What is digital team building?
Digital team building has two primary and intertwined aims:
How digital team building activities can build trust among team members
As a manager, there are many tools available to you that can help to build trust among your team members. One of the simplest and yet most effective strategies is to engage each of your remote team members with a centralized participation app (such as our Meeting app), which allows all of your team members to effectively contribute to discussions and joint projects.Digital team building takes this insight one step further. By allowing your employees to work together in a controlled and safe environment, they can learn about each others’ strengths and weaknesses. This builds trust, which in turn increases their efficacy and teamwork skills in the real world.
How digital team building activities can make your team more productive and efficient
There is a deep and fundamental relationship between productivity, efficiency, and cohesive teamwork. If your team trusts each other, their communication will always be much more effective because it creates an environment where open communication is encouraged and where each individual member feels that they can depend upon one another. This is the insight on which we built our own Questions app.At a deeper level, a team that is able to quickly delegate tasks to those team members best equipped to deal with them is a much more productive team. Doing this skillfully requires practice, and that’s why team building games for work are so valuable because they can help team leaders or project managers figure out each team member’s strengths and weaknesses.
Ten digital team building activities
So without further ado, let’s get to the activities your employees or contractors can use for improving teamwork online. Here are our ten favorites:
- Ice Breakers
The first – and arguably the most difficult – challenge in designing and running digital team building exercises for work is getting everyone warmed up. Young, shy, or new members of your team can feel especially reticent to becoming engaged with your team building activities, and may feel very self-conscious when they first arrive in your digital space.The solution to this is to plan in an ice breaker activity for the beginning of each of your digital team building sessions. Here at Klaxoon, we’ve built up an impressive library of ice breaker templates and ideas – feel free to use them!The aim of an ice breaker activity should be to get everyone engaged in your session, so make sure that everyone makes at least one contribution, and note down any interesting facts or discussions: you can return to these throughout your session.
- Banana Challenge
One of our favorite ice breakers is the Banana Challenge. With our free-to-use template, you have everything you need to run this game. The idea behind the game is simple enough. You break your participants into teams, with a minimum of four people per team. Then, ask these teams to find a name for themselves, which can either be as wacky or as serious as they like.The game then progresses through a series of rounds, each of which proceeds like this. Designate one team as referees for the round, and ask them to set a timer for four minutes. The other teams then have three minutes to post an idea to the team building questions we have presented on our template sheet.At the end of these three minutes, the referee team has one minute to award points, which here we are calling bananas. The team that posted their answer first gets one point (banana), while the team that posted the most original answer gets three.
- If I Were…
If I were... is another great ice breaker game and digital team building activity for which we’ve also provided you with a free template. This game goes a little deeper than the Banana Challenge though. The aim here is for team members to introduce themselves by way of analogy. On our template sheet, we provide four analogies that we’ve found to work really well – a city, a dish, an animal, and a song. Team members then have a few minutes (set a timer) to choose images, text, links, images, or drawings that explain who they would be if they were a city, animal, etc. Each team member then has one minute (again, set a timer) to take others through their choices, and explain some of their reasoning behind them.
- Who’s Who?
Who’s who is a slightly more complex game than the two we’ve explained above, but it can be an effective way of quickly building trust between your employees. Take a look at our template for this game, and we’ll see that we’ve provided you with everything you need to play it.This game works like an investigation. Here, you will ask your team members to share two unusual or quirky pieces of information about themselves, and then jumble these up. Then, all of your team members will try to match the pieces of information to the people they refer to. This can often lead to hilarious consequences to help lighten the mood, but it can also reveal a lot about the personalities of each of your team members.
- Team Mood
Team Mood is not so much a game as much as it is a more serious activity designed to help you assess your team members. The concept of Team Mood is simple: you take ten minutes or less, and go around the (virtual) room with everyone speaking about how they’re currently feeling or what’s on their mind. Check out our template for this game, and you’ll find characters, drawings, and situations at your disposal. Your team members can play around with the different options and place their selfie next to the character or situation that best matches their current mood. Team Mood is ideal to use before an extended workshop or training session. Not only does it help you better analyze the mood of the team, it also helps team members become settled in and comfortable expressing themselves with one another.
