clap five times.
- The announcement of “21” should now include a touchdown dance.
And similar. The more creative the better. Also, you don’t have to drink alcohol with Cheers to the Governor. My preference is tea or soda water, which is more appropriate for virtual team building games.
9. Virtual Dance Party
Arguably, one of the best ways to do quickly build team spirit virtually is to throw spontaneous dance parties during video conference calls. We have a few recommendations.
First, have a dance party going at the beginning of your call so that people can participate as they join. When you start a video call with a dance party then you optimize around avoiding awkward chit-chat or silence.
Second, use virtual dance parties as a way to boost energy throughout the meeting. If you take a five minute wellness break during a 60 minute meeting, you can dedicate at least 30 seconds to dance.
Here a few tunes for your playlist:
- Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson
- Yeah! – Usher
- Girls Just Want To Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
- Twist and Shout – The Beatles
- Shake it Off – Taylor Swift
- Macarena – Los del Rio
- Footloose – Kenny Loggins
You can use other songs too, like this party playlist from The Bash; the list above is just a few of our favourites.
10. Nerd Talks
A few years ago, Ted Talks swept the nation and world as a fun, engaging way to learn about a variety of topics. With Nerd Talks you can bring the magic of Ted in house, with interactive, niche discussions led by your team members about their interests.
For example, Carly on our team fosters and adopts the cutest damn puppies you have ever seen. Carly could lead a 30 minute talk about the realities of being a foster dog mom, and weave in interactive elements like trivia and icebreaker questions. The presentation should include a slide show that is low in word count and high in pictures.
We also run Nerd Talks as a service. Ethan leads one called Beer & Sharks, which blends his expertise in fermented grains with years of program development at zoos, aquariums and other institutions. Ethan’s penguin knowledge will floor you. Lia leads a Nerd Talk called The Library of Alexandria and Cuttlefish which discusses the precarious connection between the greatest library ever built and marine molluscs. It’s fun.
11. Talk Like a Pirate Day
Yarr, matey! The only thing more swash bucklin’ than a bout of virtual team building may be the swagger of walkin’ the plank.
Hold themed days like Talk Like a Pirate Day and Walk Like an (Ancient) Egyptian (Hieroglyphic) Day to challenge your people to explore being a little weird. With themed days, you can extend the fun by giving your team members suggestions for vocabulary or actions to include, and prizes for following through. Themed prizes like buried treasure are best.
International Talk Like A Pirate Day is actually September 19th each year, as sourced from the official Wikipedia page, but you can do it any time.
12. Online Storytelling Workshop
Our sister company, Museum Hack, leads unconventional tours of the world’s best museums. The tour guides tell tens of thousands of stories every year and do three months of intense training before ever leading an experience.
With Online Storytelling Workshops, Museum Hack compressed that three months of training down into two hours of intense fun and skill-building. Your guide will share real stories from the museum, techniques for rapidly increasing engagement with your own stories, and direct feedback to participants. The storytelling workshop is smart, fun, and perfect for building strong remote teams.
Learn more about Online Storytelling Workshops by Museum Hack.
13. Healthy Lifestyle Challenge
Sam on our team heads up the Culture Committee, which is an organization dedicated to promoting ongoing team building and connection for our own team.
One of the main virtual team building activities Sam facilitates is a monthly Healthy Lifestyle Challenge. For example, one month the challenge was to drink a certain amount of water each day, and another month it was an “activity of choice”, which for me was walking outside for at least 10 minutes.
You can track progress on the Healthy Lifestyle Challenge with a Google Sheet, which helps add an element of accountability and also visual reinforcement of the habit. After 30 days, the person with the most “x” boxes marked on the spreadsheet wins. Really everyone wins, because everyone that participates gets a little healthier together.
Piedmont Healthcare has a list of weekly health challenges that may be helpful inspiration too.
14. 3 PM with Yoga Norman
When I first joined the startup world, I had two important habits:
- Walking outside for at least 10 minutes every day.
- A 3 PM neck stretching session with Yoga Norman.
My coworker Sims and I would get together at the same time each day, and encourage others to join us. We watched Yoga Norman, somewhat religiously, as he guided us through a series of gentle neck stretches.
