15 Virtual Team Building Games & Activities for 2023
Teamwork is critical to company success. However, creating a cohesive work unit can be challenging, especially in today's remote and hybrid workplaces.
One survey found that 97% of both executives and employees believe that effective teamwork was critical to workplace success, and 86% of project failures were due, at least in part, to a lack of collaboration. Researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU) also discovered that after completing a challenging, team-based video game, work groups performed 40% better in terms of effective workflow.
Games and activities, rather than simply serving as distractions for employees, can actually help with team building. Video games, like the one in the BYU study, are ideal for teams of remote workers who collaborate virtually.
Here is a look at how virtual team-building games can improve work performance by enhancing communication and collaborative abilities.
Virtual team building involves competitive games and activities that co-workers need to work together on to complete. The goal is to choose events that require the team to communicate and collaborate in order to win the game or finish the task. The theory is that during the game, the members build rapport and connections that they can take into their work tasks.
Team bonding can be more challenging when members are in different locations and typically communicate via video call or email. Therefore, virtual team building is a vital part of today's internet-connected work environment. Here is a more in-depth look at how these activities work.
Virtual team-building games take specific steps to build connections between team members. There are some practical challenges to overcome. First, it is easy to organize a team-building activity when everyone is physically in the same office. Also, people rely on non-verbal communication more often than we think. Gestures, facial expressions, and proximity to others can all convey messages and build rapport with one another.
Virtual team building activities work by using the available communication methods, whether voice or video calls, text, or chat, to get everyone on the team to engage. These activities are not always needed to improve some performance metrics. They can sometimes simply serve as an opportunity for team members to connect, interact, and take a break from the isolation that often defines remote work.
As long as the activity gets people to engage with one another and keeps them participating together throughout the process, the team building will be successful. The key is to ensure the participants interact with each other rather than simply going through the steps of the game individually.
Here are 15 team-building games and activity ideas for remote employees. These are all meant to increase rapport with the team, build trust between co-workers, and enhance teamwork.
For new teams or those who have been working together remotely but usually only interact via email, this classic get-to-know-each-other activity is a good starting point and a morale booster. You can also use more in-depth questions to allow team members who have already been working together to get to know more about each other.
This activity only requires a communication medium, such as video conferencing software, which remote teams already use anyway. It is possible to start with basic questions about past jobs, school, and hobbies. However, you can also add a fun twist, such as asking people to rank their top five Netflix series, explain their morning routine, or give the itinerary of their dream vacation.
This activity doesn't take much time — you can use one question and get answers from everyone in the group in five or 10 minutes, making this a perfect team meeting starter.
In-person escape rooms have become extremely popular, and they are commonly used for team-building exercises. There are virtual versions of these games, as well. These paid experiences involve puzzles and riddles that the team has to solve to unlock the door and get out of the room. The process of escaping is quite similar to in-person rooms. However, the team communicates via a video chat software, such as Kumospace.
In addition to the video conferencing platform, you also need an escape room website to host the event. There are numerous online options, and many have specific experiences geared toward team building.
Virtual murder mysteries are extremely popular, with a number of sites online dedicated to different themes. Though it is possible to play these games solo, there are also group event options. Like the virtual escape room, these experiences require the team to communicate via Zoom as they hear and see clues and try to solve the mystery. Many of these mystery sites have timed games, making them ideal for fitting within a work schedule.
If this is a type of event that draws participation from your team members, you can easily repeat it. Most sites have multiple stories and levels that players can try. This is a paid activity.
This activity requires an image-sharing board. The facilitator chooses a theme for each round of the "war." Each participant finds a GIF that they think best represents that theme. After everyone posts their image, the group votes anonymously for their favorite selection. That person wins the round. After a set number of rounds, the one with the most points or overall votes is the winner.
The goal of this game is to drive engagement and get team members to interact with each other outside of their normal work communications. It is a good example of asynchronous activities. This means that team members do not have to be there at a set time to participate. They can post their GIF at any time during the day without missing out on any part of the experience.
Trivia can work as a live or asynchronous event (as long as you trust people not to cheat by searching for answers on Google). Trivia can serve as an icebreaker event, during which you ask questions to individual participants over Zoom. You can also have teams, with each team having to choose one answer for each question.
