18 free virtual team building activities that will supercharge your remote team in 2022

A growing number of leaders acknowledge the need for significant team building efforts in the remote workspace. The natural isolation of the work from home setting requires active investment if a boss or manager wants to keep their team on the same page.

 

While the concept of team building may sound intuitive, it isn’t an organic action. It takes purpose and planning to bring a team together, not to mention time and resources. 

 

If you’re short on resources, don’t give up hope. Many free virtual team building activities can help your team bond, regardless of your budget.

 

We’ve packed this section with various free virtual team building games that we’ve organized into one of the following six categories

 

  1. Quick, easy, and free activities — great for spur of the moment team building.
  2. Activities that require preparation — good for purposeful, “deep” team building.
  3. Communication-based free activities — ideal for teams that need to collaborate often.
  4. Classy free team building activities — the best options for teams that don’t need splashy games.
  5. Fun free team building activities — perfect for extracurricular team building.
  6. Free activities good for different time zones — foolproof team building choices for an asynchronous team.

 

Without further ado, here are 18 different virtual team building activities that are all free.

Quick, easy, and free activities

This first set of suggestions consists of activities that you can utilize at a moment’s notice. They require zero preparation and can be great as ice breakers or ways to warm your team up before you get to the more serious work of the day.

Check out the video below for some more fun, easy and quick virtual team building activities.

1. Make mini-memoirs

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 10 min

Best for: Highlighting individual team members

 

Mini-memoirs are excellent team building activities for conference calls. 

 

When your team is stuck behind a camera, it can be challenging to get everyone involved. If that’s the case, highlight a single person and ask them to write a mini-memoir for the group.

 

What’s a mini-memoir, you ask? It’s a quick summary of who they are and what they’ve done. The challenge here is asking the volunteer to write their mini-memoir in a dozen words or less.

 

This is a great way to highlight an individual in your group. You challenge their creativity and can gain insight into the things that matter to them.

2. Play Two Truths and a Lie

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 15 min

Best for: Learning more about each team member.

 

Try Two Truths and a Lie if you’re looking for other free team-building activities over Zoom or other communication mediums. 

 

This is one of the most commonly recommended ice breaker activities for virtual teams — and with good reason, too. It’s a great way to learn more about your team without generically listing off things about each person.

 

The game consists of:

  1. Asking each team member to come up with three facts about themselves, where two are true, and one is false. 
  2. Having your team take turns listing their three facts aloud.
  3. Encouraging everyone else to vote on which one is the lie.

 

Two Truths and a Lie is a simple, quick, and insightful way to learn more about each member of your team.

3. Gather around a virtual water cooler

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 10 min

Best for: Indulging in some old-fashioned, gossipy fun.

 

This one is a throwback to the days when in-office conversations took place around the good ol’ water cooler. While the need for physical water is easy to replace in a work-from-home setting, water cooler gossip is not. 

 

Fortunately, the online world is a resourceful place. Many virtual water cooler alternatives have been created to replace this age-old work-based extracurricular pursuit. All you need to do is:

 

  1. Pick a platform, like Veertly (which is free for up to 20 people for 1 hour).
  2. Invite your team.
  3. Schedule times to hobnob and talk about whatever’s on their mind.

 

A water cooler should be in the mix if you’re looking for quick team building activities in a virtual setting.

Activities that require preparation

While some options are instantaneous, others require some upfront effort. If you’re willing to invest more time into a virtual team building activity, here are a few excellent candidates that won’t cost you a penny to use.

4. Build a vision board

Prep time: 10 min

Time required: 15 min or more

Best for: Brainstorming and collaborating.

 

If you want your team building to be more productive, consider building a vision board together. This is a great way to invest in a project collectively. It requires communication and collaboration and can ultimately help your team get on the same page.

 

There are a lot of virtual whiteboards available that you can use to facilitate this one. Some function like a digital replica of an actual whiteboard. Others take on more of a mind map feel. Many of these have paid tiers, but they start with free options and only cost money if you scale your use of the tool.

5. Schedule a show and tell

Prep time: 5 min

Time required: 15 - 30 min

Best for: Encouraging engagement from your team.

