Dmitrii Kustov is the Internet Marketing Director and Founder of Regex SEO located in Houston.
As the remote workplace continues to grow in popularity, there is no denying the paradigm shift that comes with a remote team. Luckily, video conferencing tools like Slack and Zoom make it easier than ever to keep the lines of communication open.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some remote team-building activities and other great ways to foster bonding in remote teams.
Organize free remote team-building activities.
The term “team-building activities” often leaves a bad taste in the mouth, mainly because many people view these activities as cheesy or tacky, even in person. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. The key is to foster the feeling of connection and camaraderie and to reinforce the feeling of team spirit within your employees. Emphasizing team bonding is the goal.
Here are some great free remote team-building activities that are sure to be a hit and won’t cost a dime.
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Nothing brings teams together like trivia. You can have a theme (TV shows, movies, etc.) or just general knowledge. You can even do company trivia to test your team members on how much they know about their employer. The winning team should receive a small prize, such as paid time off or a gift card.
• Never Have I Ever (also known as ‘Five-Finger Showdown’)
Each employee starts by holding up five fingers. One at a time, each team member will call out something they personally haven’t done. Team members who have done that thing will have to put one finger down. After all fingers have been used, players are eliminated and the last team member standing wins.
• Time Traveler
This activity encourages outside-the-box thinking and gives the team a chance to learn about one another. Have each team member talk about an era or significant time in history they’d like to visit and why. Bonus points should be awarded to any team member who imitates a historically significant figure from that era.
• Cutest Pet Pic Competition
Everybody loves a chance to showcase their furry friend, so, prior to this event, have your team members submit one photo for the rest of the team to vote on. Then, when everybody comes together, show each pet photograph in turn. Number each photo, and collect votes from the team in the chatbox during the presentation. At the end, tally up the votes and pick the winner. The team member with the most votes wins a prize.
• Bucket List Challenge
For the bucket list challenge, have all team members list five accomplishments they hope to achieve in the future. Once everyone has done this, have your team members match common goals with one another and challenge them to accomplish any mutual bucket list goal together.
Initiate remote team events.
A remote environment lacks the nuances of the workplace watercooler, where employees gather to shoot the breeze. That social interaction is more valuable than many realize, so replicate this with some remote team events that closely simulate it.
• Virtual Coffee Session
If employees can’t have in-person coffee breaks, set aside a time for the team to have coffee together on Zoom. Every team member is allowed to contribute a topic of discussion for the rest of the team.
• Virtual Happy Hour
Virtual happy hour can be executed along the same lines as a virtual coffee session, just at the end of the day. Friday is the ideal day to do it, as it’s the end of the week and your team members are much more likely to be receptive and engaged. Having their choice of alcohol in their hands all the while doesn’t hurt the flow of conversation either.
• Live Remote Office
If your team thrives on spontaneous interaction throughout the day, consider implementing a live remote office. This entails having everyone leave their cameras on for extended periods of time as they work, which will enable team members easy access to each other at any given time.
Bear in mind that this is not for every team, as many people value the independence of working remotely in their home office without being scrutinized. It’s up to you as the team leader to gauge whether or not this method is right for your team.
Allow time for chit-chat before every meeting.
In an in-person work environment, chit-chat before a meeting begins is common. You can easily replicate this by asking the team a question before a Zoom meeting begins and having each person respond. Let them talk about the high point of their day, the funniest joke they’ve heard in the last month, upcoming vacations they’re looking forward to—the possibilities are endless.
This might seem like a pointless exercise. But numerous studies have shown that employees who feel more connected are more productive. Taking time to acknowledge each team member, in turn, goes a long way in fostering team spirit.
Create Slack channels for various interests.
Encourage your team to interact by creating special Slack channels specifically geared to their interests. Pet pics, fishing and golfing are great ideas to get the ball rolling. To do this effectively, have every new hire fill out a questionnaire with a question about their hobbies.
For existing team members, you can easily solicit their feedback on new Slack channels to create in the next team meeting.
Celebrate team member accomplishments.
When a team member accomplishes something awesome, acknowledge them with a shout-out for the rest of the team to see. Apps like Donut and Nectar give users an allotment of “compliment currency points” to send to superstar team members each month. Having their achievements publicly praised can boost morale among the team because of the validation they get knowing that what they do matters.
As you work toward fostering bonds in your remote team, try and emulate an in-person environment as best you can. Allow your employees to connect with one another, whether it be through games, events or even time before a meeting to talk. Whether your team is taking health precautions or simply living across the world, make their remote experience as open and friendly as possible.
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Author: Dmitrii Kustov, Forbes Councils Member