There are plenty of challenges to being a manager. But when your whole team is remote, the hardest part might be keeping everyone spiritually together when they’re physically far apart. With few opportunities to check in with the people you manage outside of Zoom meetings and Slack messages, team building activities are more useful than ever.
But team building faces hurdles as well. When you’re remote, you can’t do team happy hours at a local bar or put your minds together in an escape room. Just as you do with other communications, you’ve got to rely on screens.
Read: The Manager’s Guide to Remote Work
Here are some ways to make team building work for remote teams, so you can keep your company culture strong no matter the distance.
Weekly game nights
It’s the 2020s – you don’t need to share a physical table with someone to play games in real time. Game night is a great way to introduce some friendly competition to your team, and get them interacting while taking a much-deserved breather from the daily grind. And with Zoom and the many other video conference platforms currently available, it’s never been easier to do it remotely.
Try to hold it toward the end of the day so it doesn’t interfere with work. And if your team is geographically dispersed, make sure you choose a time that’s neither too early nor too late for anyone, if possible.
Get remote employee onboarding and management best practices from Carolyn’s virtual presentation at Outreach Unleash.
Here are some suggestions:
It’s easy to make your own Bingo cards with Google Slides or another common office tool. And there are lots of Bingo apps – many of them free – you can use to run the game.
Read your questions out over Zoom, and have teams create their own Slack channels to confer over answers.
This website has a host of fun and easy games you can play with groups of all sizes. You just need one computer screen to share with your players, and each player or team needs a smartphone. Be careful, though – some of the games on the site are a little not-safe-for-work, to say the least. Team building activities can backfire pretty quick once players start to feel uncomfortable.
Team building through virtual happy hours
Who says team building activities need to be structured? Team happy hours might not happen at a local bar if you’re all remote, but they can certainly still happen.
Create a Zoom meeting and let people pop in as they please for drinks and conversation. You can make the meetings specific to individual teams or open to the entire company. We recommend using tile view so everyone’s visible at once. That’s probably the best way to recreate the experience of standing in a circle next to a pool table – especially if a lot of people show up.
More frequent all-hands meetings
There are teams within your company, but don’t forget that the company itself is also a team. Lots of companies have their all-hands meetings on a monthly basis, but if much or all of your company is remote, it’s a good idea to up the frequency to weekly or bi-weekly.
All-hands meetings are a little more work-centric than the other activities we’ve discussed. But they still count as team building – they’re a place for the company to celebrate wins and track progress toward your goals. This is huge for morale, which is the purpose of any team building exercise at the end of the day.
Just because your team is remote doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to bring everyone together. Use the technology at your disposal to run engaging team building activities, and your team will thrive.