Though there are sites where you can host trivia contests, this is also a good DIY activity if you can find a source for trivia questions. You could simply read questions on a video conference and have teams write or enter their answers, counting the scores at the end.
Remote work bingo brings a sense of camaraderie to remote workers. You can start with a standard five-by-five square bingo grid. Instead of the usual number and letter combinations, you can add activities that remote workers may do during their workday. These could include "took a coffee break," "let out the dog," "did a load of laundry," "worked from the library," "worked from a coffee shop," and so on.
When they complete one of the activities, a worker can cross the item off of their card. You can share the cards with one another as a fun way to highlight common experiences that remote workers have. Ideally, this will help the team feel more connected to one another due to the realization of shared experiences.
Another option is to designate a time for a lunch break (every day or once per week) and have all team members eat at the same time while interacting with one another on Zoom. This activity has limitations, though. For practicality, everyone will need to be in the same or adjacent time zones. However, it can serve as a good casual event for team members to bond in a casual setting without engaging in work communications.
Music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal allow you to create playlists. The members of the team can engage in creating a group playlist. The team can discuss the parameters for the music and make a theme, such as "tunes to work to," "after-work jams," or "exercise songs." Then, each member can add their chosen music to the list.
This activity is asynchronous, so people can add their choices whenever they have time. You can then start a group chat to discuss the selections, offer comments, and point out similar tastes in music. This activity may require that everyone have access to the chosen streaming service.
Browser extensions like Teleparty allow you to host a virtual watch party. Team members could get together after work on Friday for a happy hour/Netflix session. These extensions allow you to synchronize playbacks and create group chats to offer comments during the movie or show. You can even get opinions from the team or have a vote about what to watch for the week.
This is an ideal activity because it is a common way to relax after work. If people are doing it anyway, why not make it a team bonding experience? This way, team members won't have to feel like they have to give up something to participate in an after-hour work event.
Select an item, such as a cute plush toy, a garden gnome, or another type of figurine, and give each team member time with it. Plush toys, such as small stuffed animals, work best because you will mail the toy to each team member's home.
Basically, each team member gets a day or two with the toy. They can take it around their home, workspace, or daily errands and take pictures with it. In other words, they share their daily life through the toy.
This activity helps team members get to know each other, and it usually highlights many common working-from-home experiences.
When the team member is done, they can upload photos to a board or share them on a video chat. They will then mail the animal to the next team member, who will repeat the process.
This activity allows the team to pursue something worthwhile that is unrelated to work. You need to make allowances for people with different fitness levels. A good place to start might be to challenge everyone to start stretching, yoga, calisthenics, or Pilates for a few minutes during the workday. If the team has fitness watches, you can set a goal for steps or calories burned during the day.
The goal is to have everyone participate in the wellness challenge, so the benchmarks should be reasonable for all the group members. This is another activity that will help bond remote workers, who all likely have to deal with the challenges and pitfalls of sitting at home working on their computers for most of the day.
There are more than a dozen companies that offer virtual mixology classes online. These can work for regular team building or as a holiday party or other special event. The host will ship kits to your team members' homes and host a live class, where they teach team members how to make and serve a variety of cocktails. Each class typically has a theme that builds several cocktails around one type of alcohol (tequila, whisky, vodka, or rum, for example). You can follow up with a virtual happy hour at a later date, where team members can make the cocktails on their own or share their recipes with other team members.
Remote workers often complain about staring at a screen all day. A book club will allow them to take a break from the laptop and read for enjoyment. This activity can work like a regular book club, with everyone reading the same title and then meeting via a video conference call to chat about it.
In between these scheduled meetings, you can create a group chat where people can share their thoughts (hopefully without spoilers) as they make their way through the book. Team members can give input about what they would like to read, but it is usually best to stick with subjects that are not related to work.
In addition to a release from work, a book club gives team members a chance to learn more about each other's communication skills and styles in a non-pressure setting.
There are two ways to take your team on a virtual trip.
