With days turning into weeks, the looming possibility that the government-imposed self-quarantine brought on by COVID-19 may become our “New Normal” for months grows stronger. As an increasing number of people are now working from home as a result, companies around the world are scrambling to adapt to this alternative dynamic. For many, one main question prevails in this new workplace environment: “How do I maintain motivation, productivity, morale, and enthusiasm among my employees during this time?”. One unconventional answer may actually be quite simple: Online Games.

Just to be clear, we aren’t suggesting you give your team an hour here and there to play Fortnite or Animal Crossing on their Nintendo Switches at home with their friends. Rather, we mean virtual teambuilding activities that can be played over Zoom or Hangouts among the teams as a way of bringing colleagues together in a fun, casual environment and as a brief respite from the daily grind of work. Mirroring real-world teambuilding, online teambuilding activities can equally strengthen interpersonal relationships between colleagues, demonstrate the advantage of inclusion and diversity, and help reinforce a positive corporate culture. These activities can have a real and tangible positive effect on the actual output of work by employees, from the comfort of their own home.

At Moniker, we are well-versed in the realm of virtual teambuilding through online gaming. What used to be a quick icebreaker during our daily meetings has since evolved into games of online trivia, rounds of “Quarantine Quiplash” hosted on Jackbox TV, and “Tuesday Taboo at Two” (please forgive the cheesy alliteration). These have worked wonders in breaking up our day, offering a moment to reconnect as a team, and giving us something to look forward to, which can be especially important in light of the seemingly universal gloom in the newsfeed. 

Best Virtual Team Building Activities to Keep Your Colleagues Engaged While Working at Home

With no end to this quarantine in sight, we wanted to share a few of our favourite pick-me-ups so you can give ‘em a try with your teams!

An Online Murder Mystery

Looking for a completely customized and unique virtual gaming experience you can’t get anywhere else? Check out Moniker’s very own Virtual Team Building selection. Working together with our industry partners, we have produced a series of custom-built games that can be played entirely on Zoom. From a virtual murder mystery that will have players scratching their heads trying to figure out whodunit, to a quirky spin-off of ABC’s hit television show, Shark Tank, we’ve got a wide variety of exciting team-building exercises to keep your company culture strong - even from afar.

HOSTED PLATFORM OPTIONS

Jackbox Party Pack | 3 - 12 Players

Easy to pick up and play for gamers and non-gamers alike, The Jackbox Party Packs are a fantastic pack of gaming goodies with a little something to suit every taste. From the gut-busting battle of wits and wittiness, Quiplash, to the lying, bluffing, fib-till-you-win trivia party game Fibbage, there are dozens upon dozens of quirky games to keep your team entertained. There are 5 packs available, with each including 5 mini-games, each lasting 10-15 minutes each. You can easily replay games or entire packs as there is enough content to keep the game fresh on replays.

Having a tough time choosing which Party Park to start with? Here's a blog post that details and reviews every game so that you can make an informed decision!

How to Play

First, download as many Jackbox Party Packs as you like on the platform that works best for the host. Then, get your team online, with one person hosting the game on their computer. The host then shares their screen using Zoom (or any online video conferencing software that allows you to share screens) with the rest of the group. Picking the specific game you want to play from the main menu will generate a unique 4 letter code that everyone can input into their mobile phone to enter the private gaming room. That’s it! Each mini-game ends with it’s own leaderboard which you can keep track off for a little friendly competition, or to keep score for future weeks.

Platforms

Steam/PC, Mac App, Apple TV/iPad,, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One. Your smartphones are used as the buzzers by visiting jackbox.tv in a browser entering in a unique 4 digit room code.

Cost

Price depends on the platform and Pack.

Drawize.com | 2 - 8 Players

This is your online version of Pictionary. An absolute hoot, with little to no actual drawing skills required, it’s easy to lose track of time playing Drawize. Face-off every man for himself or in teams in a race to collect the most points through correctly guessing and drawing a series of themed prompts. Ranging from food and sports to objects and animals, you’d be surprised at what might come up. Bring it on, Picasso! 

How To Play

The game is simple and straightforward, making it easy for everyone to pick up right off the bat. Choose one person to be the “Game Master” and have them create a private room by selecting “Play with Friends” and then “Create new Room”.. Doing so will generate a link that can be shared with the rest of the players for them to log-in to the private game directly. Every round a Player is randomly chosen to draw something and the rest of the team tries to guess what their sketch is supposed to be before the timer runs out. You don’t need video, which affords everyone some privacy, but we recommend playing with at least audio on a simultaneous Zoom/Hangouts call - good-spirited smack-talk is always encouraged!! 

