These virtual team building activities can help your team build stronger bonds and work better together. Even if they’re not in the same room or even the same city.
Team building exercises are an intentional way of strengthening bonds across the team.
And this is even more important for you as a leader if your team members aren’t all in the same place and can’t work face to face. But by using online team games and activities, you can nurture bonding and understanding between team members.
When team members understand one another, there’s better trust, communication, and collaboration. This improves team performance and project success.
You can do these virtual team building activities with no money and very little planning. They can satisfy various team building objectives, such as helping a new team get to know one another better, or helping an existing team strengthen understanding and bonds.
You can use these team bonding activities with new teams or teams who’ve been together for a while and need to stay connected.
I’ve personally engaged in all of the first nine virtual team building activities listed here, and they were so effective and fun that I’ve remembered them well.
Some of the following team bonding activities are quick, and some are more in-depth.
Many of these team building ideas are simple and you can plan them right before your meeting. Some need more advanced planning, and even a bit of pre-meeting work by your team members. But the small effort is worth it.
Read through the list and find those that work for your most immediate needs, and bookmark the article so you can come back to it each time you need a quick list of virtual team building activities.
Quick and Easy Virtual Team Building Activities
You can easily use the following group activities any time. They don’t require much planning and are suitable for meetings of all types.
1. Bucket List
Tell your team members to think of something that they want to do that’s on their Bucket List of things they want to do sometime in their life. Go around the group and have each person share something and tell a bit about it.
Variation: If you happen to be going through a situation like the COVID-19 quarantine, you could have people share what they look forward to when the quarantine ends.
2. One of My Favorite Things
This virtual team building activity works best when your team members are working from home. You’ll see why as you read the instructions!
Tell everyone on the call to take about 3 minutes to retrieve something that makes them happy, bring it back to the conference call, and be ready to share the item they’ve selected and tell something about it. You’ll likely be surprised at the things your peers share. One of the most endearing items at team member shared was a carton of chocolate milk. He said it makes him happy because “it always reminds me of childhood.”
I loved that surprising share!
3. My Favorite Vacation
In order to get to know one another better, telling stories of happy experiences can help the team learn more about one another in a way that feels good and encourages them to open up.
Have each person in the group tell about their favorite vacation. They can tell where they went, when, and what about it made it so special. Don’t limit what they can tell about it, and encourage team members to ask questions if they wish.
4. Good News
Ask team members to start the meeting by sharing some good news or something they’re excited about.
This simple team building activity can serve as an icebreaker in addition to helping team members get to know one another better.
5. What Are You Proud Of?
Have team members share a story about something they’re proud of.
It could be an experience or an accomplishment. Have them tell a bit about it, why they’re proud of it, and how it made them feel.
6. What I Appreciate About You
This works best with groups who have worked together for some time.
Have each person find the name of the person next under their name in the virtual meeting attendee list. Each person then sends a private message to that person telling them something you appreciate about them.
In many apps the names are in alphabetical order according to first name, but maybe not always, so make sure you each know who you’ll be messaging!
7. Someone You’d Like to Meet
Tell your team members to be ready in the next meeting to tell everyone someone they’d like to meet – living or dead. During the meeting, have them each share who the person is, and why they’d like to meet them.
The team will learn more about one another through explaining why they’ve chosen this person.
Virtual Team Building Activities For Deeper Understanding
The following virtual team building activities require that team members do some work in advance of the meeting.
However, they give your team members a chance to get to know one another more deeply. This helps build deeper understanding and better collaboration and communication in working together.
8. Personality Test
Having team members take a personality test and discuss the results can be a fun way to get to know one another better. Even if team members don’t fully agree with the test validity or results, it’s a great jumping off point for discussion.
One of the most well-known personality tests is the Myers-Briggs. Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers created the test in the mid-1900s based on Carl Jung’s personality research in an effort to help people understand themselves and others better.
The test provides insight into various aspects of your personality, with 16 different resulting combinations and personality types. It focuses on the following 4 categories:
- Where you focus your attention: extraversion vs introversion
- How you gather information: sensing or intuition
- How you make decisions (thinking or feeling)
- How you deal with your world (judging vs perceiving)
You can take a free online personality assessment based on the Myers-Briggs 16 personality types here.
For this activity, you need to have your team members complete the test before your next meeting.
Then, on the call, each person will share their results. As each person shares, have them explain whether or not they think the results are accurate.
This is particularly good for a newer team who will be working together intensely. It could be particularly good if the project they’ll be working on could be intense or stressful. The team will have the chance to discuss how they communicate or deal with interactions with others. This can help interpersonal relationships on the team.
9. The Journey
This is a more time consuming and in-depth activity. It’s particularly good for teams who will be working together intensely and would benefit from getting to know one another better.
It’s good for teams of 5-15 people.
Ask everyone to draw their life path on a piece of paper. They can choose how much they want to share with the group and can start at any stage of their life they wish to choose. Ask them to identify activities along their life path and how they got to where they are today. Tell them the quality of the drawing isn’t important, and that they’ll share and explain their journey with the group.
For the best use of time as a virtual activity it can be helpful to give the assignment in advance, and then have team members share their drawings on the video call. As each person shares, they’ll talk about their life and important events. Others can ask questions if they wish.
This can help team members understand one another better, and bond over common experiences.
Online Team Games
The following virtual team building activities are from The Big Book of Virtual Team Building Games by Mary Scannell, Michael Abrams, and Mike Mulvihill.
You can use these online team games to improve team bonding, but there are also some problem-solving approaches and listening skills.