 

It’s hard to be an effective team if you can’t work together. Smooth collaboration requires a certain degree of comfort with one another as well as a willingness to engage.

 

One way to encourage this engagement is by scheduling show and tell sessions with your team. This is a kindergarten-esque option that taps into the childlike wonder of getting to show off your prized possessions.

 

Let your team know that you’re going to host a show and tell session the next day. Ask them to bring something that they hold near and dear. You can leave it at that, or add additional parameters, such as a certain topic for the event, like pets or your favorite book. 

 

See what your team brings and the discussion that it sparks.

6. Create a gamified virtual office

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 10 min or more

Best for: Embracing tech in your virtual team building.

 

There’s no better way to defeat physical separation than joining together in the metaverse. Creating a gamified virtual office is one of our favorite options on this entire list.

 

Gather offers an online meeting tool that allows your team to meet in a metaverse location. You can personalize the space as well as each employee’s avatar. You can also use pop-up video chat to see a live stream of each person while they’re present. 

 

The service does have fees. However, if you have a smaller team (25 members or less), you can use the tool for free.

 

Keep in mind that, while Gather is fun, it doesn’t necessarily have a function beyond, well, gathering. So, while you can use it to come together in a fun way, you still want to have other ideas ready to go once you’re all online.

Communication-based free activities

Communication is a key element of any workspace. For remote teams, a lack of communication is a nonstarter.

 

If your team is struggling to connect, team building is a surefire way to get everyone on the same page again. Here are a few free virtual team building ideas that are particularly helpful for getting your team to communicate better.

7. Try the Office Decor Challenge

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 10 - 30 min

Best for: Building trust within your team.

 

When you don’t share the same physical space, it’s easy to feel disconnected. One team building way to overcome this shortcoming is by having your group actively invest in helping each other with their home office spaces via the Office Decor Challenge.

 

This activity involves having your team share photos of their home office. As they do so, have others contribute constructive ideas about how they can improve their physical workspace.

 

This can consist of better lighting, changing the wall color, or getting a more ergonomic chair. You can even offer gift cards (use crowdfunding if you don’t have a budget) to provide the necessary resources for each person to begin implementing some of the suggestions they receive. 

 

As your team does this, it can help them learn to interact in valuable and positive ways that build trust.

8. Communicate with emojis and gifs

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 10 - 30 min

Best for: Learning communication styles.

 

Humans communicate in multiple ways. From your words to your tone of voice to your facial expressions, there are plenty of ways to get your point across.

 

When you take away some forms of communication, it makes things interesting. Remote work already limits things like body language and verbal communication.

 

If your remote team needs to hone their communication skills, you can expand their ability to understand each other by spending time communicating …without words. Have everyone log onto a team building session and ask them to take turns sending messages with only emojis or gifs. 

 

This doesn’t just lead to some very amusing non-verbal communications. It also helps your team become more in tune with one another, even in their virtual work setting.

9. Initiate a Great Debate

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 15 to 30 min

Best for: Flexing creativity and problem solving as a group.

 

The Great Debate is a fun game that can help your team learn to work together in the face of a known problem. It starts by selecting a harmless comparison, like cake and ice cream, and opening the floor to a debate over which one is better. 

 

Once your group comes to a consensus (either through a majority or universally — your choice) add a new item to the debate docket. So, if ice cream wins, you could then debate whether ice cream or steak is better.

 

The stakes (pun intended) tend to go up quickly with this one, forcing your group to tackle some weighty decisions — and function better as a team.

Classy free team building activities

The concept of “team building activities” often evokes images of fun events and gamified experiences (more on those further down.) But there are also times when clean, classy ideas for virtual team building are in order. 

 

Here are a few options to consider whenever you’re looking for those not so lame virtual team building activities.

10. Encourage one-on-ones over Donuts

Prep time: 30 min

Time required: 10 min or more (recurring)

Best for: Building one-on-one relationships within your team.

 

You want individuals on your team to interact with one another seamlessly. That’s where an app like Donut can be a game-changer.

