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The Best Games & Remote Team Building Activities For Fun-Loving Distributed Teams
Aren’t you just sick of being super-productive due to working remotely? Getting stuck in and firing through tasks while wearing leggings and fluffy slippers sounds great, only it gets a bit too much after a while.
According to OwlLabs’ comprehensive annual survey, the State of Remote Work 2020, WFH (work from home) undoubtedly has its perks:
- Increased productivity: 1 in 5 people admitted working more and 75% say they are the same or more productive than before the pandemic enforced WFH
- Savings: working remotely saves around 40 minutes per day on the commute and on average, people are saving $479.20 per month
- Feels good: of the surveyed, 1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work and 81% think their employer will support remote work after COVID
But working from home is not all about hot buttered toast and endless cups of tea. While the OwlLabs team focuses on the positives of WFH, according to another survey, 75% of the respondents have experienced burnout at work, with 40% saying it happened during the pandemic.
2020 marks the beginning of an era when remote working is the new norm and it’s up to all of us whether the new norm will bring lifestyle improvements or change that nobody likes.1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work and 81% think their employer will support remote work after COVID. Click To Tweet
If you haven’t quite got the remote business setup and productivity part right yet, be sure to check out our articles series:
- How to set up a fully remote business
- How to master managing remote teams
- The best software tools for remote workers
- The best software tools for remote team manages
But since you came here to get less productive and more engaged with your distributed team… Here’s what we’ll cover:
The best virtual team games and apps for having fun:
Tried and tested remote team building activities:
Let’s start the engines on the fun-jet and explore some tried and tested remote team building activities, virtual games, and icebreakers that you can introduce to your company right now. To keep it fresh, I picked some of my peers’ brains and brought you their suggestions on the best software tools for fun-loving telecommuters.
Ready… Steady… Fun!
What are some good team-building apps and games for remote teams?
Here are some fun virtual team games and apps that you are much recommended to try out. If you missed something from the list, feel free to make suggestions in the comment section below this post.
If you miss the office biscuit jar, break room snack, or the watercooler, Donut is for you – and it is a no-calories version.
Donut is a Slack extension and it arranges random chats between employees. So it might not be as ad-hoc as the conversations you share when reaching for the last bourbon biscuit or pouring a glass of water but it is a proven way of improving remote team engagement.
You can utilize it to ensure that new hires get to meet everybody in the company at least virtually, or you can help employees who rarely work on the same projects to get together for half an hour and learn about each other.
Apart from organizing catch-ups, Donut encourages teammates to agree on a mutually convenient time and make the meeting happen – a bit like 10to8 appointment scheduling software. You can hook it into your Google Calendar and Zoom account too. The extension will share insights on what percentage of meetings happened, so you can get a feel of how engaged your employees are.
Free plan available: Yes.
Virtual team icebreaker tip: Encourage employees to avoid work-related topics; The goal is to get to know each other better to the extent which colleagues are comfortable with. Experiment with setup rules, for example, you could pair up cross-department team members.
Our team first came across mmhmm when the CEO of 10to8 attended one of our Monday morning stand-ups as a talking banana. An image you cannot unsee. Before we realized it, we had pirates, history book characters, sailors, and other unexpected characters appearing on camera. But mmhmm is much more than just a fancy “Snapchat filter”…
Mmhmm (because it’s important to have a brand name you can pronounce with your mouth full) is the new way of video conferencing. Although the solution can be used in a manner that is hard to take seriously, the software is actually absolutely brilliant and hopefully, it will quickly eliminate boring video meetings and presentations.
To use this software, your team needs to be tech-savvy, and there’s a learning curve to it, users involved in the tech, animation, design, and some other creative industries won’t have trouble picking it up.
Free plan available: Software in beta. Invitation only.
Virtual team icebreaker tip: Arrange monthly ‘innings’ with a topic like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Roaring ’20s, or The Secret Life of the Zoo, and reward the most creative filters or presentations.
Houseparty is probably one of the most popular remote fun apps on the market and you’ve likely heard about it from influencers, friends, or family. But have you implemented it in your company yet?
This is a stand-alone, downloadable app that you can install on your iOS or Android phone, Mac, or add to Chrome as an extension. Houseparty allows you to invite friends and co-workers to a “virtual party” and play games, do quizzes, and other fun stuff together.
Once your parties have arrived at the event, you can “lock the door” and get started with the fun part. Choose from a variety of free games or purchase new add-ons to try out.
If you’re unsure how the app works or what to use it for, check out this video beginners’ guide to Houseparty.
Free plan available: Yes.
Virtual team icebreaker tip: Vote on games to decide which one to play next. If your company is too big to form one houseparty room, divide up into teams. Pair up coworkers that work on the same team, but also try random team structures to mix it up a bit.
“We have had several sessions playing Drawful with the team during COVID. It’s an online drawing game that challenges users to draw random words and phrases for the rest of the team to guess. Some of the results are genuinely hilarious; others genuinely terrifying!”
