Remote work has become mainstream since the start of 2020. If we believe the experts, demand for remote work will only increase. That said, it is largely unexplored territory, and a different setting altogether from traditional office spaces. Socializing between team members is negligible which makes them feel isolated and takes a toll on their mental health. This calls for measures to organize virtual team building events and activities.

These exercises will help you improve productivity, achieve monthly targets and reach your company goals. Virtual team-building activities create opportunities for coworkers to socialize. With remote working, employees might feel isolated and disconnected, always working in silos. 

We are here to explore some of the best tried and tested team-building exercises that several other companies are already using to their advantage. We will also discuss the impact they have on the efficiency of the teams. But before that, let’s find out why virtual team building is so critical in 2021. 

Why Is Virtual Team Building Important?

Virtual team building exercises promote trust and understanding between the workforce. These exercises also help employees adapt to remote work and keep the workforce engaged which, as per Gallup, lowers absenteeism by 41% and produces 21% higher profitability.

Experts predict the arrival of Gen-Z into the workforce will increase the demand for remote work. Your organization can leverage it by establishing a structure for remote employees. By the time this generation enters the workforce, you will be able to utilize their potential for maximum output.

When to Host Virtual Team Building Activities

Virtual team building exercises are critical in forming an effective team of employees. The timing of each exercise is also crucial. You would not want to hold an ice-breaking session after the team has already worked on multiple projects. However, you can host these in your virtual onboarding/training events. You don’t just introduce employees to the company culture and host training sessions, you also give them a space to connect virtually. With virtual onboarding, training and ice-breaking become memorable. 

virtual team building

Analyze each activity and find out at which point it would be most effective. The ice-breaking sessions would be helpful when organized right after the formation of the team. The training and problem-solving activities should be implemented when the organization has to undertake a project in the near future. And the rewarding activities should be held when the employees show remarkable performances in their assigned tasks.

Now finally on to the idea machine for some creative ways of bonding with the team virtually. 

How Do You Bond With a Team Virtually?

Creating effective connections between virtual teams is difficult but not impossible. You need the right activities that promote socialization among the team members. There are many ways to go about it. Some of such high yielding activities are:

1. War of Wizards

Encourages collaboration between different members

Teams cannot function effectively without the collaboration of different members. War of Wizards is an online game designed specifically for this purpose.

Each session is about 90 minutes long, facilitated by the game master. The aim of the team members is to earn magic items by completing the challenges and solving the puzzles. These items help teams to gather resources and in casting spells in the war effort.

The mechanics of the game encourage collaboration and builds trust between team members. It trains the players to solve work-related challenges efficiently. It also enhances the productivity and performance of the employees which is beneficial for your organization.

2. “Can You Hear Me Now”

Improves communication skills of team members

Can you hear me now” was designed by Columbia college to promote communication between remote employees. Players have to nominate a speaker and the remaining become artists. A speaker uses a random online image generator to source an appropriate image. The challenge for the nominated player is to use only geometric shapes to describe the image.

Accurate communication and understanding of the other players are required to excel at this game. The game is interactive, fun, and challenges the players to improve their communication skills.

3. Guess The Emoji Board

Breaks the ice & promotes interaction

Be it virtually or physically, an ice-breaking session is a must. It promotes interactions among the members and helps them in getting to know each other. You will find many activities for such sessions but “Guess the emoji board” stands out. It is a fun virtual team building exercise and provides valuable information about employees to one another.

Each member has to send a screenshot of frequently used emojis to the moderator. The moderator then shares it with the team where others have to guess the use of the keyboard. It continues until someone gets it right. Everyone on the team repeats the same cycle and by the end, members know a thing or two about the others.

You can make the game competitive by introducing point systems. This will make it even more fun.

4. Feedback From Team Members

Let’s you evaluate yourself for better

Honest feedback on the company’s policies from team members is important. You should know if the workforce is benefiting from the virtual team building activities. Specify a day in a month or week and ask the team members to give their honest feedback. Listen to the concerns of members and try to resolve them as soon as possible.

Do an honest assessment of the feedback and understand what went right and what went wrong. Weigh out the pros and cons of different policies and move forward with the best possible one.

Establishing a sound virtual team would take some time. You may have to experiment with many different activities and exercises. But if you keep getting this honest feedback you would be able to get there quickly.

5. MTV Cribs-Employee Edition

Promotes inclusivity & feeling of camaraderie 

MTV Cribs has shown us the most private and personal things about the celebrities we love. It develops a deeper bond between celebrities and their fans. You can use the same template to promote similar feelings among team members. Visiting the houses of team members is obviously not an option but you can always ask for a virtual tour.

Employees have to record a tour of their homes and show the coworkers things they love. This activity will let the team members know each other on a personal basis. This virtual team building activity will promote the feeling of cohesiveness and camaraderie.

Some members might not feel comfortable showing their homes to strangers. In such cases, you should not pressure them and respect their privacy.

