Building a workplace atmosphere centred around teamwork, trust, and cohesion when everyone is in the same building is one thing. But what about when external circumstances have upended workplace dynamics and forced otherwise social creatures to work as a team online? Bringing people together and offering staff an opportunity to play becomes even more important.
As an employer, you might think that the biggest challenges your employees face working from home concern staying motivated and minimising distractions. But this is not the case. A 2019 State of Remote Work Report by Buffer found that less than 10 per cent of workers express these troubles. So what actually does affect your staff when they work remotely? The two biggest struggles are unplugging after work and loneliness (22 per cent and 19 per cent respectively).
Great companies spend a considerable amount of time, money, and resources building and cultivating their workplace culture. This cannot stop now while we are all online. Instead, companies must now make more of an effort to energise their workforce. By encouraging workers to socialise, collaborate, and enjoy themselves, employers will find they will get more out of their staff when it comes time to work.
The following list includes some simple, yet fun ideas for workplace activities online. Take a look and decide which would work best for your team. Think we missed something? Leave a comment below and we’ll add it to the list.
Have a chat
Building strong work relationships is difficult when staff can’t bump into each other in the hallway and engage in non-work related chit chat. Donut is a popular slack extension that introduces teammates who might not know each other via direct message, and encourages them to meet or chat remotely. This tool can also be useful for new staff members, or to help foster relationships between departments.
Learn to bake
Humans naturally bond over food, so what better way to maintain staff cohesion than with some free online baking classes. And who doesn’t love bread? The Online Baking Academy runs several free online courses, videos and formulas – for both sweet and savoury treats. Have your team progress through them throughout the week and then have a bake-off on a Friday afternoon. Make sure to encourage pictures and a bit of friendly competition.
Get your team up and moving. Gaia contains a vast handpicked collection of meditations, yoga practices, lifestyle videos, and articles. And apart from the various health benefits of yoga, the best bit about this activity is that it can be done as a group. Have everyone start at the same time over video conferencing. For best results, do this activity early in the morning so that staff feel energised for the rest of the day.
Friday afternoon drink rituals have taken a hit during isolation. But instead of simply having a drink and a chat over video conferencing, why not spice it up and make it interesting? Some of Australia’s most renowned mixologists have joined the team at Simply Cocktails to provide a new virtual cocktail workshop initiative. Drink responsibly!
How many amateur musicians do you have in your team? Or singers? Create a group chat where staff can chat about their favourite songs and artists. If you want to go a step further, encourage employees to play and learn together. Yousician offers thousands of songs, exercises, and teacher-crafted lessons for all skill levels. There are also weekly challenges and competitions. Don’t play an instrument? Use Patatap to create unique sounds and mixes with your keyboard.
Speaking of music, virtual dance parties are all the rage right now. Dancing is incredibly therapeutic, is good for you, and can be a great way to get workers out of their shells. They can also be used to brighten the mood or celebrate the impending weekend. While there are a number of planned dance parties every day, the premise is simple and creating your own is easy. Press play and move. Into something more structured? Sydney Dance Company is streaming hip-hop, ballet and jazz for beginners classes.
Tea and Coffee
Give your team an opportunity to socialise over a coffee and learn something in the process. Tea vs Coffee run virtual team building activities with real tea and coffee tastings. About a week before your event, they mail your team members a care package. The package includes four exotic drink packs plus chocolate. On the day of the event, everyone logs into a virtual hangout room and an instructor explains the quick-brew method, shares stories about the ingredients, and explains the flavour compounds at work. Tea and coffee not your thing? Tiny Campfire runs a similar program but with tiny virtual campfires, ghost stories, fun games, and s’mores.
A good activity for Friday afternoons. Free Pub Quiz contains over 750 questions (with answers) over thirteen complete quiz nights. Choose a host, split your team into smaller trivia teams, open up your video conferencing software, and play. Another idea is to rotate the host weekly and get them to create their own questions. Music, movies, politics, geography, history – change it up to keep things interesting.
Whether it’s to promote some healthy competition or to create the experience of working together towards a collective goal, online games can be a great remote team bonding experience. Steam is the ultimate destination for playing, discussing, and even creating games. Daily gaming sessions can be a great way to increase engagement, improve communication, and enhance creativity.
Some simple morale-boosting games (that you already know of) are easy to adapt to an online setting – simply open up your video conferencing software and play. Bingo, charades, Pictionary, scattergories, three truths and a lie, highschool debating, virtual show-and-tell etc.
Anything you can do to encourage employees to spend some time outdoors is a good thing. GrowVeg has apps that let you draw out your vegetable beds, add plants, and move them around to get the perfect layout. It also features extensive guides covering all aspects of edible gardening. Get your team together in a group chat and encourage them to share their progress and knowledge.
Designing and creating things online is a great exercise for creative teams. What you make will largely depend on what your team is in to. Into knitting? Use Bellish to design your perfect sweater and cast on in minutes. Or use Room Sketcher to create 3D floor plans and home designs (equipt with a large home office, of course). Everyone has some scrap paper – take an origami class. Or, take free drawing classes from famous illustrators here.
Release your inner child
myosh recently created a list of educational and informative resources online for kids of all ages. In creating that list, we found ourselves enjoying many of those exact same activities. Watch live animal cams, take virtual tours, or take daily art classes. Check out the list here.