Here is that video:
Pro tip: The good stuff starts around the 3 minute mark.
Yoga Norman neck stretches are an important way to relax the muscles in your neck and promote good posture, both of which often suffer when you work from home.
Try it. Once. Then for three days in a row. After three days you will start to notice a meaningful improvement in your neck health.
Yoga Norman has some other great videos for remote workers too, like eye stretches.
15. Beatbox Harmony
Beatboxing is when you manipulate your mouth and vocal chords to produce sounds and beats that are more like a drum kit then voice. With Beatbox Harmony you can harness the power of your entire virtual team to build a song together.
To start, one person on a video conference calls makes a noise either with their mouth or via a makeshift home drum. The next person adds a noise, followed by the next person and so on. Before long, everyone on your team is participating in the Beatbox Harmony.
Another way to do Beatbox Harmony is to have each person on your remote team independently record a 30 second noise making sessions. After, one person can collect the sound samples and layer them together to make a complete beat. You can give the song a name and distribute to your team members.
Here is a two minute YouTube video on how to Beatbox to help you get started.
Pro tip: When you are in a virtual conference room it can be difficult to distinguish the various noises. If one person does a screen record then you can distribute the harmony afterwards for people to enjoy.
16. Debate Club
In high school I joined the Debate Club and attended weekly meetings. For the entire year, we joined exactly one debate with another school. I don’t remember the topic, but I remember the guy that won spoke with the fiery passion of 1000 burning suns.
Debate Club is a fun way to nurture engagement with remote teams. To run a successful Debate Club, you can:
- Schedule a recurring date on the calendar for 45 minute sessions. I recommend a maximum of three sessions per month.
- Share best practices for debating effectively, including clear communication strategies and identifying logical fallacies.
- Do mini debates on inconsequential topics. For example, debate themes could include whether cookies with raisins should exist or not, and if you should skip episodes in a TV series. As long as your theme has at least two distinct sides, you have successful debate material.
As your Debate Club grows in notoriety and sophistication, invite more team members to join. The experience will help develop important communication skills, and also foster relationships between your remote coworkers.
17. Jargon Monster
Jargon Monster is an “avoid the word” engagement activity for remote teams. The premise is simple: blacklist a word, and all team members must avoid using it. If you use the word and someone catches you, then you lose 1 point and that player gains 1 point.
The activity is called Jargon Monster because it is designed to help train teams around careful and precise language use. In medicine, engineering, software and a other technical fields it is common for industry specific jargon to run a little rampant. Jargon Monster can help combat this challenge and make your team effective and efficient communications, while also getting some meaningful employee engagement time in.
To up the challenge, you can modify the rules. For example, you could blacklist multiple words, award more points for certain words, or add creative penalties. The more you customize virtual activities to fit you team, the more powerful the engagement and opportunities for connection.
18. One Word to Rule Them All
One Word to Rule Them All, or “One Word” for short, is another one of the remote team building activities designed around precise communication and listening. In One Word, you choose a specific term that all team members will listen for. When a player hears the term, that player acknowledges hearing it and then all players take some action.
The action can be anything you like, ranging from taking a sip of a drink to doing push-ups to a mini dance party and similar.
19. Learn the NATO phonetic alphabet
My sweetheart is from the US and I’m from Canada, so we spend time learning “forever skills” together. For example, she prefers to communicate in Fahrenheit and I prefer the more efficient Celsius. So, we learned how to convert from one system to the other. For us, this skill had a practical use, and was also a fun way to bond and improve our communication.
You can follow this same “skill building as team building” format with remote teams. For example, when you make a phone call to your remote work colleagues, you sometimes need to communicate specific names or codes. Most people have struggled through conversations like this with “B as in Ben”, “E as in Elephant” and similar. The tactical and unifying solution is for everyone to learn the NATO phonetic alphabet.
The good news is this alphabet really is the same 26 characters you are familiar with, and you have heard much of it before. “Alfa, Tango, Foxtrot” is one example that may sound familiar from Top Gun.
When you learn this format together, it’s like having a secret language or code that binds your people together. Every time the alphabet comes up in the future, your people will feel the subtle power of the virtual team building you did; just like when my sweetheart and I convert Celsius to the less efficient Fahrenheit.
