25 Virtual team building activities

Jelena Fisic

Last updated on: October 19, 2022

Maybe your first association with team building activities is the TV series “The Office” and Michael Scott’s relentless attempts to woo his colleagues and prove to them that he’s cool. 

But trust us, team building doesn’t have to be lame. 

The cringe factor can be dialed down to the minimum, and even digital natives — i.e. Gen Z and Millennials — might enjoy these activities, if you carefully choose them.

But, how are we supposed to practice team building activities if we’re working from home? 

Namely, according to Remote work statistics 2022, in the last decade, the number of remote workers increased by 159%. 

So, since the whole world went remote, even team building activities had to migrate to the Internet. But, how does this work? How can you virtually bond with your team members? Is it even possible?

In the following paragraphs, we’ll:

  • Define team building and explain the difference between team bonding and team building, 
  • Deal with the importance of virtual team building, 
  • Discover how to easily organize team building activities, and 
  • Give you some examples of virtual team building activities you could try out with your coworkers.

So, let’s get started!

25 Virtual team building activities

What is team building? 

You’ve surely heard of both team building and team bonding

However, we’re not sure you know the difference between the two. 

Don’t worry, we’ve got this!

Although sometimes used interchangeably, there is a slight difference in meaning between these two terms. 

Namely, team building refers to any activities that have productivity as the main focus for the team — they help your team perform more effectively. 

On the other hand, the focus of team bonding is strengthening relationships within a team and improving employees’ soft skills.

However, you can’t have one without the other.

Let’s agree on the fact that the ultimate goal of both team bonding and team building is to form strong and capable teams with a shared vision and objectives. 

So, to simplify our quest for this ideal, bonded, efficient team, we’ll be referring to these activities as team building activities.

Now let’s see why virtual team building activities are useful.

Why should you organize virtual team building activities?

The benefits of virtual team building activities are manifold. 

If you’re unsure whether you should try them out, just look at some of the reasons why your answer to this question should be “Yes”.

Team building improves your employees’ soft skills

The focus of team building is to strengthen the relationship between coworkers and further develop their soft skills in the process. 

Since research has shown that 85% of job success comes from having developed soft skills, it is crucial for companies to work on improving their employees’ soft skills. 

This is precisely why companies should invest more of their resources into developing these kinds of skills — and what better way to do that than team building activities?

Team building improves communication and collaboration

Getting to know your colleagues in a relaxed environment eases the tension you feel when surrounded by people you are not close to. (We’re looking at you, introverts!)

That’s why it’s important for coworkers to gain insight into one another’s more personal side. 

Team building activities are a perfect tool to that end since they enable team members to see one another in a different light. 

Even your introverted colleagues benefit from this kind of structured communication since these activities give them guidelines for communication. 

Team building boosts employees’ engagement and job satisfaction

Loss of motivation in the workplace is a serious problem for employees. Usually, part of the blame lies with the management

Namely, the managers just have to stop demotivating their employees. 

To maintain the enthusiasm their employees felt at the beginning of a new job, managers should respect their employees and work on their relationships with them. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, according to the Forbes article, 66% of the employees would quit if they felt unappreciated. 

Fortunately, there is an easy fix. 

Since feeling valued at work is good for the employees’ well-being, the management can work on this aspect, to boost employee morale and job satisfaction. 

Employees like to be a part of something that is more than a job. 

They want something fun to look forward to — so, when management encourages employees to have fun, employees become more engaged

And, when employees become more engaged, they become more motivated and more satisfied with their jobs. 

Team building improves productivity

When team members are closely knit, they usually collaborate better, which ultimately leads to company success

If you motivate employees to work together through team building activities, you are setting them up for better performance in the work environment as well. 

Apart from that, team building activities sometimes reveal hidden talents in your employees — such as leadership qualities — which can later be beneficial for your company. 

Moreover, according to Workplace communication statistics (2022), effective communication facilitates trust, which has beneficial effects on productivity. 

Team building increases trust and respect among coworkers

Team building activities are designed to develop friendships and healthy professional relationships among coworkers. 

Since they are the best possible icebreakers for new employees, team building activities enable newcomers to find their place in the team without even trying to do so. 

This way, new employees can develop relationships with their coworkers and bond with them, consequently making a workplace more enjoyable. 

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Now that we’ve seen reasons for organizing virtual team building activities, let’s find the easiest way to do so. 