Platform

Web browser game 

Cost

Free

Kahoot! for Trivia | 2 - Unlimited Players

Who doesn’t love some good ol’ fashioned trivia? Even if you can’t gather in person, playing Kahoot! with your colleagues is a great way to stay connected, have some fun together, and even learn something new along the way. Choose from standard one-answer questions, or switch things up with True/False, fill in the blanks, multi-answers, and more. You may be surprised at how much you know! 

How To Play

Kahoot! for Trivia is amazing because it does all the hard work for you. Simply log in and search from millions of existing games on any topic: brain teasers, trivia, news quizzes, popular science – you name it! You can play these kahoots as is, or duplicate and edit them to add a personal touch. If you’re not pressed for time, you can also make your own quiz from scratch by simply using their drag-and-drop templates and plugging in your questions.

When your quiz is ready, launch your favourite video conferencing platform and connect with players. Share your screen. A shareable game PIN will be generated prompting players to sign up and join the match on their personal devices. Then, let the games begin! Players must use their noggins to be the first to correctly answer each trivia question correctly. The more you answer, the more points you collect. The player or team with the most points at the end gets bragging rights!

Platform

Web browser game

Cost

Free

Taboo | 2 Teams of 3+ Players

If you love the traditional game of Taboo, this online version will be just as exciting and challenging. Gear up your video conferencing platform, and get ready for a game of “unspeakable fun”. Who can get their teammates to say "Brain Freeze" without being able to say Ice Cream, Headache, Eating, Cold or Fast? It’s harder than you would think!

How to Play

To play Taboo, you must first divide into at least two teams with 3 or more people (total of 6 people or more), each round a team selects a clue giver. The clue giver tries to get his or her team to guess the main word. You can either do it by saying one word at a time below (in white), or by saying anything EXCEPT those words, or by picking only two words on the list. 

The team then has 60 second to guess the word correctly. With every correct answer, the clue giver draws a new card, continuing to guess until the clock hits zero. The team will then tally the number of correct guesses for that round and add them to their point tally. Then it’s Player 2’s time to shine! The team with the most points at the end of the round wins.

Platform

Web browser game, free

Werewolf | 10+ Players

If you went to summer camp as a kid, you’re likely already all too familiar with Werewolf (or its counterpart, Mafia). Werewolf is a game of hidden identity, deceit, and social deduction as you seek to survive the night. The entire game is based on speaking, careful listening and voting, so it is easily hosted in a virtual platform. This particular game is great because it sparks discussion amongst team members and has everyone working towards a common goal - identify the werewolves. 

How to Play

Each team member will use an online generator to draw an identification card: Werewolves eat other players, villagers vote on who they think is a werewolf, medics can rescue a player from the jaws of near-death, and detectives can reveal a player’s status as villager, medic, or wolf. Once each one of your remote workers has a role, the game master announces that night has fallen, and everyone closes their eyes, waiting for what comes next.

The game master will first call on the werewolves to wake-up, select one victim, then go back to sleep. Next, the medic wakes up, points to a person to save and then sleeps again. Finally, the detective points to one person to reveal whether they are a wolf or not, and the game master nods yes or no to confirm. After all of the special roles have taken action, the game master then announces it is morning and in a winding tale of woes announces whether the wolves successfully ate a villager. Usually one villager dies in the night, with the exception of the occasional save by a medic.

Without revealing their secret identity, the survivors debate who the werewolf is, and then vote to either eliminate someone or skip the round. Anyone that dies or is removed from the game becomes a silent ghost, and can no longer speak or otherwise participate in the game. Rinse and repeat until only villagers, medics & detectives or wolves remain.

Platform

None Required

Courtesy of MuseumHack.

Slack Extensions: Donut | Unlimited Players

Without the water cooler gossip, it can often feel difficult to connect with your colleagues. This is especially true for growing, fully remote companies, where you may not even know some of the newbies’ names! In a remote work environment, you need to be more deliberate in fostering opportunities for teambuilding and simple chit-chatting with others. Slack is there to help with it’s awesome extension: Donut.  