Here is the NATO alphabet for reference:
Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
For the actual experience, you can share out the alphabet, give everyone a few minutes to study, and then quiz each other in pairs. The goal isn’t perfection, it is familiarity, and even 30 minutes can be enough to create a lifetime of team building joy.
Veteran Aid has more tips for learning the NATO Alphabet quickly, including quizes and drills.
Learn more about the NATO alphabet on Wikipedia.
20. Murder Mysteries
Murder mysteries are a fun and familiar way to do team building. This format is also very much adaptable to virtual meetings and conference calls because the game is mostly talking, thinking and strategizing. There are some boxed murder mysteries that cover the mechanics, and we recommend working with a service provider that can facilitate the experience for you.
Shot in the Dark Mysteries has a guide on how to run virtual murder mysteries on Zoom.
21. Virtual Book Club
A class office team building activities that converts well to a virtual format is book clubs.
Some organizations use book clubs to teach skills like sales call development, marketing, or organization structure. If your goal is remote team bonding then we recommend choosing classic novels instead.
Here is a list of books to consider:
- Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
- 1984 – George Orwell
- The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
- Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
- Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck
- Peter Pan – James Matthew Barrie
For more inspiration, Goodreads has a list of office book club books.
If you aren’t sure which book to go with then try Peter Pan; it is one of those classic stories that most people know and also haven’t read. Plus, the book is a delight to read.
Pro tip: One of the known challenges with book clubs is that some people don’t do the reading and then either skip the meeting or show up and don’t participate. You can circumvent this challenge by giving your people paid time to read the book.
22. Duolingo Dash
Duolingo is a popular app for language learning, and learning a skill together is an effective way to do virtual team building with remote teams. For example, you could learn French, Spanish, German, Chinese or Korean.
Duolingo Dash is an activity that can further adapt Duolingo for virtual teams. Here are the rules:
- Each player downloads the Duolingo app and chooses a language to learn
- Specify a timespan for the Duolingo Dash, which could be anywhere from 1 hour to 1 week.
- Participants race to get as far as they can in the language learning experience, and keep track of the level they reach.
- At the end of the Dash, compare scores and award prizes.
Duolingo Dash is one of those games where all participants win because they upgrade their skills. You can add a massive “win factor” if you follow up the learning experience with prize trip. For example, if everyone attains Level 5 then you do a company trip to Portugal. The bonding factor of “we all must complete this to win” is very strong.
23. Online Open Mic
An open mic is somewhat of a free-for-all for brave participants to take control of the stage. You could share music, comedy, a short speech or really anything you like.
An Online Open Mic is essentially the same format but online. Invite your team members to participate in a way that matches their interests and rally your team around the experience.
24. Virtual Campfire
One of the best ways to engage remote employees is with a virtual campfire. Campfires, like Pogs™️, are a fun and nostalgic way to connect your people.
Here is how to run a successful virtual campfire:
- Send your people s’more kits by mail that include graham crackers, mini marshmallows, chocolate, wood matches and a tea light candle.
- Get everyone on a virtual conference call for about 90 minutes.
- During the conference call, play camp games and prepare your s’more while telling ghost stories.
Another recommended element is to arrange participants in teams that have some unified mark like a color of clothing or silly hat.
Virtual campfires are also a great way to get your remote employees’ families involved with team building at your company.
25. Icebreaker Questions
A simple way to start with virtual team building is to add a round of icebreaker questions at the beginning of video conference calls. You should plan for about 30 seconds per participants, and can reduce the time for large groups by using breakout rooms.
One of the challenges of doing icebreakers over video is that you don’t have simple visual cues for who goes next. To remedy this challenge, the host should designate who is going next and who is on deck continuously throughout the icebreaker session. The host then starts by saying their name, role at the organization, and the answer to a prompt.
Here are some icebreaker questions you can start with:
- What was your first online screen name?
- Which obscure super power would you want?
- What did you eat for breakfast?
- Which web browser do you use and why?
Here is a list of virtual icebreaker questions you can use too.
