12 “Do It Yourself” Virtual Team Building Ideas to Spice up Online Meetings

We’ve all been there. A loud sigh at a virtual meeting as another presenter clicks through a PowerPoint, followed by a frantic check to make sure you were muted. Thankfully, this time, you were. Then you start to wonder who all your coworkers really are behind the virtual backgrounds and the shark filters. You find yourself asking, “Is there a way to cut through the talking heads and really connect with people in this virtual age?”

The answer is yes! So here are our Top 12 Simple Activities that you can do on your own to bring your team together while having fun…

1. The Sweatpants Dilemma

Time: 2-3 minutes per day
Number of Participants: 5 – 20
Tools Needed: Pants and/or Sweatpants
How to Play:

Your work wardrobe has likely changed significantly due to the fact that virtual meetings take place from the waist up. You may have even exchanged your usual work pants/skirt for sweatpants. (And we’re not judging. It’s so convenient to just roll out of bed right into your morning meetings.) We’ve now turned this lazy fashion trend into a hilarious home game!

The game is pretty simple, once you create a group of people who want to play, at any time, a team member can shout “pants” and everyone playing has to stand up. If everyone is wearing sweatpants, then everyone gets one point. If one person is wearing work pants while everyone else is in sweats, then the work pants person gets three points and everyone else gets none. But here’s the catch, if more than one person is wearing work pants, then all the sweatpants people get three points and the work pants people get zero. Play for anywhere from a week to a month, and you can even tally scores and award prizes to add more stakes. And if you’re not wearing any pants, for the sake of your coworkers and your job, we suggest you lose the points for the day and remain seated.

Objective: Team bonding through fun and hilarious scenarios.

2. Human Blackout Bingo

Time: 15 – 20 Minutes
Number of Participants: 25+
Tools Needed: A Human Bingo Card. Check out some examples at https://myfreebingocards.com/human-bingo.
How to Play:

Learning whether your coworkers wear sweatpants to virtual meetings is hilarious and gives you a brief insight into their morning routine, but what about really getting to know them? Human Blackout Bingo has you covered. Create a Human Bingo card or use an online template like the ones at https://myfreebingocards.com/human-bingo. The objective is to fill out the card by talking to people and finding out which box they can fill on your bingo board. Even if someone could qualify for more than one, you can only use someone’s name once. The whole point is to meet as many people as possible, and if Dave is wearing a hat, has blue eyes, 2 siblings, a pet snake, and a love for making origami, then you’ve already got yourself a bingo by only talking to Dave! (Who admittedly sounds pretty awesome, but let’s try to be social…)

The difference between normal Human Bingo and BLACKOUT, is that you have to fill out your ENTIRE board, instead of just five in a row. If your platform offers breakout rooms, those can be a great way to get people moving around and talking to new people to fill out their bingo card. Add a prize as an incentive for completing your card the fastest to add an element of friendly competition into the mix.

Objective: To get coworkers to meet and mingle with people they might not normally interact with around the office.

3. Name that Tune

Time: 10-15 minutes
Number of Participants: Teams of 5-6 people
Tools Needed: 5-7 seconds of 10-15 songs
How to Play:

In addition to bingeing a bunch of shows during quarantine, you’ve probably also gone through a ton of different music phases with one week being 80’s rock, and the next being 90’s boy bands. It’s time to put that music knowledge to the test. Come up with a list of 10-15 popular songs and play 5-7 seconds of each one. People have to try and guess the name of the song, (and the artist if you want to really test their musical knowhow!). You can have everyone play this game individually, but to facilitate communication and cooperation, split people up into teams and allow them to compare answers before giving their final answers. This could be done in the main room but might be less chaotic if your virtual platform allows for breakout rooms to be created. When picking songs, try to pick a wide variety of decades and genres, so players of all ages and backgrounds can participate. Make sure the songs aren’t super obscure either, it’s more fun for people if they know a majority of the songs. And it’s also fun to go with a theme (Songs about drinking, guilty pleasures, songs about foods, songs about animals, or the color red, etc.)

Another way to help coworkers bond and get to know each other is to have people submit their favorite songs, and then use their submissions to play Name that Tune. People can connect through similar interests and songs, and you could even create a shared playlist afterwards for people to continue to share their music.

Objective: Expanding on team cooperation strategies while connecting through mutual music interests.

