a virtual poker table during a team bonding activity.

Fun and Effective Virtual Team Bonding Activities

Jan 16, 2024

9 min read

Harness the Power of Play

Here’s a quick question to consider: What comes to mind when you think of virtual team bonding activities in your workplace?  Icebreakers before meetings?  Monthly trivia nights?   In the early days of remote work, it seemed like everyone was focused on hanging with their work-family.  We had so many Happy Hours that my liver filched when I logged on to Zoom. 

As the world rebounded and productivity because the priority again, many companies and managers put team building on the back burner.  Now they are starting to see the error in their ways as turnover increases and productivity drops.  Without quality non-work interactions team connections can easily dwindle.  The truth is that team bonding plays a crucial role in creating a positive and supportive work environment, especially in teams that are fully remote.  When your virtual team’s engagement dries up, say goodbye to productivity, team morale, and overall success.

graphic on remote team building statistics showing remote work is here to stay

To counteract this, remote companies must be intentional about maintaining those bonds between remote employees. Without the organic interactions of a traditional office environment teams risk losing those connections.  Not only are strong relationships important for employee satisfaction, but they also lead to better communication, collaboration, and productivity. Creating a top-down approach, like the one mentioned in this Harvard Business Review article on Fostering Camaraderie at Work can lead to a more productive company with higher rates of job satisfaction and lower turnover.  An intentional schedule of team building activities can counteract negative trends. Set your team up for success by:

  • Having a set schedule.  Monthly team building offerings are the best way for a company to show consistent investment in the team. 
  • Adjusting for time zones.  Nothing says selfish more than plannign the party on one offices schedule. 
  • Offering a variety of games.  Participation is optional but having a slate of options will demonstrate your commitment to attracting employees from all over.

So, how can you incorporate virtual team bonding activities into your virtual workplace? It doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. In fact, when you know what resources are available to help bridge the distance between team members, virtual team bonding activities can become – dare we say – the best part of your team culture! Check out our top games for Virtual Team Building.

11 Awesome Virtual Team Building Games

International Food Tour – A gift box of goodies from around the world is sent to all participants of this virtual activity and a professional expert joins the video meeting to lead participants through the tastings.

Bingo  – Several online versions are available with or without hosts but hiring a pro means the game will move quickly.  For a more interesting game, create bingo cards with personal characteristics.  “Speaks more than one language,” “has a pet,” or “has traveled to more than 10 countries” to showcase a virtual coworker in the game.   

Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament – Over 120 million people worldwide play poker so don’t underestimate your office mates.  This is a corporate team building activity that you should hire a vendor to conduct.  (I can recommend one.)  The computer runs the game while professional dealers teach everyone to play.  Poker is a great game for all sized groups because it can be used as a team building activity, networking event, and for customer rewards.  Play for prizes or bragging rights.   

Casino Night – Continuing with the Las Vegas experience is a virtual team building activity with something for everyone.  Real dealers teach guests to play craps, blackjack, and roulette. Players can win chips and prizes.

Escape Rooms – The popular in-person games make a great virtual activity for corporate teams.  Coworkers must solve a series of clues in order to escape in a set amount of time.

Horse Races  – Players work in teams to train their horses, devise race strategies, sabotage their opponents, and bet on the outcomes.  This game requires a host because they will provide the racing forms, stats, and footage of real horse races.

Jeopardy – Play the classic answer-question game as a virtual team building activity.  This game is best done with a professional company because it is more fun with a real game show host to manage the questions and scoring.  Some vendors can customize the answers to reflect company specific messaging.

Mafia – Team members are assigned roles such as “mafia”, “doctor”, and “citizen” in this team building game.  The “mafia” secretly tries to eliminate the other players while the “doctor” tries to save them.

Murder Mystery – Decide who dunnit and see if you’re right. Professional vendors can customize the game to your group size in this activity.

Office Olympics – A professional host will curate the games based on your company’s industry and number of participants.  “Events” can take place in one meeting or over the course of several sessions.  A fun perk in this specific corporate team building activity is that participants earn medals for their finish order that can be mailed to them.

Trivia – Players divide into teams and answer questions.  This can be done in-house or hosted.  We recommend hosted to make sure there are a wide variety of questions and topics. 

three images of games.  a dice game, a card game, and a chess game.  All can be used as virtual team building activities

Making a Case for Virtual Team Bonding Activities

Okay, so you hear the words “virtual team bonding activities,” and you immediately roll your eyes. We get it – much of what we think of team building and bonding involves cringe-worthy icebreakers and forced camaraderie when we’d rather be getting our work done.  Today’s team building is not just trust falls and playing whiteboard Pictionary.  We have several good games for team bonding online listed above and you can see that Pictionary is included, however, we do strongly recommend against virtual trust falls. 

The well-intentioned ghosts of team building past still have a valuable lesson to teach us: bonding is vital for team success. Studies show time and again that teams who bond and have strong relationships are more productive, communicative, and innovative.

Think of the last team or organization you were a part of that wasn’t work-related. What drew you to that group? Most likely, it was a sense of belonging as mentioned in this LinkedIn article on Camaraderie at work.  Feeling like you were a part of something bigger than yourself is empowering.  In the beginning of the pandemic, virtual team bonding activities with those who share a similar interest or hobby skyrocketed and now companies can lean into those shared experiences to encourage participation in their work-based games for team bonding online.