26. Online Comedy Show
A famous saying, which I attribute to Genghis Lincoln is “virtual teams that laugh together, stay together.” While nobody can confirm that veracity of that statement, the spirit of it is generally true.
One way to encourage laughing with your virtual team is to host an Online Comedy Show. If you have team members that want to tell jokes then you can do this experience DIY. If you want to go pro then hire a professional comedian to join your call.
One way to level up the experience is to work with a comedian that is willing to customize their material. For example, you can position the session as a roast against the organization and have the comedian friendly-mock your industry, founder, history and values. All in good spirit of course 🙂
27. Simon Says
Simon Says is a popular activity at summer camps, 10th birthday parties and in grade two classes everywhere. You can also adapt Simon Says to a be a fun virtual activity for remote teams.
Here is a little girl who has taught 72,000+ people how to play Simon Says:
The way you make Simon Says fun for adults is to make it hard and add prizes. You may want to give a generic gift card as a prize, and that would be fine. You could also have the winner name a book and send that book in the mail. Getting a physical prize is more fun than Amazon credit.
28. Lightning Scavenger Hunt ⚡
Scavenger hunts typically work by binding small groups of people around a set of clues, and having that team rush around to solve the puzzle. Online scavenger hunts that follow that real world format struggle with engagement.
Instead, try a Lightning Scavenger Hunt which is designed from the ground up to be fun, fast-paced and perfect for engaging your people. To play, get your team on a virtual conference call and start firing off clues like “cuddle your pet”, “show a dictionary” or “get your favorite mug.”
The first person to complete each clue gets a point. You can also organize your people into small teams and award the points to each group to show more love.
29. Virtual Show & Tell
Show & Tell is a simple activity that promotes public speaking skills and storytelling. Having each of your team members share something personal about their lives is also an excellent way to build meaningful connections between them.
To do Virtual Show & Tell, you can either have your coworkers prepare a quick story in advance, or do a more spontaneous “grab something within arms reach” approach. We recommend the latter option, as it encourages quick and creative thinking.
Pro tip: Even though Virtual Show & Tell is a great way to build communication skills, the activity is meant to be more fun then intense. I recommend that you avoid critiquing the presentations and instead just say, “that’s so cool, thanks for sharing!” or similar.
30. “Who da baby?”
“Who da baby?” is a quick game you can play on conference calls or over a platform like email or Slack. The activity mechanics are simple, and the bonding potential is powerful.
Here is how it works:
- Invite all participants to send you a baby photo. Photos from around 2 – 3 years old are best because you will see more distinct features and not just a 6 month bundle of joy.
- Post all of the images, with numbers and without names, in a shared Google Doc or other accessible format.
- Each team member makes a pair list of numbers with guesses of who da baby might be.
- Collect the answers, grade the scores, and announce the winners.
You can play “Who da baby?” with teams about once per year because the faces become familiar, so use it sparingly.
By the way, the toddler in the photo is me at age three working on this article.
31. Pretty Good!: Work From Home Edition
Nailed It! is a popular food network show with 98% on Rotten Tomatoes 🍅
Pretty Good!: Work From Home Edition is a trademark friendly adaptation of the show that uses similar mechanics. For the activity, send a recipe to each of your team members and have them prepare it at home. You can challenge your team to produce baked goods like cakes and cookies, or savoury foods like lasagne and kimchi.
After your team members prepare the receipt, they take a photo and submit for judgment from your team. Some preparations will be Instagram worthy, and others will be less-so, but in this virtual challenge they are all pretty good!
32. Caricature Showdown
Some virtual team building activities require special equipment and others require no equipment. Caricature Showdown falls somewhere in the middle, as each of your remote team members must bring a paper and drawing utensil.
For the Caricature Showdown, pair your people up in groups of two or three, and have them draw each other. I recommend setting a pretty quick timeline like three minutes for the drawing. At the end of the three minutes, each team member shares their work on screen for all to see. Award bonus points to team members that put the creation on their fridge.
You can extend the activities by having everyone watch a 15 minute YouTube video on caricature basics first.
33. Virtual Time Capsule
When I was a younger Michael, my school assembled a time capsule from items we collected together. About twenty years later I emailed the school and asked for an update on that time capsule. “We don’t know what you are talking about” was the unsatisfying answer.
