What are the best virtual team building activities to help you feel connected? Given what’s going on in the world today, many of us are now seriously considering the value of virtual programs.
Is it worth it? Can online team programs deliver authentic experience and results? I believe the answer is yes. But the best virtual team building activities don’t grow on trees. You have to know what to look for and what elements contribute to great programs.
The Need To Stay Connected While Miles Apart
We all have a need to feel connected, to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. The good news is, it doesn’t take too much to increase feelings of connectedness, of belonging.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m having a bad day it’s easy for me to stew in whatever negativity or doubt I’m feeling. I’ve found that a quick check-in with a co-worker can be a huge morale boost.
The best virtual team building activities will help you form and maintain better friendships at work. And developing friendships at work increases engagement and dedication to mission. This doesn’t mean your co-workers have to be your best friends, although it’s nice when that happens!
I have close friendships that I call ‘work-friends’. This doesn’t diminish the bonds I have with these people. I’ve just learned that my work friends may come and go when one of us moves on to other positions. But I still go all in on these friendships and I receive genuine comfort and value from the relationships.
Speaking of relationships; when we feel like we can connect with one another we reap the benefits of increased communication and trust. Trust plays a huge part in the success of work groups, of teams. With a foundation of trust you’ll better navigate challenges, disagreements and problem solving.
What To Look For In The Best Virtual Programs
The best virtual team building activities shouldn’t seem too virtual. I demo’d a program recently that actually felt kinda Pac-Man. Come on…we should be so far past that with any online offerings.
But surprisingly, there are still programs based on clicking your mouse around a virtual city, or treasure maps that look and feel 1980’s. You can do better and you should. If you’re using an app based program, make sure to demo the app before you commit to the program. Is the interface intuitive, cutting edge? Does it invite you to play and stay?
There are competition based scavenger hunts, races and brainteasers you can do with your team in real time. These programs rate for me. You’ll have genuine interaction. You’ll chase and meet goals while competing. However, these types of programs are my second favorite type…
My first favorite type of virtual team building activities are those that more closely model face to face programs. These have live facilitators. You’ll be in a meeting room on a platform such as Zoom. In this format you can have real time, spontaneous interaction. I believe real time experience and “in the moment” conversation are necessary components that the best virtual team building activities share.
Worthwhile goals for almost every team program should include building trust, communication, collaboration and motivation. Fun is foundational to any team building program, face to face or virtual. If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it.
So let’s keep in mind, fun, actively led, and in a room setting that allows real time interaction.
My 5 Best Virtual Team Building Activities
1. Team Songwriting – Yes I’m biased, but imho my company has developed a fantastic virtual program. I started Team Building Through Song® back in 2008 as an outgrowth of my career as a hit songwriter. What started as a fun sideline quickly grew into a business that took over my life and took our company, Kidbilly Music, all around the world.
Now we get to travel the world online. Check out our virtual team building program. You’ll work with your colleagues to create a real song about who you are and what you do. We’ll guide you through the songwriting process as you share ideas and craft your own song. Everyone contributes in a lively back and forth; brainstorming, making music and laughter.
Additionally, you’re creating a powerful take-away with your original team song, which just might become a compelling theme song! Music has a way of touching us, bringing us closer and inspiring us – all in real time, with real emotion.
2. Virtual Break Room – Here’s a DIY idea. I wish I had this right now…in fact, as soon as I’m done with this blog post, I need to take my own advice and set up a virtual break room for my crew. It’s fun and it’s also important to be able to just hang out together when you need a break.
The virtual break room is easy to set up. Just open a meeting in your preferred platform, Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Meet, etc. Make sure your co-workers are signed into the meeting room. When one of you feels like they need a break or just need some company you can message and ask to hang out. This takes the place of the water cooler chat or the coffee break bonding.
Rules for your break room: Keep the conversation ‘break’ centered. Keep it socially oriented as a way of relieving tension, reducing isolation and replicating the social connectedness you gain when you’re working in the same physical space.
3. Painting Classes – You’ll need to bring in a professional facilitator for this one. There are lots of great online painting courses, lots of resources out there to deliver this great virtual team building to your group.
Everyone will plan ahead and buy some basic supplies. You’ll get a list from the facilitator you hire. Simple and accessible, with a few supplies everyone will become an artist. Learning to paint requires a bit of bravery; suspending doubt just enough to get you going so you can make a beautiful mess.
After everyone’s created their masterpiece you’ll have a virtual art show. Everyone will share thoughts about how they approached the challenge, why they made certain choices along the way. You’ll share frustration, feelings of pride and the accomplishment that comes from tackling a new skill. Don’t worry about your art skills here. A good program leader will make sure there’s no judgement and that everyone’s effort is honored and appreciated!
4. Stranded, The Remote Worker’s Island – Here’s another DIY. Sometimes working remotely does make you feel like you’re stranded on a dessert island! This activity is so simple, yet fun. Gather together in an online meeting room. Ask everyone to think about three things they’d choose to have with them if stranded on a remote island.
Take turns as everyone names the first thing they’d need. This could be a tool, a favorite song etc. After everyone names their first item, invite casual conversation. Ask everyone, ‘What surprised you about someone’s choice?’ ‘What didn’t surprise you?’ ‘Does this give you a different insight into someone?’
Continue with sharing as everyone names their second item and then reacts to it and finally everyone’s third item. This activity is great for getting to know people on a personal level. You’ll learn about people’s likes and dislikes that aren’t work related. And you may discover lots of things you all have in common.
5. I Used To Be Scared Of This – As you’re probably noticing by now, among the DIY ideas here, some of the simplest are also the best virtual team building activities you can harness to stay connected. This idea is super simple. Everyone in the online room will answer the same question. “What is a major childhood fear you had and how did you overcome the fear…or not overcome the fear?”
First of all this is fun; often laugh out load funny to hear about childhood fears. But there’s also real learning value here. To overcome a fear requires solving a problem. You’ll gain insight into how co-workers solved a problem early on. Or maybe you’ll learn how they attempted to solve a problem that isn’t quite solved yet.
Colleagues can compare notes and offer suggestions about how they would approach a similar problem. This seemingly social hang out can quickly evolve into conversation about strategy, success and failure.
The above examples are just some of the best virtual team building activities. I’m hoping this convinces you there’s need, there’s value and that there are great programs out there.
Some other professionally facilitated programs I didn’t go into detail about are story-slams, Lego® programs and improv sessions. With the right kind of facilitation, many programs can successfully transition into the virtual arena, as we’ve done here at Kidbilly Music.