The best virtual team building activities to engage your team

Katie Gold
February 24, 2021
7
Minutes

Virtual team building combats work from home isolation, builds workplace trust, boosts morale, and helps businesses retain talent. It’s an investment in your employees, team wellness, and your business as a whole. In this post, we’ll dig into the benefits of team building and provide a list of virtual team building activities and free ice breaker ideas.

The benefits of virtual team building

Combat work from home isolation

While there are numerous benefits to remote work, one thing that can be lacking is the day-to-day social interaction that occurs in the physical workplace. Distributed teams don’t get the same opportunities for office conversations, water-cooler talk, and lunchtime engagement.


This doesn’t mean the same level of office community and engagement can’t be achieved; it just takes a little more work and commitment to maintain. Remote employers need to make a conscious investment in engagement opportunities and team building activities to ensure team members interact beyond work tasks. 


An isolated employee isn’t going to be as much of a team player as someone who regularly communicates with their team about things other than work. Virtual team building plays a vital role in keeping remote employees engaged beyond the daily grind of their work. It facilitates the workplace conversations, banter, and jokes that often occur naturally in a physical workplace. 

Build workplace trust

Teams built on trust are happier and more productive. When employees trust each other, they’re able to find more enjoyment in their work, and they’re able to pass work between one another with ease.


Trust is incredibly powerful in a workplace because it facilitates effective decision making, which results in improved productivity. When you trust the people you work with, accountability in the workplace improves, and decisions are made with confidence. As an employee, you don’t have to wonder if a colleague will get their work done or meet an important deadline—you can trust they will. You know everyone is working toward the same common goals with the best interests of the business and each other at heart.


Trust doesn’t happen automatically, and it can be difficult to build. Team building provides an opportunity for teams to get to know each other and build that critical workplace trust. 

Boost morale

Don’t let your team get lost in the monotony of work tasks without a break or spark of enjoyment. When morale is high, team members are more likely to try their best and go above and beyond to achieve both personal and business goals.


Virtual team building activities provide a fun escape that ultimately brings teams closer together. A good laugh as a team over a joke or silly ice breaker is the relief teams need to maintain workplace happiness and morale.

Retain and attract talent

When you invest in your team, your team will invest in your business. Employee turnover is expensive, not to mention time-consuming. Turnover also puts a strain on the team and hinders the ability for a team to build a solid foundation of trust. Do all that you can to provide a healthy, happy workplace that prevents employees from thinking about other employment options.


What are you giving back to your team? What reasons do employees have for sticking it out with you for the long haul? Team building initiatives illustrate that a business is invested in the team and that the business is concerned about more than just the bottom line. Team building enables employees to build stronger relationships with one another, making the workplace all the more comfortable and desirable.


In addition to retaining talent, possible candidates will be attracted to your workplace. People talk, and word gets around pretty quick about whether you have an enjoyable or hostile work environment. Invest in team building so that everyone from the inside out can see the happy community your business is curating. 

Virtual team building activities

Facilitated team building events

You’re not alone in looking for quality virtual team building opportunities. With so many businesses choosing or being forced to make the remote switch, the virtual team building industry is larger than ever before. There are companies dedicated to providing facilitated team building events designed for virtual teams. Some even mail out packages of supplies or ingredients to each of your team members to provide an immersive experience from each person’s home.


TeamBuilding offers a number of different facilitated programs aimed to engage teams who work in virtual offices. They have 18 virtual team building activities that are available worldwide, so you can boost your team’s engagement no matter where in the world they’re located.


  • Online Office Games is a version of Office Olympics. The 90-minute session provides team building and skill building activities, including various games and trivia questions.

  • tiny campfire 🔥 provides camp-style icebreaker games, historic ghost stories, and an interactive s'more making experience.

  • Tea vs Coffee 🍵 ✕ ☕ is a mindful experience that aims to answer the age-old question: tea or coffee? Top secret coffee and tea samples are mailed to your team in advance. During the 90-minute session, a facilitator takes your team through virtual icebreakers, guided meditation, and a tasting with stories about the origins of tea/coffee, health benefits, and tasting notes.

Virtual Wine Tasting

What brings people together better than wine? Virtual wine tastings present a relaxed and easy-going atmosphere while also providing teams the opportunity to learn something. 


Virtual wine tastings are growing in popularity, with many local wineries and businesses offering virtual team building events. Wine is shipped in advance to your team members so that everyone has a chance to taste the same wine together. Some facilitated events provide facts, tasting notes, and anecdotes about the wine to accompany the tasting.


