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A big challenge for remote work is building genuine connections and camaraderie. Here are 20 remote team-building activities that can help.
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As companies assess their remote work policies, they’re faced with how to build relationships outside of an office environment. Building genuine connections and camaraderie in a remote setting doesn’t come naturally to everyone, so it’s up to leadership to actively encourage interactions.
Remote team building activities help with that, and fortunately, there are tons of fun and engaging activities to choose from.
When deciding what activities will work best for your remote team, consider whether a synchronous or an asynchronous activity will resonate the most. Synchronous activities bring everyone together simultaneously, while asynchronous activities allow team members to contribute or participate at different times.
We dive into examples of both types of remote team building activities to encourage meaningful team bonding.
Many remote teams collaborate and communicate asynchronously, meaning they don’t expect an immediate response. Here are team building activities to align with that workflow.
When you're on a remote team, much of the action takes place in your team's primary instant messaging tool. For many teams, that's Slack. Use that to your advantage by creating some fun Slack channels for discussions beyond day-to-day work.
Launch a channel with a specific topic or theme that'll liven up team conversations. Some great examples include #just-gifs, #dogspotting, #songoftheday, and #weekend-plans. At Kona, we have one called #capital-hill, where you can only write in capital letters.
These types of channels quickly get your team members to share and relate about their life.
When working on-site, quick catch-ups between coworkers happen naturally. Whether it's in the hallway, during meetings, or at lunchtime, it's easy for team members to keep a pulse on how everyone else is doing when meeting daily.
Since you don’t have those run-ins while working remotely, daily check-ins with an app like Kona help replicate this connection. Kona offers a quick yet meaningful morning check-in where employees share if they’re feeling green, yellow, or red with the line of context. The check-ins quickly turn into threads where team members are opening up and supporting each other.
Every team experiences anniversaries, birthdays, farewells, and other occasions where you might send a gift or care package. Care packages are also a thoughtful gesture just for fun. For that reason, making care packages is a creative team activity you can do asynchronously, which doubles as a tool for recognition.
Team members can feel good about putting together a nice package for another person, and the recipients can enjoy the thought and effort that went into it.
Speaking of recognition, giving and receiving recognition is crucial for keeping morale high in a remote team. In fact, recognition boosts individual employee engagement and increases productivity and retention.
Make recognition fun and easy for everyone on your team to partake in by making it the center of a team building activity. You can do that by:
One aspect of remote work that's both a blessing and a curse is that you don't have to leave your house to work.
The blessing is not having to endure a tiring commute, and the curse is the lack of regular physical activity in your routine. Putting together a remote fitness challenge serves as a great counterbalance while also being a fun team activity that everyone can participate in on their own time.
Some fitness challenge ideas include preparing for and doing a 5K run, hitting 10,000 steps per day, engaging in a daily yoga practice, or exercising at least three times a week. Come up with a winning prize to encourage participation across your team.
Throw a cooking challenge as a unique and interactive way to tap into hidden culinary talents across your team. You can pick a specific dish or a set of required ingredients and see what everyone comes up with.
If you'd rather it be less about competition and more about sharing a love of food, you can turn it into a cooking show-and-tell instead.
Author and workshop leader, Katrina Mayer, once said, "A book is a magical thing that lets you travel to far-away places without ever leaving your chair."
Run a book club as a way for your team members to connect asynchronously. With the right book selection, your team gets to experience new topics and engage in conversations outside of their role together.
Like a book club, having a movie club to share an appreciation for cinema is another asynchronous remote team building activity that is enriching and entertaining. You can have each person take a turn choosing a movie or use a list of top movies by achievement or genre.
Asynchronous activities are handy when you want to give your team easy opportunities to bond while in different time zones and schedules. However, it’s always fun to add some synchronous team building activities to the mix to react to each other in real-time.
If your team works distributedly, it's likely that many of your newer employees have never met in person or know little about each across departments.
Icebreakers are the ideal activity for introducing new team members to the group and deepening the relationships that already exist.
There are lots of different types of icebreakers, but here are some favorites.
Engaging in an informal get-together with no business agenda is a tried-and-true way to bond as a remote team. The key to a good coffee chat is for each person to contribute in some way, and for the meeting to not add stress to their work day.
We mentioned cooking challenges as an asynchronous activity idea, but you can also turn it into a real-time event to make it more interactive. The same guidelines apply here as a cooking challenge — such as picking a common dish or list of ingredients — except this time, everyone is cooking simultaneously over video chat.
You'll quickly discover who are the veteran cooks and who need more guidance, all while enjoying the humor and commotion that'll erupt from everyone's kitchens.
For teams who aren't inclined to join a culinary adventure, doing a fitness class together is another active team-building experience that encourages health and well-being.
Some fitness class options for large groups include yoga, aerobics, cycling, pilates, dance, and weight lifting. You could even sign up to run a road race or obstacle course event for those who live in the same area.
If you'd like to get your team's minds off work and are open to a challenge, an online escape room is a great option. There are third-party companies that host themed escape room games where participants must find and solve clues to find their way out of a virtual room within an hour.
Escape rooms bring out both your inner child and inner competitor, so keep that in mind if you consider it for your next team activity.
If you're not sure you want to commit to an escape room event but still love the idea of games, there are plenty of online games that are quick to play and enjoyable for everyone. Some popular ones include:
Our team gets together for 30 minutes every Wednesday to play games together — it’s a fun way to get to know each other (and each other’s gaming skills!) on a personal level.
One remote-friendly activity that's been increasingly popular is holding a DIY craft event revolving around painting, pottery, knitting, ginger house decorating, or terrarium-making. Craft classes are perfect for low-key and creative teams, as they require steady focus and the use of your hands to put something together.
You can find ready-made kits online for some of these activities, making it easier logistically to send supplies to all of your team members' homes.
Scavenger hunts have always been a fun activity to do in person, but you can also do them virtually. In fact, you can get even more creative with virtual scavenger hunts because you're not restricted to a physical place.
Some example scavenger list items each team member can scavenge for and post a picture of:
Do your team members know a lot of random facts? Or, are there some known history or pop culture buffs on your team?
If so, trivia is a perfect remote team building activity. Not only do people get a chance to flex some of their non-work-related expertise, but everyone learns a thing or two and gets a chance to interact in a lighthearted way.
They say laughter is the best medicine, but you don't need to be ailing to enjoy a good laugh.
Bringing in a comedian to perform for your team helps everyone relieve some stress, enjoy some live entertainment, and see who else shares the same sense of humor — all things that bring a team closer together.
There are times when you want to do a team-building activity that's focused on a particular topic. Maybe it's one of your company's core values, a new trend or technology that's top of mind in your industry, or an area of improvement for your team.
If that's the case, having a speaker come in to do a talk or workshop is a remote team-building activity that also provides specific value to your whole organization.
Everyone loves learning about how others perceive them, and a unique way to explore that as a team-building activity is by inviting a caricature artist to draw each person on your team. Not only will your team members have fun seeing an artist interpret their likeness and their colleagues', but everyone also comes away with a keepsake portrait.
Team building is a challenge even when employees are physically in the same location. When you're leading a remote team, you have to also consider the practical needs and expectations of employees who operate asynchronously and are geographically dispersed.
These remote team-building ideas will save you time searching for creative ideas that suit your remote employees' needs and preferences while freeing you to focus on what matters most — fostering meaningful connections and making work-life more fun for everyone.