Last week, we offered some pointers on how to attain better virtual meetings, and today we’d like to offer a follow up to that post with some wisdom on a similar topic: virtual team building activities.
Over the past decade or so, the popularity of team activities in the corporate world has increased dramatically, and for a good reason: teams that are more in sync simply do better work. In fact, “a 2015 Gallup study shows that a highly engaged team can boost employee engagement by up to 39%.” Whether they’re done over a weekend retreat or an hour-long lunch break, team activities can improve company communication, build trust and inspire creativity.
However, the events of 2020 have made planning team-building activities extremely difficult. Not only are most companies shying away from unnecessary in-person socializing, but many remote employees feel totally burned out on virtual communication. They’re not going to want to participate in something else unless it’s extremely well planned, effectively executed and beneficial enough to motivate attendance. Below, we’ve gathered a few suggestions to make your next team activity all of the above.
Tip #1: Don’t Be a Cheapskate
You may think that one of the benefits of virtual activities are that they’re more cost effective than their in-person counterparts. But, just because you don’t have to pay to rent out a venue doesn’t mean that you should expect your event to be totally free. In fact, keeping your budget the same as it was before is a great way to let your employees know you care. Here are a few ideas:
- Deliver employee meals on the day of the event
- Send a box of branded company swag
- Email gift cards that can be redeemed for coffee or dessert
- Foot the bill for a software or gaming subscription that can help everyone connect
Tip #2: Make It Fun
Like we mentioned before, your employees will likely have to be pretty motivated to add one more virtual event to their already jam-packed calendars. And if your event is at all boring, you can count on your attendance being very low. What does that mean? If your goal is to improve morale and inspire team connection, stay away from work-heavy topics and training-dominated seminars. Instead, think about what your employees like to do outside of work and cater to their interests. Need some inspiration? We’ve got you covered.
- Host a trivia night
- Put on a virtual talent show or variety show (see below for more information on how Verb’s recent talent show went!)
- Have everyone watch the same movie and comment on your favorite parts via chat
- Play an online game together
- Plan a scavenger hunt
Tip #3: Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Since a lot of virtual platforms use a webinar-style approach, it can be easy to have one person run the show while everyone else watches silently. The problem with this is that it ruins the opportunity for colleague engagement. While virtual activities aren’t as convenient for communication as physically sitting next to each other, there are ways to make it work. Like:
- Utilize a platform with a chat feature, like Zoom or verbLIVE
- Keep everyone connected in a designated Slack channel
- Use a conference-room type platform (but make sure people who aren’t actively participating stay muted!)
Tip #4: Get to Know Each Other
Since most people are working from home, this can be a great opportunity to get to know your employees on a more personal level, by taking a real glimpse into their lives. If time and the size of your organization allows it, consider an introduction activity to kickstart your event. Here are a few ideas:
- A pet or plant show
- Show and tell
- “Zoom Around the Room”
- “MTV Cribs” style peek into a room
Tip #5: Use Your Time Effectively
Just because your employees are already home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a firm time limit on your event. Plan your event as much as possible and stick to an agenda to ensure everyone’s time is respected.
What We Did
Last week, Verb celebrated our annual summer party—and for the first time, it was completely virtual. We decided to host a team talent show. Everyone was invited to participate, and that participation was incentivized with gift cards. Before the event, each employee was mailed a Verb swag box full of fun, Verb-branded gear, including a face mask, Verb for Humanity shirt, fanny pack and stickers. The week before the party, employees were emailed a link allowing them to select a meal that would be delivered 30 minutes before the beginning of the show, and reminded to submit 2-minute videos of their talents (unless they preferred to perform live). A panel of judges were selected and informed of the judging criteria. Finally, our emcee and creative lead prepared by filming introductory and intermission videos and putting together a set list.
On the day of the party, we all gathered with our respective meals over Zoom and got a glimpse of our coworkers’ hidden talents. The mood was lighthearted and fun, and the talents ranged from seriously impressive to downright silly. The team kept in touch via the chat feature, commenting on each act and hyping up the performers. The next day, the judges announced the winners and our video team shared recap video of the festivities. Overall, it was a great event, and feedback has been completely positive.
Check out this highlight video from the event:
So, what will your next team event be? We can’t wait to hear! Send us an email with your great activity ideas and let us know how we can help make them happen (hint: we’ve got a great live streaming platform that could be the perfect vehicle for your next work party!)