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23 remote team building activities (to boost morale and trust)

Let's be real: team building activities get a really bad rap.

There's a reason for that. Most people (rightfully) dread them because they tend to be outdated, awkward and sometimes downright embarrassing.

But team bonding is an essential ingredient for a high performing team, and it's a leader's job to facilitate opportunities for it.

Now, with more teams working remotely than ever before, organic team bonding opportunities are even harder to come by. This means team leaders need to take team building even more seriously.

However, we're faced with what some leaders and HR pros would consider a huge conundrum: the typical in-office 'trust falls' and personality test workshops just won't cut it when everyone is working from home.

(And to that we say: good riddance!)

It was well past time to move away from those stuffy old activities, and bring our team building into the 21st century.

That's why we've curated 23 amazing team building activities (read: thoughtful and non-lame) that can even be done remotely. We'll also outline:

  • the tools you need
  • a suggested frequency to use the team building activity with your team
  • who will particularly love the team building activity (and who might find it stressful)

Enjoy (and don't forget to bookmark) this list!

23 team building activities employees will love to do—even while working from home!

1) Take a virtual field trip

The marvels of technology can help you view the wonders of the world right from your laptop.

Tools:

  • Google Earth has pre-made virtual tours, such as this one that circumnavigates Iceland.
  • Alternatively, you can use Google Maps and have each team member share their screen, zoom into Street View, and give a virtual tour of fave spots in their city.

Recommended frequency:

  • Once per month

Who would enjoy:

  • Team members who love to travel and learn, particularly those who are highly motivated for seeing and difference in their F4S results. 
  • Keep in mind that if your team is more visual, preferring images to reading, taking a field trip that involves a lot of reading could get tedious for them.

2) Museum tour

Many prominent museums offer virtual tours of their exhibits.

Tools: 

  • Your team can join a group video chat on Skype or Zoom, and one person can share their screen and start the virtual tour.

    Need some inspiration to get started? Check these out:
  1. The Louvre
  2. The Guggenheim 
  3. Versailles
  4. The Vatican
  5. TeamBonding's Virtual Museum Scavenger Hunt

Frequency:

  • Once per month (can alternate with the virtual field trip activity)

Who would enjoy:

  • Again, pretty much anyone who likes to learn new things or travel. Look out for a higher than average score on information, seeing or difference in their F4S profile.
  • Keep in mind, someone who isn’t motivated by seeing (especially if they are also low on reflection + patience) might find art museums dull. This is why it’s important to switch up the activities, so there’s more chances for an activity to align with a team member’s unique interests.

3) Book club

Pick a book that the entire team can read in a month and then discuss it via video chat.

Tools: 

  • To facilitate the meetings, you could try the iOS app Book Club.

Frequency:

  • Once per month.

Who would enjoy:

  • If you have a team that enjoys reading, a monthly book club is sure to be a winner. 
  • But be mindful that not everyone enjoys reading, and some people may even find it draining — meaning it could end up feeling like a stressful commitment on top of everything else, rather than something they genuinely get excited about. Consider letting people who have a low motivation for reading sit this one out.

4) Movie night

This is sure to be a popular option, and while it doesn’t involve a lot of team interaction,  there is still plenty of bonding to be had. We recommend having a post-movie discussion for about 15 minutes for everyone to chat about their opinions and favorite part of the film!

Tools: 

  • Many apps have popped up to help people host virtual movie nights.Try a real-time video sharing app like Kast to throw a watch party no matter where you or your colleagues are.

Frequency: 

  • Once per month.

Who would enjoy: 

  • It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy watching a good movie now and then (although they do exist). We think most people would enjoy this activity, but we recommend switching up the genre every time to accommodate for different preferences.

5) Postcard pals

It’s like the old-fashioned pen pal tradition, except with postcards! We recommend having team members send one postcard to a random team member each month, for a totally unique activity.

Changing the topic each month could be a fun way to make sure this activity doesn’t get stale. 

