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By: Samantha McDuffee|February 9, 2016

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It’s one thing to create an atmosphere of trust and a feeling of camaraderie between employees when they’re all in the same building 40 or so hours a week.

But, what about when some or all of you work virtually, and rarely (if ever!) see your coworkers? How can you build and maintain a viable professional and personal relationship online? Here are 5 virtual team building activities that work:

65% of remote employees report that they have never had a team building session. Here are some virtual team building activities that make the seemingly impossible task of getting and keeping remote employees bonded and easier to reach.

1) Don’t cut the Chit-Chat

When working remotely, team members don’t have a chance to make small talk with their neighbor in the next cubicle or discuss weekend plans by the coffeemaker.  It’s that kind of personal chit-chat, however, that helps employees relate to each other.

Remote teams have to build time for small talk into group meetings. Try to spend a couple minutes at the start of each meeting discussing personal updates.  Ask that team members send in recent photos of themselves and have them assembled into a slide show to view at the meeting.

Even better, use a video conferencing system like Skype and ask 1-2 questions about their week round-robin style.

2) Reply All

Send out an email to the group with an icebreaker question. Ask everyone to respond to the question via email and “reply all” so that everyone gets to know each other a bit more.

The questions are up to you—they may be personal (“where do you hope to be in ten years?”), just for fun (“if you could take a vacation anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?”), or related to the type of work the group is doing.

Also be sure to reply all to messages sent to groups in general, unless there’s a need to take your virtual conversations “offline”.

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3) Let the Games Begin

Encourage your team engage in some online games to bring out their competitive spirit. Playing together will create a rapport that will be useful later on when there’s work to be done.

Web-based games could be your go-to, or you could create some custom trivia questions. This could be useful to acclimate the team to company policies or just for fun!

4) All for One, and (a cup of) Joe for All!

virtual team building

With the wide availability of WiFi connection these days, it has become easier to get team members to connect online outside of their offices or homes. Employees that work in the same office may carpool or travel together on business and experience company outings; however, remote employees may not get access to that privilege.

Set up coffee meetings, where team members each go to a coffee shop near their location and connect online for updates or scrums. Send gift cards to each person, and the team is sure to feel appreciated as they brainstorm over their cup of Joe, outside the home office.

5) Virtual Team Bonding

Sixty five percent of remote employees report that they have never had a team bonding session. TeamBonding’s virtual team building activities simulate a day in the life of a virtual team. From conference call meetings to email agendas, virtual work teams must work together, though physically apart, to reach the goals.

Each virtual team building game is aimed at increasing virtual team collaboration and communication. The program also includes team building icebreakers that are designed to facilitate relationships and bonds within your virtual team.

virtual team building

What challenges are you facing with managing remote employees online? How do you keep your virtual team engaged? Are there any virtual team bonding activities you’d add to this list?

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