Updated: Jan 23, 2022
Throughout the pandemic, companies started work-from-home set-ups. Work went online. COVID-19 messed up everything that we usually did. And it affected our team meetings. Without team meetings, the bond that employees may have with each other faded over time.
There’s a feeling of isolation when you're working from home. Imagine not being able to see anything but the familiar walls of your own house. When you’re working on a distributed team that meets up once a week, disconnection is hard to avoid. How much more would that be the case for those companies that meet once or twice a year?
But here’s a bit of advice: meet with your team often. Do virtual meetings and motivate them (check more employee motivation here). Team building doesn’t happen in isolation. It’s about bringing the best in each other. Research shows that team building is essential. Team productivity increases by 20-25%. Around 97% of workers believe that communication impacts tasks. That is the importance of meeting with your team!
Now you have to consider: effective remote teamwork doesn't have to be formal. It can be as simple as your team goofing around together. Some fun shouldn’t be a problem, right?
Here are five great ways to bring the fun factor (and the bond) back into virtual meetings.
1. Virtual Treasure Hunt
Having a common goal creates a bond among employees, producing a feeling of unity. They finish tasks and meet up afterward. They have this one goal in mind: to make progress. By doing this, they’re building trust with each other! The same concept can be seen in this game, “Virtual Treasure Hunt”.
A little preparation means a whole lot of fun for this game, which is also known as Hunt the Object. You'll need index cards and pens.
Here's how it works: At the start of the meeting (or during a lull), make groups. The groups should have 5 members each (This affects the number of cards you should prepare. For instance, if there are 4 groups, you have to prepare four sets of five item cards and locations). Write five object names on index cards, making sure that all of them are easy to find in a common space (a kitchen or living room). For example, you could write "Kettle," “Pillow,” "Desk lamp," "Couch," and "Window."
Make another set of five cards with locations instead of objects. Bear in mind that some places will be harder to reach than others. For instance, finding something on the other side of a high fence isn't necessarily easy for all team members! The participants might need to go outdoors whenever their specified location is outside.
Distribute randomly one card and one location card to each group’s participants. The goal is for the group’s participants to search their assigned areas(the item cards are matched randomly with the location, so the participants have to be lucky). They have to bring back together the objects they were assigned to. There’s a time limit, and the group who finds the most items first wins.
2. I Imagine a...
Creativity is important for success in any industry. Your remote team is not an exception! Get the most out of your team and use activities that promote creativity. This can also boost productivity among members. “I Imagine a…” is a great game to help manage that. To play, you will need a pen, paper, and a messaging app.
It works like this:
Choose a person who will think of something.
Using a pen and paper, they are going to draw it. For example, if they think of a dog, they have to draw a dog. If they think of a giraffe, they have to draw a giraffe. Then they show their drawing to the group.
Through the messaging app, participants will private message the one who has drawn the picture.
The person who draws the picture tells the others if their guess was correct.
The team can play this as a group or individually, but it’s more fun as a group game. It builds team bonding and communication skills. The scores vary according to the time it takes the participants to guess the word.
Want a hassle-free game? There are websites like scribble.io. Scribble.io creates a visual room and lets you write your answer guesses on it. It has a system that accepts correct answers. The system also does not show answers to the participants who haven't got the correct ones.
3. “Translate me, please!”
Edward De Waal’s quote says that language is a comfort for us: “With languages, you are at home and anywhere.” If others can know what we speak (even if we use our native language), then we can feel at home. And language can take us anywhere, even in our work.
In a team, learning languages is another way to create a shared experience. Translating words and phrases together can create bonds and trust. It creates collaboration skills in your team. Not only that, it brings laughter!
Some languages have words with the same spelling as a word in English (or whatever language you have in common) but different meanings. International teams can enjoy this activity as they learn something new. It makes them embrace other members’ cultures too.
Here is how you play the game “Translate me, please!”. It has no limit to the number of participants. One of the team members picks a word or a phrase in their mother tongue. They have to share it on the whiteboard (or anywhere they can write it) and give 3 clues. The first one to guess the word or phrase from the given clues wins the game.
Everyone should always consider Google translating the words or phrases. Some team members might make fun of the translations. Google translate gives literal translations. Literal translations can be very funny, but laughing about them is not making fun of culture. We are trying to build trust here. Remember that trust is a key factor in team building. You can have this activity continue weekly, and do mini-language lessons too.
4. Birth Maps
There is one great tool to understand others—culture. Each person is different according to culture. Understanding everyone through culture can answer questions about the person. It unites people. Plus, knowing other people’s culture is fun right?
In this game called “Birth Maps”, we can build understanding and unity. This game is amazing especially for teams where everyone comes from different places and heritages. We can get them connected and help them work better together. Getting to know which cultural heritage they come from is fun, I assure you (at least in this game).
All you need to do is have them be present at the meeting. To start off, have everyone think of a fact or a legend about the place where they were born. The fact or legend can be funny, weird, or even scary. Then send them around to everyone to trade stories. Get them to choose their favorite from the variety of stories everyone shared. The story with the most votes is the most interesting story! The winner can then share more about the details.
The chosen winner can receive a prize, which, of course, depends on you (like an Amazon voucher, perhaps?). That way, employees engage with their own cultural heritage. They’ll ask in their hometown about their birthplace’s facts or legends that would blow everyone’s mind. It helps team members understand how important culture is. Unity through cultural curiosity and understanding is a great tool for team building.
5. What’s the Song Title? (Charades edition)
Teams need great team bonding for them to work. And guess what, bonding increases with guessing together! And when seasoned with music, it boosts people’s energy! What’s the Title? (Charades edition) is a great tool for that. To play this, they only need the meeting app that they use.
What’s the Song Title? (Charades edition) goes like this. The host will prepare songs, and form groups among the participants (depending on how many there are in the meeting). The groups choose one player to perform a pantomime of the song title. This player should give many clues by pantomiming! The more talented the chosen member, the better. The other team members should mute the sound of the meeting. Each turn has a time limit, and one correct guess equals one point.
The team with the most correct guesses at the end of a predetermined number of turns or a preset time limit wins the game. BBC’s “Fast and Lose” has a segment called ‘Interpretative Dance’. It has the ‘Guess that Song’ game, and it’s quite fun and entertaining.
Feeling disconnected from your team lately? Don't fret, we have shared 5 fun and quirky ideas to remedy this! This is to encourage remote teamwork with more informal activities for your team! Goofing around together in video chat or playing games is fun and engaging. Explore these suggestions and see what works for you. We're always happy to help teams find their way out of isolation. We bring them closer together through honest collaboration and playfulness.