You can help reignite my faith in time capsules by assembling a Virtual Time Capsule with your remote team. Have each person contribute a digital asset, such as a written document or a photo, and seal the files in an archive. Then, have your team vote on how long you will bury the time capsule for. The typical range is 1 to 10 years, and you could extend this to 20+.
Time capsules are exciting because they include two elements for team building. First, the collective action of assembling the capsule. Second, the opening of the time capsule to reveal what each team member contributed. It’s rad.
Cake has a list of time capsule ideas that you can adapt for an online version.
34. Dream Vacation Map for Virtual Teams
Google Maps has a feature where you can create custom maps of specific destinations. Dream Vacation Map for Virtual Teams is exactly what it sounds like. First, you do a quick icebreaker to discover the dream vacation destination for each of your remote team members. Then, you put all of destinations on a map and share it out.
You can do many variations on this activity, for example the “Where do you live?” map, and the “Where were you born?” map. The activity works for virtual engagement because you are creating something together.
35. Never Ending Story
Never Ending Story is both one of the best movies ever produced, and a fun activity you can do with virtual teams. I recommend Never Ending Story for groups that enjoy creative writing and smart humor. All you need to get started is a Google Doc or other shared writing platform. No Bastian or Falkor required.
Here is how to write a Never Ending Story:
- Decide on a character and a theme. For example, “Timothy Bit, the heir to a donut franchise fortune that gets into a bankers dozen of trouble.”
- Commit to a timeline equal to one day for each person that participates, and designate a day to each person.
- On each participant’s day, that person writes at least 300 words of a story. You can develop the character, move the plot along, create an epic denouement or pen a mid-chapter poem.
- At the end of the period, publish the story in a pretty PDF and distribute to your team members.
One thing to keep in mind for Never Ending Story is that the quality of the story is less important than the act of completing it. Teams are often composed of people that don’t work together often, so this activity is a chance to collaborate on something fun.
36. Virtual Company Picnic
A company picnic is both a common trope in team building lore and a damn good way to get your people together. You may not be able to sit side by side when working from home, but you can still hold a successful company picnic.
I recommend a few optimizations to make sure the event is successful:
- Invite your employees’ friends and loved ones to participate on screen too.
- Plan a series of fun small challenges of games from this list.
- Send food. You could send each of your team members pizza, sushi or similar.
A Virtual Company Picnic is a great way to get your people together for fun virtual activities, conversation and bonding.
37. Two Truths and One Lie
Two Truths and One Lie is another common team building activity you can adapt for remote teams. The activity is virtual conference call friendly, since all you need is a reliable WiFi connection and a little cunning deceit.
For the remote work version, give each of tour team members to minutes to prepare three facts about themselves. The facts should represent two truths and one lie. For example:
- I can read and write in Chinese.
- I have consumed 3.5 KG of pure 100% cocoa during quarantine.
- I once hacked into my high school computer.
Number two is the obvious lie, it’s been at least 3.6 KG 🙂
Have each participant share three facts, and guess which one is the lie. You don’t really have to keep track of points for this game, because the fun is more in learning about each other.
If you want to up your game, check out PrepScholar’s list of good lies for the games.
38. Typing Speed Race
If your team members have any competitive spirit at all, then then will love engaging in a Typing Speed Race. The race is a way to show off your lightning fingers, and also a great way to develop one of the most important remote work skills: typing quickly and accurately.
Try the 1-Minute challenge on typingtest.com to start.
You can have team members participate in the typing test and post scores to Slack, email or other communication channels. You can also do a Typing Speed Relay, where you assemble teams of five people and add their cumulative scores to get the team total. Reveal the additions one at a time to build suspense and build strong teams while you are at it.
Pro tip: If you do the relay version, then have each team nominate one person as a cheerleader that keeps spirits high.
39. Virtual Birthday Parties
Some offices celebrate employee birthdays with cake, cupcakes or other treats. You can mimic this experience for online team building with a virtual birthday party.
The essentials for a successful virtual birthday party are:
- An element of surprise. Get everyone on a virtual call and tell the birthday person that the call starts five minutes later. Be ready to shout “happy birthday!” when the person arrives.