 

Donut is a virtual team building tool that you can add right into Slack. As your employees sign up, Donut will automatically set up one-on-one “virtual meetings” within Slack. Every few weeks, a team member will meet someone new from within the team. 

 

They can interact over a video chat or, if they’re physically close, can even hook up to shoot the breeze over a cup of coffee. 

 

This is a great way to build a deeper sense of community within your larger team. However, it’s worth noting it does technically focus on individual relationship building as opposed to collective team building. This only makes it helpful for specific interpersonal needs within a team.

11. Initiate a work themed #trashtag challenge

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 5 min or more

Best for: Improving your digital workspaces together.

 

One of the biggest hurdles that remote teams face is feeling disconnected. When you work in the same office, everyone invests in the collective workspace to some degree. You lose that togetherness factor when you work from bedrooms and home offices.

 

You can recapture some of that united energy through a work-themed #trashtag challenge by: 

 

  1. Asking your team to pick a messy or disorganized area of their home office. 
  2. Having them take a before picture of the area.
  3. Giving everyone some time to clean their designated spaces.
  4. Sharing after pictures of the new and improved workspace.

 

If you do this, make sure to let your employees choose the space they’re cleaning, so the activity is unintrusive and inviting.

12. Lunch and learn sessions

Prep time: 30 min or more

Time required: 30 min - 1 hour

Best for: Learning more about each team member

 

One of the best ways to learn about your team members is by asking them to talk about the things that they care about. You can do this by setting up some virtual “lunch and learn” sessions.

 

Pick a day of the week and ask your employees to plan on hopping onto a conference call while they eat their midday meal. Then ask for volunteers to lead a micro-seminar about something they feel passionate about.

 

You can choose a theme, like productivity hacks in the workplace. You can also leave the floor open and see what people choose (just make sure to vet each choice before it goes live!)

Fun free team building activities

As a boss, if you realize that your team needs to connect, one of your first thoughts might be to look for fun virtual team building activities. After all, generating laughs through immersive experiences is a great way to create some powerful team bonding moments.

 

Here are a few of our favorite free fun-focused team building activities.

13. Host a trivia event

Prep time: 0 min

Time required: 30 min

Best for: Creating some fun in a gamified environment.

 

Trivia is one of the most common team building virtual games out there. It revolves around information, which is easy to adapt to a virtual setting. 

 

There are also a ton of different virtual trivia team building options available. Each one caters to different needs and biases. 

 

For instance, Kahoot! is an easy-to-use, education-themed online trivia platform. Crowdpurr also offers an engaging, interactive trivia experience.

 

The best part? They’re both free.

14. Do a mad lib together

Prep time: 0 - 15 min

Time required: 10 min

Best for: Sparking laughter and group camaraderie.

 

If you’re looking for some sweet, simple, and fun team building activities on Zoom or over a phone call, doing a mad lib is the way to go. 

 

They’re a great way to get people interacting together without investing a lot of time, effort, and money into the experience. Creating a nonsensical story together can also help your team focus and encourage a sense of teamwork.

 

On top of that, there are multiple options to choose from with this one. On the one hand, you can find any number of Mad Libs online. Look for one on a topic that sounds interesting and run with it.

 

On the other hand, you can personalize the experience by creating your own mad lib. Find a good mad lib generator and create a story about your team’s collective experience.

15. Set up a Skribbl session

Prep time: 5 min

Time required: 30 min

Best for: Having some plain fun.

 

If your team is tuckered out from a long week or a draining project, you may feel the need to regroup and recharge. One easy way to do this is by setting up a Skribbl session.

 

Skribble.io offers multiplayer drawing and guessing sessions. They take place online and can have up to 12 players in private virtual rooms.

 

Once you’ve set up a session, your team comes together and takes turns drawing random images. There’s a time limit, everyone guesses what each image is, and in the end, the person with the most points wins.

 

Indulging in something like Skribbl.io can be the perfect way to keep your team happy and healthy, particularly during busy times.

Free activities that are good for different time zones

Sometimes searching for virtual team building games that are free can be complicated by the whole “everyone’s working from different parts of the world” bit. As remote teams become more common, a growing number of leaders are working with scattered teams operating in different time zones.

