Don't Let COVID interfere with your team-building plans.
It may be a new year, however many of us are probably suffering from a little Deja Vu. Pandemic life introduced many of us to the joys of remote working, social distancing, masking up, and more. Much of which *almost* felt like a memory last year. Now, as US COVID cases explode to over 700,000 a day and businesses struggle to maintain operations while being understaffed and stretched thin, we're quickly reminded of how everything can change at the drop of a hat.
Last summer, many companies started planning their' return to the office' strategies. With low case counts, increasing vaccination numbers, and July 4th BBQs, it felt like in-person working was around the corner, either 100% or in some hybrid model.
However, thanks to Omicron, even companies like Google have paused their plans to return to the office. The result? It looks like we will still be working remotely for the foreseeable future. And with that comes a host of familiar challenges like building and maintaining team bonds when we're suffering from Zoom fatigue and working from our kitchen tables.
The Importance of Team Building for Remote & Hybrid Teams
One of the best ways to counteract remote work and pandemic life challenges is to organize regular non-work-related team building activities. These activities can help your team get to know each other better, feel more connected, improve productivity, and boost overall team morale. And when you keep your entire team positive and working together effortlessly and efficiently, your company is bound to reap the benefits.
One added benefit of virtual team building activities is letting go of some of those traditional in-person team-building challenges. For example, there's no need to book an indoor venue, organize expensive catering or transportation, plan out logistics, and spend a large chunk of your quarterly team budget. Instead, from anywhere, you can schedule more frequent virtual events, for a lot more people, for a fraction of the cost with equal benefits to the team. They're also not weather or transport-dependent (which is essential at this time of year!).
Fortunately for you team managers, there are a lot of fantastic indoor team building events for virtual and hybrid teams. This means you don't have to let remote work, covid restrictions, or the winter weather get you down. Instead, you can turn your focus to planning and having fun with your team!
Trivia is a great way to get everyone to work together to solve problems and answer questions. You'll be surprised what some of your team members know about! To play, you'll need to come up with a quiz. We recommend using an online quiz platform like TriviaMaker, TriviaHub, Jeopardy, and Water Cooler Trivia where you can choose topics, duration, format, and more. Once you've decided on your overall structure, nominate a quiz master who can run things on the day and divide everyone into smaller groups to play.
Bonus: Come up with some fun spot prizes to send out to the different team members.
2. Remote Book or TV Club
A remote book or TV club is a great way to get your team members to interact and get to know each other. It also encourages team members to practice their critical thinking skills. You can rotate the 'leader' monthly, change backgrounds to a theme that reflects how you felt about the book, and even run some polls to see how everyone thought about the book/show or vote on what the next option should be!
Bonus: If employees don't have access to the necessary books or TV platforms, consider gifting it as part of a quarterly 'thank you for everything you do' or share screens via a platform like Kast.
3. Chocolate-Making Experience
Surprise and delight your team members with a delicious hands-on chocolate-making experience. Chocolate is a great team-building option. It is universally appealing, easy to work with, and brings a smile to everyone's face. tinyB Chocolate specializes in these types of events for teams of all sizes. First, they'll send everyone a beautiful chocolate kit (taking into account any dietary requirements). Then one of their expert chocolatiers will guide participants through a live chocolate-making experience filled with tasting, games, and competitions.
4. Collaborative Drawing
A fun icebreaker activity requires team members to work together to create a single image one line at a time. To play, break your team into smaller groups of 3-4 people and give each group access to an online sketching tool like Miro or Sketch.io. For example, one person draws a line and then 'passes' it to the next person who draws the following line. Stop after 20-30 rotations and ask teams to discuss what they created and how they got there!
5. Escape Room
A tried and tested favorite team-building activity for many, virtual escape rooms are action-packed fun for everyone. Your team will solve puzzles, find clues, crack codes, and work together to break out of the room before the time is up. Suppose everyone is working in the same area. In that case, you can still meet up in person at a local escape room, or if everyone is working remotely, try a virtual escape room. Thanks to the pandemic, there's a whole host on offer with different themes and levels of difficulty.
6. Instructive Drawing
Another drawing icebreaker activity that's great for building team communication. In this activity, participants need to think about breaking down something into step-by-step instructions that are easy for their partner to replicate. To play:
After round 1, get the pair to debrief and then swap roles to see if their communication strategies change as they put their learnings into action!
7. Volunteer Together
Volunteering is an excellent activity for getting out from behind your screens and working together for a good cause. In winter, a good inside option is preparing and serving meals at a local soup kitchen or packing boxes for a local food bank. Check out Feeding America to find opportunities in your area. And suppose your team is working remotely from various locations. In that case, there are opportunities to volunteer virtually or do some pro-bono consulting. The trick is just finding an opportunity that matches your team's skills and interests.
8. Classify This
A fun activity that challenges the status quo and forces participants to think outside the box. To play, divide your team into smaller groups of 3-4 people and give each group a picture of at least 20 different, seemingly unrelated items. Each group must then classify the objects into four subsets, which will likely force them to get creative and find unusual connections between the items. Each group must present their conclusions and rationale to the other groups and reply to any challenges.
9. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a fun way to get team members to find things and complete challenges before the time runs out. To play, divide everyone into pairs or teams and give each team a list of tasks to complete. The tasks could be challenging, like solving riddles or filming a Tik Tok dance, or they could be easy, like taking a picture of your pet or finding a book with at least 200 pages. You can design your scavenger hunt or use one of the many online scavenger hunt providers.
10. Story Around The Circle
Perfect as a pre-meeting warmup challenge, this activity helps bring out participants' creative side. To play, get participants to sit in a circle around a table. If participating virtually, put all participants in an 'order.' Show participants 5-10 objects or things that must feature in their collective story and start the story with a single sentence. Next, get each participant to take a turn adding a single sentence to the story. When all objects have been mentioned, and everyone has taken a turn, the last person in the circle will complete the story.