19 top team building games for remote employees
With the sudden popularity of remote work (significantly boosted by the COVID-19 pandemic) companies faced a new challenge – building and retaining the team spirit among people working in their pajamas. With these 19 team building games for remote teams, the challenge can be tackled easily.
Eurostat data indicates that the number of remote employees is rising every year – from 5.2% in 2009 to 9% in 2019. In 2020 it has increased even more due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the popularity of teleworking is growing, the demand for knowledge on how to integrate a team of remote employees is growing as well.
Many people were not prepared for a sudden change from stationary work to the remote mode caused by COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences. Feeling of loneliness, technical problems with preparing the house for remote work, transportation of necessary equipment, and establishing a new way of communication in the remote team – these are only a few challenges that companies and startups all over the world had to deal with.
Working from home limits contacts between people. Team managers and HR management teams have to take care of employees’ well-being to prevent them from feeling isolated. Fortunately, many traditional team bonding games can be conducted online. That’s why we prepared a list of the most interesting virtual team building activities for work that you can launch 100% remotely.
What is team building?
Team building is a type of office games and activities oriented to help employees to get to know each other better and form a team. That makes them work faster, and achieve the goals more efficiently.
The history of team building dates back to the 1920s. Research proved that good integration between team members is a key for creating a sense of belonging to the group. It can also help to create a supportive atmosphere and consistency in the organization. For this reason, companies began to group their subordinates into teams and more often emphasize the development of cooperation between team members.
With team building games it is possible to raise employees' satisfaction from work, improve internal communication on the organization and its reputation, and build trust between employer and their subordinates. Integration activities can also help in developing soft skills. Efficient team building makes employees better in understanding each other, so they can cooperate smoothly and productively use their work time to achieve the best results.
The integration of employees is not only about gathering the group of people at one place and leaving them loose so they can talk to each other. In reality, it is the whole package of tools (like team building games and exercises) aimed at helping people to get closer to each other and teach them how to properly cooperate. Successful team building is based on a thoughtful, psychological approach.
When prepared properly for the employees, team building games can give a great result. Thanks to a series of games, riddles, and challenges they motivate to cooperate in the way people can also relax and have fun – which makes integration games useful not only for team cooperation but also for rising groups' morale.
What is a remote team building?
In the opposite of regular, in-office integration games, remote team building activities are conducted via various online communication tools like Slack, Google Meets, MS Teams, or Zoom. Remote team games meetings are played online so that every employee can participate, no matter where they are.
Online games are low cost activities. It is a great solution for saving money for companies or startups where all the employees are remote workers or people work in different office environments. During the coronavirus pandemic, they can also help to relax and lower the stress level of subordinates in a safe environment.
Benefits from successful remote team building games
Research shows that employees who are disengaged and do not feel good in their workplace achieve much worse results. Companies they work for obtain 18% let productivity and 16% lower profitability than companies where subordinates feel happy and inspired to work. Employee well-being is important, but there are always many important things to spend money on. That is why, basing on research, we present the list of benefits of conducting team building activities:
- improving teamwork
- improving internal communication in the organization
- making employees happier
- helping in creating a solid company culture
- rising employees work satisfaction
- improving employer branding
- rising productivity of remote teams
- improving relations between managers and their teams
- giving employees some funny stories to share with their close ones
- developing soft skills
- building trust between employees and management
Effective team building games can bring a lot of improvements to any organization. Its benefits will affect not only the well-being of employees but also the performance of the company.
19 top team building games for remote workers
We collected the most interesting online team building games for employees. The activities require only text on video chat and are willing to have some fun. Most of our suggestions need no additional accessories to play, so you can try them at any time. We divided those games into categories to help you find the exact kind of game you need for your organization.
Team building games – breaking the ice and having fun
Fresh team? New work conditions? Your employees need something positive to start with! Here is the list of funny, relaxing games that will help your brand new team break the ice and spend some time in a friendly atmosphere.
