When you and your colleagues share one roof, it’s infinitely easier to create an atmosphere of trust and camaraderie. There’s just something about spending 40 (plus) hours with the same people day in and day out to help bring everyone closer together. But, do you have a plan for team building activities for remote employees?
But FAST FACT: Did you know that 65 percent of virtual employees surveyed reported that they have never had a team-building session?
So what can you do when some – or all – of you work virtually and rarely – or never – see your coworkers IRL?
You just have to think outside the box a little to find a different approach to team building.
In fact, virtual team-building activities can still be incredibly effective in promoting employee happiness, retention, and productivity and BONUS! Virtual team building doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.
Sure, there are the tried-and-true virtual team-building ideas, like stressing the importance of communication and having regular face-to-face video conferencing. But those day-to-day approaches teeter on, well, humdrum and ordinary.
And you’re not ordinary, and neither is your team, right? RIGHT.
So we scoured the world wide web for some super unique ways to build team rapport and relationships, even if miles or even oceans separate you from your work fam.
Team-Building Activities for Remote Employees
- MTV Cribs: Virtual Team Edition. Start an internal video series where team members can show off their homes and personality in quick, self-made videos à la MTV Cribs. It’s a fun, behind-the-scenes (and screens) look into the personal lives of colleagues and can be ridiculously fun. Bonus points if someone hits up their personal StairMaster in stilettos.
- Reply All. Before you shudder, try to view this email enemy through a different lens. Consider sending out an email to the group with an icebreaker question – and be sure to get creative. Ask everyone to respond to the question via email and – GASP! – reply all so that everyone gets to know each other a bit more.
- Create A Slack Channel Just For Photos. Think: Instagram-meets-cubicle. It’s really nothing more than a simple all-call channel that requires very little effort and maintenance, but boasts a big payoff in team building and culture. Plus, who doesn’t love photos of doggos, vacas, babies and memes?
- Make Videos of In-Person Events. With virtual teams, it’s always a good idea to provide regular updates so they can see the real-world impact of their work. Videos – even amateur, un-fussy videos – of in-person activities and events are a great way to keep the team connected to your company’s mission and to remind them, ‘Oh yeah. THIS is why I do this.’
- Live Remote Coworking. Virtual coworking is actually a thing, and it might help your team be more productive. Create a Slack channel called #coworking and create a video call that’s open for anyone to join – every day or maybe one day a week – so anyone interested can set up their ‘cubicle’ next to yours.
BONUS: If no one else is online or in the #coworking channel, you could use a tool like Focusmate to find someone to work with.
- Donut Calls. Donut is a Slack extension that automatically pairs everyone in your company up for a 15-30 minute non-work-related one-on-one call that gives an opportunity for remote employees to get to know people they normally wouldn’t be working with on a daily basis.
- Virtual Scavenger Hunt. Scavenger hunts, as practiced by the remote team of Hubstaff, are about sending virtual team members to accomplish fun, ridiculous and challenging tasks as created by you or using a scavenger hunt platform, such as GooseChase or Actionbound. How simple is that? Then, encourage your team to share stories, videos, and photos on your Slack-tagram channel.
In a brick-and-mortar office, people can chat, stop by coworkers’ cubicles, and even hang out after work – but virtual employees typically can’t enjoy those luxuries. So in lieu of a water cooler, these team-building activities can help your virtual employees form meaningful professional and personal relationships while you benefit from increased staff retention, morale and cohesion.