This is a guest post for the MELD Coworking blog written by Adam Naor.
The Importance of Team Building
Having strong relationships with your coworkers is essential to the overall success and health of a business and its employees. When work colleagues genuinely like and care for each other, they can more easily communicate together. And with great communication comes better team alignment and productivity.
In short, by growing the interpersonal relationships of your work team, you are creating a virtuous cycle that pays off tenfold. I like to think of it in really simple terms: you and your colleagues are not robots; so it’s important to set aside time to cultivate relationships that everyone needs to thrive in the workplace.
Carving Out Time is Important
If you and your work colleagues are remote, it can be quite difficult to build a rapport with them. You miss the chances to go to lunch together, grab coffee, have an after-work drink, or just have a quick chat by the water cooler – seriously, that’s an actual thing!
Even when everyone is located in the same place, utilizing additional time to bring people together is a major part of every successful company’s playbook to forge stronger employee bonds. So if you don’t already, try putting time on the calendar for some team building activities. You can start with this list of successful ones that I have done in the past.
Team Building Activity #1: Celebrity
This is a really fun game that requires no setup at all. It’s all about trying to figure out which person thought of a particular celebrity. The ideal number of people is between 8 to 15. Here’s how to play:
- One person acts as the moderator and has everyone submit a celebrity name directly (dead or alive) to them via Slack, email, or some other instant messenger.
- The moderator reads every celebrity name twice, and ONLY twice.
- One person starts by saying out loud to the group, the celebrity name that they think a coworker submitted. If they are right, that coworker joins their team and they get to guess again. If the guess is wrong, the person that was incorrectly matched with the celebrity gets to go.
- As the game goes on, there will be small groups/teams that form. If you guess the celebrity of someone who is already on a team, you inherit all of those team’s players.
- The game is over when the last celebrity has been matched with the last person. Whichever team has the most celebrities, wins!
Team Building Activity #2: Guess the Workstation
This team building activity is a great way to break the ice with folks and get a little glimpse of each person’s home office. It works best with at least 6 people, and no more than 20. Here’s how to play:
- Elect a moderator and have everyone send a photo of their home office/workstation to them. Pro Tip: This works smoother if the moderator gets all these photos ahead of time and prepares them on a Google doc.
- The moderator puts all the home office photos on a document and adds all of the names (in random order) at the top of the document as well, so people know who to choose from. This also allows others to play, even if they didn’t submit a photo.
- Then, set a timer for roughly 10 minutes (or however long is appropriate) to give people enough time to look at the photos and start guessing.
- Each person should write down their own list and keep score on their own – honor system!
- When the timer ends, the moderator will go through the list one by one and reveal the answers – the person with the most correct matches wins!
Pro Tip: You can get as creative as you want when taking a photo of your work from home office setup.
You can keep it very basic and obscure certain items if you want, or you can zoom in on a certain part of your desk. Or you could put little knick-knacks on your desk that might offer clues – you have full creative license here, and it will likely spark fun topics of conversation during the game!
The original version of this game has been done countless times with baby photos, feel free to try that version as well!
Team Building Activity #3: Two Truths and a Lie
A tried and true ice-breaker, Two Truths And A Lie is played exactly how it sounds.
- Each person comes up with two truths about themselves and one lie.
- Take turns telling your two truths and a lie, and let each person guess what the lie is. Extra creativity is encouraged!
Team Building Activity #4: Guess That Item
This is a good warm-up game that you could always bust out before a meeting to get people’s energy up. One round can take only a few minutes, or you could do a few rounds and easily soak up half an hour. It’s very simple, and here are the rules:
- Over a video call, one person will show a random item in their room that is obscure and not very common.
- Go around the (virtual) room and people will take guesses on what the item is and what it’s used for. That’s it!
Pro Tip: The more obscure the item, the better the game becomes! Antiques and older items tend to make for good objects. They also create fun conversations and good backstories to get to know your teammates better.
You can also turn this into a variation of a classic: Show and Tell. In this game, just ask each person to show something that is meaningful or unique to them.
It might sound childish to play a game you probably played in kindergarten, but it’s fun and will give you more insight into your coworker’s lives. It also gives people a chance to share something that they really care about, which will help build strong relationships as a team.
Team Building Activity #5: Online Codenames
This is the online version of the classic board game: Codenames. There is an excellent and free version you can play online here with all the rules to it. In short, it’s a game with two teams.
One member from each team acts as the “Spymaster”, giving one-word clues to their teammates who try to guess the associated words that the Spymaster is referencing. In this game, the Spymaster’s teammates will really have to align their thinking with each other and work together to win.
Team Building Activity #6 Presentation Series
A lot of companies do things like lunch and learns, tech talks, brown bags, and lectures. These are all great ways of getting people in a meeting and learning about a specific topic relevant to the business. My suggestion is to replicate this, but give people on your team the freedom to present on whatever they’d like – literally anything! Here are the general guidelines:
- Hold this presentation series roughly once a month.
- Have a signup sheet where people can reserve which month they want to present
- While this is by no means a formal work presentation, set expectations for the presenter to have prepared materials in advance that are in some polished form. This could mean a PowerPoint presentation, video, or other written material.
- Guest speakers are encouraged!
These suggestions will help make remote work more fun and productive. The great thing about this list is that you can do these activities from home or a coworking space. You could even deploy some of these team building activities to meet and better learn about the people you sit around if you are in a remote coworking environment outside of your home.
Thanks for reading. I am following the key learnings here to launch a Work From Home venture that makes working from home more enjoyable and productive for all: Work From Home Adviser. If you’re interested in connecting you can reach me there.
About the Author
Adam Naor is the founder of WFHAdviser.com, a site that helps remote workers thrive at home.