When was the last time you had a team-building activity?
The BOOQED team had our last team-building session during our kick-off meeting in January. As a team that’s spread across 5 countries, getting everyone together in one place is a considerable feat, but the results can’t be underestimated. We got more alignment and camaraderie as a team and felt more comfortable with communication among each other even as we returned to our home bases.
The research backs that up too. According to the Harvard Business Review, “close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%.” Also, “people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, team get-togethers have happened much less frequently, not just for the BOOQED team but for companies all over the world. With the necessary move to remote team-building for safety reasons, we decided to look at this change through a "glass half full" lens. We can now commit to holding activities regularly. Team-building also provides a sense of solidarity and support for teammates required to quarantine at home.
With the plethora of video conferencing tools available, we think more companies should make a more dedicated effort to do remote team-building regularly, especially if your teams are newly remote.
Here are 8 ideas for remote team-building that you can tailor to your company’s culture. We do think that there should always be a fun factor involved though!
Most of these setups are for a team size of about 12 to 15, so adjust accordingly.
Suggested Duration: 30 to 40 minutes
Preparation: A pen and paper, or alternately, a way to draw images on a computer or mobile device
Mechanics: Team member A draws a picture using only simple geometric shapes. He/she then chooses another person, Team Member B to describe the picture to everyone else. Team Member B can only mention shapes and their positions - “A small circle with two squares right below”.
Without seeing Team Member A’s drawing, the other participants will reproduce the image based on Team Member B’s description.
The objective is to replicate Team Member A’s drawing as closely as possible, but expect hilarious results!
Suggested Duration: 1 hour
Mechanics: This is basically an online version of Pictionary. Your team would need to get on Skribble or Drawasaurus, or have someone host a Jackbox session and launch Drawful. Start a private room and get going!
Drawing can be relaxing and meditative too (not to mention, full of laughs), so this can be a good activity for the mid-week.
Suggested Duration: 30 minutes
Preparation: A spreadsheet for keeping track of guesses and tallying points
Mechanics: Get the team on a video call. Each team member tells two truths and one lie about themselves. The other team members have to guess which is the lie, and the person with the most correct guesses wins. The winner gets to have a win to his or her name on your game leaderboard on Slack/Discord.
Suggested Duration: 1 week, asynchronous
Preparation: Smartphone camera
Mechanics: What are your teammates like outside of work? What are their surroundings like?
Suggest a theme - it could be your work setup, pets, kitchen creations, or a more abstract concept, like something creepy or inspiring. The team can take a picture for a specified theme with their smartphone, and share it throughout the week on a special channel on Slack/Discord/Communication platform of choice.
Suggested Duration: 3 to 10 minutes
Preparation: Get on typingtest.com
Mechanics: This is the ultimate linguistic cognition challenge. Everyone gets on typingtest.com and sets the same time and competition type. To make it more challenging, everyone also sings a song together while completing the challenge.
Want to amp it up? Try the singing portion in a different language.
When the challenge is done, everyone puts up their results on a leaderboard on Slack/Discord.
Suggested Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours
Preparation: Select 2 team members to be the hosts. Set a theme, dress code, and prepare 10 to 15 questions based on the theme. Oh and Bring Your Own Drink. (#BYOD)
Mechanics: After following the preparations mentioned above, invite everyone to the video call. Then split into teams of 2 or more, with team sizes of about 4 to 6. Just like pub trivia, the hosts will read out the questions, and teams will have to answer the question first.
Team reps can shout out answers in a free-for-all style, but feel free to adjust the rules and decide how much coordination through Zoom verbal cues and Slack/Discord chat would best fit your setup.
Suggested Duration: 1 hour
Preparation: Each teammate thinks of 1 to 2 weird or outrageous things they’ve done and add it to a list.
Mechanics: Everyone fills out their guess for each item on the list. Afterwards, each team member reveals which items on the list are theirs.
This activity can be done either with or without video chat (asynchronously) but with video chat is ideal for maximum team-building benefits, such as creating a more open dynamic among teammates, and an environment where they also see a different side to their teammates' personalities.
