7 Team Building Games for Remote Teams
Every team leader knows this: the bonds between team members are important. You have to keep everyone involved in the team processes. You want them to be more than coworkers. You want them to support each other in a positive, playful manner.
That’s where team building games get into the picture.
Researchers found that team building activities had positive effects on specific components:
- Goal setting
- Problem solving
- Interpersonal relations
- Cognitive, affective, and performance outcomes
But what if you’re managing a distributed team?
All members come from different areas of the world. Do you bring them all to your location, so you could play a team building game? Of course not!
There are specific team building activities that work for remote teams. You won’t have to bring them all at one place. The Internet will take care of that.
Let’s list 7 games that will help your remote team members to bond with each other:
1. The Coffee Meeting Game
The daily Scrum meeting is the golden standard of teamwork. In the morning, the team leader gets everyone together, and they talk about the work they will do throughout the day. It’s a short meeting and everyone is standing. The discomfort of standing prevents the meeting from getting too long.
This is not a game.
But since you can’t have actual Scrum meetings with your remote team members, you can take this concept as a foundation of a team-building game.
At the same time each morning, you’ll have a coffee meeting. Each of your team members should find a coffee shop near their location and connect with the team online. Everyone will talk about the daily tasks over a nice cup of coffee.
The manager’s role is to keep the conversations light and playful. Remember: you want this to be a team-building game; not an actual meeting.
2. The Desk Photo Contest
Who has the nicest desk?
That’s a great contest you could organize for your team.
Ask everyone to take a flat lay of the desk. What’s a flat lay? You arrange all items on a flat surface (the desk) and snap a photo from directly above. It looks something like this:
Snapping the perfect photo is not the point here. The point of this game is to get your people organized.
Researchers from Princeton University found that clutter makes it difficult for people to focus on particular tasks. You can advise your team members to organize their work stations, but will that be enough? This simple contest is a great way to get them inspired.
Plus, it will make the bonds within the team stronger. The members will vote for the photos and comment on them. They will start discussing organizational techniques. They will inspire each other.
3. Save the Company from Aliens
This is a great icebreaker game.
When you put together a new team, invite them for a conference on Skype (or any other communication or online collaboration tool you use).
Tell them to imagine this situation: aliens landed on Earth and their goal is to spy on your company. How will the team act to save it from a disaster?
Your team members will start coming up with creative solutions and jokes. This is a great way for them to show their personality. Through a relaxed and funny conversation, they will get to know each other.
4. Play Words with Friends
Is there anyone who doesn’t love this classic word game?
Words with Friends is a great app version of it. The best part is that you can organize team matches, so you’ll group people together and make them collaborate.
Staying in touch doesn’t have to be a complicated thing. Sometimes it’s as simple as playing a game at the end of the work day.
This game, in particular, is simple: each player gets tiles with letters, which they combine to create words. The team that scores the most points wins.
What do you do as a manager? Nothing; you’re just a regular player in this game.
5. Three Truths and a Lie
This is a very simple game that’s great for new teams. It’s the best way to get people to introduce themselves. The “tell us something about yourself” instruction brings an awkward feeling. It’s uncomfortable for one to talk about themselves since the answer always looks like ego-tripping.
This game eliminates the awkwardness and adds some fun into the process.
The rules are simple: you bring everyone to a video conference and you ask each team member to tell three truths and one lie about themselves. The lie should be realistically framed, so it won’t be easy for the others to identify it.
The other team members should guess what the lie is. Once every member is done guessing, the truth will be revealed. The ones who guessed correctly gain points.
6. A Picture of Your Life
This is another great way to get people to share things about themselves without making them feel nervous.
Ask everyone to take a photo of something important from his or her private life. It may be their family. It may be a photo from the last vacation they took. It may be a shot of a daily activity, such as running. It may even be the shoes they are wearing.
This photo should identify one of their interests and passions. Whether it’s about family, clothes, sports… everything counts!
Ask everyone to post the photo during an online conference. Each member will take their turn and you’ll talk about the photos.
7. The Bucket List Challenge
Another cool icebreaker on our list.
During an online conference, give everyone five minutes to think of a few important things they would love to do in their lifetime. You can play some nice music while you wait for them to complete the lists.
Then, everyone will share the list. If some members have overlapping activities, you can challenge them to take action together.
Let’s say two of the team members want to read 50 books in 2019. You’ll challenge them to do it and support each other. You’ll hold them accountable by asking about their progress from time to time.
Games Are Great!
The connections within a remote team are not easy to establish and maintain. Sure; you can encourage everyone to communicate via email. But will that be enough? These are people who don’t know each other. To bring them closer, you have to think of fun activities.
The above-listed games are a great start!