Virtual team-bonding ideas to kick off 2021

How can teams bond virtually this year? It’s much easier than you might think, even with a big team! We're sharing 5 event ideas your team will love (ours surely did).

January 11, 2021

If you ask us, the best way to start the year in good spirits is by bringing the team together. And not just to hang out on Zoom, but to do a creative activity that makes people smile and feel more connected.

But what could that activity be? Glad you asked. Before social distancing was a thing, there were team lunches, leisure events and a festive party to end the year with a bang.

But how can teams bond virtually these days?

Turns out, it’s more dynamic and much easier than you think (yes, even with a big team)!

Continue reading to learn about 5 online activities that your team will love. We say “love” with so much confidence because we’ve experienced them as a team, and people were absolutely stoked!


How The Remote Company adapted to online team-building events

You might think: “Why adapt? Shouldn’t The Remote Company be accustomed to organizing online events?”

While that’s true, we mostly relied on our real-life workations (we explain what those are on our MailerLite page) to bond as a team. We did activities like a 10-hour blind-folded mountain hike, learned HTML and organized internal trade shows.

Virtually, we didn’t have a lot of team-bonding experience. So when the pandemic hit, we had to be creative and think outside the box to continue our bi-yearly workations. The solution was a virtual workation, named a “staycation”.

When searching for new online team activities, we realized that actually, there were many options!

When working from home became a new reality for millions, startups were quickly founded and existing companies adapted their business models to provide virtual experiences. This resulted in a splurge of office party ideas. 

Furthermore, we weren’t tied to the events offered at a specific location—the entire world became our playground. Hence, we took full advantage.

OK, it’s time to elaborate on each activity, and get you inspired to host your own online party team event for 2021.


1. Virtual escape party

Yes, it’s totally possible, and yes you really can’t Google any answers. There are many companies doing virtual escape parties in 2020, and we picked the “Beam me up, Scotty” Moon-themed room from REASON.

With a live host and remotely controllable props, teams of 8-10 people go through 5 stages that are to be completed by solving complex puzzles. All brainstorming is done in Zoom breakout rooms.

We were surprised by people showing their crazy mathematical skills, while others took on more of a cheerleading role. Everyone got to shine in this non-traditional way of team-building.

Fun fact: When we asked our team about their favorite activities, people voted the escape room as #1.

What our team had to say:

“Having to solve issues with different teammates really allowed us to bond and put any shyness aside. I loved to see how we humans connect when we are trying to achieve a common objective.”

“The most exciting moments happened during the escape room. It was really teamwork in a much different context than we are used to.”

As a motivational boost, we awarded the team that escaped first with their very own real star to name.

But even without this reward, our team loved this experience to the moon and back *wink wink*.


2. Sangria with drag queens

“Making sangria with drag queens.”

The first time we read this description, many of us were not entirely sure what to expect. All we knew is that we had a grocery list of items to buy, and we had to come dressed in our annual tradition: a wig (we organize wig goodbye parties during every workation).

The show, hosted by a Lisbon-based group of fabulous drag queens, was everything… and more.

Drag Taste is an experience that’s entertaining from start to finish. There are the dazzling make-up and outfits, dance breaks, impressive performances and the hilarious banter between Áfrika and Teresa al Dente. And oh yeah, you’re also making delicious Portuguese sangria (and you learn some kitchen life hacks along the way).

By the end of the online team event, the majority of us were so hyped that we didn’t want the night to end (resulting in people not leaving the call and they waited staring at their screens before someone took the initiative to host a virtual afterparty).

Tip: We found this event on Airbnb experiences, which is a great platform to discover online team activities.

What our team had to say:

“I already told many of my friends about the Drag Queen party and sangria (actually shared some of the sangria, everyone loved it)”

“LOVED the drag queens as well, we should invite them more often :)”

“Sangria party with Drag Queens, I wish we had more parties like this. It was brilliant!”

“For the next in-person workation, we should do drag queen hair makeup lessons with a dress-up party.”


3. Cooking world cuisines

When new people start at The Remote Company, we have a tradition called Pecha Kucha. We ask everyone to create a 20-slides-for-20-seconds presentation to introduce themselves. It’s a great way to get to know new colleagues and find out what you have in common.

Over the years, there have been MANY slides about cats, dogs and food. So much that we now joke that any presentation without cats is wack (just kidding).

After realizing that many of us are epic chefs, we created the Slack channel #foodies.

