How to Host Remote Team-Building Activities Employees May Actually Like

August 31, 2020
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Remote team-building activities can be tricky to get right.

Company culture teams have to walk a thin tightrope of putting together enough events to keep employees engaged, without inducing video chat fatigue. Events have to be varied enough to appeal to the many interests and personalities within an employee base. Some staff members may never attend a company-wide happy hour, but they could be weekly attendees of smaller events like a watch club for documentaries.

It’s important for culture-building teams to experiment with a wide variety of remote events. The possibilities are vast, with events like scavenger hunts, virtual escape rooms, trivia apps, bring-your-kids-to-work-days and more. And feedback following each event is vital to determine what worked, what didn’t and what staff would like to see in the future. 

When companies find the right balance of virtual events that employees are excited to participate in, it can work wonders for keeping morale and engagement high. We learned what companies in Chicago are doing to keep their cultures alive through this era of remote work.

 

Victoria Sullivan
talent operations manager

Victoria Sullivan said that by experimenting with a number of virtual event formats, Adage Technologies learned that smaller group interactions worked best to keep staff engaged. The talent operations manager at the web design and development company discussed how Adage has seen success bringing the entire team together virtually, but in small groups. 

 

What’s the most fun, unique or engaging remote team-building activity you’ve done to date?

We did a remote scavenger hunt, which was fun since the whole company could participate. We split into small teams and had to find and photograph things in our homes. Scoring was structured so teams had to work together to strategize rather than spending the time searching individually. Points varied for different items. Group activities like a team costume were worth more points. It got rave reviews from employees and we learned lessons to use in future remote activities, like our upcoming virtual hackathon. 

Start small, make it optional and don’t be afraid to try a lot of different things.”

 

What was it about this activity that made it so successful from a cultural perspective?

The scavenger hunt was a success because the competitive aspect allowed us to do something as a company, while working in small teams gave everyone the chance to contribute individually. Teams were randomized to encourage cross-company interaction, so people could connect with colleagues they might not have seen since going remote. We shared all the photos and highlights afterward, and it helped to reinforce our sense of community. We normally do events each quarter, so finding ways to adapt some of our traditions and continue to enjoy the journey is great for morale and culture continuity. 

 

What advice do you have for other companies that are struggling to find team-building activities that their teams will actually enjoy and engage in?

Start small, make it optional and don’t be afraid to try a lot of different things. We found that it’s hard for people to engage and connect when there are over 15 people on a call, so smaller groups tend to work better. 

Not everything needs to be structured. Events like virtual coffee breaks, lunches or happy hours can happen more frequently and give people a space to engage when it works for them. Book clubs and game nights are other options that can easily be virtual. Seeing how your teams react to events like that will help guide you in finding more activities. And don’t be afraid to ask for feedback or ideas from employees.

 

Erica Hubbard
Employee Engagement Consultant

Arity Employee Engagement Consultant Erica Hubbard said feedback is an important part of how the transportation technology company plans its remote events. Employees shared their hopes for seeing more wellness-based events on the calendar, so the company fulfilled their wishes. 

 

What’s the most fun, unique or engaging remote team-building activity you’ve done to date?

One of our most engaging activities is our monthly virtual happy hour. We have a different theme or activity each month to make sure the event stays fresh. We hosted multiple events with themes such as open mic night, trivia night, and “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.” It is always a great way for our employees to connect with each other outside of their own teams. 

We also started “Are You Gonna Eat That,” a virtual lunch event where attendees are given a theme before being randomly sorted into smaller breakout rooms to network over lunch. We’re also thinking of hosting an Epcot night on Zoom, where employees can bring along their families.

Start by getting feedback from employees about the types of activities and events they would like to see.”

 

What was it about this activity that made it so successful from a cultural perspective?

For the culture team, success was measured by both how well-attended the events and the positive feedback we received afterward. Employees enjoyed being able to connect with their teams in smaller settings through breakout rooms to facilitate activities. That feedback helps us iterate on our events and ensure they stay engaging and successful.

 

What advice do you have for other companies that are struggling to find team-building activities that their teams will actually enjoy and engage in?

Everyone has different preferences around how they like to connect and communicate with one another. We try to create different spaces and activities to allow those connections to happen. Start by getting feedback from employees about the types of activities and events they would like to see. 

Based on the feedback we received, we realized we needed to provide more well-being events. So we offered sessions on staying resilient while remote, insights discovery workshops and team-building for newly formed groups. We incorporated tools like Mentimeter, Mural and Zoom Polls to make these sessions more engaging for attendees. 

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