The shift to working from home has led to more creativity than ever before across all kinds of teams. From the ones who've been working remotely ever since to the ones who've had to make big changes, all have had to adjust to this new normal.
While we understand and have experienced that Zoom fatigue is real, we're here to suggest 26 activities to keep your team engaged, energized, and connected. They range from silly and light (which is just what we need sometimes) to intimate and personal (which is what can add that extra layer of closeness and connection we all want right now).
Many of these activities we're suggesting are done in real-time or have some form of pre-meeting prep work. Others can be done in a non-video call format.
A - Arts and crafts session
Choose a new analog hobby that will get the team into a mindful and creative state. This could range from painting, knitting, or doing pottery together. The Philippines has several online stores dedicated to curating items related to these activities into kits. But if shipping, delivery, and expenses are concerns you don't want to deal with right now, there are tons of online tutorials where you can try and learn to draw, do origami, and journal together.
B - Who is that Baby? game
Send out an invite asking your team to send in their baby pictures. If you can, go back to the deepest part of your archive and grab a photo where you are sure people won't recognize you so easily. We recommend choosing photos from 1 month to 1 year old. Gather the baby pictures together in a deck and assign one person to lead as the "Who is that Baby?" game host. Enjoy the oohs and ahhs (and the laughter) for the next however many minutes of your online social.
C - Cooking challenge
Select a basic recipe that contains ingredients you're sure everyone in the team has at home. Since you can't physically come together to taste each other's food, turn this supposedly "feast for the senses" into something that's a "feast for the eyes" instead. Encourage them to plate and arrange their food beautifully, and have each team member take a picture of their finished dish. Send it in the non-work related group chat and enjoy looking through these acts of bravery. For a real-time event, you can conduct a MasterChef-like online social where you present your plated dish to an assigned judge. Depending on how much experience your team has in cooking, this could be a very interesting (and hilarious) activity.
D - Debriefing
Hang out with the team in a non-work setting. Maybe after work hours? The important thing to remember is creating a safe space, a breather, and an online space to just pause and reflect.
E - Exercise together
Find a workout video that you can do together as a team. One way for you to select the video you guys will do is by releasing a poll. This is a good exercise in thoughtfulness. For example, some teammates may prefer a more intense workout. Others will plead for beginner level routines. More than an exercise for your body, this activity is a good way to build understanding and empathy.
F - Family Meet & Greet
Introduce your teammates to members of your family or your household. Room-mates or flat-mates? Bring them into an online social to say hello. While a boundary is known to exist between our work and personal lives, getting to know one another in this intimate way can be a team exercise like no other. As we introduce members of our household, we peel back more layers and learn more about what's in the heart of each team member and where they are—literally—coming from. For those who have family far away, they can share family photos and maybe talk about the funniest experience they've had at a reunion or share their weirdest holiday traditions.
G - Group meals
Eat meals together. The office cafeteria has ultimately gone extinct for now amidst the global pandemic. It's unfortunate because this is a place where teammates and employees from other departments get to hang out in a non-pressured environment, mingle with new people, and experience the joy of eating—together. Depending on the work schedules of your team, it's up to you to set the time. Maybe keep a video link open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? In that way, you'll get to see who are the early birds, who wisely use and savor their lunch breaks, and who are the night owls.
H - Heart 2 Hearts
Initiate this intimate getting to know you with teammates whom you know may be going through tough times right now. It's possible that they need a monologue kind of moment and are looking for a listening ear. You can add this to the list of team exercises on cultivating empathy and compassion.
I - Instrument upskilling
Learn new instruments together or develop the one that you have in common. For those who've gone back to their family homes, perhaps you've got yourselves some instruments in storage closets? Or in the basement? If no one in the team can find a guitar or piano on site, then maybe it's about time you develop your voices. Technology has found a way to make group singing or choir performances a spectacle. It would be cool to discover which one of your teammates has hidden talents. But if you'd rather not sing as a group for fun, then maybe develop your talent for movement—dancing, acting, etc.
J - Joke time
Watch a comedy special together! There are different sets on Youtube as well as Netflix. But if you want to take it up a notch, you can host a live comedy night yourselves. Tell jokes, enjoy each other's company, and laugh together. Laugh a lot. It's good for your heart, your health, and the team.
K - Acts of Kindness
Write an email of encouragement to a team member you'd like to appreciate. It doesn't have to be prompted by anything. You can send these as randomly or as intentionally as you'd like. The trick is to keep this between you and the person you are sending the thank-you message to. How far will one note go? Well, it can be the very thing that makes their day!
L - Lunch and Learn
Exchange knowledge and skills with teammates you always work with or those from other teams. You can create both inter-team and intra-team lunch and learns for a tighter team system. How does that happen? Imagine seeing tasks and projects from the point of view of someone from a different department. Things may either be easier or more difficult for some. This open discussion and sharing can reveal to everyone just how unique each contributor is. The hope is that by the end of this activity, we will be able to cultivate a deeper sense of appreciation for everyone.
M - Live Meditation
Assign a meditation leader who will design the session for the team. Will you do breathing exercises? Journaling? Guided meditation? In your video call, your meditation leader can play spa music in the background. Aside from the multitude of calming apps up for download, Youtube has several 1 hour videos of actual rain, beach waves, and more. We're not saying that you meditate for an hour—that is quite hardcore unless your team is already filled with meditation masters—but what you can do is utilize both audio and video to enhance your group's experience. With the sound of your voice or the thunderstorm track in the background, lead your team into finding inner peace.
