The 8 Best Virtual Team Building Activities

Virtual Team Building Activities that make the differnece

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Virtual team building activities help your team bond even when they are physically far part. In this guide, we will see what kind of activities really deliver results and can be done virtually. We won’t go into “cool” activities, but only in team building activities that actually work.

This guide comes after the success of the team building online guide. Here, however, we focus more on the activities that you can do rather than the general concept. Still, the guide to team building online is worth a read. From that, let me extract the best key concepts.

Are Virtual Team Building Activities Effective?

Yes, they are, if they adhere to some criteria.

  • They can be done easily and moderated by anyone, at limited cost – no expert needed, no complex software to install.
  • Can be done in multiple separate sessions – not everyone may be playing from the same timezone, you need something you can easily pause and resume.
  • Require collaboration – not just spending time together, but actually relying on each other to accomplish something.
  • Resonate with your work – keep people engaged with something they can relate to, that is close to their identity and to their shared value. If you have a nerdy team, maybe an online game fits this bill.

These are the four golden rules to virtual team building activities. With those, you can come up with your own activities tailored to your team. Here are some quick ideas.

The 8 Best Virtual Team Building Activities

1. Minecraft for Team Building

I can’t stress it enough, Minecraft is probably one of the best virtual team building activities. This is because it is an online game that can run virtually on any PC (both Mac and Windows), it is not expensive, and it is a sandbox world. It means, it comes with no predetermined rules, and you can use it as a virtual reality for your team to bond online.

Work together to build amazing constructions and monuments, go explore and fight monsters together, or win the Ender Dragon. There are unlimited possibilities in this game, so this is great to be part of your virtual team building activities. Furthermore, since it is a role-play game, it builds over time, and you can develop the habit of having all the team to gather and play.

Minecraft is one of the best virtual team building activities ever
Steve, the main character in Minecraft.

You only need to be careful, because since it is sandbox, it has no structure. You need to set some ground rules as a moderator, and guide your team to objectives, quests, and accomplishments that foster collaboration and make them work together.

2. Murder Mystery (Dinner) Party

Either keep or skip the dinner, it is the murder mystery party that drives the virtual team building activities. This activity brings strong social interaction. In case you are not familiar, a murder mystery party is a role-play game where everybody plays the role of a different characters. The host of the dinner has been murdered, and one of the characters is the killer. Everybody else needs to find out who the murderer is.

Preparing a murder mystery party is one of the best virtual team building activities, but you (and your team) need to prepare in advance. First, select or invent a story (there are a lot of free online resources), then assign characters to team members. Do this by thinking about who the people are: you want a character that aligns with the personal traits of the “real” individual.

If you are feeling creative, you can even give it a twist. Instead of a murder, transform it into a case study: pretend some sort of request came from a customer and role-play on how to handle it, assume there is a quality issue in production and find out who the culprit is. Possibilities are endless.

3. Arma III

Arma III is a niche online game and will not work for every team when it comes to online team building activities. Yet, if your team is nerdy, and into shooting games, strategy, or war simulations, this is going to be great.

This is because Arma III is a shooter game where you (almost) realistically simulate real modern war contexts. It is not like those games where you throw yourself into the mix running and shooting like Call of Duty or Fortnite. Instead, you have to hide, coordinate with your team members to have suppressive fire covering you when you architect an escape, and so on.

Airsoft is a great team building activity done in person. Arma III is the online version of this. The game allows you for set of maps with predefined objectives, or a moderator mode where one person acts as admin and decides what happens (for example, spawning enemies or vehicles, and setting the story in general). Having a moderator is more complex, but allows the session to be broken down into multiple instances, as a single game may last multiple hours.

4. Dungeons and Dragons

Dungeons and Dragons is a nerdy game you can do in videocall. There is a moderator that sets some objectives and guides the game, and everybody plays a character with some skills and abilities. It is kind of like murder mystery party, but more fantasy and more open to creative stories. It is hard to explain, but it is one of the greatest virtual team building activities you can find.

I found a great not-so-nerdy video that explains this on YouTube, there you go:

Since, like any other creative or sandbox games, it is open to the input of the moderator, be careful on what you moderate. You set the rules of the game, so make it in such a way that people have to collaborate to overcome obstacles.

5. Charity Intellectual Work, Pro-Bono

Not all virtual team building activities need to be fun games. Some can be meaningful work as well. If your company works remotely, consider taking on some pro-bono work. For example, if you are a creative agency you may volunteer to produce some educational material for your local school, if you are a software company you may do something for your local hospital, and so on.

When the normal work is not that meaningful, having some pro-bono projects can help people reconnect and understand “why it matters”. Be careful though, this is one of the most impactful virtual team building activities, but you don’t want people to feel the pro-bono work is important, while the “normal” work is not.

6. Passion Channel on Teams or Slack

It feels a little bit like cheating putting a passion channel among virtual team building activities, because it is not technically a team building activity. Still, it is something you can use to cement bonds within your team.

Virtual team building activities can include talking about passions, such as cute dogs or pets
Most people love pets, and this can be a great way to bond. Aren’t they cute?

The idea is simple. Pick the chat app your company uses, such as Slack, Teams, Skype, whatever, and create a group that is dedicated to a non-work passion most people share. It may be hiking, pets, cooking, videogames, books, whatever. And then have people post pictures about that topic there. Over time, people will create bonds that exist outside of work.

This won’t create lifelong connections, of course, but is a great way to get a little bit closer.

7. Trivia

Trivia is another popular game that only need people and maybe a moderator, and that you can perform in videocall. Hence, it is a must-have in the list of virtual team building activities. Roles are easy to learn, but in short you will be asked general knowledge questions and you have to answer.

This can be done at individual level, or even better in pairs or groups, so that people have to collaborate. In fact, this works well even for larger teams, because you can use breakout rooms and have moderators send questions to each room, and then join everyone in a single room for prizes and see who the winner is.

8. Virtual Book Club

Last in our list of virtual team building activities we have a virtual book club. It is just like any other book club, but it is done virtually over a video call. In case you are not familiar, a book club is a (virtual) place where people regularly meet to talk about what they are reading, give suggestions to fellow readers, and review books.

Book Clubs can be great team building activities
Books foster knowledge, and can ba great tool to team build.

Of course, this will not work for all teams. But, if you have many avid readers in your team, this will be amazing. Even if you don’t, you may want to consider a “restricted” virtual book club, where you talk only about books in a genre everybody likes (e.g. business books, crime, etc.).

This can create meaningful connections over time, and this is why we included it in the list of virtual team building activities.

Virtual Team Building Activities in Summary

There is no right or wrong virtual team building activity, but only activities that work for you or don’t. Start by understanding who you have on your team, what they like, what they do, and then construct activities and role-play scenarios accordingly. You will be set in no time!

Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.
Picture of Alessandro Maggio

Alessandro Maggio

Project manager, critical-thinker, passionate about networking & coding. I believe that time is the most precious resource we have, and that technology can help us not to waste it. I founded with the same principle: I share what I learn so that you get value from it faster than I did.

Alessandro Maggio