 

This can make it challenging to get everyone together for a team building event. When that’s the case, you can lean on ideas like these to asynchronously build your team over an extended time.

16. Play The Price Is Right

Prep time: 5 min

Time required: Your self-defined time frame.

Best for: Personalizing an asynchronous team building experience.

 

Most people are familiar with the iconic game show The Price is Right. You can also use that same spunky gaming model to create some fun with a remote team.

 

All you have to do is:

  1. Choose a platform to host your game. This could be pre-recorded videos shared on Gomada, pictures sent via text message, or even an email thread.
  2. Have your team members take turns choosing an object in their home and presenting it to the group. 
  3. Ask everyone to try to guess what the item costs. Once everyone’s guesses are in, reveal the actual price and select the winner.

 

This is a fun activity live, but it works very well in an unsynced format, too.

17. Start a book club

Prep time: 30 min

Time required: 5 min (recurring)

Best for: A more cerebral, academic team building experience.

 

Book clubs are a classic group event. They bring different people with different backgrounds and priorities together to discuss one common interest.

 

A book club is similar to a workspace in the sense that a diverse group comes together to achieve a single, shared goal. If you’re interested in starting a book club, you can:

 

  1. Toss out the idea of a book club to your team. 
  2. See if you can find a genre or topic that interests everyone.
  3. Choose a book and start reading.
  4. Start an asynchronous communication feed where people can share their thoughts on each chapter (usually after a set embargo time to avoid spoilers).

 

If your team is working across different time zones, use books to help everyone stay on the same page — literally.

18. Set your team up with Trivia Crack

Prep time: 15 min

Time required: 5 min (recurring)

Best for: A way to experience an asynchronous gamified experience together.

 

We already touched on the idea of using trivia as a team building exercise. If your team is disconnected, this is still a good option.

 

Rather than setting up a live remote session, though, you need to use a more disconnected tool — like Trivia Crack. You can connect through the app and, once everyone has joined, your team can challenge one another to ongoing rounds of a variety of different, trivia-based activities.

Why are team building virtual activities important?

Remote work will define the future of work. Full stop. 

 

Just because the world is embracing the work from home concept, though, doesn’t mean it’s a perfect solution. Many hazards come with laboring on the home front.

 

Case in point: more than a year after the pandemic pushed companies toward remote work, 70% of those working from home continued to feel isolated. It’s a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away soon, either.

 

This makes team building a major factor for most team leaders. Even if they can acknowledge this, though, many still face the problem of coming up with team building activities that overcome two primary hurdles:

 

  1. Finding activities that work in a virtual setting.
  2. Choosing team building exercises on a limited or non-existent budget.

 

The benefits of virtual team building

It’s worth remembering the particular benefits of this kind of effort. 

 

Team building isn’t just a fun distraction from work. It helps with things like:

 

 

By investing in team building, you tap into the hidden potential of your remote team, no matter where they might be working from.

Using free virtual team bonding activities

This list includes some of the best virtual team building activities that cost precisely zero dollars to use. There are many, many more ideas out there. In fact, you can probably come up with several on your own without any help from a website.

 

As we wrap things up, though, I want to reiterate that the goal here isn’t just to find the best deals as if it’s 5 a.m. on Black Friday and you’re rabidly shopping on a tight budget. The price tag is just one factor when it comes to the team building process.

 

Remember, every team building exercise is still going to cost you in time, effort, and other resources, even if it is free.

 

That isn’t a bad thing, either. It’s that extra requirement that makes team building worth it. Whether you’re setting up a free virtual water cooler session or dropping $500 on a live virtual trivia night, remember that you’re still only going to get out of the experience what you put into it in the first place.

 

If you find that you lack the skills or the budget to invest in quality team building activities, don’t throw in the towel. Gomada is designed to help leaders streamline the team building process without losing its value.

 

If your goal is to genuinely invest in building a cohesive team that operates at peak efficiency, make sure to seriously commit the time and attention required to find success whether that’s through your own efforts, using a team building app like Gomada, or both.

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