10 team building activities to do virtually
In the span of a week the majority of us – at least those in non-essential services – have moved from bustling office spaces to the (surprisingly small!) confines of our homes. We’ve been cut off from our routines, separated from coworkers, and left to manage this new landscape without much guidance or time to adjust.
If you’re anything like me, you’re already beginning to feel the lack of human interaction. As salespeople, my team and I are avid extroverts and we usually perform best when in close proximity to one another.
To help ease the transition, we’ve come up with ten ways to keep team morale and cohesion high. These tips are all free, easy, and not especially time-consuming. Plus, you know, they’re actually pretty fun.
1. Share what you’re grateful for
This is something we’re trying to adopt ourselves, difficult as it may sometimes be to see a silver lining. At the beginning of a meeting, before we get into the details of this or that, we each take a turn sharing something that has made us smile in the past 24 hours. While it can be related to work, we’re encouraged to share something more personal. In the past few days our workers have expressed gratitude for…
- Getting a view into peoples’ homes via webcam
- Reaching out to distant family members more often
- Free online workouts and Instagram Live workouts
- Roommates to keep us from going stir-crazy
- A new Iphone
2. Work out together
Consider a lunch break workout with your team to boost motivation and positivity. Hop onto Zoom or GoToMeeting at an appointed time and get your sweat on with an online workout video. Many fitness instructors offer their videos free, and even more are doing Instagram or Facebook Live classes to accommodate this new virtual world. Or if you’re really brave, host a bootcamp yourself.
Here are some excellent free fitness videos online:
- Fitness Blender: this ridiculously likable husband and wife duo have over 500 free videos for all fitness levels. We can’t recommend them enough.
- PopSugarFitness: fitness videos of all types (yoga, low impact, strength, high intensity) led by various instructors
- Yoga With Adrienne: Adrienne guides you through simple (and sometimes more difficult) yoga routines to help reduce stress – something we all need right about now.
And these instructors are offering free live classes:
- BlinkFitness is streaming 8am workouts on Facebook Live to start your day strong
- Barry’s Bootcamp is hosting multiple workouts a day on Instagram Live
- Planet Fitness is hosting live 20 minute workouts every day at 7pm on Facebook. End your day happy and satisfied.
3. Start a book club
Book clubs allow people to gather and share ideas around a single, highly-relevant topic. They bring people together and provide a natural way to guide productive conversation.
Luckily, book clubs are easily turned virtual. Even before the Coronavirus spread, our company’s book club included people remotely from four cities across the US. To facilitate the conversation, we elect one moderator who asks questions of specific people. With virtual meetings, it’s critical that you call on individuals rather than addressing a question to the group as a whole.
4. Ban non-essential emails (for the day)
Some things cannot be transmitted in absence of email – say, a forwarded message from a client or a broadcast note for the entire company. That being said, much of what we include in emails could easily be communicated in short one-on-one video calls.
We propose that you (very temporarily) ban emails from your team’s communication repertoire. Instead, have people jump onto Microsoft Teams or Slack (or whatever video communication software you use) and video call each other – even for short questions. The face-time will do you and your people good, and it’ll help to further normalize video calls throughout your team.
5. Hold a virtual happy hour
Step 1: Send out e-invites so it feels like a real event
Step 2: If you’re feeling adventurous, ask everyone to wear their Sunday Best. We could all use a chance to don professional attire in these trying times.
Step 3: Hosting an event with 10+ people on the same audio line will be near impossible. Compile a list of smaller groups (5 or so people per group) and send the list out so people know who they’ll be speaking with. Rotate the lists every week.
Step 4: Grab a glass of wine or juice and hop onto Zoom or GoToMeeting, whatever your company uses.
6. Host a virtual game night
Despite all the recent changes, there are still plenty of ways to have fun with your team. We suggest trying a virtual game night, especially if you lead a smaller group. Download an app like Evil Apples Vs. Humanity (a Cards Against Humanity spinoff) and play this (highly inappropriate) game against your coworkers. For larger groups, try Quiplash for similarly risky humor!
For a more PG evening, you can try a virtual paint night for $15/person. These classes are led by artists and are suited to small-to-medium groups. All you need is to order some basic paint supplies, and if you have children, you probably already have most things on hand.
7. Do a morning huddle
While in the office, your team likely saw each other every morning before diving into the day’s work. You’d gather in the kitchen while making coffee and chat about your evening, your kids, your weekend.
Today the opportunities for casual catch-ups are limited. Organizing a ‘morning huddle’ – a fifteen minute video chat with your team, no work-talk permitted – can help to return some humanity to your interactions.
8. Learn a relevant skill, together
Are you an accountant? Encourage your team to join in and learn the basics of Python to help with coding custom formulas. Marketer? Earn your advanced Google Analytics certification. Data Scientist? Complete a Coursera course on Deep Learning. You can even gamify this skill development; give an award for whoever finishes the course fastest or ranks highest on quizzes.
10. Compete for something (books read, pounds lost, steps taken, etc.)
About that: nothing gets people excited like a little friendly competition. Choose a topic you can all relate to – hitting a minimum step goal would be ideal in this situation, since you are otherwise cooped up at home – and set some basic rules. Add prizes (online gift cards work wonders) to really get people excited. Let the games begin!
11. Give virtual home tours
Despite the physical distance, this remote lifestyle does lend itself to some deeper forms of friendship. Every video call is a peek into someone’s life, their space, their family. Leverage this new closeness by doing rotating house tours, which can include introductions to family members and pets.
Unfortunately – but understandably – the first thing to be neglected in a volatile economy is company culture. Most companies will shift their focus to support the bottom line. That makes sense; everyone needs to survive. Yet to relegate culture to the back burner is to put your team’s cohesion at risk at a time when you are most dependent on their productivity.
Small efforts go a long way. With these quick tips you’ll be able to keep your team happy, safe, and productive.
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