20 Great Virtual Team Building Ideas For Remote Teams [2021]

 

“Dear diary…I’m running out of fresh ideas to keep my remote team engaged while working from home…”

Sound familiar? Fear not, friend! We’ve put together an awesome list with fun, easy virtual team building activities for remote teams.

These are awesome remote team builders for WFH teams. The goal of virtual team building is to create strong teams that are working remotely. This can be achieved through simple questions and icebreakers, virtual karaoke, and larger company-wide virtual events. Great remote team builders will foster closeness, improve communication, and boost team morale for your employees.

We’ll be honest: we know that working from home is a lonely, disconnected experience. In Buffer’s recent State of Remote Work 2020 report, loneliness was the biggest struggle for 20% of remote employees

We’re seeing companies put team building on the backburner, as if virtual team building doesn’t work, or won’t help.

Sadly, this is the exact opposite of how to keep remote employees engaged. If anything, now is the time to double-down on supporting your staff, to show that you’re there for them during this challenging time.

The ideas below are easy to implement, but remote team building brings its own challenges, and it requires special work to engage everyone. After all, you don’t want half the team tuning out, and need to ensure everyone feels like they’re a part of it.

That’s why virtual team building is so unique. But if you spend time creating a thoughtfully designed program, remote team building activities can be super successful! Our ideas below don’t require a ton of time or money, but can still serve the purpose of bringing teams together, with staff bonding and fun, plus useful tools for working remotely.

We at Kabloom (formerly Wild SF Tours) are passionate about great virtual team events, and have compiled 20 of our favorite creative virtual team building activities for remote teams. They’re easy to run, easy on the wallet, and can make for a happier, more productive team!

Table of contents

What is virtual team building?

Virtual team building can be, well, anything that brings remote teams together, just like if you were working together in an office! When done well, fun virtual team building can help build trust and meaningful connection through team bonding, and can help ensure your whole team feels valued and seen.

Virtual team building ideas include several strategies, games and activities designed to bring more human interaction to virtual workers.

We’ve outlined all sorts of ideas, including simple ice-breaker questions, games and video activities. We promise these will help create closer-knit teams and better collaboration!

Zoom Team Building

Why is virtual team building important?

Remote team building is especially important for workers not used to working virtually (like those affected by COVID-19). It can be hard to self-motivate, and workers often feel disconnected and unsupported.

Instead of equating this with your quarterly team builder, think of virtual team building as a replacement for the ‘watercooler.’ It’s an intentional space where remote co-workers get to catch up, socialize, and connect in a way they might not otherwise.

Done well, virtual team building can help stand in for the connections and collaboration you’d experience with in-person working. It ensures employees feel cared for, connected, and inspired to be productive!

Intentional team building can even facilitate new skills, like a collaboration mindset, communication building, and teamwork. 

Best practices for team bonding while working remote

Find time for small talk

When online meetings begin, it’s easy to jump straight into business. But consider adding in a few minutes for casual check-ins and small talk. This is extra important for remote employee bonding, as virtual team members don’t have a chance to chat with their neighbors throughout the workday.

Get creative

All the games below are templates that you can easily switch up and change to fit your team. Have fun, don’t take it seriously, and see what happens!

Hire a virtual team building expert

Ironically, 65% of remote employees say they’ve had no type of virtual team building sessions. These are the employees who need them the most!

If you’re overwhelmed by the task of building rapport and trust through remote teambuilding, hire an expert to make it happen! Check out Kabloom for qualified leaders who can turn a conference video call into a meaningful session. Feel free to call us at ‪415-942-5421‬ or email booking (at) kabloom.team to chat more!

So, without further ado…

Here we go! These are some of our favorite virtual team building ideas (that aren’t boring!). But use your imagination too—just like with improv games, there are endless possibilities to invent and switch up these team building games and activities.

1. Take your team on a Virtual Vacation!

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What sounds better than kicking back on a tropical beach, sipping a piña colada?

Hawaiian shirts are encouraged on the Virtual Vacation, transporting you to an imaginary island. But there’s a catch: your team must now work together to navigate across waters back home.

Led by a virtual tour guide from Wild SF, your energetic, quirky host will get everyone laughing, connecting and working together through fun challenges.

Your team will collaborate on drawing a flag to fly on our ship, you’ll run around on a home scavenger hunt, you’ll design a route for our ship, and you’ll learn so much more about your team.