N - Netflix watch party
Pick a movie or documentary for the team to watch. It's up to you if you'd like to do another poll. There are websites and apps that will allow you to input text and then with a click of a button, you will get a random item from your list. You can have the team submit their movie recommendations. Input their suggestions in these type of sites—make sure the sites are safe and legit!—and you can even include this as part of the movie night's opening ceremony. There is joy and solidarity in that period of waiting. You wait together, even as each one crosses their fingers and hopes that their movie gets picked. It can be a wildly fun night.
(Bonus points for those who can build this kind of app or website just for their teams!)
O - Onboarding week
Design a week of both team-specific and company-wide activities to welcome your new hires. It must be a really tough time for new employees to get comfortable and feel closer to the team when they've gone through an entirely virtual hiring process. Aside from missing that human element where we can get close to each other in a physical office space, your new hires may feel like there's a lot of catching up to do in terms of relationship-building. They are entering a team that may have seen each other or spent lots of time together already in-person. Let's make our new hires feel as welcome with a well thought out Onboarding and Orientation week.
P- Photoshoot time
Take screenshot-ing to the next level by scheduling themed photoshoots. We are getting used to doing group screenshots, you know the ones where we call everyone to turn on their webcams. Behind the scenes is your team's Zoom or Google Meets operator excitedly—but also nervously—expanding his screen as wide as it can go in the hopes of getting everyone in the frame. Does it work that way? Depending on the video app or site you use, it may differ. Feel free to get creative and break out of the mold of the now popular group screenshot. Find a time in your calendars to do something silly, light, and refreshing. Themes you can propose: Dress up as your favorite brand if it were human or how would your personified pet peeve look like?
Q - Quick Fix meetings
Present a problem you've been encountering at work to your team and open the floor for them to give you tips or ideas. This can double as a feedback session, but because of the way it's done, it can be a safe learning environment for everyone. Two heads are better than one. If you are struggling with a task, needing an unbiased opinion on something, or hitting a project road block, then we recommend calling for a very quick Quick Fix meeting.
R - Room tours
Show us around your home or out-of-office workspace. You can highlight your desk if that's your favorite part about your space. Encourage your teammates to feel free in talking about their obsession with beautiful office stationery. Let them gush over their go-to pens. Virtual tours are becoming a reality now—Klook is doing them via livestream on Facebook. How about your company? Where else will you start other than where the magic happens—your remote office.
S - Scavenger hunt
Draft a list filled with meaningful prompts for your team. The list could ask for items like: their favorite book, the oldest picture they have at home, the most important fridge magnet they own, or their most prized possession. You can invite the team to come into a video call and share a bit about what they've found from the list.
T - "Welcome to my Thread Talk"
Propose a topic and use it as the opener for your open forum. The idea is to give the opening speaker a maximum of 10 minutes to talk about their chosen topic. The teammates who follow the train of thoughts in the moments after have around 5 to 7 minutes to build on the original idea. It would be cool if you recorded this session. You may even get a new "aha!" moment that you weren't expecting. Also, it's just cool to see the evolution of an idea, it's done in a more guided way now via Thread Talks. Whether the meeting ends with a concrete resolution or series of next steps is up to the meeting organizer or maybe the team in general.
U - Do you Understand what I'm saying? (Read my lips challenge)
Test your lip-reading skills and see if you can tell what a teammate on screen is saying. This game is inspired by the mic features in the different video call apps we use. Sometimes our audio cracks, the internet makes it lag, or our devices just decide to malfunction when we are the ones speaking next at the meeting. It can get frustrating at times, and so we decided to turn this energy into a game that we hope teams everywhere can enjoy and find entertaining.
V - Vlog it
Film a day in your life or a moment in your day you'd like to share with the team. You can go as free and loose with this as you want. There's no need for fancy editing or impressive transitions. The goal is to keep things personal and genuine. Collect all of their videos and enjoy a vlog festival of submissions from your own teammates. Feel free to create special awards too just for fun.
W - Wisdom from above
Invite senior guest speakers or thought leaders that members in your team look up to. Those who have come before us carry so much wisdom and experience. Anyone from junior and even senior staff will surely benefit from this passing on of knowledge.
X - The X-factor
Show the team what you've got (or don't got, it's okay!) with this mini talent show. The point of this activity is for the team to work towards trust. When we expose ourselves and share things like our passions and what we dream about, things can feel really raw and uncomfortable. But that's exactly why an activity like this can help teams develop closeness and better chemistry.
Y - Yesss!
Celebrate both work and non-work related wins of one another. We are each other's cheerleaders and coaches and teammates right now. It's up to your creativity and will depend on your team's need—every when will you do this? How many times will you meet and how many team members will share? Or, is this better as a message in the group chat? Up to you!
Z - Zoomba
Select a dance leader who will choose an instruction video for everyone to follow. Bonus points if you have someone in the team who can lead with his own dance moves. After some time of doing planned choreography, you can give your teammates a moment to freestyle. Encourage them to turn on their mics, too. The laughter and feel good vibes that come after simply overflows.