Team building and work games have always been a part of the workplace. What’s changed is how the workplace looks. In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote and hybrid work arrangements are more common than ever. This poses a challenge for HR professionals trying to figure out ways to build relationships and create connections between co-workers who not only aren’t located in the same building but may not even be in the same state or country.
To help you out, this article offers a list of in-person and virtual team building games you can use to create a positive employee experience no matter where your people are.
Why team building (still) matters
Team building activities have gotten somewhat of an unfortunate reputation, with people viewing the classic scavenger hunts and trust falls as cliche and, let’s face it, lame. But it’s not the goal of creating connections between co-workers that’s problematic. It’s the out-of-date approach to doing so.
The truth is that giving people opportunities to socialize is as important as ever. Seventy-three percent of professionals wish their company would invest more in team building, with 35 percent of people working remotely citing isolation and loneliness as one of their biggest challenges. So why not give the people what they want?
Team building and socializing can encourage communication and increase collaboration, ultimately improving productivity. They can also help build trust and mitigate conflict, increasing workplace happiness. And they can be engaging and fun, helping boost company culture, engagement, and the overall employee experience for people working on-site and remotely.
Online team building games
Here are some of our favorite virtual team building games for dispersed teams.
Remote work bingo
Two years of the pandemic have made nearly all of us familiar with the ups and downs of remote work. There’s nothing like remote work bingo to let people bond over shared experiences. This ongoing game begins whenever you send out your bingo sheet PDF and ends whenever somebody gets bingo.
You can get as creative as you want with your bingo squares, including things specific to your company, but some suggestions are:
- Wearing pajama bottoms to a meeting
- Being distracted by a pet or child
- “Can everyone see my screen?”
- “Can you hear me?”
- Trying to talk while muted
- Working remotely from someplace other than home, like a coffee shop
- Doing eye strain relief exercises
Guess the emoji board
Have everybody send in a screenshot of their most-used emojis. When it’s time to start the game, send out one emoji board at a time and have everybody guess who it belongs to.
Arm’s reach show and tell
On a video call, have everybody grab something they can get without having to stand up. That’s their item for arm’s reach show and tell, in which they have five minutes to share about their item.
Virtual pub trivia
Pub quizzes are one of the most fun team building activities, and there’s no reason why your team can’t enjoy one virtually. Let everyone grab their own drink, whether it be a beer, a coffee, or something else. Organize them into smaller teams and have them answer trivia questions to see which team comes out victorious.
Start out by letting everybody propose topics for the game. These are categories starting with the word “things,” such as:
- Things we ate for breakfast
- Things we’re looking forward to watching on Netflix
- Things we love about working remotely
Once all the categories are in, have the host read off one prompt at a time. For each one, players send in their answers to the host anonymously. Then, the host reads off the answers one by one and the players guess who each answer belongs to.
Draw the picture
A communication game, Draw the Picture involves somebody describing a picture and everybody else drawing what they hear. Everybody shares their artwork at the end for a good laugh.
Team building office games
Of course, people aren’t only looking for virtual games to play with co-workers, as in-office work has made a major comeback. To help you avoid having to rely on the boring old two truths and a lie option, here are some fun and creative team building games you can play in person.
Office Pictionary or charades
These are classics for a reason. Everybody can enjoy a rousing game of Pictionary or charades–especially when you make all the items people need to guess related to office knowledge and inside jokes.
Icebreaker question Jenga
Icebreaker questions are a mainstay of team building activities, but why not spice it up by combining it with the exciting game of Jenga? Just write an icebreaker question on each block and have players answer the question on the block they pull for their turn.
Silent Line Up
A communication activity, Silent Line Up, asks people to line up in the order of how long they’ve been with the company—without saying a word. This is a great warm-up activity for a day of team building games.
Flip It Over
Want to get a bit more active? Have your people split up into teams of six to eight and stand on a blanket, leaving a quarter of it empty. The challenge is to flip the blanket over so they are standing on the other side without getting off the blanket. This challenge builds problem-solving techniques, creativity, and teamwork all at the same time.
Find the common thread
Split your people up into groups of any size you choose and give them two to three minutes to figure out what each of them has in common. At the end of the round, they declare themselves “Team Born in the Winter,” or whatever it may be, and then rearrange into new team configurations to find new common ground.
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Guess the baby
This one is a sweet game that everybody loves. To prepare, ask everybody to send in baby photos of themselves—the funnier, the better. Then you’ll put them all up on a board and ask people to guess which baby is which adult person.
Team building is possible no matter where your people are located
Teamwork and cooperation aren’t always easy. But these fun and engaging games can help boost productivity, employee engagement, and the employee experience at the same time. Which one will you play first?