How to Play

Donut introduces people who don’t know each other well on teams of all sizes via direct messages, and encourages them to meet in person or, in this case, virtually for a variety of programs. Once a week, Donut automatically and randomly pairs everyone in your company up for a non-work-related 1-on-1 call. This may be for virtual coffee meetups, remote team lunches, daily donut meetings, and more! It goes without saying that work and work related matters should be avoided during these chit-chats. Instead, everyone should focus on getting to know each other a little better, asking fun facts or even playing one of these other online games together.  

Platform

In-app download, free

DIY OPTIONS

MTV’s Cribs | Unlimited Players

Enjoy a throwback to the 90s with this spin-off of MTV’s acclaimed show - Cribs. For those who didn’t have the viewing pleasure back when the show was at its peak, celebrities would do a walk through of their INSANE mansions, showing off their prized possessions, cars, pets, clothes, you name it. 

Depending on the distribution of your remote team, you may never have the chance to meet up in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t open up your homes to each other. One of our clients, Help Scout, recently started an internal Cribs-inspired video series, where team members show off their homes in a quick and quirky self-made video tour. It’s a great way to get to know the personality of your colleagues and have a look into their everyday lives. Of course, don’t forget to show off the feature everyone is waiting for… the inside of your fridge!

Online Bingo | Unlimited Players

Enjoy a remote work take on the classic game Bingo. This one is great because most people are already familiar with the rules and regulations so it’s easy to jump right into. Players will each be given a Bingo board whereby squares are filled with remote work stereotypes. Players must then mark off each spot when the stereotype is fulfilled by someone other than themselves. For example, when you hear someone say “sorry, I was on mute!” you can mark that spot off on your board, and similar for “wearing pajama bottoms to a video meeting.” The first person to get a row of squares marked off will be crowned the winner.

Courtesy of MuseumHack.

Lunch & Learn | Unlimited Players

Consider adding weekly Lunch & Learns to the menu for a great way to get to know your colleagues and something important to them. Each week, a team member will be responsible for leading a presentation about a topic of their choosing - themselves, their pets, their least favourite vacation destination, the weirdest food they’ve ever eaten… the options are seriously endless. At lunch time, all team members will hop on a video conferencing platform of choice - snacks in hand - and sit-back and relax listening to that week’s presenter share their topic. Though more formal than some of the other games presented herein, it’s a really great way to get to know each other’s personalities a little better.

Virtual Charades | Unlimited Players

Gather round, thespians! It’s time to show off those pantomiming skills. As classic online as it is off, your group will be divided into two teams of equal players and produce a secret word or phrase that a member from the opposing team must act out. The secret phrase is revealed to one member of the other team, the “actor”, but kept secret from the remainder of the other team, the “guessers”. The actor then has a limited period of time in which to convey the secret phrase to the guessers by pantomime. This means no speaking, no sounds or lip movement, and no clapping or pointing. Tricky, we know! 

The guessers then attempt to guess the word or phrase based on the actor’s performance. They can ask questions, to which the actor may give non-verbal responses, such as nodding in affirmation. If any of the guessers says the correct word or phrase within the time limit, their team wins that round; if the phrase is not guessed when the time limit expires, the team that produced the secret phrase wins the round.

Draw Something | Unlimited Players

In this classic communication game, best hosted over a video conferencing platform, players will test not only their drawing skills, but also their verbal communication and listening skills. One player will describe a picture in as much detail as possible (“Draw a large triangle. Under this triangle but touching its base, draw a square of the same size. Within this square, draw another small square with a plus sign in it…”) without saying what the finished picture is (in this case, a house). Everyone will draw what they hear, following the director line by line through the drawing until they say it’s complete. As you can imagine, hilarity at disfigured sketches ensues.

THIRD PARTY COMPANIES

Tea vs. Coffee | Unlimited Players

Tea vs. Coffee is a third party activity provider that specializes in running 100% virtual team building activities with real tea and coffee tastings. About a week before your event, the company will mail each of your team members a care package. The package includes four exotic drink packs from eco-friendly farms, plus fair-trade chocolate. The drinks are a selection of unusual teas, coffees and infusions. On tasting day, everyone logs into a virtual video-cafe, where the friendly barista will share stories, run games and lead a tasting ceremony for the tea and coffee. 

Whatever your flavour, hosting virtual team-building activities is a great way to bring employees together and boost morale during what has been a stressful time for everyone. Let the games begin!!!