How to improve online work culture with virtual team building activities
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How to improve online work culture with virtual team building activities

In these new and trying times, small businesses have had to find new and innovative ways of maintaining the workplace. This situation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic has made remote work and virtual meetings the norm in most businesses. Unfortunately, this new way of working has affected the work culture and left many people feeling isolated and disconnected from the workplace and the world. 

Coming up with inventive and fun ideas to keep the spark alive during the workday has become imperative to many business owners. 

Icebreakers for remote teams

Team building icebreakers are still considered to be beneficial to most teams. Having an activity to do while a meeting happens, especially one that allows the employees to take some time to bond and focus on something other than work, can encourage relationships and trust with their colleagues. 

This lack of genuine relationship formations sometimes leads to virtual meetings feeling very transactional. This happens because such meetings stick to an agenda leading to no one knowing what else to talk about other than work. While virtual teams experience many positive effects on production and work-life balance, organisations lose crucial employee satisfaction and retention, such as a sense of community. Teams lose the chance to casually run into each other in the hallway to talk about things unrelated to work, such as their personal life, pop culture, and even politics.

Some may believe that such interactions are meaningless and just useless small talk, but they significantly impact team performance. When teams are closer together, group morale increases, so does their satisfaction, increasing productivity.

What is virtual team building?

Virtual team building is the best way to unite the team and feel a sense of pride and community in the business. Team building is essential for remote and virtual teams. As a business owner, it would be wise to put in a concerted effort in creating activities that help increase team bonding factors. There are numerous ways to integrate team-building exercises into the day-to-day running of the business. The best way to start is with some icebreakers and the best icebreakers are simple; they only need some motivation and enthusiasm.

Benefits of using team building icebreakers

Icebreakers in virtual team building activities can help your business:

  • enhance trust amongst team members
  • encourage cohesiveness in team members
  • become more productive
  • elevate communication levels
  • improve team member engagement and openness on personal and professional subjects

These fun games can help teams relax, spark creativity and imagination, and encourage trust. Connections can also be facilitated amongst team members who otherwise would not have spoken that often or not had a relationship at all. These activities are also helpful for teams that already know one another but need a boost in energy. 

Here are some fun team-building icebreaker ideas for meetings; they require little investment but yield great results.


Would you rather?

This is a classic game that's been played for years. This game will help the employees get to know each other better and relax before the start of the meeting.

How it works

Before the meeting or training starts, come up with 5 to 10 questions that the employees will answer. These questions should be a combination of fun, random, and challenging questions. 

For example:

  • "Would you rather use a typewriter for work comms or have to type all your emails three times over to send them?"
  • "Would you rather have two noses or one eye?"

When it comes to regulating, “Would you rather?”, in a virtual setting, there are two ways it can be done. The first option is to pair up employees and the second is to put them in small groups. This will allow the team to connect and explain their responses, leading to many humorous reactions. Ask a few of the employees to share their answers and why they chose them when the results are in.


Riddle icebreakers

An icebreaker like a riddle or brain teaser can easily engage with employees and start a group conversation. This type of game can be done with any group size; whether they know each other will not affect the game. In larger groups, break out into teams for a friendly competition, leading to increased communication between employees.

How the game works

Riddles and brain teasers have to be challenging whilst still solvable at the same time. Reader's Digest is a great resource when looking for a virtual icebreaker riddle.  

Riddles like, "I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have nobody, but I come alive with the wind. What am I?" are bound to get the team in a fit of fun confusion. 


Guess who 

This game is a fun way for the employees to learn about each other. This icebreaker is best suited for groups of 3 to 10 people who have met at least once before. 

How to play

Before the meeting starts, do an open-ended survey or email the team a light-hearted list of questions.

Here are some examples of icebreaker questions to ask:

  • "What was your greatest childhood hobby?"
  • "What is the craziest hair colour or style you've ever had?"
  • "What career did you want as a teen?"
  • "What's the best vacation you've had?"
  • "If you could have any talent, what would it be?'
  • "What's the last food you ate?"
  • "What was your first job?"
  • "What was the last movie you saw that made you cry?"
  • "What was the last Google search you did?"

During the virtual meeting, the facilitator can share these responses one by one while the team tries to guess who's answer is whose. 

In some cases, more than one person can have the same answer; that's fine. 

Why should virtual teams do team-building exercises?

The most potent reason for having team building is to get group results. With a series of planned team-building activities that are fun and motivational, teams build skills and relationships that can be transferred back into the workplace. 

Team building is turning a group of individuals or employees into a cohesive and high-functioning team. These events can include:

  • Sharing photos, updates, or videos 
  • Organising a virtual happy hour
  • Planning a socially distanced cooking event or dinner
  • Playing dedicated games

While virtual work removes much of the spontaneity that comes with proximity to others, such online options encourage the feeling of togetherness. Short games and virtual events can also leave us feeling more connected. These games don't need to be exceptionally long and can boost morale for draining days or weeks. 

Virtual team building activity necessities

Virtual team-building exercises are very low cost and usually don't need a lot of materials. Listed below is what will be required for a successful team building activity:

Set times for the team building activity

Virtual teams usually want to meet to talk about what they have to do and then get back to work. Silos are standard in virtual teams. Specific time will need to be dedicated at the beginning or end of a virtual team meeting. A new meeting focused on the activity will need to be set; this will be mandatory and just as important as other meetings.

A conferencing program to talk and listen in on

This can be a regular phone system or a VoIP phone system like CircleLoop. It will need to be reliable and possible to integrate with other software should the meeting require it.

• A screen-sharing/collaboration program. 

A program that allows screen sharing is also wise, especially if the game requires the team to view the same thing. If the activity does not need screen sharing, this is not necessary. Numerous video chatting programs have this capability.

• A facilitator/ leader to moderate the activity

The ideal person for this role would be the team's virtual team manager or project manager. Unfortunately, the team leader will not participate in the games because they will know the responses, but it will be great to laugh and bond together.

Virtual team games and activities

1. An online lunch date

Type of game: real-time, just for fun, on the regular

Estimated time: 60 minutes

Tool required: video conferencing

This activity is a casual way to connect the team during the day without creating a contrived reason for the meeting. In this case, most employees will find it easy to talk and de-stress since they speak at lunch. What might transpire is that this will stop needing to be a scheduled event and become organically adopted by the team.

2. Group chat social

Type: asynchronous, just for fun, regularly

Estimated time: non-specific

Tools required: A standard group chat application

Group chat is a good way for disconnected teams to stay in touch. Conversations can be about what was had for lunch, notes on standing desks, interesting articles, and anything that any team member feels is worth discussing or sharing. 

3. A messy-desk face-off

Type: asynchronous, just for fun, regularly

Estimated time: 5 minutes

Tools required: Group chat application

When working in an office, people feel compelled to keep their desks clean, but there's no such social contract to uphold when they work from home. So a proposed ritual can be a "messy desk Thursdays" challenge, in which colleagues out themselves with the abysmal state of their workstations. It also provides a chance for preternaturally tidy teammates to humble brag about their immaculate office spaces.

Many of these fun activities can be played with the assistance of a VoIP phone system like CircleLoop; it offers a wide array of features and can integrate with many other programs. Help build your teams' morale and find out more about us and our VoIP phone system prices