Working from home tips: Keeping spirits high with remote team building activities

Director of Support and Success at Whereby shares her working from home tips for best remote team building activities.

Our series ‘Working from home tips’ is all about useful hacks for working from home. We will give you tips from how to find your workflow when working from home to how to create the perfect home office.

A good team-bond and connection between team members is vital for good work-from-home quality of life. If you feel good about where you work, your work will be more enjoyable. So, taking the time to do remote team building activities is important in keeping your team bond strong and overall happiness at work.

“It speaks to the function of a team. Soccer teams and football teams do social activities so why shouldn’t we?” Ashley Sachs, Director of Support and Success at Whereby, asks.

Having worked remotely the past four years at Whereby, Ashley has tried and tested how remote team building works best. Here are her tips and tricks on how you can get started on virtual team building activities with your team and company wide.

5 keys to successful remote team building activities

1. Make social interactions a habit

Being intentional and consistent are the keywords for being successful with remote team-building activities. Go into a meeting with the intent of being social and interested in your team members. Make sure that everyone knows when and where you meet up virtually – whether it’s every other week or monthly team building.

2. Keep cultural differences in mind

Recognizing and acknowledging that people come from different cultural backgrounds is important when interacting with each other.

3. Have synchronized and asynchronous activities

Remote work often means that people work in different time zones. So, when you’re thinking about virtual team building activities, it could be worth considering both synchronized and asynchronous activities. This way, there will be activities for everyone across time zones.

4. Don’t do everything with video

Not everyone feels comfortable on video, so switching up channels can be a good thing. It can also be activities where you can turn off the camera but still be in the Whereby room.

5. Use work as part of remote team building

When you think about remote team building activities, don’t forget to include those when working. Weekly sync and one-to-one meetings are also perfect opportunities to improve and build on the team-bond.

“There should also be a layer of being interested in each other even though it’s work. It’s about feeling valued,” Ashley explains.

Now, let’s have a look at Ashley’s go-to virtual team building activities.

Remote team building activities

One word stories in Slack

You might have tried this game as a child. You write a word on a piece of paper and pass it on to the next person who does the same. And so the game continues until a story is written, with each person writing one word at a time. It always ends up with the most peculiar and funny plots.

This game is not only fun when you’re a child, Ashley assures. As a virtual team building activity, it is equally entertaining:

“It’s always a kicker in Slack. It’s so simple but so hilarious,” she exclaims.

All you need for this remote team building activity is a Slack channel for your team and a word to begin the story. Then it’s time to let your inner author out.

Virtual happy hour

If teammates live across the country or in different countries, it can be a bit of a challenge to meet up for a drink. This is the same case at Whereby. So, every six weeks Ashley joins the team’s Whereby room and meets up with the team members who like to get together over a beer or morning coffee – depending on the time zone they live in.

“It’s a good idea to think about variety when you work remotely. It’s real easy to get stuck in ruts, so this is a good way of meeting up as well,” Ashley states.

Meet up and work in the same room

It doesn’t sound much like something you can do if your team works remotely – but actually, it is. Once a month, the support team meets in their Whereby room to have a Power Hour. Here, they use the audio integration, so all team members listen to the same playlist – a playlist they all contributed to.

“Especially for us, it’s helpful to meet up in this room and work together. If we then need help with a customer or need input, we can just ask out in the room. It gives the feeling of sitting in the same office,” Ashley explains.

Make small videos as virtual team building activities

At Whereby, we’ve given the MTV series Cribs - where celebrities give a tour through their home - with a Whereby spin. This remote team building activity is a chance to show where people work and get to know each other better.

“Everybody could shoot their crib, and the videos were posted over a week. The Whereby vision is that you can live and work from where it makes you happy and where you thrive, and it’s always interesting to see,” Ashley says.

You can also make videos showing a new hobby you’ve taken up for example.

Virtual companywide get-togethers

Meeting up with your team is important when you work remotely. However, it’s also important to feel like a part of the company you work at and meet people across teams. So, when Ashley started working at Whereby four years ago, she founded the weekly companywide Friday Friyay get-together.

As with so many other beginnings, it wasn’t an immediate success, Ashley remembers. But that didn’t stop her from joining the same Whereby room every single Friday at the same time.

“ I told them I’m in this room at this time every Friday. In the beginning, it was extremely awkward and silent. I guess there’s a hurdle of silliness to get over at the beginning,” she explains.

Once that hurdle had been passed – with the help of a push-up competition – the Friday Friyays took off.

Every Friday, people from across the company meet up to have a pre-weekend chat or play an online game. If a game isn’t lined up Ashley always makes sure to bring a conversation topic. There are plenty of online services that generate topics with just a Google search away.

The list of remote team building activities is endless. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel when trying it out for the first time. Give the activities a chance to grow. In time, you’ll see how much it can help work productivity and the quality of life amongst your team members.

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