Thanks to technological advances and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has been on the rise. Many development companies in the US are fully remote and many other development companies have at least a percentage of remote workers. That said, there are still some difficulties that come with working with a remote development team, one of them being team building. This is why, in this article, we’d like to share some team-building activities for remote teams to make things easier. You can sprinkle these activities into your regular meetings, have special team-building sessions during work hours, or create more relaxed after-hours events.
Two truths and a lie
For development teams that are just getting to know each other, two truths and a lie is the perfect ice-breaker. This is a popular game, so you might’ve heard about it before, but we’ll still give you a short explanation. Each person has to tell two truths and one lie about themselves while the remaining team members guess which one is the lie. This helps people connect and get to know each other in a fun way while not taking up too much work time. You can make it time-limited and include it at the beginning of a remote meeting.
Virtual break room
Breaks are one of the main spaces for co-workers to chat and share. Since remote workers can’t share a common space during their working hours, creating one, albeit remotely, can be a great way for people to connect and get to know each other. In virtual break rooms, coworkers can connect during tea or lunch breaks and catch up just as if they were in the office.
Virtual coworking for remote teams
Working along the same lines, another option is virtual coworking. You can create a virtual office for remote teams to optionally log on at various times (you can have morning and afternoon shifts or leave the room open for members to join whenever they choose). This can help create a dynamic similar to the one that takes place in an office where co-workers can share casual conversations and keep each other motivated. You can do this through video sessions or even set up specific chat rooms if dealing with a shier crowd.
Escape rooms have been popular for quite a while and, although they are traditionally a great team-building activity for on-site development teams, that doesn’t mean remote teams can’t take part in the fun. The Escape Room, for example, offers great team-building activities for remote teams. This is a great game to play during team-building sessions within working hours, or as a fun after-hour activity for those who are interested.
Monthly quiz for remote teams
Another fun activity would be a monthly (or weekly) company quiz. Each time, a different member of the team will be in charge of hosting and creating the questions. This team-building activity can take place live during a video call or you can also send the questions in advance and give players a limited time to submit their answers. Moreover, you can do themed questions or make it even more personal and have them be about the different members of the remote team.
If any of your team members has experience in creative writing, you can organize these in-house or, alternatively, you could bring in outside help. You can have weekly or monthly 1-hour sessions in which each person writes a short story based on a different premise. This is not just a great team-building activity for remote teams, but also a great way to boost creativity. You can find more info about how to conduct these workshops here.
Virtual tour for remote teams
Being able to see where someone lives is a great way to get to know them. This is why virtual tours of team members’ houses can be a great team-building activity for remote teams. They can show each other their unique design styles or their music or game collections. Moreover, if team members live in different places of the world, they can give each other tours of their hometowns.
Bucket lists are a great way to share ideas and goals, both personal and professional. It is also another great ice-breaker, particularly for new teams. You can ask each member to think about 5-10 items on their bucket list and can even let other members ask follow-up questions on them. This should help them get to know each other better, making it an excellent team-building activity for remote teams.
Virtual book club
Another great after-office activity is starting a book club. If there are enough avid readers in your team, you can have each of them select a book every month and then meet virtually to discuss it. The person in charge of choosing the book should also be in charge of preparing some questions to kick start the discussion. This is a great way to share personal likes and for members to get to know each other better.
Having fun with emojis
There are many ways you can integrate emojis into team-building activities for remote teams. Here, we’ll suggest three:
- You can do a “How do you feel today?” daily activity where each member of the development team uses emojis to share how they feel.
- You can also have people guess the top five most-used emojis by another team member.
- You can have team members submit emoji versions of song or film titles for other members to guess.
All of these will create a more welcoming, understanding and relaxed work atmosphere.
Open mic in remote teams
If various team members have different artistic skills, you can give them a space to showcase them. It could be singing, playing the guitar, reading a poem or telling a few jokes. This also provides a sneak peek at the different personalities of each remote team member. You can use this as a short 10-minute team-building activity to kick off a remote meeting, for example, so it doesn’t take up too much time but boosts productivity by creating a positive and fun environment.
The aliens have landed
This is a great team-building activity for remote teams that include members from different countries or cultures. Team members will need to imagine a group of aliens has landed on Earth and wishes to learn about the company. Since the aliens don’t speak English, members will need to use symbols or images to do this. Each participant draws a set of images which you can then contrast and compare to determine common themes and discuss together.
Collaborative playlist or podcast
A great way for team members to get to know each other is through their taste in music, which can also help them discover new tunes or styles. You can create a shared playlist in Spotify where each member is allowed to include up to 5-10 songs and can be updated weekly or monthly. This team-building activity takes little time and is easily available. Similarly, if there are podcast lovers in your development team, you can also create a shared podcast list.
Final thoughts on 13 team-building activities for remote teams
When it comes to team-building activities for remote teams, there are endless options depending on the type of team, time availability and what each member likes and is comfortable with. We hope this sample of activities helps you get started to motivate your development team and create a great relationship between members.