2. Learn and be entertained at a Virtual Graffiti Workshop

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This dynamic experience is quickly becoming a favorite: it’s a graffiti history class, a virtual street art tour, and an online graffiti class with a renowned street artist!

First, you’ll learn the history of graffiti’s hip hop roots in New York in the late 1960’s, and how the art form has gone international since then.

Then join a virtual tour that heads down back alleys to visit the ‘outdoor galleries’ of mural- and graffiti-filled streets, finding hidden art from local legends and international artists.

You’ll learn about how politics and legality comes into play with piecing, bombing, tagging and creating stunning murals.

Next, it’s time to draw! You’ll meet a renowned graffiti artist who will share his backstory in the ‘graf’ scene, and lead a workshop showing everyone how to create their own tags.

Come up with your own tagging name, and practice developing handstyles, and turning a basic tag into a “piece” (that is, a masterpiece).

Your team will leave inspired, having learned about art and showcasing their own creativity as a team!

3.Virtual Stand-Up Comedy Show for Companies and Teams

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Hire a virtual stand-up comic to entertain your remote team! Kabloom runs online stand-up comedy shows for the workplace, with family-friendly comics who are guaranteed to get your team laughing and having fun.

They can run stand-up comedy shows on Zoom and Google Meet.

The session lasts 45 minutes, and includes warming up the crowd and bantering with them, followed by a 15 minute stand-up set. 

Next is a Q&A about the life of a working comic. At the end there’s more involvement with something called “joke karaoke,” where your team can share their own favorite jokes!

4. Drag Queen Virtual Diversity Training for teams

DEI, or diversity training, doesn’t need to be stale and awkward!

What is virtual diversity training?

Diversity training is the practice of embracing the things that make us unique, reducing prejudice and discrimination, and improving teamwork and communication. It has become increasingly popular among companies, especially larger corporations.

Join beloved San Francisco drag queen Mary Vice for the most entertaining online diversity seminar you’ve ever seen. She’s one of the most successful drag performers on Twitch today.

Mary Vice drag queen
San Francisco-based drag performer Mary Vice

In this exhilarating look at queer history and culture, you’ll get a crash course on LGBT rights and Pride via a virtual tour of San Francisco’s most important queer landmarks.

Then, you’ll enjoy a live online drag show performance by Mary Vice, with the chance to ask her questions about life as a drag queen.

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5. (Have someone) organize a Party in a Box!

Think you can’t entertain a large remote team (50-500+ people) at the same time? Think again!

Kabloom are experts at facilitating large-scale virtual company parties, which features a number of activities running simultaneously.

That way, your coworkers can choose their own adventure (kind of like a music festival).

Imagine a variety of activities running at the same time, like:

Wild SF are experts at setting up these kinds of online events for remote teams. We can cover everything from organizing invites, coordinating experienced, high-energy leaders for each activity, and taking care of the logistics of online facilitation.

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6. Host an online karaoke session

Since COVID, many companies have turned into remote teams looking for fun online events. Good news: a virtual karaoke party is an awesome (and easy) virtual team building idea to get your team connecting!

This guide explains how to organize a virtual karaoke party on Zoom, how to host a great event for your team working from home, and how to choose a great karaoke song.

HIRE A KARAOKE HOST

7. Icebreaker questions for remote meetings 

Here’s an easy one: kick off with virtual meeting ice breaker questions! This is one of most easy virtual team building ideas out there. Asking a fun and easy icebreaker question is a tried-and-true way of getting people talking and bonding in no time!

We suggest building in enough time to do a few rounds of questions. Kick it off with something super easy and ‘surface-level’ to get your team talking.

Easy opening icebreaker questions

Then, if you’re feeling there’s a trust and comfort with your team, try one of these deeper questions. These get more to the core of what people care about in life, and can make for meaningful team bonding for your virtual team.

As someone starts demonstrating vulnerability, this can encourage others to open up about their own goals, dreams and needs too.

Deeper icebreaker questions for teams

8. Guess Who

Here’s a fun one: have your team submit one (unknown!) fact about themselves to the leader. The zanier and the better—everyone has a few of these experiences that wouldn’t have come up in conversation naturally.

Learning fun facts about one another is especially important for remote teams, which can feel very isolated. Knowing that you and your coworker share a love of an obscure 80’s band, or both studied abroad in Ireland, can make for meaningful connection that wouldn’t exist otherwise. It’s a simple way to spark friendship-forming discussions.

