5 Virtual Celebration Ideas to Help Your Team Bond Remotely

5 Virtual Celebration Ideas to Help Your Team Bond Remotely

5 Virtual Celebration Ideas to Help Your Team Bond Remotely

COVID-19 has forced many of us to work remotely. Newcomers to the world of remote work often struggle with the issue of physical isolation. How do you build and maintain relationships with your peers when you don’t share a physical office space? How do you forge lasting connections without social gatherings or happy hours?

Fortunately, team building doesn’t need to be confined to in-person activities. It’s entirely possible to build bonds and strengthen working relationships online with people you’ve never technically met in person. Here are 5 virtual office celebration ideas you can use to help your team bond remotely.

1. Virtual icebreakers

Schedule a casual virtual hangout for the office, but need a little help breaking the ice? Virtual icebreakers can be a fun way to help your team build rapport remotely.

At a minimum, signing into the virtual hangout with a pre-prepared list of icebreaker questions can be a great way to ensure the group conversation continues to flow smoothly when those inevitable moments of awkward silence appear. Even better, consider turning those icebreaker questions into a virtual trivia session.

Upwork’s Senior Director of Content Strategy, Katie Evans came up with a “get to know you” themed trivia game that became a remote-office staple. Here’s how it works:

  1. Have your team submit 3 fun facts about themselves and answer 4 fun icebreaker questions.
  2. Share the answers anonymously with the team using a collaborative doc such as Google Sheets
  3. Work your way down the list allowing time for guests to guess who the answers and facts belonged to.
  4. When a teammate is revealed or time runs out, have that teammate elaborate on their story.

When Katie first tried this out, it became an instant office hit—the 30 minute session naturally grew into a two hour experience where everyone came away feeling closer than ever.

2. Host a digital office board game night

Looking for a way to spice up those online company meetups? Board games have seen a renaissance in recent years, and you might be surprised to learn how many of your coworkers might share the same passion. While you would normally need to meet in person to play a tabletop game, a number of apps have appeared to support online play.

Apps such as Board Game Arena and Tabletopia have huge libraries of board games you can play in your browser. Tabletopia takes the virtual board game experience a bit further by also simulating the entire board and pieces, and paid subscription with access to a larger library for more serious gamers. Use video chat to communicate with the rest of your team as you bond over some competitive board games.

3. Remote cocktail parties, virtual happy hours, and digital coffee/tea tastings

Drinks after work are a cultural mainstay of office relations. But just because you can no longer physically go to a bar together or host a cocktail party, it doesn’t mean you can’t still bond with your colleagues over drinks.

Some offices have started hosting their own remote cocktail parties and virtual happy hours over video chat. You can have a Slack channel devoted to cocktail recipes and schedule time for everyone to come together and share their concoctions over a video call. You can even schedule virtual wine tastings with services like Priority Wine Pass, which can be an excellent team building experience.

Don’t drink? That’s okay, one of the advantages of a virtual cocktail party is that your own kitchen is the bar. You can bring coffee, tea, or mix your own mocktails. One of the writers on our Upwork staff recommends Seedlip, which offers high-quality non-alcoholic tonics as alternatives to cocktail ingredients. There are also coffee and tea tasting services that can be done remotely, such as Tea vs. Coffee which specializes in providing virtual team building activities for businesses.

4. Virtual brunches, luncheons, and dinners

There’s nothing like sharing a meal to help build a connection with your peers. You can expand on the virtual happy hour idea by including home-cooked meals as part of your virtual hangout session.

Company luncheons, brunches, and dinners are all excellent opportunities to connect over video chat. If there’s an annual dinner that got cancelled because of COVID-19, why not consider rescheduling it as a virtual meetup?

You can mediate the meeting by having people take turns showcasing the things they brought to eat. Giving people a chance to show off their culinary skills and favorite home recipes, is a great way to break the ice and build rapport.

5. Use breakout sessions to host large virtual celebrations

So far we’ve discussed how you can enjoy food, drinks, and games remotely using video conferencing and collaborative tools usually reserved for work. Put all those things together and you’ve basically got a recipe for a large-scale virtual celebration.

There’s just one problem. Physical office parties are great team building activities because of the smaller group interactions that naturally occur when people are free to navigate food and drink in a physical room. There’s the larger collective experience when guest speakers or emcees have the floor, but the actual connections are formed when you sit at a table with other attendees.

Since everyone will be in the same video conferencing room, it can be difficult for guests to mingle when not everyone can have a chance to talk. So what can you do when you want to host a large virtual party or event with 20 or more participants?

The solution: breakout sessions.

Breakout sessions can be a great way to divide up a large audience into smaller groups as an event unfolds. Modern video conferencing tools such as Zoom make setting up in-meeting surveys and breakout sessions a snap.

You can coordinate your party as you would in the physical world, with an emcee, executive, or guest speaker addressing an entire room. Then when you’re ready to dive into the festivities, you can assign groups of attendees to their own virtual rooms to enjoy the food and festivities planned for the party.

For example, you might choose to randomly assign the tables, mixing up the attendees every 15 minutes so that they get to meet more people in the party. Or you could have attendees answer questions (e.g., which board game do you want to play?) on a survey and divide them into groups based on their answers. There’s also nothing stopping you from using a spreadsheet to allow attendees to sign up for virtual tables in advance on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Technology is the key to effective virtual team building

In this article, we covered some of the ways you can take advantage of communications technologies such as video conferencing to facilitate virtual team building activities.

Virtual team building uses technology, emotional intelligence, and management skills to keep teams connected when they can’t physically be together. Virtual team building comes in many forms, but the effective programs make employees forget they’re not sitting in the same office.

Virtual team building is great for building rapport, improving communication, and increasing understanding of one another’s strengths and weaknesses. It can also reduce feelings of isolation, and drive a sense of community and shared understanding.

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