Some ideas include:

  • something they enjoy about working with the other team member, 
  • a question or something they’re curious about, 
  • talk about their favorite spots in their own town, so the receiving team member has some ideas for a future visit! 

Tools: 

  • With services like Postando, you can create a custom postcard and send it anywhere in the world for just a few bucks. Postables and Canva is a great option too! (Don’t forget to cover the costs of this activity for your team).
  • To randomly assign names you can use an online name randomizer (like Wheel of Names).

Frequency:

  • Once per month

Who would enjoy:

  • Anyone who is high on reading, affiliation, seeing or past would especially get a kick out of this team building activity! But we think this could be a hit for most of the team.

6) Co-working

A simple way to stay connected and fight loneliness is to log into a Zoom or Hangouts session, put your microphones on mute, and do your work.

Sure, it’s not quite the same as working from your favorite coffee shop or co-working space with freshly brewed espresso wafting through the air, but it has a similar effect in that there are people around you to hold you accountable.

Tools:

  • Zoom, Hangouts, Slack, Sococo — the options are almost endless!

Frequency:

  • Weekly

Who would enjoy:

  • The teammates who are most likely to enjoy co-working are those who are highly motivated for group environments. Anyone who ranks high in their F4S results for solo environment would probably find frequent co-working sessions stressful and unproductive.

7) Slack channel for memes

Memes are special in that, while funny and entertaining, they also tend to be news-related, so it can be a lighthearted way to stay abreast of the latest happenings in your team’s lives. But not everyone wants a random meme popping up in their regular work-specific Slack channel. Instead, create a dedicated channel just for meme sharing.

Tools:

  • Slack & the interwebz (GIPHY, Reddit and Instagram are a good place to start to find great memes)

Frequency:

  • Once per week (try making Friday a meme day and let people vote with a thumb’s up for their favorite).

Who would enjoy:

  • Memes might be a more common aspect of everyday life for millennial generations and under, but we think most people will appreciate taking a break once a week to look through funny memes for their favorite. It should definitely lighten the atmosphere, which is why it’s a great fit for Friday after a long week!

Bonus tip: While on GIPHY, ask your team to save some of the best GIFs they find and upload them into Slack as custom emojis, to boost your team’s repertoire of unique emojis!

8) House tours

Remember MTV Cribs, where celebrities took viewers on tours of their mansions? Think of this as a far less extravagant version of that. Each team member can give a tour of their house or their remote office.

Tools:

  • The video conferencing tool of your team’s choice (Zoom, Hangouts, etc.)

Frequency:

  • Once per week

Who would enjoy:

  • Anyone highly motivated for seeing or place would particularly enjoy this team building activity! But keep in mind, not everyone will be comfortable sharing their home with others, so don’t ask anyone on the spot (ask them privately in advance) and don’t make this one mandatory. 

9) Mad Libs

This short game can be a fun ice breaker before a virtual meeting!

Tools:

  • Using a website like Mad Libs, Mad Takes, or RedKid.net.

Frequency:

  • Once per week

Who would enjoy:

  • Team members who are highly motivated for reading, hearing or information might really enjoy this one.

10) Team presentations

You can have each team talk about what they’ve achieved that week, or invite one team to discuss something they think is important for colleagues to grasp. 

For example, the design team could give a talk describing the time-intensive process of designing graphics for an app, which would help the engineering and marketing teams understand why it’s not feasible to expect 24-hour turnaround times.

Tools:

  • A slideshow maker (Canva, Google Slides, Powerpoint)
  • Your team’s video conference app

Frequency:

  • Once per week to once per month.

Who would enjoy:

  • Team members who are motivated for hearing, seeing, and information will love this team building activity.

11) Paint and sip

Grab a drink and a paintbrush and get crafty with your coworkers. 

Tools: 

  • There are many companies, such as PaintingParties.com and Yaymaker.com, that host online painting workshops. Some even offer to ship you the supplies for an extra fee.

Frequency:

  • Once per quarter.

