Remote teams need dedicated time to connect with each other because they don’t have the opportunity to touch base in a break room or talk over their cubicles to each other. Happy remote teams know how important it is to bond with each other, so they find creative ways to build meaningful relationships. Bonding releases the hormone oxytocin which makes us feel good.
Meaningful connection activities can boost morale, reduce stress and energize your team. Connection is one of the characteristics in the Better Teams Model. In this model, Connection is a characteristic of “Happy.”
Happiness should not be underestimated. A team that is Happy and Connected will be more engaged and willing to give discretionary effort. For more information about the Better Teams Model™ click here.
Facilitating a simple team building activity during the first 10 minutes of a team meeting can be a wonderful way to connect and find joy in each other’s company.
Here are eight simple team building activities that can easily be adapted to work in a virtual meeting. They can all be completed in ten minutes. Ideally, you will use a video conferencing system, but these can work even if the meeting is just a phone call.
Everyone shares a favorite book
Value to the team: When someone shares a favorite book it provides us with information about what they value.
Video call adaptation: Simply hold your book up to the video camera.
Phone call only adaptation: Collect the name of the books prior to the call and create a document that lists each book and the person who loves it. On the call, each person can talk about their book.
Get instructions For the Love of Books here
Value to the team: Quickly learn things about your colleagues you may never have known otherwise which opens the door to follow up conversations later.
Video call adaptation: Use the “Brady Bunch” view where everyone can see everyone else on the screen, then ask people to stand up or raise their hand instead of stepping into the circle. Or have everyone turn their cameras off and only turn them on if it is their turn to share.
Phone call only adaptation: This will not work without video.
Get instructions for Step In the Circle here.
Value to the team: Get’s people exploring and thinking creatively.
Video call adaption: For Option #1 in the blog below, go round robin. For Option #2 in the blog below, use breakout rooms.
Phone call only adaption: For Option #1 do a round robin. For Option #2, assign small teams prior to the meeting to discuss and come to the meeting prepared to share their idea.
Get instructions for Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…? here.
Value to the team: Provides some comic relief during stressful times.
Video call adaption: Allow people to share photos if helpful.
Phone call only adaption: Simply go round robin.
Get instructions for Laughable Moments here.
Value to the team: A way to quickly allow everyone to share and learn about each other at the beginning of the meeting.
Video call adaption: No need to adapt.
Phone call only adaption: No need to adapt.
Get instructions for 18 Icebreaker Questions here.
Value to the team: A fun and creative way to connect everyone about a topic.
Video call adaption: Choose one or more interesting photos (feel free to use the ones in the blog below) and create a slide. Show the photos and then ask them to respond (using questions in the blog).
Phone call only adaption: Send the images of the photos by email prior to the meeting so everyone can look at them independently or post them on a shared site.
Get instructions for Photo Metaphors here.
Value to the team: A fun way to learn about each other’s interests and personalities.
Video call adaption: No need to adapt.
Phone call only adaption: You can take a picture and send it to each other before or during the meeting.
Get instructions for T-Shirt Show & Tell here.
Value to the team: An interesting way to learn about each other on a personal level.
Video call adaption: Either collect the images ahead of time and create a slide show. Or ask each person to hold up their picture on the video (faster than everyone sharing a screen – though this is an option too.)
Phone call only adaption: Send the images by email prior to the meeting so everyone can look at them independently. Or, post them on a shared site.
Get instructions for Fun Pictures from the Past here.
Most team building activities can be adapted for remote meetings, especially if you use a platform with tools such as chat, polling, and breakout rooms. The ones above are very easy to do with just video.
What are other simple and meaningful ways to connect your teams at the beginning of a team meeting? Please add them in the comments below.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and Forward, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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