It’s part science, part common sense – when we are happy in our professional relationships, we are more likely to succeed as a team. So it’s easy to imagine why investing in the best virtual team bonding activities can pay off in more ways than one.

More Fun and Effective Virtual Team Bonding Activities

Before we jump into the next section of virtual team bonding ideas and fun games for team bonding online, let’s get an idea of the different types of bonding activities. Not all teams are the same – so your hunt for fun team bonding activities online must begin with an understanding of who is on your team and what they enjoy. There are three main types of online team bonding activities.

  • Communication-Building Games.  Effective communication is the backbone of any successful team, whether it’s in person or online. Virtual team bonding activities that focus on improving communication skills can help foster better collaboration, trust, and understanding among team members. These games and activities can range in style from simple icebreaker questions to large-scale virtual escape rooms. The goal here is to help individuals form new bonds of trust with each other and work on their communication skills in a fun and engaging way.
  • Problem-Solving Activities.  These are great for team bonding because they require teamwork, critical thinking, and creativity. These virtual team bonding activities can range from solving puzzles together to tackling real-world problems as a team. The key is encouraging open-mindedness, active listening, and collaboration among team members.
  • Competitive Activities. Who said all virtual team bonding activities have to be serious? Sometimes, a little friendly competition can bring a team closer together. Virtual game nights or competitions like virtual escape rooms, trivia games, or even online scavenger hunts can be great options for teams to let loose and have fun while still building camaraderie.

When it comes to team bonding, virtual games are a no-brainer. Plus, they’ve come a long way from the old relay races at the corporate picnic days. Today, there are countless options for interactive and engaging team building games that can be easily played in a virtual setting.

For instance, poker makes for an incredibly fun way to exercise your team’s strategic thinking, negotiation skills, and even risk-taking abilities. (Plus, it’s just plain fun!)

5-Minute Virtual Team Building Games

Chubby Bunny Challenge – How many times can you say that phrase in 30 seconds?  It’s harder than you think!

Desert Survival – Team members must create a pack list of five items they would want with them if trapped alone in the desert and defend their choices online. 

Fact vs. Fiction – Participants make three statements about themselves, one of which is false, and participants try to decipher fact from fiction.

Favorite Photo – Tell people to share their favorite photos in their gallery. It could be anything they find interesting; landscape, people, etc.

Fill in the Map – Use a blank map of any continent and see how can fill in the most countries, states, or provinces, correctly. 

I Suck At – Participants are given three different skills to rank how they think they would rate.  Example:  Lumberjack, Doctor, Seamstress.  How would they do and why?

My Best Day – Easy online team building activity where participants share a story about a time or activity that you really enjoyed.

Never Have I Ever – Another easy icebreaker game where one person makes a statement about something they have never done, and participants chime in on their related experiences.      

Story Builder – One participant starts the story with an opening line and then the next participant picks it up from there.

Typing Test – Speedy fingers take the match when office mates battle for keyboard supremacy in this corporate team building activity.

Where Am I? – Players take turns describing a location using landmarks, and traits about the community while answering yes or no questions until the subject is guessed.

Would You Rather? – Participants choose their preferred option from two unappealing choices and explain how they would get out of the situation. Would you rather be trapped on a desert island or at the top of a mountain. Mountain – because I can ski and I’d get down easily. 

Zoom In – A close-up image of an object is shared and gradually zoomed out.  Players must guess the object before it is fully revealed.

Say It  – A scene from an obscure film is shown and participants create the dialogue in real time. This is a quick online team bonding activity that can create some laughs at the start of a meeting.

Taboo – Describe the word but don’t say the word. For a corporate team building twist, choose words that are specific to your job or industry.

Image of a virtual poker dealer, a virtual poker table, and two men sitting and smiling, probably playing virtual poker.

Nothing Beats Poker for the Best Virtual Team Bonding Activity

In the wider market of team bonding activities virtual poker tournaments may just be one of the best ways to get your people around the table (literally)! With our live dealers on hand to teach everyone to play it is truly the easiest game to offer.  One of my favorite things about poker is that the game is the great equalizer as everyone starts with the same chance of winning regardless of their job title or position within the company.

But more than just being a fun and exciting game, poker also focuses on some of the key aspects that increase business skills.  Do you wish your team was better at:

  • Recovery from setbacks.  A hand can start off going in one direction and change dramatically based on the next card or the actions of an opponent.
  • Emotional intelligence. Bad beats are part of the game.  Things don’t go your way and you need to stay in control of your emotional response. 
  • Decision making with time limits. The next hand, and the next decision, is always around the corner.
  • Observing behavior.  Reading people well is a skill that can help when networking, negotiating, or simply getting along with coworkers. 

Don’t underestimate the power of poker when it comes to making your next virtual team bonding activity the best one you’ve ever done.  Not only will poker help to break the ice and build camaraderie, but it can also teach a variety of skills that you never thought possible.

Some FAQ’s about Fun and Effective Team Building Activities

We hope you enjoyed learning about why online team building is important and are excited for your next company party.

What is the best virtual team building game?

Texas Hold’em Poker.  It can be played by anyone, from anywhere, and has enough time between hands to have genuine conversations.

What is the most important thing about team building?

Remember the goal.  You’re creating a place where people can talk, laugh, and really just be together.  A game like poker provides a structure that helps carry everyone along.

What is the worst mistake in virtual team building?

No one is willing to be vulnerable to their coworkers if they are uncomfortable.  Making participation mandatory and putting pressure on people in front of others is the fastest way to kill morale.

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