Virtual activities are a great way to add some necessary team building to the online work environment. Whether you’re trying to get your employees more engaged during conference calls, or you’re trying to host an after-hours event for your team to get together and bond, there are a variety of tried-and-true virtual activities out there that can fit any workplace need.
The following lists will include different kinds of activities to fit any situation. The first list will include serious, decidedly work-related virtual activities that can help you increase employee engagement and address ongoing communication issues. The other list will cover more playful, non-work-related virtual activities, that you can introduce at your next party or weekly get-together.
Why Plan Virtual Activities?
Virtual activities can be fun, but they are not only for after-work. After sitting in a conference call for a long time, people get distracted. They have families that call their attention, get on their phones, or zone out, and that’s not what you want. By consistently planning virtual activities that your employees can participate in during meetings, you help your employees stay engaged by involving them. When you schedule times for employees to speak up or contribute to a meeting, they are less likely to be distracted.
Online workplaces can also feel lonely. By scheduling virtual activities, you can help your team feel more connected, despite being separated. Especially for a multi-national business that may have cultural barrios between employees, getting the team together can help everyone understand each other better.
When you schedule fun events, virtual activities help facilitate communication and get your employees to work together. Employees that share memories and know how to communicate are more efficient workers and they feel more appreciated.
10 Practical Virtual Activities
While it’s always good to ensure that your team is engaged during meetings, it’s not great to have conversation derail when you have critical information to deliver. Here are some virtual activities that can get them talking, but also keep everyone on topic.
Company Bingo. Send out cards that relate to the topics of a meeting or contain information about a new policy. The first person to send back their filled-out bingo card gets a small prize. This incentivizes everyone to double-check new policies or pay close attention during meetings.
Lunch Break. In IRL workplaces, people often get together and go out to eat, but that’s just not possible in the online environment. When you break for lunch during a meeting have an option where people can stay and chat during lunch. This time can be used to ask questions, mingle with managers, and everyone can chat amongst themselves.
Personal “User Manual” Presentations. This would be a dedicated time to learn about your team. How do they communicate? What are their habits? When do they get the most work done? That and other personal bits of information will help everybody understand how to best work with one another. This would have to be a stand-alone meeting, and could only be done once in a while like when you have a new team or add a new member.
Learning Circles. After a particularly complex or a large chunk of information is explained, set up small groups that include a manager or experienced member of the team. This will allow everyone to ask questions and get in-depth assistance from management. It can also help open up communication between leadership and staff.
Active Listening Practice. Provide a small group of three with a few questions, then have each member take turns between the roles: subject, listener, and observer. The subject explains the questions, the listener is listening and prompting the subject to explore deeper, and the observer can discuss the productivity of conversation after a set amount of time. Active listening activities can help promote peer coaching and help people get more information out of meetings.
Design a Team Coat of Arms. This is another way of having everyone describe their work ethics and values. Symbolism is a great way to communicate what our values are and make an easy reference for later. Have everyone on your team design and explain their coat of arms, then save them in a place where they can be referred to later.
Trust Credit. If you’re noticing some difficulties with communication on your team, often it’s because your team members do not trust each other. Have each of your employees describe how much trust they have in every member of the team. This activity can be done outside of meetings and should probably be kept confidential unless there’s a severe issue.
Seen, Heard, and Respected. This is a great team-building activity that helps open up conversation in the workplace while having your team build respect for one another. Have each employee share a story where they felt unseen, unheard, and/or disrespected. This activity helps identify unhealthy workplace problems, like accidentally undervaluing each other, and helps garner more trust in the workplace.
Coffee Break. This activity can help bring everyone together during a nearly universal morning routine. Schedule 10-20 minutes in the morning where everyone can share some coffee and gets some questions answered before the workday really starts.
Company Trivia. During a lunch or coffee break, you could also plan an event like company trivia. This can be an engaging way to get people geared up for the workday and touch on important policies you may want to highlight.
10 Playful Virtual Activities
If you’re looking for some virtual activities you can use for the next party or event, here are some fun ideas that you can include in your next meet-up!
Birthday Party. Even if there’s not enough time to individually celebrate everyone, people feel more valued when you acknowledge important days like birthdays. Plan an event at the end of each month, or just when there are multiple birthdays in a month, so everyone gets to celebrate.
Team Trivia Night. Like company trivia, but with personal information from all of your team members. Send out an email list, or use some other resource to collect data on your employees, and set up a trivia night to see how much everybody really knows about each other.
Truth or Dare. Start a conference call and flip a coin to see if the first question will be truth or dare. Have the people who don’t want to participate in each round blackout their screens, and pick the first victim from the remainders. Have the first doer become the next asker, and enjoy the ensuing antics.
Personality Tests. Getting together and finding out if you’re more like a pumpkin spice latte or a minty mocha Frappuccino will always be entertaining and sharing your results can build great company memories. This activity could also be used in a more serious capacity if you instead find a test that highlights strengths and weaknesses in the workplace.
New Best Friend. Us a random pairs generator and pair up two people each week to be their new best friend. Have them find a time to get together during the week to talk about anything, as long as it’s not about work. Change up the pairs each week to open up new doors between employees.
Chubby Bunny. This isn’t just an activity to be done in person, it can be a virtual activity as well! Have everyone get a big bag of marshmallows, and see how many everybody can stuff in their mouth. Keep track of who gets the most, and they get bragging rights until the next competitive event you plan.
Funny Debates. Is a taco a sandwich? Is a smoothie soup? Are sandwich wraps burritos? Find interesting and provocative questions and have your team debate about them.
Virtual Field Trip. With the world as it is, there are a lot of famous locations and museums that are now posting virtual tours of their facilities. Find a few, or have your teams find some, and share a few new experiences exploring the world.
Dance Party. Have everybody get up, maybe get some drinks too, and make sure you supply a dance-worthy playlist. Be a little ridiculous and blow off some steam by getting that groove on. Plus, after working at home on the computer all day, it’s healthy to get up and moving.
Table Top RPG’s. There are a lot of tabletop RPGs on the market, and you really only need your imagination to play. A game can go on for a long time though, so be careful to pick a single session game, or know your employees are willing to play multiple times.
Take stock of these lists and try and incorporate some of these ideas into your next meeting or team-building event. By trying out some of these virtual activities, you can help invigorate your employees and create an online workplace with more open communication. Employees that communicate better are often more efficient and feel like valuable members of the workplace.