Fun Without Borders: Agile Games for Distributed Teams

team building activities for remote teams

It’s that Friday of the month at a remote company called Adeva. Employees will be playing a game on a #random Slack channel. This fun team-building activity is called “A slice of my life” where employees need to snap a picture of their daily life. It can be a picture of their office, a window view, or their city. They capture one moment of their life and upload the photo on Slack with a short story behind it.

Yes, agile games for distributed teams can be challenging. You need to be extra creative and open-minded. Luckily, we at Adeva, are both!

Human knots and trust falls are excellent team building activities that can bring the entire team together and improve team cohesion, but for in-office teams. When you have a remote team that’s spread across multiple continents and timezones, you need to take advantage of the technology you have available and add a splash of innovation and modification.

Why Are We Wasting Time Playing These Agile Games for Distributed Teams?

It’s not wasting time. We like to think of it as investing time! 🤓

We’ve discussed the concept of “social pain” in one of our previous articles. And we still believe that this somewhat poetic and philosophical approach is crucial for people’s happiness. In a nutshell, studies have shown that social pain happens when a person feels rejected and excluded from social activities.

Meaning, not getting the social vibe of a group can harm remote employees’ mental health. And we want our employees to be physically and mentally stable so that they can have a meaningful and happy life. But also, when an employee feels included and part of a team, their engagement and productivity rates go up.

Our team-building activities don’t happen just once a year. We’re constantly looking for ways to keep the excitement going and maintain our remote work culture. Our goal is to create opportunities for remote employees to connect and interact in meaningful ways, outside of regular meetings.

Fun Games for Remote Teams Here 👇

Over the last several years, we’ve practiced many agile games for distributed teams and picked the best ones for you. Let’s explore:

The Desk Photo Contest 📷

We love looking at our coworkers’ desks. It might be a simple team building game, but it can reveal so much about a person’s personality and daily life.

How the game works is you ask your remote employees to snap a photo of their desk and share it with the team. Get the person to post the photo on a Slack channel together with a short story about an accessory on their desk.

This is an easy and amazing way for team members to get to know each other better.

agile games for distributed teams
Remote Adevan working from a co-working space in WeWork, NY.

A Walk in My City 🌇

What do you do when you want to learn more about a city? You google the name and go to Lonely Planet. That’s a cool strategy, but we’ve managed to combine playing a game + gaining first-hand tips about a city. How? By playing a team-building game called A Walk in My City.

We ask our employees to show the main tourist sights and secret spots in their city and share it with the team. It can be through uploading a photo on Slack or sending a pre-recorded video. The game also includes writing a short story about what’s so special about the place and reasons to visit.

This agile game is amazing for building empathy among team members and giving each remote employee some context to understand their coworkers’ backgrounds.

And let us tell you: There isn’t a place on this planet that we don’t love!

Company Trivia Session ❓

Another one of our favorite remote team building activities is a game called Company Trivia Session. You pick one person to prepare the questions and send them over to the team. The team will have 24 hours to give their answers.

We personally love this game because it lets us discover slices of our coworkers’ life. It makes us feel closer to each other and stronger as a team. The tool we’re using is QuizBreaker.

Here are some examples of fun questions:

  • Which team member saw Emilia Clarke at a gas station?
  • Which team member’s favorite book is “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan?
  • Who recently got married?
  • Which team member can breakdance?
  • Which team member has been working at the company the longest?
  • Who recently celebrated his third year work anniversary?
agile games for distributed teams

Write a Story ✍

If you’re looking for a team-building game where employees can exercise their writing skills and creativity in a fun way, then try playing the Write a Story game.

The only equipment you’ll need is a computer and a group chat. It doesn’t matter if your team counts 5 or 25 people, the more is always the merrier!

The host types an opening sentence to a story. Every member takes turns (you can make it alphabetically) and adds one sentence to the story. The game can last for 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the number of people. Not only that the remote team will engage in storytelling, but it’ll also join together to share ideas.

Movie Night 🎬

Who doesn’t enjoy watching a movie with friends? But this time, instead of going to the movies or inviting everyone over at your home, you’ll stream a movie via a virtual conference call with a screen-sharing option like Zoom.

This team building activity it’s fantastic for remote teams as it lets them loosen up and take their mind off ongoing projects and tasks. To keep things more interesting, you can open a live chat running at the same time as the movie so that people can exchange comments, jokes, and thoughts.

Get Fit Challenge 🏃

Physical health is equally as important as mental health. If only there were a way to motivate your remote employees to be more physically active in a fun and engaging way? There is! With the help of a team building game called the Get Fit Challenge.

It’s a healthy competition that releases endorphins, strengthens relationships and supports personal wellbeing. To play the game, you need to set an exercise goal that employees can track using their phones. The employee who performs the best wins a prize! It can be a simple step challenge or a burning calories challenge.

The best apps you can use for this challenge include:

Virtual Pictionary 🎨

If your remote team loves playing Pictionary, surprise them by organizing a game day playing online Pictionary. But this time, instead of a piece of paper and a pen, you’ll need a steady internet connection and an online game like Skribbl or Drawasaurus. You and your team can open a private room and play Pictionary until your fingers run dry. Have fun!

Karaoke Night 🎤

Do you know who’s the best singer on your team? Well, it’s time to find out! On a Friday or Saturday night, let everyone join on a conference call, pour themselves a glass of their favorite liquor and sing their heart’s out.

The best way to play this team-building activity is to use an online karaoke platform like Red Karaoke. Just like in-office coworkers who get to bond over a glass of beer on a Saturday night in a bar, remote employees can do something similar online. You’ll surely share a few laughs and find out who could use some singing lessons.

Virtual Scavenger Hunt 🏞️

One way of creating an outdoor scavenger hunt is with the help of a platform called GooseChase. The team needs to follow the instructions to receive the allotted points. Sometimes they’ll be submitting a photo or video, while other times they’ll be solving a puzzle or riddle.

This fun team building activity with have your remote employees moving around, talking to each other in ways you couldn’t have even imagined. It’ll motivate them to stay connected and compete in an engaging way.

agile games for distributed teams

Conclusion

We’re continuously inventing a new world for ourselves. Once the majority of employees were working in warehouses before moving to office spaces. Today we’re witnessing another significant change: the transition from in-office work to remote work. The major driver of this change: technology.

But one thing remained a constant: we’re still social being. We crave relationships and closeness with other people. And just because the team lives on four sides of the world doesn’t mean that they can’t form professional and personal relationships with their coworkers. From Slack channels and Google documents to platforms like QuizBreaker and Stridekick, remote employees can easily share a laugh, exchange photos of their daily life, and get competitive on a Scavenger Hunt.

Bridging the physical gap has never been easier and social interaction must be included in your team’s everyday life. It’s the key to employee performance, engagement, and long-term retention.

Let the games begin!

Sandra Petrova - Remote Work Researcher
Sandra Petrova
Remote Work Researcher