How to Create an Effective Virtual Team Building Activity

Posted: Thursday, Jul 22 2021

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Effective virtual team building creates cohesion in a group.

This is important to know, because one of the biggest priorities in a workplace is to have a cohesive and unified team! Connected teams work better together and are significantly more productive. In fact, research shows that teams who work well together generate quicker results, experience lower levels of workplace stress, and have higher job satisfaction. It appears that teamwork really does make the dream work! 

The challenge, however, is creating a unified group, but that’s where team building activities come in! These exercises strengthen company culture and communication and have gained popularity in recent years. Many sources even call team building efforts the “most important investment you’ll make” due to their countless positive benefits.

But what about remote employees?

Effective virtual team building requires all participants to have a strong digital connection.

In the post-Covid world, an unprecedented number of employees will still continue working from home, physically isolated from their coworkers. Can team building efforts be effective with remote employees? We think so!

We’re sharing all the tips and tricks for creating a fun, effective virtual team building activity. Then, we’ll discuss the benefits of team building for remote teams, and all the ways that you can best support these employees.

Team Building is Necessary for Remote Employees!

While working from home in pajamas sounds awesome in theory, there are actually unique challenges facing remote employees. A whopping 6 in 10 remote employees report feeling less connected and less informed since they started working from home.

It’s clear that culture, context, structure, and visibility are vital for successful employees. However, these factors are often absent in a virtual setting. 

That’s where team building comes in!

What is Virtual Team Building?

Like traditional team building activities, virtual team building focuses on building trust, connections, and cohesion among a working group of people. The only obvious difference is that virtual team building activities are all conducted virtually!

Forming bonds in a remote setting can be difficult, and virtual team building aims to relieve that burden in a fun, accessible way. When done effectively, virtual team building should encourage remote employees to find new ways to communicate with each other outside of in-person interactions.

Why You Should Take Virtual Team Building Seriously

Unfortunately, many employers consider team building a “splurge” rather than an investment. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Team building offers various benefits, all of which are only multiplied for those working remotely. These benefits include:

1. Boosted Company Morale

Have you noticed a dip in excitement or energy among your team over the course of the last difficult and distanced year?

Virtual team building can be used to build morale, trust, and a feeling of camaraderie among your employees in a fun and unique way!

Team building exercises are wonderful for improving communication and problem-solving skills, which are essential for a team that works well together.

2. Increased Communication

In general, team building activities require virtual teams to work together to solve a common goal. They encourage communication and collaborative efforts. These exercises also demonstrate the value of working together and thinking creatively.

Participating in effective virtual team building can help bridge the gap between co-workers who are having difficulty connecting.

3. Reduced Loneliness

Is your virtual team feeling lonely? If so, changing that should be a priority!

Research shows that lonely employees take more sick days, have lower performance levels, and are generally less committed to work than employees who feel connected.

Team building activities can be used to improve the overall culture of the virtual workplace, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. 

4. Lowered Zoom Fatigue

Defined as an emotional and physical strain associated with communicating unnaturally, “Zoom fatigue” is all too common for remote workers. Not only is the interaction difficult for our brain to comprehend, but a negative relationship forms when the platform is always used for serious and stressful situations. Using Zoom in a new, enjoyable way can help reset negative associations with Zoom.

Tips for Creating an Effective Virtual Team Building Activity

Team building requires a bit of effort and planning to be truly effective. To ensure that you get the most out of your time and money, here are some tips for creating an effective virtual team building activity!

Host the Activity During Work Hours

To generate the most success and participation from your team, schedule the team building activity during normal working hours. Most people appreciate a few hours away from the typical grind, especially if it’s for something enjoyable!

• Offer Long-Term Growth Potential •

Team building activities aren’t only fun in the moment. They can also generate long-term results beneficial to the organization for years to come. Focus your planning on areas within your workplace that need improvement. Then, choose activities that help develop those skills!

Experiment with the Right Activities

Team building activities should never be a one-and-done thing. The advantages just keep repeating themselves, which is why many workplaces come up with a schedule for these exercises! You can plan for weekly, monthly, or even quarterly team building activities, depending on the needs of your virtual team.

Furthermore, avoid choosing the same activity over and over again. Instead, experiment with different activities, and various types of exercises. Maybe try a collaborative activity once, and introduce a little competition in the next one. Then, ask your employees for feedback and suggestions, and track the results you see from each one. This provides you with real-life evidence for your investment!

Make it Personal!

While pragmatic, a simple Calendar invite doesn’t always get people excited to participate in an activity. For truly effective virtual team building, try sending out a fun invitation via Paperless Post! You can choose from a variety of cards and flyers that complement your team building event. A special touch like this is sure to make team members smile when it pops up in their inbox!

3 Virtual Team Building Activities You Need to Try

Knowing the definition of a team building activity and coming up with ideas for one are two totally different challenges! This is especially true for employers who are working with a virtual team for the very first time. Here are three virtual team building activities to experiment with, and customize, based on your own team. 

A woman participating in effective virtual team building.

1. Icebreakers

Icebreakers are a wonderful way to introduce any team building activity. Sometimes, depending on the comfort level and dynamic of the team, it can feel awkward and difficult to jump straight into an activity. Icebreakers help start lighthearted conversation and encourage engagement.

Icebreaker activities are also versatile! They can include short games, riddles, and challenges. 

2. Get to Know Each Other

In effective virtual team building, participants should feel happier to be involved.

Your employees work together every day, but how well do they actually know each other? Many remote employees feel unfulfilled in their virtual position. They miss small talk, interacting with their colleagues, and collaborating with others. Team building exercises focused on getting to know each other can help! Some fun ideas to help your employees get to know each other include:

Two Truths and a Lie

This is a simple, classic team building activity that can easily be redesigned for the virtual workplace.

Each team member will present three “facts” about themselves, however, only two of them will be true. It’s up to the others to determine the lie.

To make it more competitive, you can introduce the possibility of earning points for those who guess correctly. 

This or That

Another classic, This or That is a great activity that can be used as an icebreaker or as the entire exercise.

In this game, two options are presented to the entire team. They will be prompted to choose “this” or “that.” Some examples could be: Phone call or Text?, Video Meetings or In-person Meetings?, Night or Morning?, and “Wine or Beer?”

The questions and subsequent choices can then be used to open candid discussions and opportunities for team bonding.

3. Go On a Remote Adventure

You’ve heard of escape rooms, but have you tried an escape room as a team building exercise? Remote Adventures from The Escape Game are excellent for encouraging your team to work collaboratively and creatively in a way that’s fun and relatable!

Remote Adventures can also be customized to suit various needs, including recruitment, employee appreciation, and leadership development. They can be collaborative or competitive, or a little bit of both, depending what would work best for you!

Final Thoughts

Virtual team building on a laptop effectively.

Team building activities are so important, especially for the virtual workforce. It’s easy for employees to feel overlooked and disconnected.

Effective virtual team building prevents this! It reminds your employees that they are valued, and provides them with skills and experiences that will benefit them for years to come!