However different we like to think we are from the animals we watch on nature shows, we still have many of the same basic social instincts. Just like lion cubs on the savanna or wolf pups in the forest, play is a vital part of our learning and bonding experience, and when it comes to close collaboration with colleagues, this play-bonding can often be overlooked.
While traditional team-building exercises – like paintball and obstacle courses – may have once filled this gap, the rise in remote work has led to increasing isolation at work. With the onset of Covid, remote work expanded and individual workers became more isolated, however, the pandemic hasn’t stopped team chemistry being a vital part of tackling new challenges in a company. This means that team-building activities for conference calls are now more important than ever before.
Below, we’ve put together a list of some of the best ways to make conference calls fun and included a bunch of activities to help remote teams bond. Whether you use the exercises to break the ice at the start of a business meeting, or as the centerpiece of a non-work call, these activities are sure to help establish stronger collaboration through fun and play.
Fun Team Building Activities for Video Meetings
Play at work through team-building activities is far more than just a “bit of fun.” It can help promote trust, build bonds and equip people with the tools they need to tackle work-related challenges such as critical thinking and, of course, teamwork.
Among other things, team building can:
Break down barriers between departments
Foster new collaboration
So, let’s take a look at seven different team-building activities that you can try via video meeting.
1. Virtual Clue Murder Mystery Game
From Scooby-Doo to Columbo, solving mysteries has always captured people’s imagination. The thrill of the chase gets your blood pumping, with good murder mystery games engaging all your mental faculties and encouraging team cooperation to get a result – even the famously-isolated Sherlock Holmes had his companion Watson!
While games like Clue or in-person murder-mystery nights have been popular for decades, the rise in digital communication has led to a whole new industry of virtual sleuthing. Perfect for companies looking for team-building activities for conference calls.
Participating in a “whodunnit” with your colleagues is a great way to practice working together to achieve a common goal, which is more important than ever as an increasing number of workers don’t ever actually get to sit down and work together.
Many traditional team-building games – from trust falls to paintball – only work when you can get everyone in the same room. Murder mystery games, on the other hand, are perfectly set up for digital collaboration, with clues, interviews with “suspects”, statements, etc., all able to be shared digitally, and discussions just as smooth on a conference call as they would be in a conference room.
There are plenty of video conference call games out there depending on your team size, price range, how much customization you want, and whether you’re looking for a DIY game or one led by a professional game-master.
2. Virtual Happy Hour Trivia
Trivia nights – aka a pub quiz – came out of England in the ’70s as a way to bring people in on quieter nights, but since their humble beginnings, they have grown into a popular game format around the world. With the onset of the pandemic, the popularity of virtual trivia nights absolutely exploded. Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz, one online quiz that came out of the pandemic has raised over £1,000,000 for various charities, showing just how popular the games have become.
The format is simple: a quizmaster comes up with a set of questions, which they then announce to the pub in rounds, usually based on categories. Participants work in teams to answer as many questions correctly as possible with the answers being revealed at the end and the winner receiving a (usually beer-related) prize.
For team building, the format stays pretty much identical, except the teams are formed from people in your company and the prize will be more office-appropriate. When switching the format online, the only tool you really need is a platform that allows you to create groups for team members to talk, where nobody else can listen, while also being on a video call. With that, you can appoint a quizmaster to come up with questions themselves.
If you’re new to happy hour trivia games, you can also find plenty of quiz books for questions or even hire a virtual pub quiz company, which often delivers extras such as pub soundscapes to get your team in the zone and themed sets to add to the atmosphere.
3. Point Your Camera Out the Window
If you’re looking for simple team conference call ideas, then start with the tools you have – a computer with a webcam. The idea behind Point Your Camera Out the Window isn’t as a one-off game so much as an ongoing ice-breaker for team calls, one that builds familiarity between an otherwise remote workforce.
This activity is most effective if the people on the call don’t know exactly where the other callers are based, since then they can take a snap (or just point their video-conference camera) out of the window and allow other participants to guess the location. To add a little more to the game, you can also ask the person showing their view to give three facts or hints to help people along.
This is especially effective if your team is a nomadic one, because it allows for new views every call.
Alternatively, if your team knows each other’s locations, you could use that as a starting point to try to guess what is out the window. For example, knowing that your colleague is based in a certain city, others on the video call could ask:
Are there mountains?