Who would enjoy:

  • You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy! In fact, we think this is a perfect opportunity to get silly and abstract, and let your creative juices flow. So this could be fun for anyone, as long as the team leader emphasizes that this is a no-pressure activity!

Bonus tip: Try giving out silly awards at the end, for everything but ‘best painting’. Have the team work together to come up with some zany ideas for awards beforehand! Some ideas include:

  • Creative fingers
  • Unique AF
  • Jungle boogie
  • Soul stirring
  • Ahead of your time
  • That is so you
  • Make the superlatives as bizarre as you’d like! The key is to take the focus off painting well and to let everyone express themselves however they’d like.

12) Happy hour

Invite everyone to make their fave drink—from cocktails to tea to coffee—and get together for a virtual hangout after work.

Tools:

  • Your team’s favorite video conferencing software.

Frequency:

  • Once per week (but make it optional — a mandatory happy hour can quickly lose it’s happy vibe, especially for people in time zones where it’s not yet 5pm!)

Who would enjoy:

  • Anyone who is motivated for affiliation, people or affective communication are likely to have a great time at a virtual happy hour.

13) Mid-morning coffee break

Unlike the virtual happy hour, which typically takes place at the end of the day, the mid-morning coffee break allows your team to mingle during work hours (so more people can likely attend). 

And it might boost your productivity, too.

MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory analyzed high-performing teams and found that “the best predictors of productivity were a team’s energy and engagement outside formal meetings.” 

When MIT suggested that one call center change its coffee break schedule so that everyone could take a break and socialize at the same time, the call center’s average handling time (a measure of efficiency) dropped by 8% overall.

Tools:

  • Again, video conferencing software is all you need!

Frequency:

  • Depends on your team. We recommend making these optional, as not everyone is able to take a coffee break at the same time.

Who would enjoy:

  • Likely anyone who would enjoy a virtual happy hour, would also enjoy a quick coffee break.
  • As mentioned above, it’s critical to keep in mind that everyone’s productivity patterns are different, and interrupting someone else while they are in ‘flow’ could be very stressful for them! So stay flexible when scheduling this team building activity.

14) Pub quiz

Pick a topic, assign a host, and have your team grab a drink to participate in an online pub quiz. 

Tools:

  • You can either come up with the questions yourself or use online pub quiz question generators (like the one at freepubquiz.weebly.com). 
  • There are even pubs all over the world live streaming pub quizzes.

Frequency: 

  • Anywhere from once a week to once a month. You could even swap out the occasional happy hour for a pub quiz session!

Who would enjoy:

  • Anyone who enjoys trivia will love a good pub quiz (these people tend to have a high motivation for information).
  • Someone who might not love a pub quiz is someone with a low motivation for initiation but a high motivation for goals or achievement, since there is a timed element to these quizzes that could feel stressful.
  • But as long as the team leader emphasizes that this is just for a good time and team bonding, most people will likely enjoy this activity as there tend be a variety of questions that cover a wide range of topics.

15) Patchwork Adventures

Developed by an MIT and Stanford trained neurobiologist, Patchwork Adventures offers two-hour virtual adventures led by a facilitator. 

They even mail your team the necessary supplies.

Tools:

  • Head to PatchworkAdventures.com to purchase and schedule your team building activity session.
  • Depending on your chosen activity, you might need a Patchwork Adventures’ supply kit, plus a video conferencing tool.

Frequency:

  • Once per quarter, to once per year.

Who would enjoy:

  • There are a few different types of games, so it should be easy to find one that suits your team! 
  • Individuals who are motivated for shared responsibility may find these team building activities more comfortable, but they’re a good chance for people who enjoy sole responsibility to build their teamwork muscles!
  • We recommend planning this well in advance, and not to worry if the style of the game falls outside of some team members’ comfort zones — the main goal is team bonding here!
  • Consider multiple sessions to accommodate teammates in different time zones. 

16) Donut dates

The Donut app pairs people within your organization’s Slack and encourages them to get to know each other outside of work.