Truth or dare
Truth or dare is one of the most popular social games loved by students all over the world. Rules are very simple: one person asks another "truth or dare" and the second one has to do the following: answer the personal question or do whatever the first player asks them for.
How to play: Organizer chooses the first player who asks another one "truth or dare". Then the first person asks another "truth or dare" and the second one has to choose if they want to answer a personal question or do something that the asker will come up with. After completing the task, they choose another player to ask the "truth or dare" question.
You can play this game as long as you want and have time. In the office version, it is good to settle the rules regarding questions and tasks so no one will feel awkward or embarrassed. Here are a few example questions:
- On which web page you spend most of your time?
- How many browser tabs have you opened now?
- How many missed emails do you have in your mailbox?
- Show us one of the things you can take without getting up from your seat.
And here are some tasks to do:
- Show us your favorite book
- Make some origami quickly
- Start juggling with at least one item that you have at hand
- Come up with five weird uses for (paperclip, stapler, pen)
- Make a pantomime that describes any subject related to our work
- Show us one of the items you can reach for without getting up
Simple pandemic building team game for both stationary and remote employees. It does not need any additional items to play.
How to play: The first person asks another one the question and the next player has to answer with another question addressed to the third player. Every player has 5 seconds to answer the question. If they fail – they are out. The winner is the person who will answer every question. What does the game look like? Here is an example:
John: It's a very nice day, don't you think, Mark?
Mark: What do you think makes it so nice, Adam?
Adam: Sorry, I was writing an email.
As you can see, Adam lost. Not only because he was focused on something else because he would answer in the following way to still be in the game: "Sorry, what did you say, Mark?
Two truths and a lie
Team building exercise that does not need any additional preparation and is based on words so it is a good match for a remote player because you can play at any time.
How to play: The first player says three statements about their life: two of them are true and one has to be a lie. The other players have to guess which of the given statements was a lie. After the first player's turn, the next one is doing the same thing. You can play as many rounds as you want.
- When I was young I stole a can of coke from the store.
- I know sign language.
- I have never eaten a rabbit.
One of those statements is a lie. Players have to decide which one. if they guess correctly, they get a point. The person with the most points wins.
With this integrational game you can help your employees feel better in their work environment and eliminate the feeling of awkwardness. It will also help people to get to know each other on the way they usually do not have a chance to.
Team building bingo
Bingo is the one fun game that will help in breaking the ice during online meetings. It is very popular all over the world and it is used in many ways as an integrational exercise to create a more casual, relaxing atmosphere in the team.
How to play: Organizer writes the popular statements people usually say or do during the online meeting into a bingo template. Here are some examples of statements you can use:
- Are you hear me?
- Can you see my screen?
- Sorry, my microphone was muted.
- Using emoji in an email
- Coffee break
The next step is to send employees their bingo cards – each one should get a different one. During the meeting, they have to stay focused because every time that someone does or says something that is written in the bingo field, they have to mark it. Example:
If someone will say "Sorry, my microphone was muted", players have to mark this field on their bingo cards.
The winner is the first person who will mark all fields or the one who marked the most of them in a given time.
You can use our examples or find bingo cards online, but you can also create your own statements depending on the team's needs or company industry.
How well do you know each other?
Team building game that helps employees to get to know each other better in their team. Players answer the given questions before the game, and during the team building meeting, they have to guess which answer belongs to each person. You can play on video chat or on a traditional one like Slack.
How to play: Few days before the meeting organizer sends employees the list of questions about them they need to answer. During the meeting, he wrote the question and read one of the answers. The job is to guess who is the owner of a given answer. When each player chooses who the answer belongs to, the facilitator informs them if they were right.
You can play to the point when you use all the questions and answers. The winner is a player with the most points. But all the players win because they get something more than points – they have a chance to better know each other.
Until a few years ago, people did not feel comfortable using emoticons in business correspondence, but today it is something natural for them. That is why you can use those emojis to conduct team building games. Especially with remote employees who use emoticons to add some more emotions to their messages.
How to play: Every employee makes a screenshot of the emojis they use the most from a given communicator. Players have to guess 5 emoticons that a given player uses the most. After guessing about one person, they send their screenshot so the rest of a group can compare their answers. You can play the game using any text or video chat.