The best way to get this done is to ask one member for a virtual tour at the beginning of each meeting. Start with the member who is comfortable with the activity. Leave the concerned ones for the last. Such members will become a little comfortable by the end of these exercises. And then, they might let their coworkers into their personal lives.

This activity is best for smaller teams but larger teams can also benefit from it. 

6. Never Have I Ever

Fun activity to boost interaction amongst team members

Never Have I Ever never lets anyone get bored which makes it an excellent virtual team building event. It is an enjoyable game that can go on for hours. Each member has to tell an interesting or bizarre thing that they have done or experienced. And the others have to tell if they had done anything similar.

You can make it more fun by adding various elements. For example, members have to drink something on the things they have done or experienced. It can be coffee, juice, or even alcohol if the networking activity is taking place after work hours. 

This activity is interactive, generates laughter, and produces a friendly work environment.

7. Establish a Reward System

Creates friendly competition & motivates employees

Motivated employees are assets you cannot afford to lose. You need to bring forward some measures to ensure they remain motivated. It can be done by establishing a reward and recognition system. It is crucial for virtual team building as the motivations of remote workers are usually low.

You can boost their morals by sending them tailor-made gift cards, and bonuses. Extra leave days help. This virtual team building activity shows that you recognize the hard work of the team and care for them. When you reward a member, the others feel motivated to get the same recognition. This creates friendly competition between the coworkers and improves their efficiency.

8. Celebrate Success Together

Sparks the feeling of attachment between company & employee

Celebration of success with the employee makes them feel involved and connected with your organization. The teams are remote but distance should not be a barrier. There are hundreds of ways you can connect virtually and hold the celebrations together.

Virtual parties, remote cocktails, birthday packages, and sending gifts are some notable ways to celebrate with virtual teams. You can even host virtual dance parties. How you execute this virtual team building exercise is all up to your creativity.

If a particular employee has some good news to report, you could even celebrate that as part of your virtual team building initiative. This could range from anything to getting engaged or having a baby, etc. 

9. Sessions With Therapists

Sound minds will bring you more business

Remote work can take a toll on the mental health of team members. Socialization is difficult and the feeling of isolation takes over. This can affect their work performance. Hiring a therapist for the remote team would be a highly productive virtual team building activity.

The team members would be able to share their problems with the therapist. The stability in mental health would allow individuals to function much better. Their improved performance, as a result of therapy, will help you achieve the goals of the organization.

You can arrange for 1:1 sessions for each employee, or add a fixed number of sessions with a known therapist to their healthcare package. This all goes on to show that you care for their well-being. 

10. Organize Workshops

Trains & ready the employees for the potential problems

Working remotely is just as hard as managing a remote team. Virtual team management software and tools are not as common or easily implemented as one might think. You need to take this into account and organize workshops to train your team members. Your team should know how to operate the given tools and what to do when an application crashes.

You may need to organize the basic training sessions if you have older members on board. Be mindful that not everybody possesses technical knowledge. You may need to hold some workshops a number of times to get the members up to speed. Some members may hesitate to ask basic questions but you must make them feel comfortable and encourage participation in these workshops for best results.

workshops virtual team building

11. Simulate Problems

Improves problem-solving skills of employees

As a leader, you need to make sure your team is ready for any given problem. This does not come by on its own. The team needs to be trained in tackling the problem it can potentially come across. Each member must know what his/her roles are in any given situation.

You can do this by devising a simulated problem and drill to solve them. The type of problem depends on the nature of the work your organization does. Each member should have a responsibility and must know what to do when the problem hits.

Take a PR team for example. A major scandal has hit the company and you need to figure out a way to save face. In such a scenario, you should assign a member to prepare a press release. One member should be responsible for handling the electronic media. Two or three members should control the damage via social media. Lastly, a team should assess the damage and devise future policies.

When the team undergoes such drills, it becomes efficient in tackling the problems when they really arise. 

12. Share Your Bucket List

Produces respect & trust between team members

Everyone has a list of things one wants to do or experience in their lifetime. It can include small victories like getting a driving license or monumental ones like traveling the world. Sharing these lists makes a great icebreaking activity.

It allows team members to get to know each other better, understand one another and bond. It grows the trust and respect among members which reduces conflicts and produces a friendly work environment.

The Bottom Line Is…

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Research has shown that remote work is here to stay even after the pandemic. This demands for organizational reforms and systems to facilitate maximum efficiency in a remote working environment. Putting together virtual team building events is at the forefront of a successful remote working environment.

The enlisted virtual team building exercises should help you form an effective team. The solid bonds between traditional teams can be replicated for virtual teams through these team building activities. You can explore your options depending on the size of your team and the nature of their work.

You may play games, host virtual parties, organize workshops, and do a hundred different things. The aim of all these activities is to provide coworkers opportunities to interact and socialize. This virtual team building will lead to the creation of an effective team that helps you to achieve your goals.

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