Virtual Team Building: Teams Who Laugh Together, Stay Together

The pandemic definitely threw a number of challenges at us, forcing many organizations into taking their team fully remote. With that, many organizations have found that the flexibility that comes with remote work has an extremely positive effect on productivity and efficiency, Open LMS counting itself among them. GitLab notes that using virtual teams can improve employee productivity; some organizations have seen gains of up to 52%.

In this new context, it’s critical that you remain as connected to your remote team as you used to be when everyone was in the office. In fact in one survey, 94% of workers said that mutual respect and connection were critical to their team’s success, and 19% said it’s the most important factor in their sense of well-being at work.

With a team in a traditional office setting, there are lots of in-person opportunities for team-building activities. But when it comes to ice breakers for virtual teams, it’s not the same and we need to get extra creative. There are many ways to approach this via the use of online platforms and learning management systems. But first, let’s talk about the challenges.

Remote Team-Building Challenges

Working from home can get lonely at times. By losing the office environment we’ve lost a range of opportunities to easily form authentic and meaningful social bonds that build trust with colleagues. Without action, this could lead down a path of disengagement that can go hand-in-hand with poor performance.

When we consider how to build replacement team-building activities that work with the nature of remote work, we should take the following into consideration:

  • Real-time/allochronic: Is it possible to get everyone together at the same time or do you need to create an asynchronous activity that better accommodates different availability?
  • Pragmatic/just for fun: Is the activity intentionally unproductive, or does it need a dual purpose of building relationships and improving the way the team works in a tangible way?
  • One-hit wonder/on the regular: Is the activity ongoing on a daily or weekly basis, or is it something you’d do once?

Remote Team-Building Benefits

Just because a team isn’t all in the same environment, doesn’t mean they can’t have strong relationships with one another. Activities and games encourage relationship building even if your people have never met each other in person!

Colleagues will have an easier time collaborating on projects if they feel they know each other on a deeper and more genuine level.

Working without your colleagues around you can get lonely, virtual team building can combat loneliness. Communication can be always flowing with the help of activities and games, helping engagement at work and increasing satisfaction.

You can use activities to create opportunities for teams to cheer each other on in reaching individual and team-oriented goals. This increases motivation, which in turn improves productivity.

Ideas for Online Games and Activities for Virtual Teams

Virtually, we can’t go with the good old ‘trust fall’ (ouch). So, what can we do instead that is friendly for our remote workers?

Collaborative Music Playlists

- Timeframe: Ongoing

- Purpose: Just for fun

- Frequency: Regularly

Who likes to share a song here and there with their work pals? Use Spotify (or another music streaming platform) to create some collaborative playlists that anyone on the team can listen to and help curate. Try creating an upbeat, “get $#!t done” playlist, a soothing “de-stress” playlist, or any other theme that suits your team.

Create a chat and start curating the ultimate collaborative playlist.

Set up Learning Challenges

- Timeframe: Monthly/Quarterly

- Purpose: Building community, advocate learning, healthy competition

- Frequency: Quarterly


Ladder: Virtual Team Building

Who doesn’t like a little competitiveness in the workplace? You can easily set up a scoreboard or ladder board for your learning management system right now to get people more involved in learning activities.

Generational shifts mean that your organization should be better equipped to train a workforce that responds extraordinarily well to games and individual recognition.

To provide even better experiences, you can integrate LMSs such as Open LMS with a reward system plug in like Motrain. Their system allows organizations to offer real items or opportunities and tailor them to the interests of their audience.

Kahoot It!

- Timeframe: Up to you! From 15 minutes to 1 hour.

- Purpose: Building community, advocate learning, healthy competition

- Frequency: Monthly, quarterly

Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform that makes it easy to create, share and play learning games or trivia quizzes in minutes. Perfect for unleashing the fun in classrooms and offices through an easy video chat platform.

At Open LMS, we have created lunchtime fun with different teams, in different regions – it’s a perfect tool to use for rapport building. It can also be used for classroom or training purposes to break up an otherwise long meeting or lesson.

GIF Battle

- Timeframe: Ongoing

- Purpose: Just for fun

- Frequency: Regularly

Create a chat called ‘GIF battle’ The game consists of four rounds, each with its own theme. Participants can use or Google Images to find a GIF that fits with the theme for that round and then send it in the chat. Once everyone has their GIFs in, everyone votes on the round’s best submission by reacting with emojis. At the end, the person who wins the most rounds will be crowned the Ultimate GIF Battle Champion. Just think of the glory! Don’t be afraid to add a tiebreaker round if needed.

Gaming Session

- Timeframe: Simultaneous

- Purpose: Just for fun

- Frequency: Regularly

Startup a chat to guage people’s interest and get some feedback on some virtual group games that are out there and plan out a weekly or fortnightly schedule.

Online games like Among Us, Survive: Escape from Atlantis or Drawful, as well as titles created by Jackbox and Tabletopia are popular options for remote teams. Get everyone’s input and then block off an hour at some point during the week for everyone who’s interested to get together and play as a group.

In Conclusion—Why Virtual Team Building Is Here to Stay

There are lots of ways remote teams can get to know one another and build stronger and more meaningful relationships.

Whether it’s spending time playing games together or learning about each other’s personality types, activities are bound to help the team get more out of their roles and feel more comfortable collaborating on projects together.

If you are wondering how to improve the online learning experience or strengthen the virtual group spirit, for example by setting challenges or using gamification in your courses, contact our experts!

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