How to organize virtual team building activities 

To organize virtual team building activities that won’t make your coworkers cringe, roll their eyes, and make up excuses for not participating, there are some guidelines you should follow:

  • First of all, you should determine your timeline — Your coworkers need to know how long the activity is going to take, so they can decide whether they can make the time for it. 
  • After that, create a budget and discuss with your team what kind of activities they would like. 
  • Decide on the type and time of virtual team building activities — Working in a remote workplace has its own set of challenges, one of which is working in different time zones. Luckily, that’s no reason not to have fun with your coworkers on the other side of the globe. Namely, virtual team building activities can take place in real-time, or asynchronously. There lies your chance to involve all your colleagues in fun activities. All that’s left for you is to pick a communication tool, such as Pumble, get your team organized, and enjoy.

However, keep in mind that virtual team building isn’t the same as team building in real-life physical space. 

So, you might want to pay attention to different sets of challenges since they are easier to overlook when you and your coworkers are not physically present in the same space. 

That’s why we’re providing you with a few tips. 

Tip #1: Incorporate virtual team building in every meeting

Start every meeting with a quick team building activity to liven up a virtual team meeting.

Choose from a variety of virtual icebreakers to relax the atmosphere. 

A good choice would be a game of Pancakes vs. waffles (more on that later), but you can pick any of the activities above.

Tip #2: Don’t forget the introverts

Although most often the most reserved people in the office, introverts are the quiet powerhouse of your workplace

However, in the remote work environment, introverts might find it even more difficult to share their thoughts, or to be visible

Keeping in mind that they are a valuable asset to your team, your job is to animate them in a virtual environment. 

A good icebreaker is a completely acceptable way to engage your shy employees. Don’t give up on the silent ones. 

Tip #3: Follow the 2.5 rule

Long story short, do as many as 2.5 times more virtual than real-life activities. 

Also, if an activity in real life lasts 5 minutes, make sure that in a virtual environment it lasts 2.5 times longer than that. 

On the other hand, if you organize one company team building offsite each quarter, you should plan two or three virtual ones for the same period.

Tip #4: Organize real-life meetings from time to time

Sure, virtual team building activities are great — but every once in a while try to meet with your coworkers face-to-face. 

At the end of the day, nothing beats real-life contact. 

For instance, hiking tours in the mountains are a great way to get to know your colleagues in a healthy and relaxed environment. 

Just make sure that you cover traveling costs for your colleagues coming from other cities or even countries. 

In the following paragraphs, we offer you some ideas for virtual team building, both real-time and asynchronous activities. 

Feel free to try some (or all of them). 

Virtual team building activities you can try out 

The list of virtual team building ideas is practically never-ending. 

Still, we have gathered up some of them and we’re sure you’ll find something you like among them. 

Without further ado, let’s start with our virtual team building activities. 

1. Critical thinking virtual icebreaker 

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity 

🔸 Time: 2 minutes per person

🔸 Objective: improving problem-solving skills

🔸 Participants: 5–10

Instructions

  • Begin the online meeting by posing this riddle: “Every month a woman writes two words on 50 sheets of paper. Why does she do this?” 
  • Give everyone some time to think this through and listen to their answers. 
  • Discuss them and try to find the one that would best describe the logic of this woman’s acts.

This activity is perfect for those who like solving lateral thinking puzzles, which are great for improving creativity

So, if your team likes these kinds of challenges, dive in. 

2. “Big talk” virtual icebreaker

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: about 10 minutes

🔸 Objective: improving communication skills

🔸 Participants: 5–10

Instructions: 

  • Before your weekly meeting, send out current news stories about global events and issues to your coworkers. 
  • Give them time to read it, so that you can briefly discuss these problems at the beginning of your meeting. 
  • Allow your colleagues to share their thoughts on the story. After everyone has shared their views, have a brief open discussion about these affairs. 

If you’re interested in everyday politics and global issues, this is the icebreaker for your team.

However, since politics can be a sensitive topic, check with your HR specialists whether this activity can be practiced in your workplace. 

3. “Name that emoji song title” virtual icebreaker

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 3 minutes per person’s turn

🔸 Objective: improving creative thinking skills

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Open a new channel on your business communication app or use the #random channel. 
  • Determine who goes first and set a timer on your phone. 
  • The first colleague looks at their last played song and gives a hint about the title of the song to their coworkers using only emojis. The other players take turns guessing the name of the song until the timer runs out (e.g. 3 minutes). 
  • After that, if no one had guessed, the first colleague reveals the title of the song.  
Example of “Name That Emoji Song Title” played in Pumble
Example of “Name That Emoji Song Title” played in Pumble

If you like music and emojis, this is the activity for you. 

