Ideas for COVID-safe, team-building activities: part 2

Last week, we gave some ideas for how to get the team together if you can go back to the office. 

But not everyone is going back to the office yet – for many people, working from home will be the new normal. Finding time to socialize and strengthen team bonds is a must when remote working, to keep up the all-important company culture and employee wellbeing whilst based in different cities, spaces and timezones.

For those of you who still can’t meet together in-person, here are more team-building activities which work just as well online as they do in-person.

Pub quiz

A classic remote team building activity that everyone can feel part of. Ask each department or team member to come up with a round of quiz questions for a good mix of topics. Try multiple choice questions, true or false or even office trivia for a fun and engaging quiz. Some examples are: 

  • How many kilograms of coffee beans does the office use per month? 
  • During an average day, how many miles does a typist’s fingers travel?* A) 6 miles B) 12.6 miles C) 3.5 miles D) 9.7 miles
  • Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. True or false?**

Then either answer the questions individually or as teams – using a quiz team Slack channel will help improve communication over instant messenger. 

Whose desk is whose?

We have all had our fair share of Zoom quizzes during the lockdown period, so this remote team building activity is a welcome alternative. 

Ask team members to take a picture of their working from home desk as it is, without any last minute rearranging! Send all pictures to the organiser, who can then share the photos anonymously. The team members then guess whose desk is who’s, looking out for clues and tell-tale signs of their colleagues.

Remote photo competitions

This is a favourite remote team building activity for the Spacebase team. We like to do ours on a Friday, to end the week with some lighthearted competition. 

Choose a theme for the contest, which could be anything from ‘best WFH creation’ to ‘my perfect Sunday’. Set up an individual Slack channel to avoid spamming your work channels and let your and your team’s imagination run wild. Get all members to vote for their favourite photo and have it framed ready for the return to the office.

Aliens have landed/ Symbology

This remote team building activity not only encourages your team to get creative, but also provides a good insight into your company culture during the working from home period. 

Divide the team into small groups. Set the challenge that aliens have landed and they can only communicate with symbols (these could be special characters on the keyboard or also emojis).

  • First, give each team a simple sentence which they have to rewrite using only symbols – each team has a different message and must decide as a group (via a private call) how to convey their message clearly to the others. They then send the coded message to the other teams who have to guess what the symbols mean. Start with simple sentences from daily life (“Is it lunchtime yet?”, “Do you want tea or coffee?”, “Is this your umbrella?”) and work up to more complex and abstract ideas. You could also use categories like film titles, song lyrics and proverbs.
  • Second, ask the teams to come up with their own symbols which they think best describe the company or their department. These can be drawn on-screen together, to make use of collaborative tools which can be edited by many people at once, and then shared with the other teams for discussion.

Virtual cocktail evening

A remote take on after-work drinks, bringing the bar to your home. Send out a couple simple cocktail and mocktail recipes and allow some time at the end of the day for your team to prepare their drinks. Then, enjoy your drinks together on a video conference call!

Giving people shared recipes will encourage conversation to develop. This is a great way to encourage colleagues to interact with those they don’t normally work with on a more common ground and personal level.

Lunch groups

Eating together is good for the soul. A more intimate version of the cocktail evening is a lunch group. Randomly split teams into small groups so they can organise having lunch together virtually at the same time. This gives people a chance to vary who they have contact with.

What I’ve learned in lockdown

Many people have developed new skills and hobbies while stuck at home, and discovering shared interests is a good way to get to know your team better, especially after a long couple months away from the office. This is a great long-term activity.

Split your team into small groups of 3-5 members. Each week, nominate someone to introduce their new-found hobby to the team, be it reading, a podcast, baking or learning a new language. Everyone in the group tries out this hobby for a week, updating the group regularly and asking the week’s leader for guidance if they need it. 

*12.6 miles

** True

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