Remote “water cooler” sessions, video-conferencing, and other virtual team building activities have become the norm for workers around the globe. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional onsite employees have been forced to work from home. And while a majority may have thought about the greatness that is pajamas and sleeping in, others are starting to feel the loneliness and isolation associated with telecommuting.
But as much as the extrovert enjoys conversing and interacting with co-workers, so do introverts, albeit at a different level. Even a touch of human contact can lessen the fear and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic in these individuals. Yet even the shyest person needs to interact with remote co-workers for a different reason—at least from an employers’ perspective: virtual team building and camaraderie. Through virtual team building, employees feel more connected and valued. As a result, their efficiency, collaboration, and productivity improve.
But with introverts who don’t love video sessions and COVID-19 intertwined, employers have a difficult task ahead. If you’re an employer or a remote worker tasked with creating virtual team building activities to include introverts, here are some unique ideas that don’t require the attendance of the camera-shy.
The Brain Teaser
The brain teaser is an old-school method of interaction, usually found in riddle books or the Sunday newspaper. But did you know that brain teasers (along with other mentally stimulating games) improve critical thinking and problem-solving in people, including remote workers?
That’s great news for employers searching for team-building activities that also enrich each employees’ mind. But don’t let employees do these teasers entirely on their own. Instead, pair them with a remote co-worker and see how well they work together. You might just find a dynamic duo you didn’t know you had.
Actionable Step: If you need some ideas, here are some brain teasers from Forbes to get you started. But if you start to run into stagnation or employee indifference, switch it up with a word problem, riddle, math problem, or a different genre of brain teasers. You can do this daily, monthly, or weekly and offer a reward to the winning group. Just send a gentle reminder that looking up the answer online isn’t being a team player.
Remote work provides a prime job perk and work-life balance that few—if any—employment arrangements can touch. And with the initial freedom comes plenty of good intentions from professionals who work from home. “I’m going to work out more. I’m going to meditate more. My diet’s going to get healthier.”
Nearly all of these comments are common to virtual workers. But unfortunately, the workload and lack of experience working from home have other ideas. Because remote workers don’t have the need to walk around or leave the home office, they become sedentary. In turn, this leads to more desk-bound activities. Suddenly, workers become lazy or stuck in a lackluster routine. Weight gain is a byproduct of this behavior. But it doesn’t have to be.
One team-building activity that requires no face-to-face time and is perfect for introverts is a fitness contest. Not only will this help your employees feel more accomplished and energized, but it will also reduce stress and improve mood.
Actionable Step: You don’t necessarily have to start a weight-loss challenge, as some people may feel insecure about it. Instead, ask your employees if they’d be interested in a fitness challenge, and what they’d prefer. Examples might include a push-up challenge, running distance challenge, or just who can take the most steps in the day. Add a “fitness challenge” channel to Slack or a similar collaborative program, and let everyone add their stats for a virtual team building activity that also fosters encouragement.
Virtual Group Seminars
Group seminars are another superb virtual team building activity that can bring some knowledge and insight to your employees. Plus, you don’t need your team to use video-conferencing software to get the most out of the seminar, making this activity ideal for introverts.
The good news is that the seminars don’t have to revolve specifically around remote work. In fact, employees can get something out of seminars with inspirational speakers, sports heroes, CEOs, or just about anyone with a message. If possible, gear the seminar toward your specific industry, but it’s not entirely necessary. When your team gets a touch of motivation or a fresh idea, the seminar has been a successful venture.
Actionable Step: The internet is rife with companies that will put on virtual seminars or conferences for your company, especially during COVID-19. But if you don’t have the budget, don’t stress. Even YouTube has TED Talks videos and other motivational clips and speeches that will get the job done based on your goals.
Guess That Baby Photo
A long time office favorite, Guess That Baby Photo is still alive and well in an increasingly remote world. Plus, it’s a great team-building activity that also provides a much-needed chuckle in an anxiety-inducing global pandemic.