Tools:

  • Slack + the Donut app (at Donut.com)

Frequency:

  • Weekly (more if your team wants).
  • It’s important to ask your team how often they feel comfortable scheduling these sessions, and allow the frequency to decrease (or increase!) during stressful times. 

Who would enjoy:

  • Individuals who are highly motivated for people, difference, affiliation, group environment or affective communication will particularly enjoy this, but plenty of others will find value in getting to know their team members.
  • Be mindful that team members who are highly motivated for a solo environment might find these coffee breaks disruptive if they are not scheduled in advance so they can plan their schedule accordingly.

17) Charades/Heads Up

Using the app Houseparty, you can play Heads Up, which is essentially charades, with up to eight people.

Tools:

  • The Houseparty app (download at Houseparty.com)

Frequency:

  • Once per month to once per quarter

Who would enjoy:

  • Team members who are highly visual will particularly love this, but most people should get a laugh out of it!

18) Highs and Lows

Here’s an uncomplicated (but super effective) team builder. At the start of a video meeting, ask each team member to share one positive thing (high) and one negative thing (low) from their day or week. 

Tools:

Frequency:

  • Whenever you want, but we recommend at least once a week (particularly during stressful times to help build a culture of psychological safety).

Who would enjoy:

  • This requires vulnerability, which isn’t always easy for many people, so make sure the person running the call takes the lead and shows vulnerability first to make a safe space for everyone. 
  • Once this becomes a regular occurrence for your team, most team members will appreciate the ability to be open and transparent about the highs and lows in their personal, as well as professional, life.

19) All-hands

All-hands meetings are great to host on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, either in person or online. They often consist of team presentations sharing their latest projects, a social component, a word from the founder, and a Q&A session.

Tools:

  • Again, your favorite video conferencing app.

Frequency:

  • Whenever you choose — experiment and find what works best for your team. 
  • But keep in mind, too many all-hands meetings can get dull and repetitive for everyone, so feel free to start swapping them out for some of the more interesting activities on this list!

Who would enjoy:

  • Regular meetings often get a bad rap and are often a source of dread for many. But anyone who is highly motivated for information will find these essential (and may even feel lost without them) so don’t cut them out of your team activity repertoire entirely.

20) Fitness classes

Yes, fitness classes are good for the heart and body, and research suggests they’re good for team cohesion too! 

Studies show that shared pain brings people together and improves team creativity. 

Tools: 

  • You can have one team member lead a fitness class via video chat, or your team can sign up for an online group class and do it together.
  • Lululemon has free meditations and yoga classes on its Instagram and website.
  • Centr offers 6-weeks of HIIT workout sessions.
  • Zwift is a free app for runners or cyclists to exercise together in virtual worlds in real time, using a tablet, TV or any other screen that can show apps. The best part? Sometimes they host ‘prehistoric’ events where you can run as a T-rex. What could be cooler?

Frequency:

  • This depends on your team, but you could try starting with once per week and see how it goes.
  • Keep in mind that team members will have various levels of fitness, some may not enjoy the sport you’ve chosen, and others simply may not feel comfortable exercising in front of others, so be sure to keep this one optional, flexible and non-competitive.

Who would enjoy:

  • People who are highly motivated for initiation might love more fast-paced exercises like Zumba or running. While people who are motivated for reflection + patience are more likely to feel comfortable with a slower, more reflective exercise like yoga.
  • Encourage your team members to try something new and not to be afraid to get out of their comfort zone, but again, be flexible and don’t force someone to start running if they hate it (or worse, have a health condition that makes it difficult for them).

21) Lunch and learn

Invite someone to teach a skill, work-related or otherwise, while everyone shares a meal. Maybe your HR manager can talk about effective communication skills for leaders, or your engineering lead can teach an Intro to Python class. 