Team building doesn’t always need to center around learning a skill or accomplishing something; sometimes, it can—and should—be as simple as sharing a glass of wine together. Look for team building opportunities that give your team a chance to get to know each other outside of work.



Virtual wine tasting options: 

Virtual escape rooms

Escape rooms demand engagement and teamwork. They’re fun, challenging experiences that unite team members around a common goal, the success of which is completely dependent on how well everyone can work together and rely on each other’s strengths. Plus, there are plenty of exciting experiences that can be completed virtually, so no one has to leave the comfort and safety of their own home. 


The virtual events are simple to organize, they can include teams both extremely large or small, and they’re more cost-effective than an in-person escape room. Team members can attend from wherever they are in the world as long as they have a solid internet connection. 


Escape rooms are designed to facilitate team communication and problem solving—in other words, they’re perfect for team building. Ask your team about the kind of situations or themes they find the most exciting to maximize everyone’s interest. No matter what happens, you’re in it to win it as a team. 


Possible virtual escape room activities: 

Support an important cause

Philanthropy is a win-win for everyone involved. It feels good, it helps others, it’s a good look for your brand to give back, and it’s a team building exercise.


Talk to your team about what causes they are most passionate about. Getting their input will help everyone feel a sense of ownership over the task, and they’ll be more likely to get involved. Consider sustainability initiatives, local charities, and global causes that can make an impact.


Ensure your team is engaged to make the most of the activity. Set goals, keep track of donations, and try to beat previous records. You can turn it into a friendly competition by having individual employees or business teams compete. How could you get others in your community or industry involved? You may not share a physical building with other businesses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t engage with them virtually.


Possible causes to support:

Free virtual team building games and icebreakers

Pancakes vs. waffles

Pancakes vs. Waffles is a low-effort game with a big impact. It gets teams talking about their likes, dislikes, and preferences without the awkwardness of direct personal questions.


Begin by presenting the first question: pancakes or waffles? One the world gets to keep; the other is obliterated from existence. If you had to lose one forever, which would it be? Give your team a few minutes to deliberate, and, if you need to, force a vote to determine a winner. 



You move on to another round by adding another option. If your team decided the world needed to keep pancakes, make it pancakes vs. cookies, pancakes vs. bacon, pancakes vs. French toast, or pancakes vs. coffee. You can take it in any direction by adding a new competitive option each time you determine a winner.


The longer you play, the more you can add on abstract items, such as puppies or the smell of rain. If your team enjoys the game, keep track of your last winning option and start with that at your next virtual meeting.

Virtual show and tell 

Teachers are experts at engagement, and there’s a reason show and tell has stood the test of time for young students. Channel the schooldays of your past with a virtual show and tell. It’s a simple and effective team building activity that requires little to no effort to organize, and it doesn’t cost a thing. 


Begin by giving your team one minute to choose any item in their home that has meaning to them. You can add specific parameters around choosing an item from the room they are in or an object that’s within arm’s reach.


Once everyone has chosen an object, each person gets one minute to share. Provide prompts to help your team talk about their item, such as: 

  • Where did you get it? 

  • Why is it important to you? 

  • Why did you choose to keep it?

  • Is there a story behind it?


It can be fun to surprise your team with this activity so that they don’t overthink their object. If you have a larger team, you may want to select only a few people per meeting to show and tell. This will keep the activity from taking too long—just ensure everyone who wants to participate gets to eventually.

Video call dress up day

It’s fun to dress up every once in a while, and we don’t just mean for fancy occasions! Zoom dress up days give team members the chance to show their creative, zany, or wild side, and they turn regular, bland calls into memorable events.


Halloween is the obvious opportunity, but you don’t need to wait until October 31st to dress up. Consider other holidays and occasions you can spice up with an optional (but encouraged) dress up day. For example, you could celebrate the first day of winter with a pajama day or April Fool’s Day with a silly hat theme. 


A birthday party theme can be planned to celebrate a team member’s birthday. Share instructions with your team on how to make a party hat from home, so everyone can participate.

You can also use theme days to show support for important causes, such as wearing blue in support of essential workers.



Possible Dress Up Day Themes:

  • Pajama day

  • Ugly Christmas sweater day

  • Christmas in July

  • Halloween

  • Silly hat day

  • Throwback day

  • Blue day in support of essential workers


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