💡 Pumble Pro Tip

If you’re not sure whether the use of emojis in business communication is even allowed, don’t worry, we have an article that will help you decide whether you should use emojis in professional communication:

4. Something in common

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 3 minutes per person’s turn

🔸 Objective: strengthening employee relations 

🔸 Participants: 3–5

Instructions: 

  • This activity encourages your coworkers to learn more about one another. It is the quickest way for them to bond over shared interests. 
  • To play this game, you need to divide people into smaller groups and have each group identify three things they have in common. 

This fun and a bit more personal game may help your coworkers discover a shared love for Aki Kaurismaki’s movies, or even a shared disdain for marshmallows. 

One thing is sure: they will certainly find something over which they can bond.

5. Personality tests 

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: unlimited

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Choose a personality test for your coworkers and send it to them. A plethora of personality tests are at your disposal — from the famous Myers-Briggs test to the charming A Walk in the Woods test.
  • Wait for everyone to do the test and send you the results.
  • All that’s left for you is to schedule a call where you can talk about your personality types and analyze how they add to your team’s dynamics.

Although commonly used in recruiting jobs and onboarding, personality tests are an excellent way to get to know your team members better. 

6. Tiny campfire: 100% virtual campfire

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 90 minutes

🔸 Objective: strengthening employee relations 

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Before your virtual team building, you register at the tiny campfire, and they send all the players a tiny campfire kit or share a list of things you need, so you can provide them yourself. The kit consists of a tiny candle, matches, marshmallows, chocolate, and cookies. 
  • All you have to do is light a candle, make some s’mores, and enjoy a virtual campfire with your colleagues.

This virtual campfire includes singing songs, jokes of the day, ghost stories, and small team building activities, such as icebreaker games, so it provides plenty of opportunities for team bonding.

7. Five finger showdown

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 10 minutes

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: suitable for larger groups

Instructions: 

  • Schedule a conference call and ask everyone to hold up one hand with five fingers extended. 
  • The host should list specific life experiences — visited a beach this year, speaks more than 2 languages, adopted a dog, made pizza from scratch, etc.
  • Participants that have the mentioned life experience put one finger down. 
  • The winner is the player that puts all fingers down first.

This dynamic activity is perfect for getting to know something more about your teammates.

8. Pancakes vs waffles

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: around 60 minutes

🔸 Objective: improving creative thinking skills

🔸 Participants: 2+

Instructions: 

  • The game starts with a simple question: “Pancakes or waffles?”
  • It may sound innocent, but actually, you have to decide whether you want to keep pancakes or waffles. The contender you didn’t choose becomes eliminated from this world for good. 
  • How’s that for serious? 
  • If you, for example, chose waffles, they are going to another round. So, the next question might be: “Waffles or ice cream?” 
  • This game gets ever more complicated and interesting and can go on as long as you like it.
Example of “Pancakes vs. Waffles” played in Pumble
Example of “Pancakes vs. Waffles” played in Pumble

Although the rules of this game are simple, the game itself isn’t easy — you have to renounce one of the two comparable objects for good. 

It’s a real thinker — but in a fun way.

9. Virtual pub trivia

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: around 60 minutes

🔸 Objective: improving teamwork

🔸 Participants: 10+

Instructions: 

  • Invite your coworkers to a call and suggest that they prepare their favorite drink (beer, wine, or even coffee, anything goes). 
  • Organize them into smaller teams and read out questions. Your colleagues have to answer the questions as a team. With every correct answer, they win a point. 
  • It’s up to you whether you’ll have themed trivia, such as popular TV shows or science facts. 

So, although you probably can’t go to the pub with your coworkers (since you probably don’t live in the same city, maybe even the same country), the pub can come to you.

What is more, trivia can accompany it. 

The main thing is that you get to have a drink with your coworkers, get a little competitive, and enjoy your night in. 

10. Virtual escape rooms

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: around 60 minutes

🔸 Objective: improving teamwork

🔸 Participants: 3–5

Instructions: 

  • There are several websites you can use to play this game. 
  • One of them is the game Black Noir
  • You and your team have to go through different rooms and solve puzzles. Actually, you’re solving a mysterious murder and have to escape in time. 

So, if you thought escape rooms can’t migrate to the virtual realm, this is proof that they can!

Gather your team and enjoy!

