Remote work can be awesome. For employees, it frees up commute time, offers better flexibility, and signals a company culture of trust and accountability. For companies, statistics have shown that remote work lowers costs, ramps up productivity, and increases profitability.
But remote work can also be lonely. There are many ways to manage your remote team for better engagement and talent retention, but often overlooked amidst the sea of productivity boosts and efficiency measures is the need for fun activities that encourage laughter amongst remote employees.
Why is laughter important in the remote workplace? Simple: laughter keeps your team connected. More importantly, it builds the camaraderie and motivation necessary to sail your team through tough times. Employees who are able to laugh together are more resilient to stress, and the very act of laughing releases feel-good chemicals that enhance concentration and creativity.
“Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away.” – Benjamin Franklin
No office? No problem. Here are 8 digital team building activities to inject some fun and laughter into the remote workplace.
Organise a virtual Game Night
Platforms like Jackbox Games, Houseparty, and PlayingCards.io have made it so easy for companies to organise fun activities for remote teams.
Jackbox Games requires a paid subscription, but you only need a single company account for everyone to join in on the fun. Some of our favourite games include Fibbage, Drawful, and You Don’t Know Jack—they’re entertaining, educational, and downright silly all at once.
Houseparty is great for smaller teams, and it’s free! You can play Chips and Guac (which is similar to Cards Against Humanity) and Heads Up, but do note that the games function is only available on the mobile apps, not the desktop ones.
The highlight of PlayingCards.io is the hilarious Joking Hazard™ card game (free for a limited time during quarantine), which will set you up for some truly laugh-out-loud moments with your team.
If you love Friday night pub quizzes, why not organise your own? Hold a company trivia night (beer and bar snacks optional), or if you want to take things one step further, why not form a team and compete in the NYC Trivia League on Instagram Live?
You can even make your regular meetings more interactive with our quiz feature, which can be integrated with online collaboration platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans, and Cisco Webex. We’ve compiled 4 entertaining quiz ideas to get you started. Nothing injects fun (and a bit of friendly competition) into the workday like a leaderboard!
Make your presentations and meetings fun
A culture of fun should not just be limited to special activity time—it should influence every part of remote work. Presentations and meetings are prime opportunities for you to add a little entertainment value to keep your team engaged.
You can start off with an ice breaker or a fun poll, use visuals to spice up your presentation, or add a gamification element to turn regular meetings into an interactive activity.
Play Virtual Meeting Bingo
Speaking of fun at work—what could be more good-humoured than poking fun at yourselves? The next time before you dial in to a conference call, try distributing bingo cards to your team and seeing who completes a row or diagonal first.
Not only does it inject some humour, it keeps your audience engaged as they watch and listen attentively for these signs.
Share funny remote work moments
InVision runs an entirely remote team, so if anyone knows the good, bad, and ugly of remote work, it’s them. They got their team to contribute to a list of “funny, frustrating, and often bizarre things” that only remote workers would understand, and the list is hilarious.
Try running the same activity for your team. Make it anonymous (we’ve got a great feature for that) and share some of the funniest ones with your team, or get them to guess the person behind the confession.
Build an MMORPG team
Name a better digital team building activity than battling enemies and Elder Dragons in a mythical world called Tyria.
And if Guild Wars isn’t your thing, why not try one of the other free Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) out there like Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, or Neverwinter?
Unlike traditional board and card games, MMORPGs have a unique parallel to real-life team dynamics, complete with the need for common objectives, complementary skills (every team needs a healer, a mage, and a warrior), and impeccable co-ordination.
Have movie nights
Best served with company-sponsored pizza.
There are a few popular browser extensions that you can use to host streaming parties, including Netflix Party (only compatible with Netflix) and TwoSeven (compatible with Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, Hulu, and Disney Plus), but they are restrictive in the sense that your party members need to have their own accounts to these streaming platforms.
The easier option is to have a designated host play a film on their desktop and share their screen through a video conferencing app. For ultimate meta, watch The Office with your officemates.
Write a story together
Play mad-libs or write a story together by crowdsourcing input from your team and piecing together a hilarious end-product that can be used on social media, or simply circulated internally for some laughs. Encourage your team to be as creative (even outlandish) as possible and just see where the journey takes them.
It’s interesting that COVID-19 has made the term “social distancing” a staple in our vocabulary when the truth is, we’re only physically distancing. Socially, we’ve actually been working harder to stay connected, to provide each other with emotional support.
In an increasingly distributed workforce, virtual team building activities have become an important measure for cultivating camaraderie and boosting motivation amongst remote employees. And with remote work here to stay, managing the needs of a remote team is basically equal to managing the needs of the future workplace.