20 Virtual Team Building Activities [2021 Edition]

Written by:
Collin Waldoch
February 9, 2021

The quarantine blues are for real. Even if remote and hybrid offices are the future, it doesn’t mean that team building can be left behind. Virtual team building activities are essential for boosting productivity and morale in the workforce.

From fun Slack games to weekly trivia quizzes, when it comes to engaging your remote team, the possibilities are endless. So endless in fact, that it can be overwhelming. In this guide, we will be breaking down our top 20 favorite remote team building activities for 2021.

First things first: it’s never too late to set up virtual team building activities for your workforce. We all know the challenges of maintaining healthy workplace relationships, and if you want to keep your team cohesive, it’s important to lighten the mood with occasional virtual team building activities.

Some of the very best virtual team building activities take just a few minutes to set up and last no longer than 15 minutes. That’s a quarter of an hour that can  pay dividends for weeks via morale boosts for your team.

Combat Remote Working Loneliness

According to the 2020 State of Remote Work Report by Buffer and AngelList, 20% of remote workers are struggling with loneliness. Virtual team building activities won’t turn that 20% into 0% but it can make an important dent in the figure.

According to Gallup, teams with high employee engagement rates are 21% more productive. In a separate study, 57% of employees who said they were very stressed at work felt less productive and disengaged, while only 10% of low-stress employees reported feeling this way. It’s clear that a high-pressure work environment can lead to disengaged employees. Games can lower stress.

At Water Cooler Trivia, we firmly believe productivity and morale are inseparably linked. Team leaders can unlock greater productivity by boosting morale.

We broke down our 20 virtual team building activities into 4 sub-categories:

  1. Virtual Team Building Activities
  2. Quick Online Office Games
  3. Zoom Activities For Team Building
  4. Virtual Team Recognition Activities

Virtual Team Building Activities

Water Cooler Trivia - With weekly trivia quizzes delivered straight to the inboxes of your co-workers, Water Cooler Trivia can help to spark conversations among your team members. We also have a Slack integration, enabling customized trivia quizzes to be sent directly to dedicated Slack channels inside your organization.

Is your team in need of some weekly trivia? Get started with Water Cooler Trivia today!

Five Finger Showdown - This is the ideal icebreaker for large groups. Everyone on a virtual conference call must hold up one hand with all five fingers extended. The team leader will list specific and unusual life experiences. If a team member has had one of these life experiences, they must put their finger down. The first person to put all their fingers down is the winner.

Guess The Emoji Board - A few days prior to playing the game, privately ask a select group of team members to take a screenshot of the most frequently used emojis on their phones. Distribute these nameless screenshots around to the other team members via email or Slack. You can then challenge everyone on the team to guess who these screenshots belong to.

What Would You Do? - This is a fun scenario-based virtual team building exercise that is perfect for a Monday morning - requiring all team members to engage their brains. Pose a hypothetical question and split the team into breakout rooms on Zoom to discuss. The entire team can eventually all come together to discuss the question as a collective.

Virtual Clue Murder Mystery - Grab your fanciest detective hat and gather your team online to solve a deadly crime. Millionaire CEO Neil Davidson was murdered, and it’s up to your team to find out who had the means and motive to commit the crime. Can your team solve the case before time runs out?

Quick Online Office Games

Dance Party Virtual Icebreaker - Does your team have dance moves? If you have a team full of extroverts, this is a great game for a Friday afternoon. All you need to do is set up a video conferencing call and get some music playing. Moments like these allow team members to take a much-needed breather and let their hair down.

Spelling Bee - This is one for the introverts. A spelling bee competition gives team members the opportunity to compete for prizes and rewards. A quick competition can last just a few minutes, taking no time at all to set up. If you are looking for some inspiration, there are plenty of lists online containing hard-to-spell words.

“One Word And I’m In” Virtual Icebreaker - Is your team in need of a general pick-me-up? Start your virtual meeting by having every team member pick one word to fill in the sentence I’m ______ and I’m in. For example, I’m stoked and I’m in or I’m ready and I’m in. Those with the most imaginative words can win prizes and rewards, such as gift vouchers.

GIF Wars Virtual Icebreaker - Do GIFs often make it into your Slack channels? This adds a bit of fun to team communication. You should challenge team members to post a shoutout about a colleague that has recently helped or supported them. They must make sure they add a fun GIF to each shoutout. Team members can then vote on who posted the funniest GIFs. 

Trip To Paris Virtual Icebreaker - What if you could take a trip to Paris from the comfort of your own home? Virtual trips to Paris have been made possible by Woyago. From live bike rides in the streets of Paris to wine and cheese tastings, team members can grab their virtual passports and be transported to another country in this 60-minute activity.

Zoom Activities For Team Building

Clue Murder Mystery - As the lead detectives in an ongoing investigation, can your team sort through evidence and crack a challenging murder mystery? Every member of your team can participate in this fun Zoom activity. When the pressure starts to mount, the team must pull together to solve the case. While this sounds fun, it may take some time to set up.

Code Break - Does your team enjoy deciphering the answers to brain-boggling puzzles? Why not put their abilities to the test with some online puzzles and riddles? On Zoom, these could be completed by the team in small breakout rooms. You need to look for puzzles and riddles that engage your team. If they are too difficult, this could lead to disengagement.

Team Pursuit - On a Zoom call, you can encourage your team to take part in a range of mental and physical challenges. From a morning workout to a brain-teasing crossword puzzle, the possibilities of what can be achieved on a video conferencing call are endless.

Virtual Escape Room Jewel Heist - In this highly engaging virtual escape room activity, your remote staff will split out into groups and race against the clock to uncover clues, solve brainteaser challenges, and find hidden stolen jewels.

Online Team Building Bingo - Who doesn’t love a game of bingo? This is the perfect midweek activity to lift everyone’s spirits and boost morale. A bingo game can take just a few minutes to complete. In terms of preparation, there are plenty of online resources that can enable you to set up a quick bingo game for your team in no time at all.

Virtual Team Recognition Activities

Virtual Happy Hour - In the final working hour of Friday afternoon, why not encourage your team to crack open a few beers via Zoom and chat about the week? While you may not be able to dictate the direction of the conversations, it would be helpful if these were not work-related. Remote team bonding activities should encourage colleagues to engage on a personal level.

Photo Channel - This is a fun Slack game for all of the animal lovers on your team. Start a new Slack channel and encourage team members to post funny pictures of their pets. If certain members do not have any pets, they can find some funny pictures online to post on the channel. Studies have shown laughter can decrease stress hormones in the blood.

Virtual Show & Tell - Team recognition can be achieved with a few rounds of Show and Tell. Every week, team members can take it in turns to present an object of sentimental value. The rest of the team will then be given an opportunity to talk ask the person a few questions about the object. This can spark conversations and help team members get to know each other.

Virtual Book Club - Do you have any bookworms on your team? Why not hold a virtual book club every week? Team members can talk about the books they are reading, offering reviews and recommendations.

Virtual Game Night - On a Friday evening, you could host a virtual game night via Zoom. This would be a great time to introduce the team to Water Cooler Trivia. A few trivia quizzes over some wine and snacks is the perfect way to mark the end of a major work project.

Final Thoughts

It has never been easier to set up virtual team bonding games for your colleagues to play. Sacrificing just a few minutes each week has the potential to change the course of your company’s future - with a happier and more productive workforce.