We haven’t played this game yet, but an owl wearing a bra must be a good sign. In Drawful, each player receives a weird and unique prompt that they must try to draw on a device (without the aid of an eraser). After each “artist” presents their work, everyone else anonymously submits a title that could fit this bizarre drawing. Your goal is to somehow find the correct prompt.
Free plan available: No. One-time purchase (£6.99), available on many devices.
Virtual team icebreaker tip: Define categories, such as Most Artistic/Hilarious/Disturbing drawings and reward the category winner with a virtual ‘prize certificate’. Gather the best pieces of art to a Google Drive folder as a memento.
Water Cooler Trivia
Did you know that there are approximately 11,400 known grasses? This is something I learned during our most recent Friday Golf Quiz. We also had to identify different types of cheeses by pictures, places spelled out with emojis, and animals by their screams.
If you are less creative when coming up with quiz topics and trivia questions, you can turn to Water Cooler Trivia, a virtual team game played by Nike, Amazon, and Google employees.
The software delivers the quizzes straight to your employees’ inbox every week at the same time. You can compete in multiple categories, test your trivia expertise with over 5,000 questions, keep score with leaderboards, and appreciate the funniest wrong answers.
Free plan available: No. Packages start at $10/month.
Virtual team icebreaker tip: Encourage your team to come up with trivia questions of their own and collect the quizzes from inspired employees into an end-of-month ‘Virtual Trivia Marathon’ to attend – so you don’t end up looking at cheese pictures like we do occasionally.
What are some virtual team-building activities?
Of course, you don’t necessarily need fancy apps to organize virtual team games and other fun activities. Team engagement shouldn’t be limited by budget or technology.
When it comes to building distributed team coherence, the sky – and your creativity – is the limit. To get your frontal cortex (the creativity center of the brain) ticking, here are some of the best tried and tested remote team building activities.Of course, you don’t necessarily need fancy apps to organize virtual team games and other fun activities. Team engagement shouldn’t be limited by budget or technology. Click To Tweet
Show & Tell
Weekly Show & Tell’s are an essential part of agile and lean teams. These ‘sprint reviews’ or, simply put, team demos not only help businesses to move and grow faster, but it also ensures that teams have an open platform to celebrate successes and talk about what they’ve been up to.
Although this is a practice that can work wonders in any open-minded business, in distributed teams it can remove communication barriers, and ensure more visibility into activities that remain hidden while working from home.
What you’ll need for this remote team building activity: Run these virtual meetings via your preferred video meeting tool that offers screen sharing. Ask teams to put together a list of work items they want to show off; You can collaborate on the list in Google Docs or any notepad, but if you want to master Show & Tell, here are some of the best project management software tools to consider.
Distributed cooking class
Cooking classes can be a blast and a great way of bonding with your team and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to cook together remotely.
Sophie D’Souza, VP of Optimisation at Spiralyze, recommends that the first session is run by somebody passionate about cooking, or you can draw a name if you have multiple chefs at your company. If you run out of cooking talent, maybe some of the enthusiastic amateurs will want to give it a try too.
You can either come up with recipes of your own and teach the rest of the company to prepare them, or opt for a recipe box like HelloFresh, Guosto, Mindful Chef, or whichever company deliveries in your location. Here are a few recipe box brands you could try.
What you’ll need for this remote team building activity: Other than a virtual kitchen via Zoom, MS Teams, Skype, or other, you’ll need cordless headphones to walk around while cooking. You’ll need to organize grocery delivery for the participants, so they don’t have to worry about having to buy all the items for the recipe.
I bet some of your teammates have really interesting hobbies. I, for example, picked up knitting at the beginning of the pandemic – yep, that’s a counterexample of exciting hobbies. But we have swing dancers, gardeners, music producers, photographers, etc. in the 10to8 team, who take care of engaging pick-up-a-hobby sessions.
Take time to get to know your remote team, maybe open a channel on Slack or your internal communication tool for hobbies, and organize sessions for people who want to learn more about an activity or actually pick up a new skill.
What you’ll need for this remote team building activity: It highly depends on the nature of the hobby.
Bonus remote team building activity tip
Regardless if you’re going to turn to an app or software solution for virtual team games or arrange distributed team ‘innings’, you’ll need to schedule the sessions to make sure they actually happen.
Block out time in your team’s calendar so there’s time allocated for bonding and everybody can attend. Pay attention to colleagues working in other timezones and choose times that work for everybody. Team building should be convenient and fun rather than a burden.
You can schedule these virtual team icebreakers and games with your preferred calendar, or if you want to take it a step further, opt for 10to8 appointment scheduling software for remote teams. This way you’ll be able to integrate all your teams’ calendars, Slack, video call tools, and others, as well as eliminate issues caused by different time zones.Regardless if you’re going to turn to an app or software solution for virtual team games or arrange distributed team ‘innings’, you’ll need to schedule the sessions to make sure they actually happen. Click To Tweet
Do you have a suggestion to add to this list? Why not leave a comment for us?
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Anna is an enthusiastic Digital Marketer, who drinks her coffee with cream and trending hashtags. She loves koalas, insightful SaaS podcasts, and creating content that ranks high.
She's also the one, who jumps up and down if you share a post from the 10to8 Business Blog. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
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