Team building during the pandemic has been tough. Small businesses have rapidly gone from mostly in-person to mostly remote. Even as employees return to in-person work, many people will continue to work remotely or have team members in other locations.
Workplace shifts and new company culture norms have given rise to an important dynamic: virtual team-building activities.
A small business used to go to an afternoon movie or head over to Escape the Room to share some laughs and get out of the office. Now, high-growth, venture-backed companies have created new ways to bring teams together on Zoom and in virtual environments.
Startups are now using terms like, “we’re the virtual watercooler conversation” or “we’re like Escape the Room, but in the metaverse.”
Zoom has launched an entire app marketplace that seems to have initial traction around team building. There’s almost saturation when it comes to team-building activities for small businesses.
Luckily for you, we’ve evaluated the options and asked small business leaders about some of the team-building activities they’ve used and would recommend them to other SMBs.
From sharing pet pictures to holding educational events to building trust through music, here are 12 examples of team-building activities at small businesses:
- Create fun Slack channels
- Learn together
- Escape rooms
- Core values exercise
- A hike improved our unity
- Book club
- Trust building with music
- Virtual cooking class
- Fitness challenges
- Remote campout
- Life Highlights Game
Let’s dive in to learn about the experiences small businesses have had with these team-building activities.
Create fun Slack channels
“As a fully remote company, one of TeamBuilding’s most effective team-building strategies to date is sharing pet pictures. We made a special channel on our company Slack called #furry-friends where employees can drop pictures of cute dogs, cats and other creature companions. This activity is low-touch and easy to execute on asynchronous schedules. These photos offer an opportunity for teammates to glimpse into each other’s home lives and get to know and appreciate coworkers on a human level. Plus, the adorable photos provide an instant mood boost and are an easy way for employees to make each other smile throughout the day from miles away.”
— Michael Alexis, TeamBuilding
“With a business built around education, our entire team enjoys coming together to learn the latest in the lash industry while still having some fun. Any company, even if not focused on teaching, can make a team-building event out of an educational event. Make the learning fun, so your employees can benefit from increased knowledge and team bonding.”
— Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional
“A fun and super-effective team building activity is an escape room. Escape rooms enable teams to work together towards a common goal and so it’s the perfect activity to see how well your team works with one another. In the end, whether you get to escape or not, you’ll always remember that it was a team’s effort that will definitely leave you wanting more.”
— Jessica Ulloa, MyPerfectResume
Core values exercise
“We have used a core values exercise to identify the top six core values for each individual. This allows us to learn more about one another on a deeper level. This also helps us to know how to better communicate and approach situations based on what others value. Make the activity fun and interactive and your team is bound to appreciate this!”
— Alison Stine, Stine Wealth Management
A hike improved our unity
Recently our company did an offsite in Southern Utah. One of the activities was a hike at Angels Landing and it was a unifying experience for us that we still talk about. Though not all team members made the entire hike, everyone felt victorious in making it partway through the hike. We helped each other climb, struggled through the elevation change, and took celebratory pictures at the top. It cost practically nothing but had a strong impact on our already positive relationships and will be an experience most of us remember for the remainder of our careers.”
— Logan Mallory, Motivosity
“We run a regular book club that has been a huge hit with our employees. The books are chosen by different employees and we try to meet every other week. We weren’t sure how it was going to be received when we started it, but it’s grown in popularity and served as a great way for us to connect, especially during COVID.”
— Sylvia Kang, Mira
Trust building with music
“Team building for small teams can be challenging, especially in our virtual work environment. The benefit of being a small team is we are able to create moments of intimacy and vulnerability in ways that a larger group may find taxing. The most impactful activity that brought the team together was a trust-building platform called anythm, which connects life experience to music. We shared our “5 Moment Intro,” which leverages a unique combination of life moments and music. This brought a sense of bonding, trust and vulnerability amongst us all.”
— Jenn Christie, Markitors
Virtual cooking class
“Our whole team works remotely from home, so we need to think outside the box when it comes to team building. We found something fun we could all do together — Truffle Shuffle! They send you a kit of ingredients, then you tune in to your class via Zoom and all cook the meal together. It was a great experience we could share and laugh about, and afterward, we all ate the same dinner together, just virtually!”
— Suzanne Crest, Eos HR Consulting
“One of the best ways for small businesses to team build is to hold workplace contests that have nothing to do with business objectives. They can be holiday-themed, like a Halloween costume contest or an ugly holiday sweater contest, or you can choose themes that work year-round, like cook-offs or funny photo captions. Contests are simple, incredibly fun, and create a competitive atmosphere that’s totally positive. Team members get the chance to learn about each other and bond over playful experiences, and that relationship building translates into business success.”
— Roy Morejon, Enventys Partners
“We started doing fitness challenges where we start a fitness trend on TikTok and each person needs to add on to it and continue the rest of the challenge. This encourages the team to get creative, get motivated to engage quickly, and have loads of fun in the process. The videos are something we all wait for, help us generate content for our social media platforms and spread our team spirit to promote employee engagement and productivity.”
— John Gardner, Kickoff
“Hosting a remote campout is a great way to bring your team together. There is so much fun to be had with your remote team by hosting a campout. The company tiny campfire<https://tinycampfire.com> offers an experience to remote teams where they send members of your team tea lights and s’more ingredients. While s’more making is already fun enough, they also lead our employees through different team-building games that were fun and relevant to what we do. At the end of the night, your employees can enjoy a haunting ghost story, told by either one of your experts at ‘tiny campfire’ or each other. These campouts have been crucial in keeping our team’s morale high, and I definitely recommend giving it a shot.”
— Bryan Philips, In Motion Marketing
Life Highlights Game — The best team-building game
“Our personal favorite is the Life Highlights Game. This is a fantastic icebreaker game that works well for both small and large groups. We do this activity by having each person close their eyes for one minute and recall their favorite memories. It can be about professional accomplishments, personal revelations, or thrilling life adventures.
“We then ask our employees to stop thinking and tell us which period of their life they would prefer to relive for 30 seconds if they had the chance after they’ve reflected on their lives’ highlights.
“This activity allows people to reflect back on their lives and reminisce about all the good times they had. It brings in more joy and happiness. It further strengthens the sense of passion, affection and camaraderie toward each other.”
— Vartika Kashyap, ProofHub
Get your small business started on team building
Inspired to book your next team-building activity? Hopefully, these examples help ignite a few ideas on what might work well with your team and organization.
A great team-building activity brings people together and doesn’t feel like a waste of time. A lot of pressure comes with putting on a team-building activity, but with these examples as a starting point, you’ll have a head start on designing an employee experience that unites the team.