Want to Improve Virtual Relationships? Try These Team Building Exercises

Woman working from home. Headache, stress

Virtual team building consists of several carefully designed strategies, games, and activities designed to bring more human interaction to the virtual work. Online team building will help your team understand each other better – it will help them feel like they are part of a community. And, of course, a happy team leads to an increase in the percentage of “employee retention.”

Difficulties in developing effective team building

The challenge in building good relationships with most remote teams is that your employees don’t have much time to plan different events. For these purposes, you should first take advantage of the Professional Employee Organization (PEO) Services, especially global PEOs, such as NHGlobal Partners that will allow you to transfer all of your human resources needs, allowing the service to collaborate with your employees. Another challenge you will have to face is that you and your employees can work in different time zones in most remote teams. For example, many activities and exercises can be accomplished by recording videos that you post in your workspace for each employee to see for hiring in Germany. 

We’ve prepared some team-building exercises and other fun activities that you can use to bring your virtual team closer together.

1. Look into each other’s houses

This virtual team-building exercise requires members of each team to virtually “open” their homes to each other, as in House Hunters.

Jesse Sussman of MuseumHack thinks this is a fun way to get to know your remote team members and their personalities. Each team member will make a short video showcasing their home and some of their favorite things. This exercise allows team members to get to know each other better based on their environment and leads to cohesion and camaraderie. The creation of a virtual team is an ongoing process of merging remote teams. This process will help your team develop closer connections within the group, creating a collaborative environment similar to an office environment!

2. Desert island scenario

In this virtual team-building game, party members are presented with a scenario in which they end up on an uninhabited island with seven objects – but they can only take three of them. Keep these objects as obscure and complex as possible so that your team members are forced to make the most of critical thinking and planning. Then divide the team into small groups and choose which items they want to take with them. As soon as all discussions are over, go to the general video chat and discuss the results.

3. A game of guessing personal facts

This game is a great way to discover the interests of your team members outside of work.

In the first step, the manager asks each team member to share some personal facts with him. These facts will then be compiled into a document to be shared with each person on the team. There is an empty column next to each personal fact in which each employee will have to guess which team member this fact belongs to! Not only can this game be fun, but it can also be a great way to develop team cohesion and camaraderie. After all the assumptions are ready, the correct answers are sent to check how well they know each other.

4. A wish list. Share your plans for the future

A dream list is a list of things you want to do or experience during your life.

Naturally, each person’s list says a lot about them. So what better way to get to know your team members than by sharing your wishlists? Assign one person each week to share your wishlist. You can specify the length of these lists and decide if goals that have already been completed should be included. Anyone who listens can spend some time discussing whether their lists are similar or just asking fun questions. Here you can also make use of a weekly schedule template where you will get to write the professional ambitions that inspire you to work even harder. 

By sharing your dreams, you will learn a lot and understand how similar you are to each other in a team.

Final thoughts 

Remember! The physical distance of teleworking can quickly turn into emotional distance, leading to isolation. When your employees feel isolated, they will become uncomfortable working with their teammates! That’s why it is crucial to create a comfortable team environment that remote workers can rely on.

Guest Post This was a guest post by Shaun Parker

5 Things Modern Employees Need to Be Fully Engaged


Modern employees have needs—a lot of them. The typical needs revolve around fair compensation, exciting work, and being a part of a team. 

Meeting these basic needs as a leader is essential to have engaged, productive, and positive team members over time. However, it’s meeting a team member’s advanced needs where the difference between a manager and a leader begins to emerge.

Managers meet their team’s basic needs, leaders meet their team’s advanced needs.

Difference Between a Want, Need, and an Advanced Need

It’s common to use the words want and need interchangeably. Just for the sake of clarity, there is a slight distinction between the two. 

Want: have a desire to possess or do something; wish for

Need: require something because it’s essential or very important rather than just desirable.

The difference between an employee’s basic needs and their advanced needs is slightly more complicated. Most people are familiar with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; when it comes to employees, the basic needs are essential and fall within Maslow’s “deficiency needs” (physiological, safety, belonging, esteem). Maslow’s top-level, known as “growth needs,” by definition, growth needs do not stem from the lack of something, but rather the desire to grow as a person. This is precisely where most of the advanced needs employees desire now live.   