Things... is a simple game that allows employees to find out something new about their colleagues. Every task begins with the word "things" and adding the part that will say others what they have to do. For example:
- Things my dog would like to eat for breakfast.
- Things you would like to do during the next team building meeting.
How to play: Organizer starts the game reading a question and others have to answer and send the anonymous replies to the organizer. When he collects all of them, he read them out loud and players choose which person gave the given answer. For every correct guess, the player gets a point. Who collects the most points, wins the game.
This game is a great opportunity to get information about the needs and desires of the employees – both personal and work-related ones.
Team building game great for new teams of employees who did not have a chance to get to know each other well. It allows people to find out more personal information about coworkers in a relaxed, open-minded atmosphere.
How to play: Organizer creates a list of questions for employees. At the beginning of a round they read the question which looks like this:
If you have a time machine...
- If you have a time machine, which part of your childhood would you change?
- If you have a time machine, who from the past would you like to meet?
Answers to those questions do not have to be very serious but a key is that they should be honest – that how workers can find out more about each other, what they have in common and how they see the world.
Something in common
Team building activity is made for remote employees which helps to find out what employees have in common and what is interesting to them.
How to play: Players meet on the video chat. The first player sends a picture presenting something from the closest surrounding of their home office what they find interesting and worth sharing. The next player has to take a picture of something from their house but the photo has to include at least one thing that was shown on the previous player's photo. Players can send pictures of whatever they want – sleeping cat, the new plant they bought, or the collection of medals.
For example: The first player makes a picture of their medals on the background of an oil painting which partially shows a paw of a cat. The next player makes a picture of a cat and an umbrella – which can be the topic of a photo of a third player.
This team building game allows people to better understand each other, which is important and interesting for them, how they see the world and also forces them to focus on details. Thanks to this they can find out things about each other that they would not have a chance to find out on a daily basis.
Because remote employees do not have a chance to talk to each other during a break, in the kitchen or bathroom, it is good to take care of creating a special place for them where they can talk about any topic (not related to the work). But creating the special channel for those conversations is not enough for good team building. That is why there is a Donut – simple app available as a Slack extension.
Donut automatically connects chat users into pairs and plans the 30 minutes of video meetings for them. Pair are chosen randomly, thanks to which employees have a chance to talk to those coworkers they usually do not have a chance to talk to. What has to be remembered: those conversations are supposed to be the personal meetings to chat about private things, not for other work-related ones.
Team building games – cooperating and teamwork
A new team of employees needs to get to know each other for better cooperating on a daily basis. Here are some examples of team building games that will improve the teamwork of employees.
Can you hear me?
One of the frequently chosen team building activities for remote players during the video meetings. To play you need Artists and the Describers. The task for Describer is to tell the Artists what they should draw using only the vocabulary connected to geometry. For example:
- You can describe pictures this way: Draw two big squares and add the line at an angle of 90 degrees at the top of them.
- But it is forbidden to say things like: Draw letter "A".
You can play as long as you want. For every round a player has 3 minutes to draw.
How to play: Describer draws an object to describe and starts doing it according to rules. Artists have 3 minutes to correctly draw the item Describer is talking about. After the time stops, players get their points:
Describer gets a point for every Artist who drew the correct object and every Artist gets a point if they drew what they meant to draw. The winner is a player with most points at the end of a game.
Mafia is a game based on deceptions and manipulation tactics. To play you do not have any additional items, so it is good for team building for remote teams. It can be conducted via video chat.
The best way to play Mafia is to create teams between 5 to 16 people. If there are more people, it is good to divide them into smaller groups. Depending on the number of player in the group there will be a different number of given roles in-game:
- 6-7 player – 2 people from mafia
- 8-10 players – 3 people from mafia
- 11-13 players – 4 people from mafia
- 14-16 players – 5 people from mafia
Additionally, in every game organizer has to choose: 1 Commissioner, 1 Medic, 1 Godfather, and 1 Consigliere. The rest of the players who are not mafia members become members of the city council.