How it works

  1. During the meeting, read each fact aloud to the group, and have the team guess which fact belongs to which team member! 
  2. If it’s a small team (5 or less), it works well to read all the facts at once, then have everyone try to match them up
  3. If you’re 6+, it works well to do multiple rounds, so that everyone can remember the facts that you read
  4. At the end of each round, the team can cast votes and discover if they got them right

9. Play an online game

Houseparty is a free mobile application that got really popular, especially towards the start of the pandemic. It now offers a host of fun games to play with your coworkers, like karaoke, trivia and Heads Up!

How it works

  1. Download Houseparty for your phone or Google Chrome
  2. Log on and locate your coworkers
  3. Choose a game that you want to play!

10. Jeopardy quiz game for team building

Here’s a Jeopardy-style quiz show game for team building. It’s basically a quiz show, and you can keep points to make it competitive!

How it works

  1. Brainstorm a list of questions for the show! 
  2. Decide on teams or individual (we suggest no teams for 7 or less; it’s just one more step to organize!)
  3. To compete, each player should ‘buzz in’ through the chat (comment with an X, for example). The first to buzz gets to answer, and if they get it correct, one point!

Question ideas

Company-specific questions
General questions

11. Fun Slack #channels 

Since we’re all spending more time at home, it’s a great time to learn about one another’s hobbies we’ve been making some time to share what we’re up to outside of work. 

While working from home, these channels can be a fun way to bond and learn of similar interests, hobbies, and to brag about cute pets, kids and home cooking.

Sometimes the best team building ideas are the easiest to run. Once you set this up, there’s no maintenance needed but infinite bonding possibilities.

How it works

  1. Set up some fun Slack channels for your team and invite them! 

Fun Slack channel ideas

12. Virtual coffee break

Constant video meetings that are all business can feel like, well, all business. Here’s a way to break that up, and show that jumping onto a video call can be fun and conversational.

Coffee and laptop

How it works

  1. Set up a 15-30 minute ‘coffee break’ call that has no agenda (and is truly just a way for remote employees to bond while having a coffee together)
  2. Let the conversation flow organically (sometimes it’s best if the manager isn’t on the call). Allow them this space to chat about whatever they want to!
  3. You can even consider giving a ‘no work talk!’ guideline to ensure it’s all fun talk and getting to know one another, or you can let them use that time to talk through projects and collaborations, too.

Conversation often spins into the latest Netflix series, personal lives and current events. For those who work remotely, these can feel like a really valuable time to interact with coworkers in a fun and easy way.

13. Home-cooked lunch competition

Since we’re all cooking at home, why not make that into its own fun competition? 

How it works

  1. Choose a day to host your competition
  2. Decide on a ‘theme’ for the food competition in advance, so everyone has time to grocery shop
  3. On the day of the food contest, have everyone post a picture of what they made for lunch on Slack
  4. Then vote on whose meal is the best
  5. There can be a fun prize for the winner! 

Ideas for themes for chef competition

14. Virtual happy hour

Team bonding at the local bar is a tried-and-true way to let loose and catch up at the end of a long day. Hosting an online happy hour might sound strange, but it works!

Cocktail stock image

This is a chance for co-workers to interact and learn more about each other, even if they’ve never gotten a chance to meet and work together in person.

How it works

  1. Let your team members know in advance about virtual happy hour, so they can stock up on their beverage of choice
  2. When the video call happens, get everyone to ‘cheers’ with whatever they’re drinking!
  3. Conversation will flow organically here, and this shouldn’t feel too structured. But you can definitely have a few great icebreaker game ideas on hand too (like those on this list above!)

15. Virtual co-working (with a live remote office stream)

It sounds silly, but there’s something psychologically encouraging if you can feel like you’re in an office, even when you’re home. One easy idea is to create a live remote office space in a video chat.

It’s encouraging to see your coworkers, and helps you to stay motivated while working remotely. Just like in a real office, it also allows for easily asking questions, making a bit of small talk, and feeling more connected!

How it works

  1. At the start of the day, anyone can start the ‘virtual office’ by dropping a link to a video meeting
  2. As others start work, they can open the “office” and keep the video chat on throughout their workday

16. MTV Cribs: Virtual Team Edition

We’re going back to the early 2000’s. Frosted tips are encouraged.