- One, Two, Three
One, Two, Three is a fun team building game intended to organize an efficient workshop where each person is comfortable expressing themselves with one another. To play, each person will share three images they create in response to three questions asked by other team members. The entire game should take around ten minutes or less, and your team members can use our template to create their images, which can include drawings, images, and text.
- Two Truths and a Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is an old favorite of a party game, but it also works extremely well as a digital team building exercise. In this game, your team members take five minutes to quickly draft three stories. Two should be descriptions of quirky things that actually happened to them, and one should be a work of (believable) fiction. Each employee will tell all three of their stories in turn, and their colleagues can then ask them questions about the details of each story. The aim, for those asking the questions, is to work out which stories are true, and which are not. You can award points for successful guesses if you like, but that’s not really the point of this game. Instead, it’s a great way to foreground the creativity and performative skills of your team members.
- Bucket List
This digital team building activity is great for ambitious, outgoing teams. The idea is simple – you give all of your team members a limited amount of time (say five minutes) to write down a “bucket list”. This is a list of activities they would like to do, or things they would like to achieve, at a future point in their lives. You simply then ask each team member in turn to share their list.The key to this activity is to pay attention to the synchronicity between lists. If one team member has done something another wants to do, this can be a great moment to share what they thought about it. Even better, if two team members have the same item on their list, then they can challenge each other to complete it within the year and hold the other accountable. This game requires a little more input from you as a manager, because you will need to build enough trust and openness between your team members to the point that they are happy about sharing their personal goals and interests. But if done correctly, this kind of forward-looking game can be very effective.
- Workspace Tour Guide
A slightly more unusual activity, Workspace Tour Guide is a team building game best used with teams who already know each other a little (so play one or two of the other team building games on this list first). The central concept here is that we are all naturally curious about the small trophies, awards, photos, plants, and decorations we see on the walls or shelves behind our colleagues during video conferences, but at the same time, few of us have the time to actually ask our colleagues about them.The aim behind the Workspace Tour Guide game is simply to take time for employees to ask one another about the objects or decorations in their office or workspaces. As long as a team member is happy to share (and you should ask them in private first), they can act as a virtual tour guide around their workspace.
- Scrabble Scramble
Scrabble Scramble is another old favorite party game that likewise makes a great remote team building activity. In this simple game, you break your team into smaller teams – three or four people per team works well for this activity. Then, you display a collection of seven letters on a shared screen. The job of each smaller team is to come up with as many words as they can from these seven letters.This is a great game for stressing the importance of teamwork to your team members, and you’ll find that the best teams are those that delegate finding words to different team members – one person will focus on those beginning with a “B”, for instance, while someone else looks for common parts of words.This game is also very valuable because it encourages otherwise shy team members to share their ideas. Everyone can come up with at least one word to contribute to the team, and snagging a seven-letter word provides a real sense of victory. This is the kind of process that we built our board app around, and you can see the similarities immediately.
FAQ about digital team building
If you still have some questions about the value and practicalities of using virtual team building activities, we’re here to help.
How can you help your remote team become more cohesive and trusting of one another?
You can use a variety of techniques to do this, including the kind of team building activities we’ve given you above. However, you should also recognize that building trust in remote teams is a long-term process, and will require a few team building sessions (and perhaps even a few crises) before team members feel fully open with one another.
How effective are digital team building activities?
This is an easy question to answer: team building activities are very effective. This is not surprising, because in the hustle and bustle of everyday work, we get little chance to connect to our colleagues on a personal level. Team building activities, and even digital remote ones, can provide a space for us to bring our real personalities to the workplace, and this makes our work far more satisfying and productive.
What are the best games and activities for remote team building?
We’ve given you ten of our favorite remote team building games and activities above. We hope you enjoy and get as much value out of them as we do!
Happy teams are productive teams, and there is no more efficient way to improve the morale of your team than through a digital team building session. Just because you are working remotely does not mean you should forgo the process of getting to know (and coming to trust) your colleagues; it just requires a little more creativity.Ultimately, effective virtual collaboration requires you to use an effective virtual team working space, and one that is accessible to everyone in your team. This is what the activities above are designed to provide, as is our Board visual management app.