Before starting the game organizer gives players their roles to let them draw them. Every role has its special capabilities:
Commissioner Cattani – one of the key roles in the game. At night stage he chooses the members of the city council and find out if he is a part of the mafia
Medic – can protect one of the members of the city council if he chooses the player who was supposed to leave the game
Members of the city council – player without any additional roles
Mafia – can be a regular players or they can have special abilities
The Godfather – the highest rank in the mafia, he is the one to choose who to kill
Consigliere – second-highest rank after the Godfather, he chooses the person to kill when the Godfather is down
Mafia members – lowest rank in the mafia hierarchy
Aside from roles, each player can have additional abilities which are hidden from the other players:
Milkman – can bring a killed player back to life once during the game
Terrorist – if killed, can choose a second player to be eliminated with him
Miracle Worker – can save someone from death once in a game (except himself)
Gravedigger – can reveal himself and kill one player per game
Judge – can use a double vote during the draw once for a game
Railwayman – can choose a player to take on a journey at night. The chosen player loses the right to vote in the next day
Bartender – gets the selected person drunk at night. If it is a member of the mafia, a person chosen by the mafia to eliminated is safe, but the different person has to leave the game
Hunter – when elected in a vote, he can kill any chosen player
Courtesan – knows everything about everyone in the game
Wizard – can change roles for any two people once during the game
Blackmailer – person indicated by blackmailer must protect him in the next discussion
Mad Judge – can kill one player one during the game at the night phase
How to play: The game is divided into two parts. In the first one – night phase – the city is falling asleep. Players close their eyes and "sleep". Then the Medic wakes up and chooses a person to protect from the mafia. Then the Commissioner is woken up and chooses whose role he wants to know. The next worked up ones are the mafia members. They opened their eyes and chose a victim to kill. When they finish their turn, they go back to sleep.
Then there is a turn for players with special abilities like a gravedigger or a bartender. Game master asks if anyone wants to use their power and then players do their moves. Once they are done, the night phase is over.
The second phase – day time – begins with the game master telling players what happened at night: eliminating players, killing people by the mafia, or using special powers. In the end, the organizer gives information about how many mafia members and city council members are left in the game. After that, players start to discuss who and why can be a part of the mafia. They have 5 minutes to think and choose a maximum of 3 candidates.
Chosen players – the accused – can protect themselves – they have one minute per player to do so. Next players vote on the person who will be eliminated from the game. The player who will gather over 50% of voices is off the game. After voting there is a time for another night phase. The game continues until all mafia or city council members will be eliminated.
Team building through spreadsheets is a way to connect workers' integration with learning new practical skills to use in work. The game is good both for stationary and remote employees. To play you need an application for working together on a spreadsheet – like Google Sheets – and game themes like choose your adventure, your dream vacation.
How to play: Players have to create a working tool in spreadsheets on a given theme. The winner is a team that will create the best tool. But in this game, everyone wins by learning new skills.
Example: Topic: Your dream vacation Players are trying to create the tools that will help to choose the best vacation idea using formatting and formulas in spreadsheets. The program can choose the best place to go based on a given date, budget, temperature of a place, and a number of tourists.
To communicate during creating the tool employees can use video chat apps like Zoom, Google Meets, or Skype.
Team building exercise is great both for new teams and those who already know each other well. It will let imagination run wild, develop creativity, and at the same time, it can help coworkers find methods for effective cooperation.
How to play: Organizer creates a room on video chat where players can gather. Next, he determines the order of answers from players. He starts the game by saying the first sentence of a story. The next player has to add another sentence or part of it so the whole story makes sense.
- Person 1: Long time ago, in a small city near the sea, a limping man was living.
- Person 2: He was limping because he was wounded at war and doctors had to remove half of the muscles on his thigh.
- Person 3: The man – named John – did not give up. His wounds inspired him to open a company offering physiotherapy in seawater.
To make the game more attractive, you can settle the main theme of the story by choosing an event that has to appear in the story.