Can you see the sea?
Is it just a brick wall of another building?
Then, the team member reveals the view. Just remember to check with your team ahead of time that they want to do this because nobody likes being made to show their camera on the spot.
4. Two Truths and A Lie – a Classic Game for Conference Calls
Two Truths and A Lie is a classic game that has been a staple of classrooms and office ice-breakers for decades. It is ideal for small groups and thanks to its simplicity is the perfect team-building activity for conference calls.
To start the game, one person on the call presents three statements about themselves to the rest of the group. They could read them out or have them on a slide to present. The twist is that not all of the statements are true – two of them are, but one is a lie.
Everyone on the call should choose which statement they think is false, with encouragement to discuss it with their peers and give their reasons why to try to persuade others. The person who gave the statements then reveals the truth, and one of the people who got it right then gives their own three statements, and so on.
The statements are often surprising things about the person’s life, with the aim of misleading others on the call to pick one that sounds like a lie but is actually true.
Once the truth is revealed, make sure to leave enough time for people to ask follow-up questions because there will often be a lot of interest in the unusual truths. Most games include exclamations of “No way! When did you do that??” or “I had no idea, where?”, or similar, which are a great way for team members to get to know each other better.
5. Have a Team Lunch Video Call
Social eating is a vitally important part of bonding with others, and arguably one of the fundamentals of keeping nearly any social group together – from religious feasts to family meals. Recent research has even shown that eating with other people makes each individual feel happy and satisfied with their lives.
The bonding power of meals hasn’t been missed by companies looking to help foster better team relationships, with business lunches or corporate dinners being popular for a long time. However, at this point, you might be asking how shared meals fit into conference call activities? Simply put, you have lunch in front of your camera.
It may feel a little silly at first, but compared with eating alone in your house or remote office, it can make a big difference. After you and your colleagues stop feeling self-conscious (which is often an ice-breaker itself), you’ll quickly find the conversation flowing.
If your company really gets into virtual team lunches, you can even start to coordinate them a little more. For example, arrange for everyone to have the same meal on your virtual lunch day so you can chat about the food, or even set a cooking challenge and make showing off your culinary skills part of the activity.
This can lead to different team members from different countries or cultures sharing their traditional lunch foods, turning what seems like a relatively simple idea into an ongoing team-building activity.
If you want to ensure everyone gets involved the first time on equal footing, consider purchasing your team vouchers for a food delivery service that can be used where they are.
6. The Virtual Team Quest
An online Team Quest is a more traditional team-building exercise, revamped for remote work. Rather than being a simple activity at the start or end of a call, the virtual Team Quest is a series of mini-games that your team must complete and compete in. These range from music quizzes to celebrity face mashups and group picture puzzles.
The exact mini-games will depend on your team as well as the company that sets up your team-building experience, with packages lasting anywhere from an hour to half a day depending on which company you go with.
This is a much more structured team-building activity for conference calls than some of the others on the list, which may or may not work in your company. Importantly, a dedicated activity like the Team Quest should be supported by smaller, more regular team activities such as a team lunch or Point Your Camera Out the Window game.
7. Solve an Escape Room as a Team
As with the murder mystery, escape rooms allow your team to come together and pit their wits against an unknown enemy. In their physical form, escape rooms have become popular for team building as well as just for fun since they first popped up in the early 2000s. With so many people working remotely, virtual escape rooms are on the rise.
However, the concept of escaping virtually is nothing new, with physical escape rooms drawing inspiration from escape-the-room-style video games, which have been popular since the early days of text adventure games in the 1980s.
However, they have come a long way from those early days, and teams can now collaborate in virtual escape room games. Or, using video meeting software, you can go through a company where your team directs a real person in an actual escape room via a video link.
Virtual escape rooms now cover many themes, from pirate ships to nuclear bunkers. Depending on the size of your team, it can be a relatively budget-friendly option for an organized activity.
Team building activities can help your team, department, and company as a whole by building bonds through play and offering experiences for team members to hone their skills such as critical thinking and communication. The seven ideas for team-building activities for conference calls we’ve listed above are a great place to start, but talk to your team to find out what works for them (and what doesn’t!).
To learn more about how to help build team collaboration, head over to the Spike Blog today. If you or your company has come up with a great team-building activity for remote video conferencing, let us know by tweeting @SpikeNowHQ.
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