To play, all you need to do is have your employees upload a baby photo to your team collaboration platform. Then, turn it into a game (most correct guesses wins) or just let people browse at their leisure. Not only will your team interact, but they’ll also learn a bit more about each other.
Actionable Step: While this may seem like a one-off team-building activity, you don’t have to let it end there. Try Guess That Photo with grade school pictures, high school senior pictures, or even Halloween costumes. You can even make it themed each month. The key is to keep it fresh and entertaining for everyone.
Fun, Team Building Slack Channels
Whether you use Slack or another collaborative program for remote work, you have access to a world of different possibilities for virtual team building. For introverts or those who don’t love video chats, these channels are amazing ways for your team to interact with a bit of friendly competition thrown in. Most of these will involve posting pictures based on the title of the group. Examples might include:
- Chopped/Top Chef/Iron Chef: Pit your employees in a battle to see who can come up with the best-looking (and hopefully best-tasting) home-cooked meals.
- Hobbies: Let your employees post pictures of their greatest creations, whether it’s a crocheted sweater or a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.
- Jokes: You might have to set NSFW rules on this one, but letting people post jokes is sure to brighten everyone’s day.
- Memes: Self-explanatory. Let your team forward memes or create their own to the delight of others.
- Random/Break Time: Encourage everyone to throw random internet stuff or short articles here that are ideal for a virtual break.
Actionable Step: Monitor any group you create to make sure it’s all in good fun. If you notice a drop-off in activity on a channel, change it to something that will encourage participation.
Has your team been working hard to get a project done by a certain deadline? If so, reward them with a virtual trivia session that provides small prizes. The best news is that only the host needs to actually be on camera. As a result, the camera-shy and introverted can just log into the video to hear the questions.
Actionable Step: Put the word out for virtual trivia a week or so in advance so your team can make plans. Weekday nights might work better than weekends for some people or vice-versa. If you’re unsure when to schedule it, ask your team what they prefer. Use an instant messaging app to gather answers so that everyone has anonymity in their answers, and it’s not Jeopardy!-style play.
Perhaps you’re familiar with Jackbox Games. Or maybe not. Originally existing from 1995 to 2001, but rebranded in 2008 to its current state, Jackbox Games offers some off-kilter online games for multiple individuals. In addition, these games are cross-platform, allowing everyone to play whether they’re on PlayStation, Xbox, Windows, Mac, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV. Games include:
- You Don’t Know Jack: An off-the-wall multiple choice trivia game.
- Fibbage: A game to see if you can lie successfully to other players.
- Drawful: A Pictionary-like game that’s geared toward artistry, but allows both great and poor artists a chance for victory.
Actionable Step: In total, Jackbox has 30 games to choose from. So switch it up to see which game your team prefers. Plus, your team only needs to log into Jackbox.tv to play, eliminating the need for cameras or face-to-face interaction that introverts might shy away from.
Netflix has become a force since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, capitalizing on people staying at home during quarantine. And while “The Tiger King” documentary added some intrigue to the beginning of shelter-in-place orders, you might need something fresh to help your team interact.
Fortunately, Netflix Party affords the opportunity for a stellar virtual team building activity. With a team movie night, your employees can watch something interesting that increases engagement and discussion. Not only will they enjoy the break from work, but you can also see the personal tastes of each other, as well as who’s the cinephile or movie buff.
Actionable Step: Because everyone has a varying opinion of what constitutes a superior movie, pick a few across several genres and put it to a vote. The next week, eliminate or replace one genre so you don’t get stuck in a rut of the same type of movies.
Virtual team building for employees (and introverts), isn’t as easy as it is IN an office setting. But it’s certainly achievable with a bit of determination and trial and error. Remember to ask questions about the activities your team is interested in, make them voluntary, and always grab feedback. In just a short time, you may find that your team is every bit as cohesive compared to traditional, onsite workers. And you’ll look like a genius for putting it all together.
Do you have any virtual team building activities that aren’t face-to-face or are ideal for introverted remote workers? Connect with Virtual Vocations on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to share your advice. We’d love to hear from you!
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