Before the pandemic, company managers would hold team-building activities in an office meeting room with everyone physically present in the same space. For many companies, things changed significantly over the past few years. Hybrid offices, where employees split time between in-office and remote work, are the new norm.² As more companies switch to a hybrid work model, teams must adapt to virtual team builders that suit all employees.⁷
If implemented properly, team-building activities can improve the company culture and help create a collaborative team.³ This article will provide some examples of activities that work best for a hybrid office and address how you can make virtual team builders effective.
Ineffective team building not only wastes time but can also lead to a lack of interest and participation in future activities.³ Instead, focus on these tips to make your virtual team builders effective.
Virtual meetings can make participation challenging for less-verbal team members. To ensure everyone is giving their input, assign tasks to individuals or small groups. Divvying out responsibility gives all members an equal opportunity to participate and share ideas.⁸
Fun, engaging activities can help everyone feel welcome and involved. Let’s look at some virtual team builders you can use in your own hybrid office.
Most high-performing teams regularly participate in rituals or traditions that increase cooperation, build trust, and create a sense of belonging.¹ These traditions can be any repeatable group activity that helps team members bond and learn from each other.
Here are 16 fun team traditions and activities you can use to foster a feeling of friendship among team members.
Kahoot is an online trivia platform where businesses and schools can create games or find existing trivia from previous users. All you need is a screen to display the questions, and participants can play from their phones.
Teams can use trivia to learn more about company goals, team performance, or even new employees. Do your co-workers know your favorite sports? Can anyone guess when your employer graduated from college? Who knows their team’s goals for the quarter?
Trivia encourages participation, which ensures that team members learn from each other, fostering a sense of inclusion.³ You can also change the trivia topic depending on the purpose of the meeting. Add fun, lighthearted trivia to a weekly happy hour or focus on team-specific trivia for a more business-focused activity.
In a virtual office, employees may miss out on opportunities for casual conversations with co-workers about hobbies and interests.² You can create these skillshare opportunities by holding virtual activities where team members can show something they specialize in, such as a cookie recipe, a skincare routine, or new mindfulness practices. The goal of skillshares should be to help employees learn new skills and practice their entrepreneurial spirit.⁴
As technology automates many parts of our jobs, creativity is becoming more valuable than ever.⁶ To build team culture and promote employee well-being, hold a group brainstorming session where team members can share prompts and volunteer ideas.⁶ These meetings should create a relaxed, creative space where employees can share issues and present solutions from a new frame of mind.
A designated time for contemplating projects can help keep employees in a productive mindset while also encouraging creative thinking and collaboration.⁶ These creative brainstorms don’t require a whole workday, either – simply spend an hour or two learning how to use a new tool or brainstorming for a project or partnership.
During team builders or meetings, dedicate a social channel in Slack, Microsoft Teams, or social media where virtual attendees can share photos, videos, and live commentary during events. When co-workers can’t sit next to each other in a physical meeting, a social channel is a great way to replicate the feeling of conversing with team members and sharing media.
Enneagram tests have emerged as one of the most popular personality inventories, and taking a personality test can be an interesting way to get to know co-workers. Learn more about Enneagram numbers here.
Send a delegate “host” from the company to learn from a professional and live stream it for the virtual attendees to follow along from home. Much like a skillshare, these hybrid-office team builders aren’t limited to just a cooking class. Your host could just as easily take virtual employees to a yoga class, or any activity that team members could follow along with online.
Organize a cross-department matchup for employees to meet someone new through one-on-ones. Virtual and hybrid employees are naturally much more familiar with their immediate team members than they are with co-workers from other departments.⁸ Hold a one-on-one activity with a team from another department to increase connectivity and employee familiarity across the company.
Start a company-wide birthday policy where everyone gets $20 for lunch. If employees work virtually on their birthdays, they miss the in-office celebrations. Help make office birthdays exciting again by giving everyone a gift card to use for lunch – regardless of where they’re working – or any small gift that at-home employees can enjoy.
Upgrade team bonding with Gatheround. Gatheround is a platform where virtual or hybrid teams can schedule breaks in their calendar, gather for activities with co-workers, and connect, bond, and learn with each other.
Some hybrid companies have employees scattered across the state or even across the country. Taking the company offsite is a great way to bring everyone together on a trip so people can meet face-to-face and get to know each other. Learn more about offsites and see how OfficeTogether has worked to keep employees connected.
Workshops or “Lunch and Learns” with guest speakers are some of the most successful events in a hybrid work setting. It’s easy for guest speakers to talk to an in-person audience while virtual attendees watch via broadcast. For ideas on what topics guest speakers can cover, click here.
While major holidays like Christmas and Halloween are often celebrated in the office, smaller holidays often get ignored. Invite a guest speaker to talk about a holiday or month you want to focus on, such as Black History Month.
Companies like Vivant offer online classes to help you explore the world of wine, along with taste-testing kits with samples of different wines. Meet together in person if possible, and invite virtual employees to attend from home.
To encourage employees to keep a team-first mindset, hold a company-wide nomination weekly or biweekly to vote for the top team-oriented contributor. This can give hybrid employees a chance to work with each other and recognize each other’s successes.
Foster friendly competition with a company color war week. Select cross-department teams and assign each team a color. The challenge is to find the most creative way to use the color across all virtual and in-person platforms – like changing your zoom background to your team color, wearing team colors into the office, etc.
Make your virtual appreciation tangible by sending physical, handwritten letters on birthdays, holidays, work anniversaries, or to recognize top performers.
Hybrid offices are the new reality for many companies, and they show no signs of losing relevance. 53% of Americans say they would work remotely even if they had to cover added costs, and companies are listening to these requests.¹ A 2021 survey found that 87% of large companies will be adopting hybrid work, and 33% of those companies are investing in desk booking services.²
At OfficeTogether, we know how to help companies efficiently manage a hybrid office. OfficeTogether is a desk booking system that we purposefully built for hybrid offices. With easy desk and meeting room reservations, event management, and space optimization tools, OfficeTogether empowers employees to work in a space where they can be most productive. To see how we’ve helped our clients tackle the challenge of managing a hybrid office, read more here.