First, you can rely on Google Earth and Google Street View to travel around a famous city like Paris, London, or Tokyo. You can take a vote about where you'd like to go, plan an itinerary, and drop pins on all the spots you would like to see on Google Earth.
The second way to take a virtual city tour is to have each member of the remote team create a video or real-time live stream that shows the other team members their city or neighborhood.
Both these options offer opportunities for the team to get away from their usual work routine and interact with and learn more about their peers.
This asynchronous activity helps team members have fun and learn more about each other without having to worry about time management. This can be an ongoing event or a one-time activity.
If you want to have an ongoing event each week, you can select a new theme. Then, for the next five days, each team member needs to take and post a photo that fits within the theme. Options might include "best photo of your pet," "best breakfast of the week," or "messy desk photo."
Team members can post their best photo from the week and others can comment on it. You might even want to have an informal vote where the team chooses the best photo from the group.
In early 2022, the Kumospace team tried the Vision Game, a virtual team-building exercise organized by 4sing. We used the Kumospace platform to host this virtual activity.
Why does Kumospace work for virtual team building? It is an immersive virtual environment designed to facilitate collaboration and culture-building in virtual teams, using video chat and spatial audio. It provides the perfect setting and the necessary tools for a variety of effective team building exercises.
4Sing, short for Foresight to Strategy for Security and Sustainability in Governance, is a consulting company whose mission is to support clients in dealing with present and future challenges, often using creative tools and methods to enhance the active participation of multiple stakeholders.
“We are constantly experimenting with different collaborative spaces, including 2 and 3D spaces. And Kumospace was one of the places we discovered about a year ago. We loved — and still love — the space and its functionalities!” said Petra Wiesbrock, a strategy consultant at 4Sing.
The team was able to experience our platform through the eyes of a guest, as 4Sing’s founder Adrian Taylor presented the rules of the Vision Game hosted on Kumospace.
The Vision Game is a prime example of how Kumospace is an effective team-building activity platform.
The main objective of this game was to brainstorm the future of our company.
In three rounds of the Vision Game, the Kumospace team reflected on the past, present, and future of Kumospace as a company.
The first round was set in Kumospace’s Beach template, where we played a speed-dating game to consider the successes and challenges of the past year. The most notable mentions were how much Kumospace could achieve with such a small team, including building Custom Spaces in Kumospace and closing our Series A fundraising round.
In the second round of the Vision Game, the Kumospace team was tasked with imagining being in the year 2035. We got to build Kumospace’s own museum exhibit using Kumospace’s Custom Images feature to import images representing the big milestones of our company to date and an imagined future. The team recalled the first version of a Kumospace floor template, the original “Pour a Drink” button, all the way to the soon-to-be-released Virtual Office template, which is complete with a local screen share feature, and interactive Tablets that link out to Google Docs, Jira, Figma, and other software used daily by our team.
The final round took place in a virtual Vision Sandbox, where our team gathered around different images that they thought best represented their desired future achievements and the long-term vision for Kumospace. The Kumospace team agreed that Creativity, Collaboration, and Culture are keywords that best describe the Kumospace experience.
Rad Aswani, a member of the Marketing team, enjoyed the fun, collaborative day. She reflected, "The Vision Game brought me closer to my colleagues — and our company goals."
If you would like to learn more about the immersive virtual office experience offered by Kumospace, contact us today.
The goals of a team-building event may vary. However, every activity should inspire all team members to participate in the first place and stay engaged with one another throughout the game.
You can use any online platform that all team members can access. Ideally, you should rely on a tool like Kumospace, which offers a range of communication and interaction options. And remember, whether a game is casual or competitive, the ultimate goals are cooperation and interaction, so you need to ensure the team has everything necessary to collaborate effectively.
Virtual events can be helpful at any time for remote workers. However, if you are going to invest significant time in a game or event, you should have a reason for doing so. For example, you can host a team-building event after onboarding new employees, bringing a new team together for a specific project, merging two teams, or preparing existing teams for a new project or different undertaking.
Scheduling is sometimes a challenge for virtual team-building games because, unlike in-person office events, everyone may not be available at the same time. Other problems could include choosing events and games that do not spur participation or activities that participants complete on their own without engaging others.