Remote Team Bonding

In the Age of Covid, we are all working in a new way. I spend more time in meetings and less time sitting with people at their desks. As a team leader, I want to make sure we are bonding and developing relationships with each other. We can’t sit and have lunch together or bullshit by the water cooler. Therefore, we have been trying many methods of remote team bonding.

My first attempt was using the movie club spreadsheet. This worked for a little while but then people started feeling like it was a chore rather than fun. What I realized was that team bonding needed to be mixed up. We needed to pick different kinds of exercises each week to keep it fresh.

I used the same spreadsheet template from the movie club and asked each team member to come up with a different activity. Here is our current grading scheme:

Remote team bonding exercises

The surprising standouts are codenames and scavenger hunts. Codenames is a new spin on pictionary. Scavenger hunt is when we have a list and 5 minutes to scour your house for something appropriate. Then people vote on their favorite version of the item. For example:

For some reason, scavenger hunts revealed more about the people’s lives than anything else we have done. We saw elements of their history, hobbies people enjoy, or creative elements of their home. Some items were touching, some were funny. It really surprised me how much we all learned about each other.

Another thing I’ve seen recently is Gather Town. It’s this little multiplayer world where you can move a little avatar around. When you get “close” to someone, automatic video conferencing kicks in. It looks so simple, but there is alot going on under the hood. I truly had a feeling like I was in an office with people. Im not sure if we will continue with it, but it was a lot of fun. On the downside, it is a little incompatible with other zoom meetings and also it felt somewhat distracting.

A designer on my team said that her social circle of designers is collectively struggling to figure out how to bond with each other. There is no magic bullet. You need to put in the work and keep it fresh and different. I work hard to keep the team connected with each other on projects and with each other personally. I hope my efforts are paying off.

How are you bonding with your team? Is it working? How can it be better?

2 replies on “Remote Team Bonding”

We do standups once a week. Any more would feel forced. We talk alot to each other during the day. However, I would say that standups don’t help much in bonding. Specifically, I’m talking about building a rapport and emotional connection with your coworkers.

Whatya think?