The “return to office” narrative is prevalent now, but remote work had been increasing year over year pre-pandemic. Today, 83% of workers prefer a hybrid model, according to a recent survey by Accenture. So while some jobs will return to the office full-time, after a forced exposure to remote work both employers and employees know that the virtual option works in most cases. It all means companies must adapt to thrive within the new remote (and hybrid) world.
And that includes embracing virtual team-building activities. Enhancing a digital-first culture with thoughtful, creative activities that build team chemistry is more important than ever to keep everyone aligned while working apart.
1. Two truths, one lie
“Two truths, one lie” is a classic game that still works, even in digital environments. Everyone takes turns stating three facts about themselves, except two are true and one is not.
Why it works: Learning interesting facts about coworkers is fun, but the true benefit is helping everyone break down false perceptions. For example, you probably didn’t think that that quiet and reserved coworker played bass in a punk band, but they absolutely do!
If you went to summer camp or love a bonfire, you’ve probably played some version of storybuilding. Participants begin a story or use a prompt, add a sentence or two, and then pass the story to another person.
As each person adds their own section to the story, ridiculousness tends to ensue.
Why it works: Storybuilding tickles the creative bone (especially for those without traditionally “creative” roles), gets people laughing and showcases personality.
3. Company trivia
Put a twist on traditional trivia with questions about the company. Ask fun facts about coworkers, company mission statements or taglines, and other work-related questions.
Why it works: During an employee’s first month, some light-hearted yet informative company trivia can improve the onboarding process. More tenured coworkers get the chance to flex their knowledge.
4. Rose-and-thorn icebreaker
Not all team-building activities have to be coordinated and planned. Rose and thorn is a daily or weekly activity that doesn’t upset workflows.
Each participant shares a rose (something positive) and a thorn (something negative) about their work or life. This exercise helps teams stay in touch and in tune with one another with minimal time or effort.
Why it works: For remote teams, it can be difficult to bond outside of work. The rose-and-thorn exercise lets people share small wins (or fails), like baking (or botching) a batch of cookies. Boom, the #bakelove channel is born.
GeoGuessr is a free online game that’s especially fun for international teams. It randomly generates an image from a Google Maps street view anywhere in the world. Split the group into teams of two and have a bracket-style competition to see which team has the most accurate guesses about where they are in the world.
Why it works: It’s fun to learn about different regions in the world, travel virtually and see whose geography game is on point.
6. Among Us
Sure, it involves murder, but it’s harmless fun. Among Us is an online game where players have to move around a ship and complete tasks to win. But one member of the team is secretly labeled an imposter. Their goal is to kill their fellow players without anyone noticing that they’re the culprit.
The more players the better, so it’s great for a group of coworkers. It’s another chance for team members to work on their persuasion skills as they try to convince fellow coworkers that they’re not the imposter.
Why it works: The game is fun, interactive and involves a simple strategy.
7. Rank your top five memes/GIFs
Meme and GIF ranking is a modern yet inclusive activity. Plus, the lists can be updated monthly, or even weekly.
Why it works: Most people who spend a lot of time on their computer or smartphone know some quirky and interesting memes and/or GIFs. It’s also a fun way to learn what makes your coworkers tick.
8. Create a shared digital vision board
Sharing photos, screenshots, videos and links through Pinterest or something similar requires little effort and has a big impact on culture.
Why it works: It’s important to have asynchronous team-building exercises that respect everyone’s time. Coworkers can post things on their own schedule and the collective aesthetic of the board evolves over time.
9. Slidedeck wars
Slidedeck wars, or PowerPoint battles, involve each participant building a quick presentation on a given topic. Participants compete by taking different sides on a trivial topic, such as cats vs. dogs, or present something they care about, such as their home country’s cuisine.
Why it works: Lighthearted presentation opportunities combine persuasion and empathy skills.
10. Find a local volunteer opportunity
Amid all the fun and games, someone might ask the question: “What’s the point of this?”
Address this by coordinating something with an undeniable benefit, such as volunteering at a local charity walk/run or collecting items for an adopt-a-family initiative for the holidays.
Why it works: Volunteering for a local cause or community kitchen lifts the collective spirit, provides a public good, and gets people working together on something outside of work.