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It’s the name of the game: 10 team building games for remote workers

Remote work is great. You can go at your own pace, you have your own personal bathroom, and best of all, there's no commute! 

But despite its popularity, remote work can be quite lonely. Only seeing or hearing your colleagues via a screen for a relatively short time each day or week can make it difficult to feel connected to them, especially if you don't have a pre-existing rapport built up in-office - I feel for any new starters from 2020!

But having a little fun is a great way to break the ice, so we've put together a list of ten team building games for remote workers.

Why is team building important?

If game shows like the Crystal Maze have taught us anything, it's that working with others isn't always as easy as it sounds, especially when they're basically strangers. Part of effective teamwork is being able to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses; what you can expect from them, and what they expect of you.

And while you arguably don't need to be someone's friend in order to work with them, it definitely makes it more pleasant. But more importantly, workplace friendships improve our ability to work effectively. This may be due to the fact that high-trust workplaces are consistently more productive than workplaces which lack trust.

The challenge of remote work

It's one thing to collaborate on a project with someone sat at the next desk over. But it's another thing entirely when you're on opposite sides of the country. Fortunately, there are plenty of online tools and services to make working with others remotely much easier.

The challenges of remote work stem from the level of isolation involved. If you're used to a bustling office culture, being in your home office or living room by yourself for eight hours a day can get pretty lonely. Some people handle this better than others, but managers should still support the social wellbeing of their remote staff when they can.

Then there's the challenge of communication. Tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack might make virtual communication easy, but it's just not as effortless as it is face-to-face. In the absence of things like body language to rely on, remote staff rapport is vital for effective collaboration. This is why it's in the best interests of managers to set up team building games for remote workers.

10 great team building games for remote employees

1. Two truths and a lie

This classic icebreaker should only take about five to ten minutes per person. The game is exactly what it sounds like: everyone comes up with two true facts and one lie about themselves, and take turns having everyone else work together to figure out their lie. Our UK readers might want to split into two teams, a la Would I Lie to You?

When it comes to team building games for remote workers, you can't beat this classic

2. Simulated lists

The aim of team building games for remote workers is to gauge how well they work together, and give them a low-pressure practice space to improve in. So one of the best things you can do is to simulate problems that might arise in your work environment and have your team work together to develop action plans to overcome them.

3. Bucket lists

This is a great way to learn more about the people you work with. Everyone writes down and then shares their lists of the things they want to do before they die. You might find you share unexpected goals or passions with other members of your remote team, and it can help managers understand the priorities of their employees.

4. Trivia contests

Just because pubs have reopened doesn't mean they should hog all the quiz action. Besides, you don't need booze to enjoy a bit of competitive trivia. Sit down and draft a quiz for your employees, or get everyone to contribute facts about themselves if you're trying to learn more about each other. Failing that, head to Sporcle and nab a few premade quizzes!

5. Pictionary

Pictionary is a classic game for family and friends. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to bring it into a virtual space as one of your team building games for remote workers. There are topic generators online, and you can use Microsoft screen sharing, or Team's/ Zoom's whiteboard to share your drawings.

6. Aliens have landed!

Aliens have landed is another classic icebreaker that you don't need anything specific for. Aliens have come to Earth, and it's down to your employees to find a predetermined number of pictures, symbols or objects to help the aliens understand what your company (or, if you prefer, your country, or Earth as a whole) is all about. A pictorial scavenger hunt which often leads to hilarious results in our experience.

7. Virtual murder mystery

There are a surprising number of virtual murder mystery services online. Many of them operate through video conferencing software like Zoom to make themselves accessible to groups of family and friends, as well as businesses. Have a few laughs while testing your team's detective skills.

8. Words With Friends

Accessible through any smartphone or computer, Words with Friends is something you can leave your team to play together on their own time. It's literally just virtual Scrabble, and it's totally free.

9. Jackbox party packs

Jackbox just keeps cranking out packs of incredibly popular party games including everything from quizzes, drawing games, fill in the blanks games, and everything in between. While you have to buy the packs to host the games, anyone can join for free through their computer or phone, using a four-letter room code. Just pick a game, screen share it through Teams, and have fun. It's possible to be pretty inappropriate in some of these games, so maybe read the room.

Contemporary team building games for remote workers

10. Among Us

Sometimes, the best way to inspire teamwork is to turn your employees against each other in a fit of all-in-good-fun paranoia. In Among Us (which is free on smartphones, but will cost you a few quid on computer), you play as astronauts completing tasks to keep your space station running. One of you, however, is an imposter charged with killing the others, who must vote on which suspect to throw out of the airlock. It's basically the popular party game Werewolf, but for the remote work age. 

The benefits of more frequent communication solutions

But ultimately, these games are just a fun way to practice the communication skills your team will need in their day-to-day. It's also important to have systems in the workplace to enable good communication habits. Weekly10's check-in system connects employees to their managers, making it easy for you to stay up to date on the wellbeing of your remote workers while providing them with regular feedback.

Our check-ins make it easy to see if all those team building games worked, as employees completing their check-ins can tag each other in recognition-based questions that allow them to highlight each other's accomplishments or just thank each other for being helpful.

Another benefit of a weekly check-in is that it can be an effective form of journaling, thanks to the questions that can be customised on an employee level. This is a great way for your remote workers to help manage their stress; after all, 2020 has been a ridiculously intense year! Journaling helps your staff members to mentally process the events of each week, and helps managers to stay in the loop and be able to respond when their employees are experiencing issues.

To learn more about developing effective communication habits in the workplace, our to find out more about our employee check-in, visit the Weekly10 blog today!

Check out our guide 'The Phases of Remote Work' to get a better view on where things are at in your WFH journey and what is around the corner.