Encouraging a high performance culture even from behind a screen
Team building has taken a bit of a backseat recently as organisations had to adapt to the new normal. Now that things are settling down, it’s time for us all to get back to giving team members everything they need to thrive professionally and contribute to organisational goals. That includes thinking of new ways to foster an internal culture based on trust, respect, collaboration and innovation, even in a hybrid world. However these things don’t just grow overnight. They have to be cultivated; that’s why team building activities are an intrinsic part of driving high performance and deeper connections amongst your people.
Whilst it’s true that organising team building events can be tricky in a remote or hybrid context, it’s not impossible. And most importantly, it’s simply unavoidable. Let’s Talk Talent understands how important it is to engineer opportunities for team members to bond, deepen relationships and break down silos now that chance encounters over the coffee machine are becoming less frequent. And if you’re struggling to do just that, we’d like to help. We’ve put together a list of 33 team building activities you can run even in a virtual space, as well as a few tips to ensure your event or away day goes off without a hitch.
What is remote team building?
Many organisations have implemented a hybrid model which requires employees to work in the office two to three days a week. While this seems like the perfect balance, it does mean that many employees never cross paths. Some team members may even be based in different cities, counties or countries, making it difficult to generate collaboration and foster connections. Team buildings are a great way to achieve both, but organising team building events that cater for both onsite and remote employees is hard. Hard, but not impossible. And most importantly, it’s simply unavoidable. Let’s Talk Talent understands how important it is to engineer opportunities for team members to bond, deepen relationships and break down silos now that chance encounters over the coffee machine are becoming less frequent. And if you’re struggling to do just that, or if your team needs to come out of the storming phase of team development, we’d like to help. We’ve put together a list of 33 team building activities you can run even in a virtual space, as well as a few tips to ensure your event or away day goes off without a hitch.
For more tips on how to organise a kickass away day, read the article.
A few hybrid team building tips
There is value in getting a team together in the same room, but most businesses will not be able to enforce a fully onsite model. How can managers keep energy levels up and accommodate both office-based and remote workers? It’s about being thoughtful and considerate, and finding a formula that makes people feel comfortable and considered. When planning your activity, make sure you allow for a hybrid format by:
- Testing technology beforehand and make sure cameras cover everyone in the room
- Taking time difference into account (if applicable) and scheduling a start time that works for everyone
- Creating breaks during the day for those dialling in so they can have time away from the screen
- Thinking of creative ways to make the event interactive without excluding those who are remote
- Giving everyone space to speak and be heard
So now that we’ve got the basics right, let’s get started!
THE ULTIMATE LIST OF REMOTE TEAM BUILDING ACTIVITIES
To kick you off, Jo Taylor, MD of Let’s Talk Talent has recorded a quick video on her top 5 activities from this list.
Hybrid Team building activities to get to know each other better
- Work style personality test
Send this in advance so everyone can complete it ahead of time, then share and discuss the results during your activity. Have a look at https://high5test.com for a great example.
- Guess whose life this is
Ask team members to share two photos (not showing their faces) that represent them. Get colleagues to guess who they belong to. Those with the highest number of correct guesses win.
- One thing that’s not on your CV
This one is a great way to get to know another side of your colleagues. Pepper it throughout the day to keep the event fun and full of energy.
- At arm’s reach
Get everyone to bring an object from their home and explain why it is significant to them, so they can open up about a small part of their lives outside of work.
- Virtual line up
Line everyone up (virtually) based on the number of years they’ve been at the company. Exchange on what the organisation was like back then and how it has changed since.
- Music show-and-tell
Ask your colleagues to pick a musical piece that is significant to them. Create a shared team playlist with the selected songs.
- Share your bucket list
We all have one, so why not pick your top 3 or 5 and get your teammates to think of ways to help you tick them off.
Remote Team building activities to focus on a common goal
- Six-word story
This activity aims to help you describe what your team stands for. Ask everyone to write down what your team’s purpose is and discuss the resulting stories, whether they vary wildly or not.
- Show-and-tell session
It can be hard to stay in the loop whilst working remotely. Show-and-tell sessions can help keep everyone informed of what’s been done and what’s underway so you can all move forward as a unit.
- A look in the future
Where do you think the organisation will be in 10 years’ time? Are your colleagues’ views aligned with yours? Worth finding out!
- Project kickoffs
When starting a new project, make sure you approach it in the right way. A project kickoff is a great tool to get everyone aligned from the very beginning.
- Fireside chats
Get the leader of the department to have a one-to-one chat with each team member so they can find out more about their ambitions for the organisation.
- Team charter
Agreeing on the basics is a great way to set yourself up for success. Set down what you want to achieve as a team, what everyone’s role is in reaching that objective, how you should communicate and who your key stakeholders are.