- Fun activities. Do icebreakers, lightning scavenger hunts and similar.
- Heaps of praise. Use the birthday as an opportunity to showcase the team member and what they contribute to the organization. You can talk about specific accomplishments and why the role is critical to your organization’s overall success.
If you have a large team, then planning virtual birthday parties may get redundant. Instead, you could do one party each month for all the people born that month. Unite the April babies around the shared birthday month, and the same for the other 11 groups too.
40. Meditation Station
The key to successful team building online is shared experiences, which gives you a lot of flexibility in which ideas to use. For example, you could do guided meditation with the help of an instructor or a YouTube video.
For Meditation Station, plan on at least 10 minutes to get your team together on a virtual call. You can schedule the call and make it optional to attend, which also helps get buy-in from the people that do choose to join. Then, lead everyone through the guided meditation and end the experience with some calming breaths.
Ten minutes during an otherwise busy day can be an effective way to bring your people together and build strong remote teams.
Here is a 10 minute guided meditation on YouTube.
41. Mini Museum
Mini Museum is a virtual collection activity for remote teams. The activity focuses on finding shared threads in each of your team member’s lives. For example, most people have a favorite mug or a specific food they eat over and over again.
For Mini Museum, setup a photo archive via Google Photos, Google Drive or Pinterest that your people can contribute to. Then, have each team member add and caption a photo that matches the theme. As the collection grows, so does your museum, and you have a gallery that you can show off to other departments. When you onboard a new employee, invite that person to contribute to the museum, which is a quick and fun way to get them participating in your remote company culture.
42. Virtual Rube Goldberg Machine
A Rube Goldberg machine is a complicated contraption designed to complete a simple task. For example, you could have a series of marbles, dominoes, gears and playing cards that trigger actions to eventually make toast.
A Virtual Rube Goldberg Machine follows the same principles, with one crucial difference: you need to find ways to connect the machine from remote locations. For example, you could have a marble trigger a phone call from one location to another, and the vibration on the receiving end could start the next flow before passing on to another location.
The Virtual Rube Goldberg Machine is one of the most complicated virtual team building activities you can attempt, which also means it packs a powerful punch for team engagement.
We recommend reviewing these technical tips on Instructables about how to build a successful machine.
43. Personality Tests
Personality tests are a common element of job applications and on-boarding. You can use personality tests for online team building too.
Here’s how it works:
- Send your people a standardized personality test, like this simulation of Myers-Briggs.
- Have everyone send you the results of the test they complete.
- Do a virtual conference call where you talk about the different personality types and how they fit in with team dynamics.
I am very INTJ. Your remote team members will enjoy learning about the different personality types and how they fit in.
44. Complete the Picture
Complete the Picture is an online drawing activity that works best with small teams. This activity is perfect for groups that like creativity and collaboration.
Here is how to play:
- Each participant draws about one third of a picture either by hand or digitally.
- That person then sends the image to another teammate to complete the next third.
- That second person then sends the image to another teammates to complete the final third.
- When the image is complete, hang it up in your virtual chatroom for everyone to admire.
Complete the Picture is a fun way to get your people working together, without it feeling like intentional team building.
45. Virtual Hugs
At some workplaces, hugs are cool and accepted, while at others you have more handshakes and head nods. Whichever greeting ritual you prefer, you can create an online version to rally your remote team around.
For example, your virtual hug could be a hand signal or a little card you hold up during calls. The power of virtual hugs isn’t in physical touch, but in the symbolism of caring about your teammates and finding a unique and shared way to express it.
46. The List that Goes On & On
The List that Goes On & On focuses on team productivity and strategy development. For this activity, you divide your people into small teams of four or five people and give them a topic to make a list about. The challenge is to make the longest list of ideas you can in a limited amount of time.
47. Math With Me
A common engagement technique at real world conferences is to assign each participant an element of a mathematical formula. For example, you could be a multiplication sign or the number 5. The goal is to find other participants to team up with to reach a specific number, like 10.
Math With Me is a similar bonding experience that is designed for remote team building. For this activity, assign each of your remote workers with one of the mathematical figures, and then give them a timeline to complete the challenge. The group that reaches the goal first wins a prize, which could be gift cards or a donation to a charity of choice.
48. MTV Cribs: Work From Home Edition
MTV Cribs is a show where a camera crew visits the home of a famous or somewhat famous person and follows them around the house. The celebrity or semi-celebrity shares out some of the home’s unique features and objects.
For MTV Cribs: Work From Home Edition, your remote team members can emulate the show. Have each team member record a video, up to 1 minute long, introducing their home, home office or neighborhood. The goal of the experience is to give your team an inside look at where people live, in a way that helps create understanding.
49. The Fake Podcast
One of my first entrepreneurial projects was a podcast called Writerviews where I interviewed successful authors and bloggers. I learned a lot about writing and marketing, and built some great relationships. Your team members can do the same, or at least similar.
For The Fake Podcast:
- Challenge each of your remote team members to be a pod-caster for a day.
- Pair up team members, and have them take turns interviewing each other with questions about their partner’s job role.
- Record the sessions, add a simple intro clip, and post the videos for everyone on your team to access.
The Fake Podcast is a fun way to deep dive into learning about other people on your team. The activity goes far beyond simple chit-chat, and puts your people in the role of an investigative journalist seeking to learn as much as they can about the people they work with.
50. Sock Knitting
I am secretly envious of people who can knit well; it seems like such a cool skill to be able to make your own clothing. With Sock Knitting, you can transform my envy into fun engagement activities for your virtual team.
Here is how to do Sock Knitting:
- Send each of your people a knitting kit with yarn and the pokey things you knit with.
- Give participants a specific timeline, like one month, to knit a pair of socks for a colleague.
- Provide postage-paid shipping packs to each of your participants so they can send the socks to a peer.
- Have recipients wear the socks and take a photo to share.
You could replace “sock” knitting with scarves or other simple items. This remote team activity is cool because your people receive a physical memento from the experience.
51. Share the News
Virtual conference calls can be 90% business and 10% team building, or some other ratio that matches your interests and goals. Typically, the more time you spend doing fun activities together the more the benefits will accumulate.
Share the News is a great way to allocate 10% of your virtual meeting to team building activities. For this exercise, one person from your team chooses a news story and presents it to the group. The person then fields a quick Q&A session for other participants to ask questions about the news.
52. Pen Pal Club
In 2003, I graduated high school and quickly joined a pen pal club; I had high aspirations. The pan pal club was a simple website where you could find writing partners, and then send letter mail to your partner wherever they were in the world. For example I sent letters to Korea and Hong Kong. The experience led to friendships that have already spanned nearly two decades.
You can emulate my experience building friends around the world by hosting your own Pen Pal Club for virtual teams. For this activity, pair your people up with partners in other offices and departments and encourage them to write handwritten letters and postcards to each other.
Pen Pal Club is effective for team building with remote teams because most people do not write letters by hand anymore, and most people do not receive anything good in the mail. Your club may create friendships that last for decades like mine did.
53. Pass Around the World
Pass Around the World is an activity where you record a video together. The goal is for the first person to move a common object across the screen that then interacts with the next person’s screen. For example, if you had a water bottle you could pour water off screen that then fills a glass on the receiver’s end. The receiver then does some action that interacts with the next person.
Pass Around the World takes work and creative energy to assemble, and the result is worth it. Your team will enjoy building something together that is just for fun and not another work project.
54. Virtual Trust Fall
The sometimes lauded trust fall is generally an in-person activity; it is hard to catch someone with virtual hands. However, you can do an online version of this classic team building exercise by playing a round of team-email sending. For this activity, choose an important email that you have been waiting to respond to. Then, ask one of your team members to draft and send the email without showing you. The amount of trust needed for this exercise may exceed that of the trust fall.
55. Story-time with Grandma
If you want to add rocket fuel to your efforts then invite one of your remote employee’s grandmothers to join a video call. During this session, you can encourage grandma to share stories about what her world was like 50+ years ago. A bonus activity is to work with grandma in advance to bake a batch of cookies for each of your team members and mail these out to enjoy during the call.