A fun way to start a remote meeting (or maybe a mid-meeting pick-me-up?) is to have your distributed team do their best celebrity impressions and show off their house, selfie-style.

It’s a unique way to bring remote teams together, and to show off any particularly great interior design skills!

How it works

  1. Choose one remote team member as the ‘celebrity’ per meeting
  2. Have them host their own selfie-style TV episode, showcasing from their doorway, then walking through the house. They can show off whatever they feel like along the way!

Tip: have the ‘celebrity’ join the meeting on their phone (not computer), which will be easier for walking and narrating.

17. Marco Polo check-in

Marco Polo is our favorite video messaging app, where you can record and send short videos privately, or with a group. They call it a ‘video walkie talkie.’ It’s simple, but really fun!

How it works

  1. Have the team download the app, then add everyone to a group
  2. Every morning, record a message with the day’s check-in/prompt
  3. Then invite everyone to respond with a short, fun video!

Ideas for Marco Polo check-ins for virtual team builders

The possibilities are endless—every morning you can think of a new question, or have your remote team take turns coming up with that day’s check in question. This is a great way for distributed teams to have a bit of facetime and connect from afar!

18. Christmas in July

Everybody loves presents (even if you’re not a Christmas person). Plus, getting a care package in the mail sounds extra sweet when you’re working remote! So why not make a new gift-giving holiday?

You can make up a new gifting tradition for July 25, say, and call it ‘Christmas in July.’ This could also work as a quarterly tradition. However often you want to celebrate, presents are always a fun way for remote teams to feel connected and cared for.

How it works

  1. Try to run this Secret Santa-style, where each remote employee is given another employee to prepare a care package for
  2. You could have people fill out a survey of types of things they like: dietary restrictions/fave online stores/fave drink? Or the team can have total creative control! It depends how well they all know each other
  3. Then give a max budget, e.g. $25 plus shipping
  4. Tell them when their presents must arrive
  5. The presents could even be opened together as a fun idea for video meetings too.

Christmas in July gift ideas for remote employees

19. Virtual team lunch-and-learn

For remote employees, lunch could be a great time to facilitate engagement and online team building. Bring in an ‘expert’ to share a presentation or talk while folks are eating at home! It’s like a private TED Talk for your remote team!

This expert could be an outside speaker you hire (someone with insights into communication skills, how to stay motivated when working from home, health and wellness, or non-work topics too that might be interesting!).

Your expert could also be someone on the team, and it could feel like a skillshare where for each Lunch and Learn, one virtual employee shares something they’re knowledgeable and passionate about!

How it works

  1. Get your remote team on a video call
  2. Bring in an expert to lead the talk
  3. 15-30 minutes is a good presentation length (if a team member is sharing the complete history of Lord of the Rings, 15 minutes will feel plenty long to most people)
  4. Organize this for during the lunch hour, and encourage your team to eat while they watch!

20. Never Have I Ever

Ahem. Believe it or not, this college standby doesn’t need to turn NSFW to be fun. Play a PG-version with your team and get to learn about one another!

How it works

  1. Everyone starts with five fingers held up
  2. Your remote employees each take turns saying something that they haven’t done
  3. If you have done that, you put down one finger
  4. The last person standing (with a finger raised) wins!
  5. You could also pre-write the topics ahead of time, in case you need a reserve of family-friendly topics and prompts 🙂

For example, if someone says ‘Never have I ever been roller skating,’ then everyone that has been roller skating would put a finger down. You’ll learn a lot about your remote coworkers quickly, and it’s a game that’s already familiar to most.

21. Virtual dance party

If you’ve got a silly team that likes to perform, kick off an otherwise boring video conference with a quick remote dance party! 

You could have a scheduled meeting that is literally just a dance party for 30 minutes, with one remote employee playing DJ and providing the jams, while all set up their cameras with cool backdrops and get to dancing…

…but if you don’t have time for that, just kick off your team call with a quick dance party!

How it works

  1. Have the music playing as virtual team members log in to the call
  2. Get everyone dancing it out immediately! This could also be a way to encourage timeliness—don’t show up late or you’ll miss the best part 🙂
  3. A dance break also works well to bring the energy back up mid-meeting, as a sort of pick-me-up

 

Who can help organize fun virtual team building ideas & activities?

Well, us! Kabloom by Wild SF leads meaningful virtual team builders that get your team out of their shells, laughing, connecting, and learning more about one another.

Ready to bring your remote team closer together? Start here.