11. Virtual happy hours

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: as long as you like it

🔸 Objective: strengthening employee relations

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Do you really need instructions for this one? 🙂
  • OK, gather your coworkers on a video call, get your favorite beverage, chat, and enjoy. 
  • If you want to make this a bit more structured fun, you can always pick a theme. 
  • For example, one week the theme can be Margaritaville, the next one French vineyards, etc. 

An extra tip: dress accordingly, depending on the theme. If you’re drinking French wine, don’t forget to wear your brand-new beret. You’ll certainly have more fun! Cheers! I mean, salud!

12. Virtual scavenger hunt

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 45 to 60 minutes

🔸 Objective: improving teamwork

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • First, you need to issue a list of different items participants should gather around their house. 
  • You can do that via video call or a business communication app. 
  • The first person that collects all the items from the list wins. 

All you need for this game is a bit of imagination and inspiration (and a bit of time). 

Easy-peasy and loads of fun!

13. Remote work bingo

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: a week or a month

🔸 Objective: have fun

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Send the remote work bingo templates to your coworkers. 
  • Choose a game timeline — this could be a week or a month. 
  • Players should track their performance and mark an X for each completed box. 
  • The first one that completes the row is the winner. Good luck!

This is a fun way to bond with your coworkers over situations you’re all familiar with. 

Remote work bingo
Remote work bingo

14. Water cooler channels in your business messaging app

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: indefinite

🔸 Objective: strengthening employee relations

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • There are really no specific instructions for this activity. 
  • Pumble gives you opportunities to make your own channels or browse through the existing ones (and choose the ones you like). 
  • Here, you can explore a number of channels for your leisure, not related to work. 
  • The most popular ones are #pets, #random, #movies, etc.
Channel browser in Pumble business messaging app
Channel browser in Pumble business messaging app
Channel dedicated to pets in Pumble
Channel dedicated to pets in Pumble

So, business communication apps don’t have to be exclusively about business. 

All you have to do is find channels that interest you and enjoy bonding with similar-minded people. 

15. The birth map game

🔸 Type: real-time or asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 15-30 minutes

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: 5+

Instructions: 

  • Create a collaborative map and share it with your teammates. 
  • Everyone should place a pin on the city or town they were born in. 
  • Then, share your favorite stories (fun facts or weird legends) about your birthplaces in a virtual meeting.

This fun game allows you and your coworkers to find out more about one another’s personal histories. 

16. Slipper dilemma

🔸 Type: real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 10 minutes

🔸 Objective: have fun

🔸 Participants: 5–10 

Instructions: 

  • During your weekly or monthly virtual meeting, someone in your team should shout “Slippers!” randomly. 
  • At that moment, all the participants should move the camera to their feet and show to their coworkers whether they are barefoot or wearing slippers. 
  • Feel free to devise your own awarding system. 
  • For instance, all the participants wearing slippers could get awarded 1 point.
  • Or, if only one person is in their socks or barefoot, they get 3 points, and the rest get none.

Since we’re all familiar with the famous work-from-home fashion — the tops and bottoms might differ drastically (no judgment here) — why not turn this impromptu dress code into a game and have some fun with it?  

17. Remote team cooking challenge

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: monthly

🔸 Objective: improving skill sets

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Organize your team, decide on ingredients for the month, and set the timeline. Let your team vote on an ingredient of the month. 
  • They will have a month to cook a dish with the chosen ingredient. There are no limitations. The dishes can be raw, cooked, boiled, baked, etc. 
  • After the team members have completed their task, they should take a photo of the dish and share it with the rest of the team. All that’s left is voting for the best dish. Bon appetit!

This is a great activity for all you Jamie Oliver wannabes. 

Finally, you can show off your skills, have fun, and compete with your coworkers. 

So, prepare your pots and pans, and cook away!

18. Theme photo contest

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: one week or month 

🔸 Objective: improving skill sets

🔸 Participants: 10+

Instructions: 

  • First, decide on the theme of the contest for the week or month. 
  • It can be anything — from red objects to nature to cityscapes. 
  • Each participant sends the photo that best suits the theme and at the end of the week/month, you vote for the best pic.  

This game is perfect for all the creative spirits in your team. Take your camera or your phone and wake your inner artist!

19. MTV Cribs: remote team edition

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 3 minutes per person’s turn

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Participants should make a short video showing off their home, favorite reading nook, or piece of furniture. 
  • All team members get to enjoy watching the videos. 

This is a great way for team members to get to know one another more personally, and a great alternative to paying visits to your colleagues in real life. 

