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How to Remotely Handle Employee Celebrations, Team-Building

Posted by Tasnim Ahmed

May 27, 2020

Many businesses build their cultures around such events as employee staff huddles, team-building exercises, sports and retreats. But today, those aren’t possible in most cases, since so many people are working remotely to avoid coronavirus’ spread. However, remote teams can still have fun and stay connected through virtual team-building activities while simultaneously improving the way they work together.

In a virtual team-building activity, each team member is on their computer, and they interact using an internet-connected tool for chat, email, audio or video communication. The purpose of the activity could be either team-building, forging social bonds or both. While some exercises need real-time attention, others offer flexibility to participate at any suitable time in the given period.

It’s a matter of preference whether you want to perform these types of activities on a daily, weekly, occasional or annual basis. Following is a list of effective remote team-building and fun activities that can boost trust, motivation, productivity, collaboration and engagement of your team.

Real-Time Team-Building Activities

To establish a culture of online social interaction in your company, encourage employees to reach out to each other online. Start your virtual meetings or team calls with a personal check-in — ask your employees about their well-being or recent project successes.

Celebrate your company's triumphs, and appreciate contributing members via video call. Appreciate employees' hard work and achievements by sending emails, rewards or notes to boost their morale.

Asynchronous Team-Building Activities

Establish learning circles to enable employees to connect and exchange information with others across the entire organization. Create a channel in your staff communication platform (such as Slack or Teams) dedicated solely to random conversations and sharing things like quotes, stories and photos among employees. The channel will enable staff members to learn about each other’s common interests.

Real-Time Fun Activities

These activities improve employees’ collaborative and listening skills, building clear and effective communication among remote teams:
  1. Virtual lunch or coffee sessions

    – time required: 30 minutes. The team connects via video conferencing during lunchtime, discussing casual topics.
  2. Virtual holiday parties

    – time required: 1 to 2 hours. The team connects via video call for costume- or theme-based parties like Halloween and Christmas. Online parties have also become a tradition in remotely operating firms like Toptal, FlexJobs, Xerox and Zapier.
  3. Virtual non-work gatherings

    – time required: 30 minutes . Remote teams can attend an online session for yoga, fitness dancing, happy-hour trivia competitions and book club meetings.
  4. Story buildin

    g – time required: 20 minutes. The team builds a story around the given picture together or frames it by adding one statement each until everyone has a turn.
  5. Viewing party

    - time required: 30 minutes to one hour. The team can watch a video or listen to a podcast together over the conference call.
  6. Online gaming events

    – time required: 30 minutes. The team can play many online games virtually by creating a room. These games can be both educational and enjoyable.
  7. Identify the song

    – time required: 15 minutes. One member of the team shares an instrumental song and asks others to identify the actual song in a limited time period.

Asynchronous Fun Activities

  1. Socialize over group chat

    – time ranges from 5 to 15 minutes. This is an ideal way for distributed teams to stay in touch and talk about random things, discuss health, examine how they’re working together, and more.
  2. Picture sharing

    – time required: 10 minutes. Ask the team to share a picture that tells a story about their life, pets, favorite objects, hobbies, family members, favorite TV shows, nature’s image, workspace and more, with details about it in a line.
  3. GIF battles

    – time required: 20 minutes. Ask your team to share an image or .gif to describe certain situations or topics that suit the theme. Once everyone has their GIFs in, ask everyone to vote for the best submission.
  4. Draw a picture

    – time required: 15 minutes. Someone describes a picture/object, and everyone else draws what they hear.
  5. Online Scrabble

    – time required: 10 minutes. Each player gets a tile with letters and then combine the letters to create words. The player with the most words becomes the winner.
  6. Two truths and a lie

    – time required: 10 minutes. When one employee puts two truths and one lie about himself/herself, other employees will guess the lie, and whoever picks the right one gains points.

Steps to Plan a Remote Celebration

Follow this six-step approach for successfully planning and conducting virtual team-building and fun activities:
  1. Plan early, plan well.

    Plan things in advance, like which date and time would work best for everyone, what employees liked and disliked about previous retreats, what are the skills of your coworkers, and how you might spin them into a holiday-themed event.
  2. Offer different ways of engagement.

    Design virtual events around common interests of team members. Include different types of engagement so everyone can participate in something such as informal chats, craft, quizzes, yoga or cooking.
  3. Create a digital space for celebration.

    Having a central spot for gatherings will help get everybody on the same page.
  4. Announce the activities in advance.

    Provide everyone with time to decide what to wear, gather supplies, clear their schedules and get answers to their queries.
  5. Provide flexibility.

    Give everyone the freedom to hop in and out of events based on their preferences and schedules.
  6. Get feedback.

    Gather feedback from the team after a retreat, take note of what was a hit, what you should do differently next time, or any other comments.


Tasnim Ahmed
Tasnim Ahmed

Tasnim Ahmed is a content writer at Escalon Business Services who enjoys writing on a multitude of subjects that include finops, peopleops, risk management, entrepreneurship, VC and startup culture. Based in Delhi NCR, she previously contributed to ANI, Qatar Tribune, Marhaba, Havas Worldwide, and curated content for top-notch brands in the PR sphere. On weekends, she loves to explore the city on a motorcycle and binge watch new OTT releases with a plateful of piping hot dumplings!

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