4. Virtual Dance Party

Time: 2-5 minutes
Number of Participants: No limit
Tools Needed: An upbeat song or two!
How to Play:

Keeping with the music theme, a virtual dance party is a great way to get everyone up, moving, and having fun together. This can be a great start to meetings but can also function as a great activity for a mid-meeting break. Simply play a song and have everyone dance to it. You can see who’s got the best human sprinkler! It might also be a good idea to offer a prize for the person with the most original moves – or the most energy!

One of the great things about the Virtual Dance Party is that it allows people to get really into it if they want to, while others can just sit back and enjoy the music. We suggest keeping it short (no more than 30 seconds). If you go much longer, it might start to feel awkward!

And since its virtual, dancing from your seat is encouraged. Some of our favorite dance party songs include YMCA (Village People), The Macarena (Los Del Rio), Shake it Off (Taylor Swift), Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson), Hey Ya! (Outkast), and Single Ladies (Beyonce). But feel free to use whatever songs you think will get everyone moving and grooving.

Objective: Get people moving and again creating conversations through music tastes.

5. Am I Still Muted?

Time: 10-20 minutes
Number of Participants: 10-30, either in pairs, small teams, or individually
Tools Needed: 10 random phrases
How to Play:

You go to start your big presentation and give your awesome opening lines before you realize, you’ve been muted. This embarrassing scenario has likely happened to you, so we’ve turned the most embarrassing and frustrating part of virtual meetings into the most hilarious game ever! The object is to guess the phrase someone is saying while they are on mute. Give someone a random phrase, like “The orange monkey likes eating waffles,” make sure they are muted, and have them say the phrase with people trying to guess it. This can be something where one person mouths a phrase and the whole team guesses it, or it can be done in pairs/teams as a competition to see who is the best muted virtual lip reader. Doing this at the beginning of meetings or a conference can not only help people get acquainted with the virtual meeting software controls, but also provide some laughs as people try to guess these ridiculous phrases.

Objective: Promote coworker connection through friendly competition while also practicing online presentation skills.

6. Grandma’s Recipe Box

Time: 5-10 minutes
Number of Participants: 2 – 30
Tools Needed: A recipe
How to Play:

Everyone’s grandma has that box of recipes taken from their childhood, random magazines, or the Food Network. But collecting all those recipes is a bunch of work, so why not get your coworkers to help you out? Since cooking and baking have become so popular during quarantine, this activity can be as simple as sharing your favorite recipes. Have everyone bring one recipe to a virtual meeting and create a shared online space where everyone can post them. You could even theme the recipes around holidays or ask for desserts or appetizers specifically. After this shared space has been set up, people can continue to share their favorite recipes.

A great spin off of this is to send people a picture of your fridge or ingredient cupboard and have everyone send back recipes with what they would make using the ingredients you have on hand. Sharing foods and recipes will also give people a chance to experience different cultures and types of food then they might have otherwise, helping people to further connect with their coworkers.

Objective: Bonding over foods and family recipes and introducing people to different cultures and types of food.

7. PowerPoint Karaoke

Time: 15-30 minutes (3-5 minutes per presentation)
Number of Participants: 5 – 20, could be in pairs
Tools Needed: 5-7 random picture/word/phrases PowerPoints
How to Play:

Don’t worry, there’s no singing here. This one does require a little bit more preparation before the meeting but is hilarious to watch and also helps people work on their virtual presentation and communication skills in a fun and entertaining way. Before the meeting, create about 5 to 7 PowerPoints made up of random pictures and words/phrases. These can be collected from the internet or made up on the spot, and the more random, the funnier the karaoke will be!

When playing this activity, a person will choose one of the random prepared PowerPoints and then have to give a 3 to 5 minute presentation incorporating the random slides into their presentation. You can also pair people up and have them give the presentation together, which allows more people to get involved without having to make a ton of random PowerPoints. Not only is it hilarious to watch people try to weave random things together, but it also gives people a great opportunity to practice their engagement and presenting skills in a low-pressure virtual format.

Objective: Practicing engagement and presenting skills in a low-pressure virtual environment while furthering connection through fun and random topics.

8. One Sentence Stories

Time: 3-5 minutes
Number of Participants: 5+
Tools Needed: Just your imagination
How to Play:

One Sentence Stories are exactly what they sound like. Everyone will go around and give one sentence of a story that relates to the previous sentence and together build a random story. For example, the first person might start out by saying “There once was a pig named Fred” and then the next person could say. “Fred the pig was a train conductor.” Yes, totally random, but turning the stories in unconventional ways is one of the most fun things about one sentence stories. This activity requires no preparation and is a great way to get people to get creative and improvise!