Team building games – puzzles and jigsaws for remote employees
Do your workers like challenges? Here is a list of fun activities that will give your employees a healthy dose of mental gymnastics and fun.
Team building is also a great way to develop artistic skills. Thanks to using online platforms like Skribbl it is possible to use this game as a team building activity for remote employees.
How to play: Organizer divides employees into smaller groups. Each group plays a number of rounds specified by the organizer. The chosen player draws the word and others try to guess the answer.
For every guessed word team gets a point. After a few rounds – usually, 3 words for each player – people come back to the main chat and compare their results. The winner is the team with the most points.
An original game that will make your every team meeting much funnier. How? Here is the answer!
How to play: Each remote employee has to create a submarine. It can be made of paper, cardboard, plastic, bottler, or cans – any material players want to use. The goal is to show your submarine during the video meeting the way no one can notice it. Every time players do it, they get points.
If someone notices the player's submarine, this person is eliminated for the rest of a game. The game ends when every player is eliminated. The one with most point wins
Aliens have landed
A nice game that can bond a team of employees and let them better understand oof goals and values of the organization they work for. For the HR department, it is also a great opportunity to find out what workers think of their company.
How to play: Aliens have landed on Earth but they do not know English! The task for the team is to introduce the company to the aliens so they understand what it does and what values are important for it.
For example: The company is selling luxury clothes and jewelry. To describe this team can use a symbol of money, a shirt, trousers, a skirt, and a ring.
Players should be divided into smaller groups (4-5 people in each one). Every team has to choose 5 symbols to use to describe the organization. The team which explains what the company does the best wins the game.
Team building games that will help employees improve their imagination and train something that could be very helpful in their private and work life – the ability to improvise. The game can be played in the office or using video chat.
How to play: Organizer creates presentations of 4-5 random slides each of which does not have to be connected to each other. Every player gets the presentation and has to present it without any earlier preparations. There are no winners in this game, but everyone can win something – practical skill and a great mood.
Quick writing contest
The ability to quickly type on the keyboard is a very useful skill in everyday office work, so it is worth combining the practice of typing with the team building of remote employees. You can use one of the free online tools to play like 10fastfingers which allows choosing the language in which speed tests will be performed.
How to play: Every person goes to the page and takes a speed test. After finishing a round, players make the screenshots of their results, share them, and count the points. The winner is the person who gathers the most points.
It is a great game for encouraging employees to compete in a friendly way during remote work. To increase the attractiveness of the game, you can divide employees into teams and play team vs team when points of all teammates are added up. In this game, everyone wins because they can gain the valuable ability of typing quickly.
Taking care of good communication in the remote team of employees will help to ensure the better well-being of subordinates and make teamwork much more productive. Team building games are an effective way to give employees a sense of belonging to the organization and commitment to work, thanks to which it is possible to increase the effectiveness of people at a low cost. It can also build an image of a company as one that cares about employees' interests and morales.
Do you like our team building selection? Do not miss the ent articles about more exciting ideas for team building in your company or startup!
Check out also our Slide Share presentation!
Read more our texts about general HR
- The business consequences of being late to work
- Top 5 Games for Team-Building
- Public holidays worldwide: 5 interesting facts
- How to Increase Employee Engagement at Your Company
- How the HR Software Can Change Your Workplace
- How a joke can be the solution for lateness?
- 3 key trends in HR management you should be ready for
- “Follow Your Dreams“ — the Millennial's mantra
- Why Should HR Professionals Not Be Scared of Artificial Intelligence?
- 19 top team building games for remote employees
- How to convince your boss to choose time off and attendance management software?
- 7 ways how bad HR leave management system hurts your business
- Menstrual leave – everyday life or still something surprisingly rare?
Scaling the teams can be done regardless of their organizational structure. The key is in efficiency. The less growth-oriented the structure is, the overall effects will cost more and deliver less value added. So how to start building the team with growth in mind?
The Calamari team has cherry-picked the available reports and come up with the compendium below to guide you through uncertain and challenging times to come.