Virtual Team Building Strategies in a World of Social Distancing

Ideas & strategies for keeping your team connected during a time of social distancing and physical isolation.  

  • Live Remote Office:  A live remote office space gives remote employees the office feel without physically being in an office.  It’s as simple as the first team member to clock in starting a video chat that’s open to any team member.  As team members come online, they join the workspace.  It’s a mimic of the office – a place where all members are working diligently on their own tasks.  This can help virtual workers stay focused and productive and can be done in any video chat software. 
  • Peek Into Each Other’s Home:  Each team member takes a short video showing off their home and some of their favorite things.  This can connect team members on a more personal basis and establish friendships and may be best suited for smaller teams.
  • Have a Virtual Movie Night/Afternoon:  Use Netflix Party, a Chrome extension where people logged in to different Netflix accounts can pick a movie and Netflix Party will sync the playback across accounts and also has a chat room feature so everyone can react and chat in real time.
  • Personal Facts Guessing Game:  Create a sheet with a list of personal facts that employees have to then guess who the fact belongs too.  Once everyone has submitted their answer, create a video chat where you announce who the fact belonged to and even offer that person a chance to give a brief explanation.
    You could also do this with pictures!  Either have everyone send in a picture that uniquely describes a part of their personality or interest OR have everyone send in a  version of the same thing – shoes, coffee mug, wrist watch, pets, etc – and have their team members guess who is who.
  • Picture Sharing Daily Check-In:  IOA is doing this with their remote workforce.  Every afternoon they share a theme for the next day whether it’s coffee mug, new co-workers, home office view, or hats.  Then everyone sends in a picture in the morning to the entire team.  It’s a great way to stay connected virtually and give team members a consistent thing to look forward to.
  • Online Lunch & Learn:  There is no reason lunch & learns can’t continue at your company digitally.  Have a virtual conference room that people can join with their lunches handy and invite an expert to share information. Use Samantha Schilke for a StrengthsFinder session or Carol Hull for Management Strategies.

Tools & Resources:

  • Donut is an extension for Slack that pairs up team members to converse with each other every 1-4 weeks.  The virtual meetings last 15-30 minutes and aim to bond employees on non-work related conversations.
  • Aloha is another Slack extension and is built to create welcome channels for intros and others such as #lunch or #movienight.

Icebreaker Questions to Connect:

Surface level, starting point:

  • What is your favorite possession?
  • If you could have one superpower, which one would you choose?
  • Are you a morning bird or a night owl?
  • Which season is your favorite? Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer?
  • What item or gadget are you currently dreaming of buying?
  • Do you prefer large group hangouts or small one-on-one hangouts?
  • Would you prefer to go to the mountains or the beach?
  • If you could live anywhere on this planet without having to leave anyone or anything behind, where would you live?
  • What was your first paid job?
  • What is the coolest vacation you have ever taken?
  • Which historical figure would you want to meet?
  • What’s a hidden talent you have?
  • As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Go deeper, get vulnerable:

  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • What do you want people to remember you for when you die?
  • What aspect of your personality is the most valuable to those around you?
  • What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
  • Recall the best day of your life. Why was it the best?
  • What’s a personal hardship you’ve been through that led to something positive?
  • If you could add or improve upon one characteristic of your personality, what would you add/improve?
  • Who has been the most influential person in your life thus far?
  • What is one of your biggest goals within your personal life?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment within your academic or professional life?