I borrowed the book from my local library, but you can buy the book on Amazon. I’ve provided a link. It’s an affiliate link, but you won’t be charged anything extra if you purchase via the link I provided.
10. Who Are We?
For a newly formed team that will be working together for awhile, this game can help team members get to know one another and identify things they have in common with others on the team.
Show a picture of each of the following types of activities and ask “who on the team…” and complete the questions with the following:
- who enjoys cooking or baking? What do you like to cook? Do you have a special dish you prepare
- Who loves reading? What genre? Do you have a favorite book? Do you prefer electronic or physical books?
- Who enjoys working with their hands? This can be carpentry, electronics, car repair or any other type. What type of work do you enjoy?
- Who enjoys extreme outdoor sports like rock climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, or other types of extreme activities? Tell a bit about the activities you enjoy.
- Who enjoys spending time in the mountains?
- Who enjoys spending time on the beach?
- Who enjoys fishing?
- Who enjoys travel? Where are some places you’ve been?
- Who enjoys gardening? What do you grow?
- Who are our techies?
- Who owns an unusual pet? What type of pet is it?
- Who are the sports fans in the group? Which sports? Do you play or watch? Which teams are your favorites?
Variation: Have team members bring a picture that represents an activity that they enjoy, and to tell a story about
11. Line Up
This is good for a group size of 6-12 people.
Open a document that everyone on the meeting can see and edit at the same time. Google docs could work, or you may have a tool that your team uses regularly.
Write a list of numbers reflecting the number of participants. If you have 7 people doing the activity, write the numbers 1 through 7 in a list.
Then explain that the participants must put their names in the correct chronological order – according to their birthday month and day (not year). The results might look like this:
1 – Allison January 5
2 – Jenny March 7
3 – Mark April 17
4 – George April 23
5 – Grace August 3
6 – Veronica October 5
7 – Aaron October 20
A player can only move their own name and not anyone else’s. If anyone puts their name in the wrong place, everyone must move their name and then get them back in the right order. You can add a bit of challenge by timing the group and then challenging them to beat their time in the following options:
- Shoe size
- number of siblings
- number of pets
- number of children
- number of cities lived in
12. Tuned Out
This team activity helps team members understand the importance of good listening skills.
This virtual team building activity starts outside of a meeting. The group discusses the experience and results during your next meeting.
The facilitator or team lead will pair up team members in pairs of two. Send out these instructions and the pair names with enough lead time prior to your next meeting to carry out the exercise.
- Before your next meeting, schedule and take time to get on a call with your activity partner.
- On your call, take turns telling a story about yourself. It can be a story about anything – your family, a vacation, a previous job, a hobby, etc. One person tells a story about themself while the partner listens, gives feedback, and asks questions.
- At some point during the story, the listener turn her attention to something else, like reading a document or email. After a while, turn your attention back to the speaker.
- Once the speaker finishes, the listener tells back to the speaker what they shared.
- The speaker tries to guess when the listener shifted her attention.
- The pairs will discuss the experience in the next team meeting. The team can talk about how it felt as a speaker to be ignored while speaking. The listeners can also talk about the impact of multi-tasking during discussions. The team can make agreements our standards around being mentally present and focused for meetings and discussions.
13. Fresh Point of View
If your team is working on a challenging problem, it can help to shift perspectives. Design Thinking teaches you to look at problems from the user perspective. In this activity, you’ll have your team look at the challenge from a completely different point of view. This can help you get unstuck and hopefully come up with creative ideas for finding solutions.
Use the following as some ideas for different perspectives.
How would the following people or teams look at the problem? How would they approach it and what would they focus on?
- A Hollywood studio team
- NASA or astronauts
- A 5-year-old
- A drill sergeant
- Elon Musk
Feel free to come up with other ideas, too!
14. Five Word Snapshot
This activity is helpful if you want to understand how team members are feeling about a project or situation. Ask them to take a minute or so to think about how they feel about the target topic. Ask them to describe how they feel with 5 or fewer adjectives. Go around the group and have each person share the words they’d use to describe how they feel. No one else should talk as each person shares.
If you’re using an online collaborative tool, you can write each person’s name on the screen and have them add the adjectives next to their names, and then go around the group to discuss.
Sally: hopeful, optimistic, curious
Jane: eager, impatient, frustrated
Terrence: optimistic, uncertain, cautious, hopeful
Alternative approach: If the team prefers to share anonymously, you can ask them to send their words to you, and you can then scramble the words and share the words with the group. You can then discuss these feelings as a group without disclosing who shared each of them.
15. Caricature Match Game
This is a fun activity that lets you see how well you know one another. It also lets you get a bit creative.
Have team members draw a picture that represents them – but they cannot use any words. They can draw a stick figure engaging in an activity, or they can draw items that represent things they like to do, or any other creative way they’d like to create a drawing that represents themselves.
Have everyone scan or take a picture of their drawing and send it to you. You then share each drawing individually with the group and see if the group can identify who made the drawing.
You can still facilitate team building and team bonding even if your team isn’t in the same room. Use these virtual team building activities at various stages of your team’s development and you’ll continue to nurture trust, cooperation, and great morale.
Online team games and activities are easy to build into meetings and team activities.
And this will ensure the team’s trust in you and great team performance.
If you’re looking for fun icebreakers for virtual teams, check out this article 15 Easy Team Building Icebreakers for Meetings. You’ll find easy and fun icebreakers for virtual meetings.
In school and otherwise, children will occasionally fight over a piece of chocolate or a toy or make a noise and cry to get attention. Again, it is due to the lack of team-building activities at school.