Suggested Duration: Depends on how long everyone wants to hang out
Preparation: A host to stream a movie, sports game, or music. Also #BYOD
Mechanics: Sometimes, people just want a chill night but still have the company of great people. This is a great way to do so that’s relatively easy to organize and doesn’t put pressure on participants. However, as always, make sure the choices for movies and music aren’t too serious.
Suggested Duration: 15 - 60 minutes
Preperation: The host to play as the moderator, and team members familiarizing themselves with the game.
Mechanics: The rules are a handful to learn, however, once you've mastered it, time will fly by with all the fun you'll be having! The objective of the game is essentially to find who the mafia(s) is/are. The moderator will assign roles to people: the mafia (can be more than one), the villagers, the doctor, and the detective. For the mafia, their objective is to "kill off" the villagers until they are the majority. The game will go on in "days" and "nights", where at night, the mafia will reveal themselves to conspire the murder.
The game can be done on any video chatting software, as long as you can turn off your camera. Turn off the camera when it's "night time", and the moderator can message the mafia members in their own group chats about who's the target that night. Same can be done for the doctor and the detective. Check out this in-depth guide of the game.
Suggested Duration: 15 -30 minutes
Preparation: Team members knowing the rules, and one person (to start off) thinking of a random number.
Mechanics: This game can be done without any props or other websites, just you and your team! One person just has to think of a random number between 0-100, and everyone else has to guess that chosen number. The range will alter according to the numbers guessed.
For example: If the chosen number is 33, and someone guessed 20, the person will say "20-100". If another person guessed 48, they'll say "20-48", and so on until it's narrowed down to 33.
The person who guessed the number correctly can be the one who has a go with thinking of the new number. Make sure everyone has a turn too!
Suggested Duration: 30 - 60 minutes
Preparation: Having the websites/apps ready for everyone.
Mechanics: There are many team games website, and it's a fun and easy team building activity because most are already familiar with games like Monopoly and Uno. Here are some free sites/apps to get your game night going:
Suggested Duration: 30 - 45 minutes (depending on how large your team is)
Preparation: Tell your team you're going to be telling them some bad news via email before the team buidling session starts... (That they're going to be stranded on a desert island).
Mechanics: Provide a list of tools for everyone to choose from. The list can range from a compass, a knife, a rope, matches, cell-phone etc. Have your team members choose 3 items and make an argument for it. After that, people can have 5 more minutes to decide whether they want to swap their items after hearing other people's perspectives. Hopefully, this activity will be fun in learning the ways of others.
Suggested Duration: 1 hour
Preparation: It's a scavenger hunt, so no one should prepare anything beforehand! The host can make a list of household items prior to the team-building though.
Mechanics: The host of the game will say one of the items, and team members would have to scavenge for it in their homes. The first to hold the item to the screen wins that round with 3 points. The second would have 2 points and everyone else would have 1 point. The person with the most points win. This activity will require a video chatting software so people can see each other running chaotically around the house!
Suggested Duration: 15 minutes
Preparation: One person needs to have a prompt for the story, or not, it can be random too.
Mechanics: As a nice icebreaker, the team can continue a story prompt one sentence each. Then watch the story build into something either hilarious or horrifying. The team can do this through Zoom or Skype, as well as on messaging softwares like Slack where people can type their stories out.
Suggested Duration: 30 minutes
Preparation: Get your lunch ready to share (virtually) with the group!
Mechanics: This is probably the simplest team building activity of all. Simply prepare your normal lunch and Zoom the team whilst eating and chatting together. Eating lunch together is one of the best ways to get to know each other, so this is a great activity if you have new employees. It can be regularly implemented as a weekly event as well.
BOOQED as a company is a big believer in team-building activities, as we’ve seen them create positive outcomes for our company culture. There’s a wealth of remote team-building activities you can do, even with very few resources. All it takes is dedication to make it happen and some creativity – and your favorite video conferencing tools, of course!
Bonus: Here’s us trying remote team-building for the first time!
What are your company’s favorite remote team-building activities? Let us know – we'd love to feature you on our blog! Just email the BOOQED team at firstname.lastname@example.org :)