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Since this pandemic has changed many of us in ways we couldn’t imagine, the advanced needs of employees have evolved. Here are five things modern employees need, whether they know it or not, that all leaders must know.  

1. They “Need” a Flexible Schedule

The jury is still out on what companies will do with the work from home model post-pandemic. Companies like Ford and others have adopted permanent work from home policies. The future of work is almost certainly a hybrid model.  

Regardless of your company’s WFH policy moving forward, professionals have had a taste of flexibility, and they loved it. Whether it be having family dinner at 5:30, workouts during breaks in the calendar, working from a tropical desk, or avoiding rush hour traffic, flexibility is now essential. I would go as far as to say, companies and bosses that offer no flexibility will be forced to overpay for talented team members.  

“The best leaders will embrace calendar flexibility to attract and retain top talent.”

While there are industries and situations where being in the same room has enormous advantages and will always be required, leaders who embrace flexibility will attract and retain top talent.  

2. They “Need” Development Opportunities

A lightbulb has turned on for many professionals thanks to the ease of access to educational content. We no longer need to wait for the next company-wide training event to grow and develop our skills. It turns out that having a growth mindset is one of the essential things professionals need to adopt. 

The best leaders provide development opportunities to encourage their people to have a growth mindset. Things like workshops, seminars, conferences, books, and lunch & learns are great ways to help employees scratch their development needs. 

3. They “Need” to Be Empowered to Make Decisions

No one likes to be micromanaged, but most managers ignore this because they don’t believe they are the micromanaging type. Indeed defines micromanagement as; a management style that involves the close supervision of an employee by their manager.  

Too many managers second guess every decision their people make in fear of losing control or the belief that no one can do the work as well as they can. Micromanagement is a hurdle every manager can and must overcome because employees have an advanced need to be empowered to make decisions.  

In his new book Winning the War in Your Mind, Craig Groeschel said, “The strength of your organization is not a reflection of what you control, it’s who you empower.”

Not only is Groeschel correct but he should have you asking yourself the question, “Can you let go and allow your people to do their best work?

4. They “Need” You to Behave Like a Coach

You might think I am a broken record, writing about managers behaving and acting like a coach, but I will not stop until it starts to become a reality. It is the most crucial skill for a manager to develop today.  (See if the next Coaching for Excellence workshop is for you.)

Coaching is the most crucial skill for managers to develop in the modern workforce. 

We love to believe people are self-made, but that has never been true. It’s often the coaching of someone else that helps us become the best version of ourselves and grow our self-belief. Since most professionals or HR budgets don’t set aside a budget for an external coach, this responsibility falls squarely on the manager’s shoulder.  

If you aren’t comfortable with playing the role of a coach, at a minimum, equip yourself with a couple of great coaching questions:

  • What do you think we should do to create the best result for everyone?
  • If you are saying yes to this, what are you saying no to? (Out of the Michael Bungay Stanier Playbook)

5. They “Need” You to Share the Truth

This one might have caught you by surprise, but in order to grow, people need the truth. Unfortunately, too many managers and executives avoid sharing the truth with people in fear of how they might react or them leaving altogether.

Take Brent the CEO of a small business as an example. During a coaching conversation, he said something that caught me by surprise. “John, I just can’t fire this person on my team. She has been there too long and has added value over the years. Having said that, she doesn’t put in the maximum effort anymore and brings a lot of negativity into the office.” Without beating him up, I just asked him a simple question, “If someone had information about you that was true that would help you improve, would you want them to share it with you?” Without hesitation, he said “yes.”  

Part of your job as a leader is to share the truth with people and that requires courage. I wrote about courage here, but I define it in Building the Best as, “Being frightened and deciding to do it anyway.” Choose courage and share the truth with your team.

In the comments below, tell me what you think. What advanced employee needs are you experiencing yourself or have observed with your people?

Leveraging Accountability in Leadership: The development of your accountability skills will make a tremendous difference in helping you lead your best in 2021. Join me for the next Leveraging Accountability in Leadership Workshop.  

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.