- Cover story exercise
Huddle into teams and visualise the boldest, most amazing future ever for the company. How would this appear on magazine covers? What would be the headline? Get everyone to draw your future cover story and share each one via team chat.
- Clarity session
Using a virtual board, put a question you need to clarify at the top (e.g., what is this project’s main objective?).
Set a timer for 15 minutes and get everyone to write down as many answers as they want, but limit each answer to two words. When the timer goes off, ask the team to select just one answer. The winning option will encompass the team’s vision and thus give them clarity.
Team bonding activities to boost morale
- Cooking together
Use videoconferencing to share a common experience. Send a recipe in advance and set a date and time so you can all cook together. You could even turn it into a competition, although everyone will be judging their own!
- Recipes roundup
Pick a theme (e.g, traditional recipes, vegetarian cooking, favourite desserts) and create a downloadable booklet. Encourage team members to share photos and comments when they try each other’s recipes.
- Create a story
Collectively pick a genre and a character, and get everyone to tell a part of the story in turn. Use the ‘(…) and then’ key phrase when another participant should jump in and pick up the narrative.
- Remote coffee breaks / virtual break rooms
We are pack animals, and most of us miss those chance encounters in the corridor or quick chats over the watercooler. Managers may have to work a bit harder to generate social meets, and remote coffee breaks are a great way to encourage connections. Set up a room and a regular time to make sure those happen.
- Virtual book club
Book clubs can still be organised, and sharing thoughts and impressions afterwards can easily be done online. Set up a reading list and a regular meeting time to discuss your findings. Books can be work related, or not if you prefer to focus more on the social aspect.
- Remote quizzes
An oldie but goodie. Quizzes can generate quite a few laughs, and there are apps (such as Kahoot) that can make the organisation process easier.
- Random chats channels
Social encounters do not need to be structured. Create a channel purely for non-work related discussions and encourage everyone to share photos, updates, recipe suggestions or anything else they can think of.
- Charity fundraisers
Working together on a project can really bring a team closer together. Even more so if the project is something that contributes to the local community or raises funds for a cause close to your team members’ hearts.
Hybrid Team building activities to improve communications
- Virtual coworking
Some of us miss working alongside other people, or are working on a project where close collaboration could facilitate the process. Set up a call and ask a few team members to join, whether they are just working on their own thing whilst benefiting from the company of others, or to work on something together.
- Joint work calendars
Create a team calendar accessible to everyone in the team to improve communications. Mark holidays, important meetings or project milestones so everyone feels included in the team. As an option, you could include personal stuff in there too, such as birthdays.
- Lost at sea
This exercise aims to improve the way your team communicates. Assuming that they are lost at sea, participants must rank a list of random objects in order of importance for their survival. You’ll be amazed at the level of creativity some people display when faced with hypothetical survival scenarios!
- Stinky fish
Available on the Hyperisland website, this is based on the principle that the longer you leave something to fester, the more it smells. It aims to address any unspoken issue within the group and get everything out in the open so everyone can face it together.
- History map
Again, this is one that is available on the Hyperisland website, this activity’s main purpose is to reflect on a shared experience in order to gain a deeper understanding of what the group has been through together. Use it as a debrief after big milestones.
Remote team building activities to generate energy and innovation
- Give your energy level
This doesn’t have to be a big activity, but make sure you take the pulse at least a few times during long meetings or presentations. Ask participants to rate their energy level on a scale ranging from one to 10, so you can adapt the day’s plan based on the results.
- Appreciation train
One after the other, ask each team member to say what they appreciate about a colleague. Make sure everyone had their turn to both give and receive positive feedback.
- Future trends workshop
A great way to generate innovation, this exercise is about trying to predict the next trends in the market or the industry, and talk about how your company should pivot to anticipate them.
- Inspirational external speaker
Sometimes it’s nice to get someone new, energetic and inspirational to come in and rejuvenate the troops, even from behind a screen. Ask an external speaker to drop in for a morale boost.
- CEO intro
Alternatively, before you seek out an external speaker, ask your CEO to come to your session or record a quick video message. Getting a thank you directly from the business’s leader is a great way to make staff feel valued and create opportunities for them to ask any questions they may have directly.
Now that we’ve gone through our top recommendations, have a look at the list of team building activities to avoid.
Remote team building activities don’t have to be dull
There you have it, the full list of team building activities you can run even from behind a screen. We hope we’ve made it easier for you to make a concerted effort to deepen connections between your team members.
It’s worth noting that the above suggestions shouldn’t be limited to away days or team building events. The activities listed can be used as everyday mini-events as and when the need arises, or as a sprint over a few sessions to give people time to process.
You may also find these related team building blogs useful: