Regardless of your industry, if you’re someone who manages a virtual team, you know that, though similar to in-person teams, virtual teams have nuances that make them different in their own way. Some virtual teams deal with different time zones and cultures, and since they don’t meet face-to-face, clear communication is essential in how they work. Team members might encounter issues with technology, isolation, or feel disconnected from the people they work with. But, as with all teams, unity and team building for virtual teams are key factors in overall success.
Team building unlocks clear communication, trust, positivity, productivity, company buy-in, creativity, and so much more within teams. It’s not only beneficial for individual teammates but it has a positive impact on your team’s output and employee engagement! Some managers are able to block off a full day to better unify their teams through team building, but more often than not, that’s just not possible. And for virtual teams, it can be difficult to keep someone’s attention online for half a day or more.
If you find yourself running short on calendar space for a team building day, consider including quick team building activities during virtual meetings with your team. These short and intentional moments can be a major boost in workflow and employee engagement. Keep reading for some of the best quick team building activities you can do with your virtual team, as well as some tips for hosting and planning!
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Why Use a Quick Activity to Kick Off Your Virtual Team Meeting?
A virtual team meeting that starts with a quick activity can prepare your team to positively engage with each other and with the meeting ahead. Think of it as “priming the pump”—you have an opportunity to set the tone of the meeting before actually getting down to business.
For virtual teams, online meetings are the only way that the team as a whole interacts with each other. Obviously, that’s how work gets done and information gets relayed to everyone, but a quick activity at the start of one of these meetings can do a handful of things for your team.
It can bring energy to a meeting that team members may be dreading—for instance, are you going over a project that didn’t go as planned? A quick team activity can loosen any tension that teammates might feel and bring in some positive vibes.
Looking for how to involve and introduce new members to your team? Whether you have a big or small team, quick team building activities can give new teammates an opportunity to introduce themselves and get familiar with team dynamics.
Do your virtual team meetings tend to start off slow with little engagement? Quick activities can break the ice for team members to open up sooner in meetings and be ready to engage with each other and with your set agenda.
Curious on how to address recent conflict within your remote team? A quick and fun team building activity to start a virtual meeting can help team members build relationally and learn to still rely on their teammates, even when things might feel a little tense.
Quick Activities as Team Building Moments for Your Virtual Team
In a Forbes article, Christopher Littlefield, author of 75+Team Building Activities for Remote Teams, shares his “1/6” rule—“For every hour of meeting time, ten minutes, or one-sixth of the time, should be devoted to relationship building or having fun.”
Ten minutes of an hour-long meeting is a small sacrifice for the potential gain of a more unified team. For many teams, devoting a large block of time to team building on a weekly or monthly basis isn’t realistic. Quick team building activities are an expeditious alternative. Even if you’ve recently participated in a long-form team building session, having a quick team building moment on a regular day can be a welcome morale boost.
Think of quick team building activities as a refresher for other team building moments you’ve had! What hurdles will your virtual team face time and again? Communication errors? Technology failures? Team conflicts? Short and regular spurts of fun will help connect your team and encourage them to work together over those hurdles, even across a virtual landscape.
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The 3-Minute Non-Cringey Ice Breaker for Your Next Meeting
What Are Quick Team Building Activity Tips For a Virtual Meeting?
Because your virtual team meeting is likely being held on a platform like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet, keep your planned activities on the same platform as your meeting. Your quick virtual team building activity should keep your team engaged; asking them to switch to a different platform or website will ultimately slow you down and take more time.
If you are using material from another source or website (for example, trivia questions, icebreaker questions, or bingo cards), have that material on hand before your meeting begins. Don’t just have it buried in your tabs list on your web browser! You can pull it into its own, easy-to-find window, print it off ahead of time, have it up and ready on your phone or tablet, or even send it in an email where you can easily search for it.
Remember, any quick activity works best when you’ve got the whole team participating or working together! Encourage each member of your team to participate in the activity. This might mean that you have to explicitly say that everyone should participate, or you can go the extra mile to engage quieter teammates. Depending on your company’s policy regarding online meetings, you might even ask everyone to turn on their cameras and unmute themselves (if you have a smaller team). Hopefully, though, you’ll choose activities that your team is actually excited about and interested in.
Some other tips include to:
- Choose different activities for each virtual meeting (but feel free to revisit those activities that seemed to have good engagement)
- Refer to past, positive team building moments that your team has experienced
- Share the “why” behind the quick team building activity
- Actively participate in the activity with your team (don’t just facilitate)
- Give out prizes for team members who “win”
- Use media such as photos and videos
- Ask for feedback from individual employees after the meeting
As you learn how your team responds to quick team building activities, you’ll be able to adjust to their needs and expectations. The more often you facilitate team building, the more they’ll get accustomed to the practice!
What Are the Best Quick Team Building Activities For Virtual Meetings?
There’s a variety of quick team building activities you can play with your virtual team. So how do you choose which one works best for your team? There are a few factors you might want to think about before choosing. What does the rest of your virtual meeting entail? (i.e., will your team need to employ some heavy brain power for problem-solving?) How well does your team know each other? What kinds of things do your employees enjoy doing?
Consider these kinds of quick and easy team building activities for your next virtual meeting:
- Icebreaker Questions for Virtual Meetings
- Fun Virtual Team Building Activities
- Competitive Virtual Team Building Activities
- Creative Team Building Activities
Icebreaker Questions for Virtual Meetings
If you don’t have a lot of time to plan and participate in virtual team building activities, icebreakers are the simplest and quickest place to start. Their purpose is in the name—they break the ice! If your past virtual team meetings have been a little stiff or the team doesn’t seem to gel together just yet, this is the perfect quick team building activity.
You often don’t need any materials for these activities, and the members of your team just have to answer a prompt to play. Here are a handful of icebreakers you can use for your next virtual meeting. Find more ice breaker questions here.
- What would the title of your biography be called and why?
- What are your top three [fill in the blank]?
- What is your highlight of the week?
- If you could be a superhero, what would be your superpower?
- If you could delete any social media platform forever, which one would it be and why?
- What is your dream vacation and why?
- Did you have a dream job when you were growing up? What was it, and why?
- What is your favorite vacation to date?
- If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
- What is the strangest gift you have ever received?
- If you could be a character from any book, movie, or television show, who would you be and why?
- What is a music album you could listen to on repeat for a month?
- If we didn’t have cars, buses, subways, bikes, etc., for our everyday commute, what method of transportation would you use to get around?
- Do you have a unique holiday tradition? What is it, and how did you start it?
- What is the best piece of advice someone else has given you?
*Tip to Play: Stick to just one or two prompts per meeting. Give your team the time to think through their answers and for others to ask questions. There may be one or two people who are hesitant to speak up but encourage everyone to participate, even if they can give a short answer. There’s often a “why” behind their answers, and your virtual team will be able to build relationally and have some fun as they chat about these questions.
Fun Virtual Team Building Activities
For some people, the idea of having fun at work—especially if your work environment is virtual—can seem like a far-fetched reality. But keeping a little fun in your work culture builds up both your employees and your company. Fast Company says that an aspect of fun in a work culture helps lower employee turnover, creates positive attitudes, and strengthens employees’ relationships with each other. Quick online team building activities can help bring that necessary aspect of fun to your workplace. Here are some places to start with your quick and fun activities.
1. Two Truths and a Lie
Each employee will give three “facts” about him or herself, but there’s a catch. One of those facts must be a lie. It’s up to the rest of the team to figure out which one is untrue.
2. Word Association
- Start this game just by saying one word and letting team members, one by one, say the first thing that pops into their head when they hear that word. Don’t let more than five seconds pass for each player to give their answer.
- Alternative Play: Choose two very different words (like “McDonald’s” and “foam roller”), set a timer, and try to get from one word to the next using word association within the time set.
- *Tip to Play: Assign an order of play for your team members. Every person’s screen view (whether you use Zoom or another platform) is a little different in terms of where each team member is. In other words, be clear about who’s turn is next before you begin playing this game.
3. Never Have I Ever
- This is one of those games you’ll want to have material ready for ahead of time. Create a list of common experiences or common things that people do. As you read off the list, start each with the phrase, “Never have I ever . . .” If one of your team members has done what was read, he or she loses a point. The person with the most points at the end of the list wins.
- *Tip to Play: There are multiple ways to play this game, such as taking a sip of coffee if you’ve done the prompt and the “Put a finger down challenge” on TikTok. Just make sure that everyone is on the same page, and feel free to add your own rules to it!
4. Show and Tell
Remember show-and-tell day at school? This is the same concept, but now everyone’s a little bit older and it’s less likely that someone will want to bring their pet turtle. Allow each team member one minute to find something in their home that they can share with the rest of the team. You can also give categories for the items, like a favorite magnet, best vacation souvenir, or best birthday gift.