You won’t even have to bring gifts, nor would they have to bother with appetizers and drinks. Pretty convenient, right?

20. Guess the artist

🔸 Type: asynchronous or real-time virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: 30 minutes

🔸 Objective: improving skill sets

🔸 Participants: 10–15

Instructions: 

  • Ask your coworkers to draw themselves (or something that represents them most accurately) and upload the image to a shared folder.
  • After everyone has uploaded their pictures, it’s time to guess who drew what. 
  • Whenever you guess correctly who the artist was, the artist, I mean, your colleague has to explain the story behind the picture. 

This game is another creative way to get to know your teammates better — especially the newbies. You need not be a Michelangelo — all it takes is some creativity and good will to describe yourself through a picture.

21. Virtual movie club

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: monthly or weekly

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instruction: 

  • Gather a team of like-minded cinephiles and choose a movie for the month (or a week). 
  • Then, watch the movie at your convenience, so that you could later discuss it with your colleagues. 
  • You can even set a theme (female directors from Europe, or something similar). 
  • Movie marathons are always a good idea. For instance, you can decide on a Wes Anderson movie month or movies about New York. The cinematic world is your oyster! 

This is a great activity for all of you movie buffs. 

We’re sure you’ll find a kindred movie spirit among your coworkers. 

22. “Who da baby?”

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: indefinite

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: 5–10

Instructions: 

  • Ask your coworkers to send you their baby photos. 
  • It would be best to use photos from around 2-3 years old because on them you can see distinct features. 
  • Post the images in a shared document and let your coworkers guess who the baby might be. After that, all that’s left is to grade the scores and announce the winners. 

This is an activity for all of you who find baby pics of your friends and acquaintances charming.   Trust us, it’s the cutest activity ever!

23. Virtual book club 

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: monthly or weekly

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: 6–10

Instructions: 

  • After gathering a team of bibliophiles, choose a book. 
  • You can even set a theme, or make a book marathon (e.g. Aldous Huxley’s books, books that have a name of a city in their title, etc.) 
  • Define the time you have for reading the book you’ve agreed upon. 
  • All that’s left is for you to have a cup of tea with your colleagues over a video call and discuss the book. We’re sure you’ll be amazed at your coworkers’ insights.

Enjoy this team building activity with fellow bookworms among your coworkers!

24. Whose office is it anyway?

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: indefinite

🔸 Objective: getting to know your teammates

🔸 Participants: unlimited

Instructions: 

  • Ask your coworkers to take a picture of their home office and upload it to a shareable folder. 
  • Participants should take a photo of the desk as it is, without tidying it up first because only then can you get a true representation of your coworkers. 
  • After all your colleagues have uploaded the picture, it’s time for the guessing game. Whose desk is it? Have fun! 

This activity might be a good solution for finding out more about what your colleagues are like because our desks speak volumes about us. 

25. Employee virtual wellness session

🔸 Type: asynchronous virtual team building activity

🔸 Time: indefinite

🔸 Objective: defining company culture

🔸 Participants: up to 10

Instructions: 

  • Choose a wellness activity for your team. 
  • It can be a meditation session for getting rid of stress and preventing burnout. 
  • Find an expert who will explain the benefits of meditation in a short introduction. 
  • After that, she or he should guide you and your coworkers through a meditation session. 

This bonding activity can actually be a series of activities aimed at health and wellness. 

One thing is certain — you have nothing but tension to lose. 

💡 Pumble Pro Tip

If you need more ideas for a wellness session with your team, feel free to read our blog post on wellness ideas for remote workers:

Wrapping up: A remote workplace needs team building activities too

Even when working remotely, you need team building activities to maintain and strengthen relationships among coworkers. 

Understandably, remote work implies remote building activities that are taking place in a virtual environment. 

We have given you some ideas for these virtual activities. All that’s left for you is to try them out, adapt them to your coworkers’ affinities, or use them just as an inspiration for creating your own games. 

Explore the plentiful world of virtual team building activities and choose your favorite. 

✉️ What about you? Do you like and practice virtual team building activities? Do you have any games you might add to our list? Share your experience and tips at blogfeedback@pumble.com and we may include your answers in this or future posts. And, if you liked this blog post and found it useful, share it with someone you think would also benefit from it.

Author: JelenaFisic

Jelena Fisic is a writer and researcher, constantly reading and broadening her knowledge about communication and collaboration. As a long-time remote worker, she is eager to share her experiences and gathered knowledge, and give you some tips for improving team communication and collaboration skills while working from home.

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