Amid COVID-19, small businesses are keeping team morale high as they continue to work from home. One way everyone stays connected is through the video conferencing platform Zoom. Besides taking work calls, how can you use Zoom to host activities that engage your team? From virtual wine and paint night to yoga sessions, 17 entrepreneurs share their favorite teambuilding activities to do via Zoom.
1. Slideshow improv.
“We play slideshow improv together. This is a game with a loose collection of funny slides. When a person’s turn begins, the group throws out topic suggestions. The presenter then gives an improvised presentation on the topic with funny slides they’ve never seen before. It’s a pretty fun team building activity, and perfect for Zoom.” — Alexander Miscione, Director of Marketing, The Law Offices of Thomas F. Nowland | Attorneys at Law
2. Hiring the DC Improv.
“Our team is doing weekly Zoom activities. One of my favorites was when we hired the DC Improv to conduct team building sessions with each of our practice groups. We plan to have them back! We also host our own improv Zoom calls with themes. The best one was two truths and one lie. Everyone participated and even shared pictures.” — Kerry Wekelo, COO, Actualize Consulting
3. Virtual wine and paint night.
“We made the transition to Zoom back in March as the country began to shut down. In order to engage and connect the team, we did a variety of activities via Zoom.
The first thing we did is we hosted a weekly optional 60 minute online happy hour. This was a great way to have some social time and relax. After a couple of weeks, the participation rate of those died out a bit so we shifted to an activity online.
One of our employees had recently attended a wine and painting event so we decided to try it on our own virtually. We ordered and sent supplies (small canvas, paints, and brushes) to employees’ homes. Then, we connected via Zoom. We used a YouTube video as our art instructor and individually painted the same picture based on this video. The group was very engaged! We received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Now that we have resumed normal operations, the Zoom events are not as often but we will be looking to do some sort of activity on an ongoing basis” — Mike Charles, Owner, Unified Pest Control
4. Picture trivia.
“Picture trivia is a versatile game. Have everyone on the team send in a picture before the Zoom call around any theme. It may be a picture of your home office, yard, favorite food, shoes, places you’ve traveled, or something in your neighborhood. Then, the other team members have to guess who the picture belongs to. Whoever says the right answer first is the winner. It helps the team get to know each other and personalize remote relationships. It’s a Zoom call activity you can do around the holidays or when new people are onboarded.” — Henry O’Loughlin, Founder, Buildremote
5. Drawing games.
“Our favorite team-building activity is to play the drawing game skribbl.io while connected on Zoom. It’s a great way to make our virtual happy hour more informal and engaging while learning how good (or bad) we all are at drawing and interpreting said drawings.” — Rod Austin, Head of Marketing, 4Degrees.ai
6. Team movie night.
“One of my favorite team building activities over Zoom is our team movie night. Each week, we choose one movie we can all watch together through Zoom. Sometimes our families will tag along. It’s like a virtual family day activity. It’s really nice hearing everyone laugh and seeing my employees having a good time and a well-deserved break from a week of hard work.
We do this on Fridays after we get off of work. We eat dinner together while we watch our movie. It’s really nice spending time with the people who work hard for you. It makes us feel united. We love doing this because it keeps us connected. My employees are not just my workers. To me, they are also a part of my family. None of what I have is possible if it weren’t for the people who work hard for me and with me.” — Matt Scott, Owner, Termite Survey
7. Game night.
“We spend some time on Fridays winding down with a Zoom game night. Since not everyone has certain games, we try to make it as inclusive as possible with games that can be run by one person or done online for free.
Recently we’ve been enjoying the Jackbox suite of games. Only one person needs to run this, though it usually caps out at 6-10 players per game. If you have a larger team, you may need another person running the game.
We’ve also had a lot of fun with a game called Codenames. It’s surprisingly easy to play on Zoom with just a little bit of setup, and it lets people group into teams for cooperative fun.” — Rex Freiberger, President, GadgetReview
8. One-minute storytelling.
“Rather than asking everyone how the weather is near them, we go around on Zoom and share one thing in one minute or less. This can be anything from a funny story about their child or pet or an uplifting story they read. Bonus points if they prepare props! It has become a great way to get to know each other better and offer some light-hearted fun.” — Jesse Silkoff, Co-Founder and President, MyRoofingPal
9. Yoga sessions.
“We transitioned our staff (~550 people) to fully remote March 12, globally. We use Zoom daily throughout the org.