56. Internal Company Blog
If you ever want to build healthy relationships with random internet strangers then start a blog. If you want to build strong relationships with remote teams then create an internal company blog where people can write and share content.
Like public facing blogs, the internal company version can take many formats. We recommend prioritizing stories, which are both engaging to read and convey a lot of nuance about a person. In addition to stories, you could share recipes, pet photos, work from home tips or similar.
The key to success with internal company blogs is consistency. On a team of 10, each person could contribute one post each month, which would be enough to keep the project and your remote team building dreams alive.
Blogin has a list of tips to consider for internal company blogs too.
57. Online Fundraiser
One way to build morale with employees is to choose a meaningful cause and raise funds or donations for it. For example, many offices are familiar with doing a food drive or a community sponsorship. You can take this employee engagement effort virtual with an online fundraiser.
I recommend partnering with a donation platform to help facilitate the transactions and add credibility to the collections. For the cause, anything that resonates with your team can be a good fit. If there are charities and causes that align with your industry, for example “organic farming” for a restaurant, then these can be both charitable and strategic partnerships.
GoFundMe has a guide on how to raise money for your charitable efforts.
58. Banana Splits
A staple of many office summers is building and enjoying ice cream sundaes together. You can do ice cream in a distributed way too, it just takes a little more planning and effort. For Banana splits:
- Provide a budget for your team members to purchase ice cream and toppings.
- Give everyone 10 minutes to make a banana split, and take a photo of it.
- Do light video conferencing activities like icebreaker questions or facilitated conversations while your team enjoys the ice cream.
- Post all the photos to a gallery or archive.
- Award a prize for the most creative split.
This activity works because nearly everyone likes ice cream. If you have non-dairy people, then coconut ice cream is a good substitute.
59. Virtual Jeopardy-Style Game
Jeopardy is a popular game show that many of your coworkers will be familiar with. You can bring a Jeopardy-like game to your next virtual meeting relatively easily. To play, just create a graphic representation of the game board, which you could do with Google Sheets or a PDF. Then, let team members choose slots like they would on the show, and give the corresponding answers.
Pro tip: Have one person be the scorekeeper, as it can become tough to keep track!
60. Who Wants to Be a (Virtual) Millionaire?
Similar to the Jeopardy-style game, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is a game that you can relatively easily adapt for an online format. Essentially you need a list of increasingly difficult multiple choice questions, then to put someone in the hot seat with rescue mechanics like poll the audience and phone a friend. If the player opts to phone a friend then they can nominate one specific person in the virtual audience to support on that question.
ProProfs has a list of Millionaire-style quizzes you can use.
FAQ: Virtual team building activities
Here are a few common questions and answers about virtual team building activities for remote teams.
What is virtual team building?
Virtual team building is the intentional application of resources toward creating a happy, successful and engaged remote team. One example of virtual team building is doing fun group activities together online.
What are virtual team building activities?
Virtual team building activities are group activities for employees that are conducted online or remotely. Examples of virtual team building activities include icebreaker questions, Online Office Games, virtual campfires, and group fitness classes.
Why is team building important for remote teams?
Virtual team building is important because it helps build happy, engaged and productive remote teams. People that work from home often struggle to feel connected with coworkers and the organization. By investing in virtual team building you can not only model the engagement of teams that work in offices, but actually exceed it.
How do you bond with a remote team?
The most successful way to bond with a remote team is through shared experiences. Whether you choose pub trivia, ice breaker questions, or an online workshop is secondary to the simple act of spending more quality time together.
How do you make a team call fun?
An easy way to make a team call fun is to include activities that are not work. A common saying, often attributed to me, is that “all work and no play makes meetings boring.”
How do you create a team remotely?
One way to create a team remotely is to invest time and attention in doing virtual team activities. Give your people fun shared experiences and they will die you a successful team.
What is a virtual activity?
A virtual activity is any activity that you experience online via a computer, tablet, mobile phone or other connected device. Virtual activities tend to either be fun or training focused.
If you are looking for more team activities for remote teams then check out our list of 28 Online Team Building Games for Remote Employees.
That list is more focused on games and fun ways to connect with your coworkers.
written with 💖️ by Michael Alexis
100% Virtual Team Building Activities
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