Tools: 

  • To do this remotely, consider sending food delivery gift cards to everyone on your team, so they can order in and tune in. You can buy digital gift cards from Postmates, Uber Eats, and GrubHub in the U.S. 
  • But be mindful of members in different countries, and consider a simple reimbursement program if your team is spread all over the world.

Frequency:

  • Once per month

Who would enjoy:

  • Since the topic would change every month, there’s an opportunity for everyone to learn about something they’re interested in! 
  • People who are highly motivated for learning new things (high information and sometimes difference in F4S) will adore attending a lunch & learn session.

22) Mukbang

Popularized in Korea, “mukbang” translates into English as something like “eating broadcast.” 

While it’s now a trendy YouTube fad, at its core, it’s a way for viewers to share a meal with a friend, or at least feel like they are. 

You can have one teammate lead the mukbang by sharing a dish from their culture and talking about it while they eat. Or, you can turn it into an interactive dinner, where everyone eats a meal together while talking about their respective dishes.

Tools:

  • Again, all you need is your favorite video conferencing tool!

Frequency:

  • Once per month to once per quarter.

Who would enjoy:

  • Is there anyone who doesn’t love food? Kidding aside — we think most people would enjoy this activity, but it’s particularly suited to diverse teams, so there are plenty of interesting recipes to share and cultural insights to be learned! 

Bonus tip:

  • Instead of each team member just presenting their meal, describing the flavors and talking about their personal experience with it, also ask everyone to research a little about the history of their dish (if they don’t already know) so you can dig deeper to uncover fascinating insights and appreciations for each others’ roots.
  • Food is often a gateway to a deeper understanding of a culture — how their history has influenced their present, how their ingredients are sourced, how the flavor combinations represent their society’s worldview. And don’t forget to enjoy!

23) F4S assessment

Psychologists say our society’s obsession with personality tests reveals something about the human psyche: We yearn to know what makes us unique, yet we want to belong to a group of people with shared traits.

Our F4S assessment reveals your key motivations and blind spots when it comes to how you work. Plus, it’s based on science, so you can get both of the above desires satisfied, with the added benefit of knowing the test is evidence-based! 

Tools: 

Frequency:

  • We recommend doing an in-depth team debrief to explore your team's shared affiliations, blind spots and potential areas for friction once everyone has taken the assessment. (Make sure to repeat at least once per year, as your motivations can change with awareness, coaching or life events!)
  • Our users find they get the best results when they incorporate F4S into their daily work routines, to improve emotional intelligence, rapid teaming, communication and overall performance.

Who would enjoy:

  • Everyone will benefit from (and enjoy!) developing a deeper understanding of themselves and their teammates. 

Knowing what makes you and your colleagues ‘tick’ at work means you can:

  • start working on projects that you find exciting and fulfilling
  • stop guessing and finally know why your colleague does that one thing that totally rubs you the wrong way (you know what I’m talking about — don’t pretend you don’t!)
  • bring your conflict resolution skills to SuperWoman (/Man) status, so you can dissolve team tension before it explodes.

Tools to use for virtual team building

Okay, now that your mind is brimming with ideas for your next remote team building session, how will you harness technology to make it happen? Below, I’ll list some popular tools you can use to make your virtual hangouts a breeze.

Popular video conferencing apps

  • Skype - Skype supports group video calls of up to 50 people and offers screen sharing for free.
  • Google Hangouts - The free plan supports group video calls of up to 25 people and offers screen sharing. G Suite users have access to Hangouts Meet, which allows 100, 150, or 250 participants per call, depending on your G Suite plan.
  • Zoom - The free plan supports group video calls of up to 100 people and offers screen sharing. Any meeting with more than two people will automatically end after 40 minutes. One-to-one calls have unlimited minutes. If you need higher capacity, you must upgrade to at least the Pro plan and purchase a Large Meeting add-on that gives you up to 1,000 participants per meeting.
  • Whereby.com - A super simple tool for video meetings in the browser. That means no downloads or complicated login process. The free plan is great for small teams, including up to 4 attendees. For larger teams (or if you want recordings, branded rooms, custom domains, or advanced integrations) you'll definitely want to upgrade to a Pro or Business plan.

