Though working remotely has become increasingly popular over the past few years in many industries, no one would’ve imagined the giant leap our world has taken into the practice as the COVID-19 pandemic appeared in the first quarter of 2020. In just a matter of weeks, numerous non-essential companies quickly figured out ways to make working from home a reality for employees. And, while working from home isn’t always the best scenario for certain types of businesses, roles, or even personality types, there have been some positive outcomes for many companies that have made the transition.

A study by Fundera reports that even before COVID-19 forced businesses to adapt to remote work, there were over five million U.S. employees working from home at least half the time. It’s also estimated that two-thirds of managers who offer remote work flexibility affirm that employees who work from home are more productive. Similarly, further studies have revealed that teams with an open work style are 60% more likely to achieve more, faster, and are 80% more likely to report high emotional well-being.

For our team at Green Apple, working remotely wasn’t a foreign concept, as several of our team members were accustomed to it already—and we’ve been working productively with an extended team of freelancers for several years now. We even utilize productivity tools like Basecamp, Zoom, and Harvest to manage our workflow and keep tasks moving along from anywhere. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced our whole team into remote work environments for several weeks, ultimately leading us to the decision to become a 100% virtual team.

During the many weeks we spent at home, our team was stretched to stay connected and engaged daily, and we’ve found several ways to keep our team motivated and on the same page—even while apart. Here are seven of our recommended virtual team-building exercises that employees will want to do, and that will keep morale high and communication channels open.

Huddles or Water Cooler Chats 

To keep everyone focused and on the same page from afar, consider hosting weekly (or even daily) team huddles or water cooler chats. Through dedicated and scheduled periods of time, these virtual meetings can be helpful for communication and productivity while also leaving room for everyone to share some personal highlights and celebrations.

Lunches or Happy Hours

In the same way you might go out to lunch or happy hour in person, rally the team for a virtual lunch or happy hour. This is the perfect way to unplug from work for an hour and allow your team to bond and connect over food and drinks. Everyone can share what they’re having, as well as their favorite foods or beverages in a relaxed, informal setting.

Game Nights (or Afternoons)

Sure, we realize that there’s work to do, and you can’t “play” all day as a team. But, there’s value in stepping away from tasks for a short period of time to bond together through virtual games. Whether it’s an hour of trivia, Bingo, or even Two Truths and a Lie, games will help your team learn more about each other and make your virtual team-building moments truly memorable.

Team Culture and Strengths Finder Discoveries

Has your team invested in learning the strengths and unique skill sets of each member? If not, an excellent team-building activity is a team culture discovery quiz—like Culture Index, the Enneagram, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator—with follow-up sessions. Every team member can learn something about themselves, as well as how to best work with each other.

Learning Circles

The most successful teams are always learning together. Through virtual learning circles, teams can choose a topic related to your work and then have team members rotate in presenting about the topic over a video conference. You can even do this as a lunch-and-learn and then repurpose your presentations into adaptable formats that you can share with clients as applicable.

Workshops and Webinars

Let’s be honest—while no one likes to admit they have weaknesses on the job, there are always new skills and technologies that we can improve upon. So, as a way to engage together as a team, consider signing up for some professional development opportunities like webinars or workshops that can be beneficial for the whole team. Upon completion, hold a team debrief video conference to discuss the key takeaways and how your team can implement anything you learned.

Purposeful Podcasts

Podcasting continues to grow in popularity—not just in listening to them but also in producing them. Does your team have a list of favorite podcasts that could benefit the whole team to listen to and then discuss together? Take it a step further by considering how your team might develop and produce your own podcast that will help educate your audience and allow you to be industry thought-leaders.

Ready for a Virtual High-Five?

At the end of the day, the main goal of virtual team-building is to keep everyone engaged, productive, and happy in their work. Remote work can be isolating when there’s not an intentional effort to connect with your teammates on a personal level. One thing that’s imperative with any of the above activities is to keep them to a set start and end time—because let’s be honest, once you start having fun, time is forgotten, right? All in all, set some solid parameters, try new things, and have a blast growing and learning together.

Green Apple is happy to share more about how our virtual team stays connected and engaged, so feel free to contact us today to learn more. Go team!