Thriving companies know team building is key to their success. Strong relationships between coworkers enhance collaboration and productivity. Team building also promotes a spirit of camaraderie, which makes for a more harmonious workplace.

It’s easy to hold team building activities in person, but what do you do when everyone is working remotely or from home? Fortunately, you can leverage technology, along with some creativity, to come up with virtual team building exercises your employees will enjoy and want to participate in.

Benefits of virtual team building

We already know that it’s vital to incorporate team building into your employees’ schedules when everyone’s in the office—and that’s even more true during this time when they’re working from home.

One report states that two-thirds of American adults say they've dealt with social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether that’s from shelter-in-place orders or transitioning to remote work–or both. This loneliness has manifested as a lack of motivation and feelings of anxiety or depression for many people. Developing ideas for virtual team building activities will help boost your employees’ well-being. They’re valuable opportunities to keep colleagues connected and give them the chance to check in with each other.

Team building is also a powerful motivator. These activities inspire employees to work together and achieve their goals. When they work as part of the team, your employees will not only have a sense of mission and purpose, contributing to the greater good of the company, but will also feel more fulfilled in their roles.

And when they are satisfied with their jobs, it reduces the rate of employee turnover. One survey found that companies with engaged employees had up to 59% less turnover compared to businesses with employees fully invested in their roles. Conversely, a company focusing on teamwork is attractive not just to its current employees but also prospective ones. In turn, it results in a deep pool of job candidates.

You can also see the impact team building can have for your company’s bottom line. One study found that businesses whose employees were motivated in their jobs bring in twice the amount of annual net income compared to companies with less-motivated employees.

Finally, team building can improve communication—and productivity. Clear communication is key to teamwork. A study of workplace performance found that “the best predictors of productivity were a team’s energy and engagement outside formal meetings,” such as time spent in team building activities. The study followed a bank call center team whose members took a coffee break at the same time so that they could socialize and reinforce interpersonal communication. As a result, they were more effective at serving customers. What’s more, the employees were more satisfied with their jobs, too.

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Ideas for virtual team building activities and games

Before getting started, figure out your digital communication strategy. Make sure you have the tools to notify your employees about upcoming team building activities, as well as the digital video conferencing services you’ll use to host these group events. For instance, you may want to set up a dedicated Slack or private Instagram account for company-wide events and announcements. Once that’s lined up, try these virtual team building activity ideas:

1. Host a team meal or happy hour.

Focus on social connections, not shop talk. It’s easy to feed your team while they’re working from home with DoorDash meal solutions. Expensed Meals give your employees the opportunity to order food anywhere, anytime.

2. Plan a fun activity.

Host a virtual version of the popular paint-and-sip events. Purchase painting kits and deliver them to your team. Everyone can paint together while on video conference. You can deliver wine or a nonalcoholic beverage, or you can make the night BYOB. Other fun options include wine or cheese tastings, employee talent shows, dance parties, or karaoke nights. A low-key event that gives everyone the chance to hang out together is a virtual dinner party. It’s easy to organize when you give all your team members a DashPass for Work subscription. They can order from the restaurant of their choice and get $0 delivery and reduced service fees. If creating these events is outside your company’s comfort zone, hire a business that specializes in these virtual events to handle all the logistics for you.

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3. Create a virtual office.

If a small team is working on a project, or just wants to spend time connecting, they can hop on Google Meet or Zoom and work “together” for a few hours. If someone has a question about work, or wants to chat for a minute, their coworkers are right there.

4. Work out together.

Find a studio or teacher who can lead a virtual group class in yoga or meditation. It’s also great for stress relief and relaxation.

5. Re-create the office water cooler experience online.

Did your employees typically gather in the office to talk about the big game they watched last night or the latest TV show they binged? They can still do that on a communication channel devoted to interoffice conversations. You can also post a question or topic each day and encourage everyone to add their responses throughout the day. Alternatively, organize a regular video meeting where employees can gather and talk about the books, tech, or websites that are inspiring them. Keep these sessions informal and free-flowing—they may even lead to some great ideas for your company.

6. Bring in a coach for fun webinars.

If there are certain skills you want to strengthen during team building, have an expert lead a motivational, educational session. Sharpen public speaking skills with an acting teacher, or encourage problem solving and collaboration with improvisational games.

7. Hold regular ice-breaking sessions.

At the beginning of video conferences with your team, divide your employees into small groups and have them go into breakout rooms armed with a few simple icebreaker questions. After about five to 10 minutes, bring everyone back together to share what they’ve learned about each other.

8. Make a game of it.

This can be simple, like a trivia quiz, Never Have I Ever, or the either-or game Pancakes vs. Waffles. It can also be more elaborate, with large-scale online escape rooms or murder mysteries packed with puzzles and challenges. One of the most popular virtual group games is Among Us. Every player takes on a spaceman character and needs to complete tasks—while also not being murdered by a fellow teammate whose character is an undercover imposter. As the virtual bodies pile up, the surviving players have to vote on the murderer’s identity. The internet is full of options for virtual team building games, or find a company that can put together complete game night experiences for your employees. Winners can receive employee gift cards they can use at their favorite restaurants.

9. Go on virtual excursions.

This is a great way for your employees to experience a team building activity they could never do together in person. Want to explore the Louvre, tour the San Diego Zoo, or visit Disney? You can do it all thanks to the wonders of online video.

10. Make videos.

After countless video meetings, everyone is probably very familiar with their colleagues' home offices. Ask your team members to make a video of another room in their home and explain why it’s their favorite space, then watch them all together. Or create a private TikTok account for your company, organize weekly challenges, and have your employees make videos.

11. Flex the creative muscles.

Hold an invention contest, with employees only allowed to use tools and objects they have around the house. Ask everyone to make a work of art with pen and paper, and then have a virtual exhibit.

Enjoy the unique virtual team building opportunities available when working from home. DoorDash for Work meal solutions can be an effective tool in making these activities a success. Contact us to learn more.

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author-kristenvannest
Kristen Van Nest
Writer

Kristen Van Nest is an L.A.-based writer with bylines in Forbes, HuffPost, and VentureBeat to name a few. As a former Fulbright Scholar and Newsroom Columnist for the British Chamber of Commerce’s publication in China, she specializes in market trends and strategies businesses can use to grow. Her free time is spent ordering in dumplings and honeycomb ice cream and writing funny content to make people laugh.