A few favorite Zoom activities include regular fitness training classes (BARRE, HIIT, Stretching, Dance — we have a fitness trainer on staff), as well as weekly Yoga sessions (separate lessons). We host virtual happy hours with the digital version of Cards Against Humanity. Yes, a bit risque, but disclaimers exist for a reason!
Interestingly, one of our most popular Zoom meetings are Thought Leadership Tuesdays, where we deep-dive on topics in our space (Sales & Marketing, Lead Generation, etc).
Our philosophy is/was that if you cannot go to the office (or many other places!), let us bring many of them to you (our employees!).” — Eric Quanstrom, CMO, CIENCE
10. Zoom talent shows!
“We held a zoom talent show. Everyone who volunteered had the opportunity to present their skills in a 5-minute time frame. Some taught origami, some sang, and others did magic tricks. The best part was we learned about all these new talents among our team members. It was a great way to connect. People are already asking if we’ll do one again next year!” — Neal Taparia, Founder, Solitaired
11. Virtual cocktail — and mocktail — hours.
“Zoom meetings are one of those rare times when you can get your distributed team together at the same time, so make the most of it. Every month or so, we take a few hours to sit down and have a drink.
The rules are that you don’t have alcohol, but you must bring some kind of drink, whether coffee or tea as an alternative. Most of the time we celebrate the birthdays of that month and some special achievement. It’s a great experience to stay social and get to know the group in a relaxed environment.” — Sharon Koifman, President and Founder, DistantJob
12. Playing Truth and Lies.
“My favorite Zoom team-building activity is Truth and Lies. This game seems to have been around forever, but it hasn’t lost any of its appeal. It’s easy to play and requires little preparation so everyone can get involved.
Here’s how to play. One person states two facts and one lie about themselves. The rest of the team needs to figure out which statement is the lie by asking questions and debating the merits of what they’ve been told. This usually leads to plenty of animated conversation, unusual questions and reasoning, and a lot of laughter.
This game is a good way for introverts on the team to contribute, and for us to learn a bit more about everyone as time goes by. It’s also an excellent way to break the ice with new remote team members.
Just for fun, here are a few statements to get you thinking about the truths and lies you could use in your game.
I once met Brad Pitt in an elevator.
A great white shark stole a fish I’d just caught.
I could read before I went to school.
You can guess which is the lie.” — Alex Azoury, Founder and CEO, Home Grounds
13. Campfire sessions.
“Our favorite Zoom activity to do with our team is our campfire. It’s basically one hour in the week where a team member gets to talk about their favorite topic. The rest of the team listens and asks questions. So far, we’ve heard stories about our coworkers’ favorite hobbies, dishes, cultures, sports teams, family traditions and much more. It’s an excellent way to learn more about the people you work with and it’s a lot of fun.” — Dmytro Okunyev, Founder, Chanty
14. Coffee mornings.
“We have been having virtual morning check-ins with all the team members every day since we started WFH. However, every Friday we have a coffee morning on Zoom. We encourage everyone to get coffee/tea and other snacks for themselves and chitchat with each other. Any discussion about work is not allowed during that time. This feels like a regular office break and helps us stay connected with each other.” — Michael Dadashi, Co-Founder, Heart Water
15. Remote team dinners.
“Working remotely doesn’t stop my team from having fun together. We’ve been working remotely for a long time now and have discovered different activities to maintain the camaraderie between the team in a remote set-up.
Remote team dinners is our favorite teambuilding activity. We do team building once a month. This activity allows us to do the usual ‘pantry chitchat’ remotely. What we do is search for one ingredient that everyone needs to use for their dish. Then when the team building time comes, we have to share the recipe and how we did it. It’s not only fun and enjoying but it also releases the master chef within us. We also learn new dishes from our colleagues that we can use as well. After everyone has finished discussing the dish, it’s dinner time.” — Shari Smith, Founder, Shari Sells
16. Virtual escape rooms.
“My favorite Zoom activity to do with my team are virtual escape rooms. We typically host them once a month, and they are a fun and interactive way to build team connection and communication. Escape rooms hone many of the skills I want my team to remain sharp on problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, delegation, and working under pressure and on a deadline.
We enjoy it because it is, literally, an escape from reality. Despite the need to escape on time, it is an engaging way to blow off steam. We spend so much time behind our computer and phone screens it is an excellent way to interact with each other.” — Sarah Franklin, Co-Founder, Blue Tree AI
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