Fun team-building games for work when you don’t work near each other
The problem with team-building in a remote company is that building camaraderie with people you don’t see in person is difficult. Yet the simple fact is that the teams who work well together also have a personal connection, at least in part.
Team-building games for work so often revolve around people being in the same place. With a remote team, you may only see each other once per year. That leaves new employees out in the cold for months on end if they join your company after a group get-together. (On the bright side, that does pretty much rule out trust falls or doing anything blindfolded.)
So what’s a remote team to do? Especially in the case of a remote sales team, where working well together benefits the entire company, it’s of vital importance for managers to facilitate team-building games for work performance, harmony, and satisfaction.
Employee happiness and engagement isn’t just so you can walk around your virtual office talking about good vibes, either. In an article for Officevibe, Ali Robins points out that “disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 Billion annually.” And in case you don’t think that’s a problem for your company, it might also be worth noting that only about 30% of employees in the U.S. are fully engaged at work.
The other side of that coin, incidentally, is that companies in the “99th percentile of engagement” are four times more successful than companies with poor engagement, according to an article in Fast Company.
There are a lot of facets to employee engagement. Management, company culture, customer service, and product quality are but a few. Sometimes, though, the best way to bring a team together and build a cohesive, happy group is through fun.
Team building games for work performance and unity
Before you begin, make sure you have the right tools in place to make these games work. Even beyond team building games, for work in a virtual environment to be truly productive and collaborative, you need a way to communicate with more than just email.
Screen-sharing and video chat software is a basic necessity for virtual teams. There are more of these services entering the market all the time, but some favorites include Slack for its ability to act as an instant messenger service, let you share documents, and its effortless video conferencing and screen sharing. WebEx and GoToMeeting are both big players in the world of online presentations and screen-sharing, and Skype is a pioneer in the world of video calls.
Once you have the tools in place, it’s time for the fun to begin.
1. The good, the bad, the crazy
Take a few minutes at each team meeting to go around the virtual table and let each person share one good experience, one bad experience, and one crazy experience about the past week. Encourage your team to share non-work experiences so people can get to know one another better. As a bonus, use the screen sharing option to share photos of these events if possible.
Example: My good experience was hiking in the White Mountains last weekend. We came across a beautiful waterfall where we had a picnic and swam in a crystal clear lagoon.
My bad experience was that my water heater broke and flooded my basement, but fortunately, my neighbor had a water pump that he let me borrow.
My crazy experience is that I won tickets for third-row seats at a Billy Joel concert. I’ve always wanted to see him, but never expected to be so close!
Ask your team to vote on the best experience with the winner entered in a monthly drawing for a bottle of wine, a gift card, or a free year of Spotify.
2. Organize a game club (or book club)
When you work at an office, it’s easy to join the book club or the soccer team or the volunteer committee. However, those same activities translate easily to remote teams. Start a book club that meets once each week or participate in a fantasy sports league. It’s not what activity you choose that’s important; it’s that your team has a chance to do something fun together.
3. Share your home
Don’t worry. You won’t have to cook for the whole team. You will, however, have to give them a virtual tour of your city or town. Schedule one person each week (or less frequently if you have a small team) to share pictures and interesting trivia about where they live. This could be a broad overview, or they could focus on one particular thing, like, for instance, the Monet exhibit at the art museum.
The important take away is that your team learns about where other people live and what they enjoy. So Bob might take the team on a virtual scuba diving adventure, Nina may bring the team on a lunch-time walk to her favorite Brooklyn food truck, and Sasha could share pictures of the mountains and lake behind her Idaho cabin.
4. Share a meal
Everyone loves food. Set up a private Facebook group or a channel on Slack to share favorite recipes, pictures of dinners, or the most terrible food you’ve ever eaten. Turn this into a game by asking your team to vote on the best (or worst) meal each week. The winner gets entered in a monthly drawing for a gift certificate to a restaurant, cafe, or coffee shop near them.
5. Share the love
Team building games for work-related socializing and togetherness don’t have to be games, necessarily. The point of any team building activity is to bring cohesiveness and strength to the team. As a manager, one simple, but powerful thing you can do is to send care packages to your employees.
A care package doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive. It truly is the thought that counts. Celebrate birthdays by sending out a thoughtful array of goodies from your area. If you’re in Boston, send your San Francisco colleague a Red Sox jersey and a “Cheers” pint glass. If you’re headquartered in New Orleans, send a package to your Seattle employee with a Jazz Fest flag and a cookbook.
Team building games and activities aren’t a gimmick. They are part of an overall strategy for success. These games are just a start. Put them into action, then join us for more skill-building classes and programs. Let Sophaya help you lead your team to success.
Photo by Blake Lisk