If your office team also loves to whip up a good meal, we highly recommend organizing a food night.

Since our team is spread around the world, we asked people to host a cooking night where we all-together cooked a meal from a specific country.

The hosts got creative and team members could sign up to cook/taste:

  • Middle-eastern fattet hummus

  • Czech beers

  • Portuguese “Bacalhau com natas” (cod fish with cream)

  • Irish leek and potato soup with freshly baked bread

  • Mexican tacos, guacamole and cantaritos

  • Lithuanian “Šaltibarščiai” (cold beetroot soup)

  • Homebrewed coffee

Staycation cooking night

What our team had to say:

“I liked the food night so much (the vibe and recipe) that I made the hummus for my friends and family once again! It was amazing :D”

“The food night was a truly exceptional experience, eating the same tasty food together in three different continents.”

“Thanks for this experience! We should have activities like this more often.”

“I can’t believe I managed to do this and it’s actually delicious, thanks so much Lana, it was a great food night!”

“Thank you for making my dream come true team! Had a blast!”


4. Rock balancing

There are many different ways to calm your mind and destress, like meditation, yoga or zoning out with a casual Netflix series.

A more unexpected method is rock balancing.

To start our Tuesday program, we invited Travis Ruskus to host a rock balancing workshop for us. Ruskus is a California-based rock balance meditation artist that can balance like no other (just look here).

In the workshop, everyone had to bring some items of choice, like lemons, oranges, rocks, crystals. We’d then balance each item on top of each other, as high as you could.

Though these zen practices weren’t for everyone (“Argh, they fell AGAIN”), it did have most of us completely focused, even if it only lasted for a few seconds or minutes.

And surprisingly, we had some really gifted rock/fruit/potato balancers in our team as well:

What our team had to say:

“That was soo cool, thank you this is a new hobby I think!!”

“As a spiritual person, I truly value activities like the rock balancing one, that’s definitely a topic I’d also love on the next workation.”

“I found the opening rock balancing workshop incredibly useful. The concept is simple enough but being led by an expert who can encourage and motivate you makes a big difference! The breathing exercises and release methods are useful life hacks that I will use from now on!”


5. Interactive virtual beer garden

Admittedly, when you first enter this virtual beer garden-esque park it feels like you’ve entered SimNation, but on a very hectic day (especially with a team of 100+ people). Everyone’s little avatar is running around, trying to see what this virtual park is all about.

Gather.town is the name of this innovative virtual meeting app. Team members can move around, and every time you’re getting close to another person (or several people), your video chat will pop-up so you can talk. 

The app comes with different environments, such as school buildings, conference halls and parks. The park setting includes picnic tables where people can gather around to play games like chess and Tetris. We also created a virtual photo exhibition showing our favorite company moments. 

The beer garden featured a stage that people can enter to make public announcements, which in our case pretty quickly turned into a challenge of “Who can tell the best dad joke?” (yes, we even created a new Slack channel named #dadjokes after this event).

What our team had to say:

“Meeting new people online is always awkward for me. This time the meetings/bondings were in a different virtual environment. It felt much more cozy and comfortable to start talking with a new colleague.”

“It's amazing how you can still connect with the team virtually without leaving your house. Also, thanks for including chess in the welcome party game arsenal :D”


A final note before we let you organize

We hope this article inspired ideas for your own online team event in 2021, and that your team will be as hyped as ours was.

To quote drag queen Teresa al Dente: “There are apron guests and popcorn guests”. We’ve learned that It's much more fun to be an apron guest (participating) than a popcorn guest (viewing).

“I loved how creative all of the different activities were. I was often so immersed in the experience that I forgot we were online, and it's amazing to see how much fun we can all have together, even when we're spread all over the world.”

When looking for the right activities for your company, don’t forget about your local entertainers. Many artists are happy to create an online experience and earn some extra income. Similarly, your own team is probably filled with (hidden) talent too!

And lastly, though we’ve packed this article with online team event ideas, let’s not forget that the real secret to great team spirit is not what you do, but who you’re doing it with. It’s much better when everybody gets involved!

As our Partnership Manager Jessika said: “For me, the people made this event memorable.”

Megan

I’m Megan, Content Writer at The Remote Company. You can find me in Berlin, NYC or somewhere escaping winter in Asia. I have helped many start-ups grow their online visibility. Blogging has always been my thing—from running artist fan pages as a teenager to now discovering upcoming talent on Sign This Kid.

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