7 Team Building Games for Remote Teams

Best team building games for remote teams

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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.

Actually, you want them to be high-performing teams.

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 as remote teams best practices. 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. By the way, games can be considered as one of the remote work trends.

Team building games for remote teams

Team building games for remote teams

There are different games and special activities of various complexity. Here we propose the following list:

Let’s dive into their details!

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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.

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 (take a look at this list of collaboration tools too) or software 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 workday.

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 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!

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June 5, 2019 6:58 am

does anyone have any research on remote team building and an actual physical meeting to either start a new ream ,kick off an important project, or bring a team that isn’t working well closer. I am interested in stats of the difference in teams that have physically met vs teams that have only interacted virtually. Can anyone shed some light? Or tell me where to look? Thanks

June 6, 2019 5:15 pm

Thanks for the tips! I find getting to know colleagues personally is one of most difficult aspects of working remotely
Check another article on this topic

Eve Hunt
Eve Hunt
June 12, 2019 11:16 am

I’m so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest article.

Julia Kane
Julia Kane
June 25, 2019 8:36 pm

Oh wow such a great article! I believe that in every team (especially a remote) every step should be built on trust. Now I work in a remote team and fell some problems with lack of trust. So recently we started using several team building games to know each other better, and I think our productivity has already improved since we got to know each other better! 🙂
I found an interesting article about icebreakers with super cool infographics and some examples of games by guys called Standuply, maybe it will help someone too: standuply.com/ice-breaker-questions

Victoria Tegg
Victoria Tegg
July 25, 2019 7:06 am

“Thank you so much for these amazing creative idea!?

Saara William
Saara William
December 11, 2019 4:45 am

Good day! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would be ok. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

GanttPRO Team
GanttPRO Team
December 11, 2019 8:00 am
Reply to  Saara William

Please follow us here https://twitter.com/GanttPROcom

March 22, 2021 6:07 am

Woah, thank you for such informative article! I work in a remote team, and we use Slack for communication and standups, it is actually the best for us. And we just we run in Slack almost all the team building activities except for some online games that are on a separate domain.
Also thank you for some icebreaker questions!

Steve Trow
Steve Trow
July 27, 2021 9:34 am

Many thanks for the suggestions! I find that developing personal relationships with colleagues is one of the most challenging aspects of working remotely.

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