All groups needs a spirit of collaboration in which to thrive. In the midst of the current pandemic, maintaining close relationships has proven especially challenging, including on the higher education level where students often have to juggle between numerous group projects throughout the year. With classes taking place online and a limited access to campus, feeling isolated from friends and colleagues has become the norm among students rather than the exception.
With this in mind, we all need to rethink ways to keep the team spirit alive in a remote context. How can we bring students together mentally, if not physically?
Without further ado, here is a list of creative team-building activities for groupmates looking to add some sparkle to their virtual meetings.
1. Team-building Bingo
Life at home seems rather dull and uneventful compared to the daily ritual of coffee breaks between classes. As a result, when a virtual meeting comes up, no one possibly knows what anecdote to share with their teammates. This bingo will help break the ice and spark funny conversations among colleagues:
Did someone admit to wearing pajama bottoms to a video meeting? Cross it off the list. Was your meeting interrupted by your teammate’s delivery man or barking dog? Cross it off too! A remote work bingo will help dedramatize the situation and make working from home seem more eventful, and eventually fun too.
2. Guessing the Emoji board
You are probably used to include emojis practically anywhere, from personal texts to work emails. But have you ever wondered which ones your colleagues use most often and why? To start off the activity, each teammate should take a screenshot of their phone or computer keyboard and share it with the group. Then ensues the burning question: Why does your colleague Kelly use a “clueless” emoji so much?
Here is how to play the “Guess the Emoji board”:
Create a list of all players and distribute it to each colleague.
Within 5 minutes, each player should guess the top 5 used emojis by each person on the list.
When time is up, reveal the answers and award points based on accuracy, similarity of emojis and getting them in the right order.
If time remains, spark a discussion to find out the reasons behind using the funniest or most intriguing emojis.
3. Virtual Pub Trivia
Meeting up with classmates to have a drink after work seems like a distant memory. But who said the experience can’t be replicated at home?
Here is how to organize a virtual pub trivia quiz: Invite participants to a call and ask them to bring their favorite drink. The designated event host then divides participants into smaller groups and reads out questions. As for a traditional trivia game, the fastest team to give the right answer wins.
Trivia questions are endless, but you can find a few ideas organized into categories to get started here.
To make the activity more work-related, you could also thematize the trivia game and ask questions related to your industry, company or specific department.
4. Tiny Campfire
What better setting than a campfire, marshmallows and scary stories to form bonds? While meeting in a forest to camp is not very realistic for now, nothing stops you and your teammates from camping at home.
Arm yourself with tealight candles, matches, and s’mores ingredients (marshmallows, crackers and chocolate), prepare some spooky stories and you will be ready for a virtual camping night with classmates!
For more of a Swiss touch, don’t hesitate to convert this tiny campfire into a fondue or raclette evening – different ingredients, same teambuilding effects!
5. Exciting Sponge
Has the title caught your attention yet? Exciting Sponge consists of a storytelling game where each team member tells a story about an object within arm’s length. If no object is available, or if inspiration is lacking, one can default to telling a story about a sponge.
The goal of this slightly absurd game is to make a seemingly uninteresting object exciting and worthy of attention. Who knew a post-it or a USB stick could be so fascinating?
6. DIY Craft Challenge
An effective way to spark creativity among teams can be found by organizing a DIY challenge. DIY activities come in various shapes, for instance, participants could craft the same object at the same time by following a step-by-step instruction manual. The choice of DIY craft is not the most important here. What matters is for colleagues to perform the activity simultaneously, help each other out and have fun together.
Another, more creative approach consists of organizing a crafting competition where each person builds an object from material available at home within a certain time limit. A great opportunity to test your creativity and empty drawers of unused materials at the same time! When everyone is done, votes are attributed to the most creative project – prizes optional.
7. Virtual Book Club
Reading is mostly a solitary activity – but it doesn’t always have to be. In fact, it could very well be turnedinto a social endeavor. The principle of a virtual book club is rather similar to an in-person one: a common book is read at a similar pace by all members who regularly meet to express their opinion about it.
Not everyone is an avid reader, and literary tastes tend to vary. Therefore, it might be wise to start with short stories, novellas or even graphic books. Each week or so, club members could meet and share their thoughts on their current reading. Then, every month, members could vote on which book to read next.
To make it more “work-oriented”, you could also decide to read non-fiction books specialized in your field of study. This way, group members would have the opportunity to share their thoughts on books while increasing their knowledge in a particular field.
8. Remote Team Dinner
Sharing food is not only a delicious activity, it is a great opportunity to spend time with other and foster relationships. At a time where sharing lunch with co-workers and organizing team dinners proves difficult in person, remote dinners are a viable option.
Gather your team for an online dinner: you could choose to cook the same meal or ask each person to prepare their favorite dish. Another fun activity could be to start the meeting a bit earlier and go through the recipe together - laughs guaranteed!
Here as well, a contest could be organized and a prize awarded to the best-looking or most creative dish. This will also give everyone a sneak peek into which teammate is the best cook, to keep in mind when in-person dinners are allowed again.
9. Virtual Dance Party
In these times where working at home equates with sitting down for 8+ hours each day, shaking off physical and emotional tensions is crucial more than ever. For those who are not afraid to show off some moves, a virtual dance party could well be the solution.
Feel free to make it a quick activity at the start of a meeting to loosen the atmosphere or make it a designated event. Don’t worry if you don’t know any fancy dance moves, the important part is to have fun! Here are some ideas of engaging songs to make your team dance to:
Uptown Funkby Mark Ronson & Bruno Mars
Heavy, California by Jungle
Kiss by Prince
Get Lucky by Daft Punk & Pharrell Williams
Money by Michael Kiwanuka & Tom Misch
Of course, the list of songs is endless and subject to your team’s preferences.
10. Rose/Thorn virtual icebreaker
In this activity, each person will get the chance to share how they are feeling at the moment, in terms of work and/or personal life. One after another, each team member shares his or her “rose” (a positive thing that makes them feel happy, proud or grateful) and a “thorn” (a challenge which made them feel down and that they want to overcome).
This activity will act as a short icebreaker and can be used at the very beginning of a meeting to strengthen communication and support within the group.
These are just a few activities among many more which can be used to make classmates feel closer during difficult times. Are you convinced yet? Then do not hesitate to try some of the suggestions on this list and let us know how they worked for your team!