Popular messaging apps

  • Slack - This well-loved workplace messaging app is easy to use and sleekly designed. Bear in mind, though, that while Slack offers “enterprise-grade data protection,” it is not end-to-end encrypted. The free version allows one-to-one video calls. If you want to be able to host a group video call of up to 15 people, upgrade to the Standard plan at $8/month.
  • WhatsApp - Most people use this messaging app for personal use, so it might not be the best option for business purposes. But, it is free, widely used, and encrypted end-to-end. WhatsApp lets you make group video calls, too, but only up to four people.
  • Google Hangouts - You can access Hangouts from your Gmail inbox to send chat messages to your contacts. While Hangouts encrypts messages in transit, it does not use end-to-end encryption.
  • Signal - Favorite secure messaging app of choice for Edward Snowden, Signal claims to be the most scalable end-to-end encrypted messaging app out there. It's ad-free, free for everyone, and not tied to any major tech companies.

Entertainment apps

  • Houseparty - Available on iOS, Android, macOS, and Chrome, this social network allows you to video chat with up to eight people, but where it really shines is its built-in games. Houseparty is a good app to use if you want to play Heads Up or other games with a small group of coworkers.
  • Kast - Itching to throw a watch party? With Kast, you can share movies, TV shows, and even games with more than 100 participants. This real-time video sharing app allows users to chime in via chat messages while a movie is playing, so you can throw a virtual movie night for your team.
  • Book Club - With the Book Club app, your team can discover potential reads, vote on what to read next, buy books, hash out meeting details, and track RSVPs all in one place. Keep in mind that it’s available only on iOS for now.

Tips to master your team building activities

1) Make it optional.

A survey by Nulab found that employees are 3.6 times more likely to enjoy a team building activity when it’s optional rather than mandatory. If you must require attendance, schedule the activity during regular working hours. Mandatory team building exercises after hours are particularly unfair to those who have post-work commitments, such as parents who need to care for their children.

2) Be mindful of individual abilities.

A diverse and inclusive workplace strives to incorporate different people with different abilities. While some teammates will thrive in a physically challenging environment, such as working up a sweat in a Pilates session, others will shine in a more cerebral situation, such as teaching a workshop on coding.

Make sure to include team building activities that allow each team member to showcase their unique abilities.

3) Timezone differences don’t need to be stressful.

Get creative when trying to think of how to tweak an activity for teammates who are spread across the globe in different time zones!

Rather than requesting someone wake up at 2am to go on a virtual field trip to the Louvre (because let’s be real — we all have other priorities at that time), or skipping your team building activity altogether due to scheduling conflicts, consider hosting two (or more) sessions to accommodate team members who can’t make the first one.

If that’s not possible, record your session via Zoom and share that recording with the team members who couldn’t be there. Then, suggest that they record their own reaction to the activity and share their thoughts with the team.

Asynchronous team building activities are still enormously helpful, and some teams such as Basecamp and Zapier communicate this way nearly all the time, so don’t be afraid to give it a go.

4) Have fun!

Team building exercises don’t need to be directly related to work to be effective at building trust and camaraderie. Be creative. If you think there’s an activity that would be fun for your team to get involved in, give it a try. Some of the best team bonding can happen outside of structured activities.

Farewell, trust fall. Which new team building activity will you try?

Thankfully, there are plenty of team building activities that boost trust without requiring you to close your eyes, fall backward, and hope for the best. 

Heck, you don’t even need to meet in person to get some good quality time with your colleagues. With technology and a dash of creativity, you can bond with your teammates without bruising anyone’s ego (or back).

Your teammates have more in common than they realize! Have your team take our free F4S assessment, and then share the results with each other to gain a deeper understanding of your team dynamics.

Get started today for free

For the first time ever, the insights behind F4S are available for anyone to use. Are you ready to unleash untapped energy and potential?