5. Stretch Break
This might not seem like a team building activity, but for a virtual team, stretching is important to both physical and mental health and can improve work focus. Take five minutes to either walk your team through some basic stretches (focus on the neck, arms, legs, and back to start) or you can find a YouTube video that goes through some quick essential stretches. There are plenty of short videos like this one that will walk your team through stretching while sitting at their desks.
Competitive Virtual Team Building Activities
6. Home Scavenger Hunt
Make a list of items that most people would have in their homes. Share the list with your team, and send them on their way to go find those items. The first person back with everything wins! Find plenty of virtual scavenger hunt options here.
7. Over or Under
We won’t be making actual bets in this game, but this will be an opportunity for your teammates to test how good they are at guesstimating! Come up with a list of numbers for pop culture references (such as how many Tony Awards Hamilton won or Michael Jordan’s total career points). On a piece of paper, have your team write “over” or “under” for every number you give. When you’re done with the list, go over the right answers, and the person with the most correct “over” or “under” guesses wins!
8. Who Would Win
- This game is like a miniature debate, so make sure you put your moderator hat on! Choose fictional characters or superheroes and give one to each person. Members of your team will go toe-to-toe debating who would win in a fight. In each round, two employees will have 45 seconds to discuss why their character would beat the other in a fight. At the end of the round, the rest of your team will side with who they think wins. The team member and character with the most votes will move on to the next round, and whoever is the last man standing wins!
- *Tip to Play: Get creative with the characters you choose! Conventional characters like Batman and Wonder Woman are great, but what if Batman was 6 inches shorter or Wonder Woman didn’t have her lasso? It could make your team think a little more outside the box!
Everyone loves a good trivia game! Trivia gives your team members an opportunity to really team up and put their heads together. Create your own trivia or pull from websites like Random Trivia Generator for your trivia questions. (Also, if you’re a Slack user, you can find trivia games and more right on their platform!) You can either choose to have your team play trivia as individuals or put them in groups to work together for the answers.
Creative Team Building Activities
10. Blind Draw a Picture
Make sure your team members are equipped with a pen and paper for this one! With their eyes closed, they will draw a picture that you describe. You can unfold the scenario line by line (or brushstroke by brushstroke) or tell them what should be happening in the picture they draw. At the end of the drawing time, have team members share what they came up with while their eyes were closed, and get ready for a good laugh!
11. Seven-Minute Vision Board
People usually create their vision boards at the beginning of the year for the whole year. Instead of looking so deep into the future, look into your goals and vision for the week by creating a seven-minute vision board. You can instruct your team to create this however they way—they can write out statements, copy images from the Internet and paste them to a document, or whatever creative way you come up with.
12. Mini Book Club
Find a web article for your team to read and then discuss together at the beginning of the meeting. The article can be complementary to your line of work, something about teamwork, or could just be something to encourage your employees as they work together. Alternatively, you can watch a video together, such as a TED Talk or a video on productivity, and allow your team to have a short discussion about it.
13. Make Paper Airplanes
This game might be best as a virtual team building activity on Zoom. Send your virtual team into breakout rooms and have them team up to research the best method to make a paper airplane. They can use YouTube or other resources, but after five minutes, bring everyone back from their breakouts and test out their creations. You can even let your team rank the airplanes that flew the longest, had the most style, and looked the most complicated to make.
Are Quick Virtual Team Building Team Right for My Team?
The short answer is yes! Taking time to develop your employees through team building is always a great investment. Begin integrating quick team building activities in your virtual meetings, and you’ll see a positive shift in your work culture that will ultimately encourage your team to do their best.
What Other Team Building Activities Can I Do With My Virtual Team?
We’ve curated some quick and free team building activities you can do virtually, but there are more options for virtual team building. Visit these pages for more:
- Virtual Team Building Activities
- Free Virtual Activities
- Virtual Scavenger Hunts
- Virtual Escape Rooms for Team Building
- Unique and Unusual Virtual Activities
- Virtual Team Building Trivia Games
Be sure to check out our blog post on Quick Team Building Activities for more ideas that can work in–person and online! If you tend to lean more towards the “let’s get down to business” mindset for meetings and the idea of having fun is a little foreign to you, just remember Christopher Littlefield’s 1/6 rule—spend just ten minutes of an hour-long meeting in this fun space. You’ll see the benefits soon enough!