You could even try keeping track of the story over a week, and each day you add to it, starting where you left off the previous day to create the Epic Saga of Fred the Pig.

Objective: Facilitating effective communication strategies.

9. The Legend of the ____.

Time: 10-15 minutes
Number of Participants: 5 – 15
Tools Needed: A random desk item
How to Play:

This is a step up to your classic show and tell, as it involves people grabbing a random object in their workspace and telling a story about why it is so unique. Now as the title of the activity says, these are not supposed to be truthful, and the fun and entertaining pert of the activity is making the legend of your items as ridiculous and hilarious as possible. For example, someone might pick up a pen and create the following Legend of the Pen “You might think this is a normal pen, but did you know it actually contains the ink first used to sign the Declaration of Independence that has been preserved in a secret lab until some intern accidentally sold it to me on Ebay?” This adds a level of creative, on-the-spot thinking to show and tell, while also pumping up the humor level.

If people would rather not use the objects at their desk, they can also look up random images on the internet and come up with a story or legend about that image.

Objective: Working on improvisational skills and communication in a fun and creative atmosphere.

10. The Grand Scavenger Hunt

Time: 15-30 minutes.
Number of Participants: 5-30
Tools Needed: Scavenger Hunt list of 10-15 fun items
How to Play:

How can you have a scavenger hunt without hiding a bunch of items for people to find? Great question! Simple Answer: All the items for this scavenger hunt can be easily found around the house or the office. The great thing about a Scavenger Hunt is that it gets people up and moving -and leads to some hilarious fun when people showcase the items. Come up with a list of 15 to 20 items that people are likely to have around their home/workspace (like action figures or Post-It Notes). Put people in teams – and give them five or ten minutes to find the items. The team with the most items at the end of the allotted time wins!

Another option is to have a Photo Scavenger Hunt. The premise is the same, except instead of running around gathering items, they are searching through their computer, phone, or maybe even physical photos, to find ones that fit the prompt. Some ideas: Photo from your last vacation, Photo of a Pet in a Silly Costume, Photo of Your First Concert, Photo from your High School Graduation, A Baby Picture. Nostalgic photos are always great, as it gives people a chance to get to know their coworker’s past.

Objective: To get people up and moving while also facilitating connection and bonding.

11. MY Superhero Backstory

Time: 5-10 minutes
Number of Participants: 2-50
Tools Needed: Just your imagination
How to Play:

All superheroes have super elaborate backstories about how they got their powers, and how their once business partner is now their arch nemesis for trying to steal their tech. But what about you? If you were a superhero, what would your backstory be? What are your powers? Do you have a nemesis? What about a sidekick? (Maybe a pet…?) A ridiculous over the top costume? How far you want to take this is up to you, and the best part is that people can be given this prompt before a virtual meeting and come to the meeting ready to present their backstory to the team, either in small groups or all together. If you have one person present at each meeting, people can even build their backstory off of their coworker’s, creating the Company Avengers. The great part about this activity is that through the backstories, people get to learn details about each other’s personal and work lives. Plus, if they build off of each other’s stories, they can really strategize as a team and bring out each other’s strengths.

Objective: To get to know coworkers’ strengths and bond as a team while also practicing presenting online.

12. Create a Virtual Trophy

Time: 3-5 minutes to create
Number of Participants: No limit
Tools Needed: A picture to be used as a trophy
How to Play:

We’ve given you a variety of fun and simple do it yourself virtual team building activities. But it’s always more fun when you win something. So why not create a virtual trophy?! This can be a simple picture of a trophy from the internet or you can design your own, but the meaning that everyone assigns to the trophy is what makes this activity fun. The winner of a challenge might get to make it their virtual background for the week, or maybe they get to add their name to the trophy (using a virtual photo editing software). You can even create individualized trophies for each of the virtual teambuilding activities you do. Or make random silly trophies to highlight different people on different days. Maybe there’s a most well-dressed award, one for promptness, best wifi, best joke of the week, or most attractive sandwiches. The virtual trophy is all about what your team makes out of it. If you build it up into a prize of massive value and importance, then it becomes one, and makes people more likely to give it their all when participating in team building games.

Objective: Team bonding through friendly competition.

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