Build connection into daily work with these 8 fun ways to stay connected when working remotely and build more cohesive teams.
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Say you're James Cameron directing your next blockbuster. You’re trying to shoot a key scene but it’s just not coming together. Your actors have been working non-stop, your crew's exhausted, and shooting has been going on for days. Morale is down, team chemistry is off, and you're losing steam. What do you do?
Step back and take a breath. Then, get everyone into a different headspace by taking them out for a bite of lunch or after-work drinks. No talking about the movie, just some friendly banter and laughs. Result? A productive shooting day that rejuvenates team spirit and sparks new creative ideas—and gives you a killer scene.
Strong social connections feed into a great company culture. This is even more important for remote or hybrid workers who may lack opportunities to interact regularly outside of daily tasks. But creating these connections shouldn’t feel like a chore or add-on. That’s why leaders of these companies need to come up with fun activities that tap into employees’ interests and personalities—so they’ll actually want to do them.
In this article, we'll explore six fun ways to stay connected when working remotely and highlight tools that can help you out with this.
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What helps hybrid and remote workers feel connected?
Contrary to what some people think, it's completely possible to build a connected, cohesive, and productive team when working remotely. In fact, 75% of remote workers say they feel connected to their colleagues, even though a majority work across different time zones.
Here’s how their companies help them feel connected.
1. Break up the monotony of work
Breaking up a monotonous workday is like inserting an unexpected plot twist into a movie. It injects moments of variety and novelty into a work routine that can reenergize employees and reignite their energy.This doesn't necessarily mean you need to go all out on a online scavenger hunt or escape room, though. Sometimes, the smallest things can have a larger impact than big events.
For example, change the way you communicate. Instead of sending endless emails, try using video conferencing to have face-to-face conversations. Another idea is to encourage walking meetings where everyone walks outside while on a phone call. This helps add some variety to your workday and can make it feel less repetitive—and gets you out in the fresh air.
Your team could also get together for semi-regular remote team-building workshops or seminars. The point is to break up your day with activities that allow you and your colleagues to bond over shared interests outside of work.
Remember how renting a movie every Friday night was the coolest thing ever when you were a kid? You can do something similar as an adult at work.
Have rituals your team enjoys and looks forward to every day, week, or month. For remote teams that don’t get to see each other in person, this promotes a shared sense of purpose and culture, even when you're not in the same physical space.
You could, for example, set up a movie night. Every Friday team members come together to watch a movie using Teleparty and chat about their week. Another ritual could be a virtual team lunch where everyone orders takeout from their favorite local restaurant and eats together while on a video call.
You can also share pictures from your weekend every Monday, create a separate channel for pet pictures, or schedule an annual holiday activity or celebration where the entire team comes together for a fun event. The possibilities are endless—all it takes is a bit of creativity and getting your team excited about participating.
3. Getting to know people in a different way
In a work setting, you get to know your coworkers from an “all work and no play” perspective but rarely on a personal level like you would if you were working in the same office. However, a quick catch-up before a meeting or in the break room can reveal a lot about someone's interests, hobbies, or even family life. These are the little things that make up a person, and help you get to know them on a different level, which helps build trust, empathy, and a deeper sense of human connection.
Virtual icebreaker games like “two truths and a lie” are one way to replicate that feeling in a remote environment. Everyone shares two facts and one false “fact” about themselves and others have to guess which is the lie. This game reveals interesting facts about your teammates and encourages team members to be creative and playful.
Also, organize virtual team-building activities that align with team members' interests. For example, host a virtual workout session or a step challenge if someone is a fitness enthusiast. If someone loves puzzles, organize a virtual murder mystery game. You can also spotlight one team member per week and have them share something they love, like their favorite book or movie. This helps build team chemistry as people share fun facts about themselves and learn more about their teammates.
4. Spontaneous interactions
Know why people love in-person coffee breaks and the fun chats that result? It's because they're unplanned, spontaneous moments of connection that can make people feel closer. Fortunately, it's easy to replicate that online.
Create a dedicated channel for water cooler conversations in your team chat app or host virtual coffee breaks where everyone takes five minutes out of their day for an informal chat about anything other than work.
You could also encourage people to get on the Donut app for short, spontaneous conversations. Donut randomly selects people from your Slack channels and sends a DM encouraging them to meet up for lunch or a virtual coffee over video chat. This usually makes for an interesting conversation and helps build empathy among different team members and teams as you get to interact with people you might not otherwise. If necessary, Donut can even provide prompts as conversation starters.
You can also use a collaborative digital workspace like Switchboard to create permanent rooms for water cooler chats, team-building activities, or breaks that employees can pop into randomly for informal conversations with colleagues.
These act like a break room where everyone can step away from their desk, mingle with colleagues, and chat about anything they feel like, which helps people stay connected and build stronger work relationships.
5. Inject some humor
Remember how you feel after watching a great comedy? Lighter, more at ease, and less stressed, right? Humor is a great way to break the ice, defuse tension, and encourage creativity by lightening the mood. It’s also a great unifier and an important part of many successful team relationships.
As well as helping coworkers gel with each other, when leaders use humor as an interpersonal tool, it can lead to happier employees and better communication. You also get a rise in citizenship behaviors and voluntary actions that encourage organizational effectiveness.
You can bring the same energy to your remote team by sharing funny videos or memes with your team or telling jokes during virtual meetings. Another idea is to have fun contests like "Caption This" where colleagues submit captions for a funny image.
You can even become great directors in your own right by sharing funny videos on Slack of yourself or your pets. These little things make a big difference in building relationships and an environment of fun, camaraderie, and mutual appreciation.
Callbacks are like long-running inside jokes that have special meaning for your team and remind you all of good memories. They bring people closer together, create a feeling of belonging, and help build team spirit, like when you and your friends quote your favorite movie lines at each other and burst into laughter. This strengthens the bond between you and brings back positive shared experiences.
Let's say, during a team meeting, someone accidentally leaves their microphone on while their dog runs into the room barking. Instead of ignoring the incident, use it as a callback in future meetings by saying "Remember to mute your mic if your dog’s around!" or sharing dog gifs on your team Slack channel. This turns a potentially annoying incident into a lighthearted moment and gives the team a shared experience to laugh about.
Another example could be a funny phrase or gesture that a team member used during a virtual meeting, which the team could adopt as a callback in future meetings. Of course, these jokes should never be unkind or made at anyone’s expense. As long as you make sure that team member is on board with it, it can make them feel valued and appreciated and creates a shared language and experience that brings you all closer together.
Use tools that make work more fun
The best online working tools help you build stronger connections through creative ways to unite remote teams and create a more enjoyable work environment. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Collaborative digital workspace
It's not always enough to create a Slack channel or hold meetings on Microsoft Teams or Zoom. To truly build relationships, you need to use a collaborative workspace that encourages spontaneous, meaningful interactions and connection—whether it’s for work or play.
Switchboard does just that by letting you and your team work together on browser-based documents, apps, and files inside a virtual room—without having to share your screen. You can also create virtual rooms for team-building activities, employee engagement games, brainstorming, 1:1s, or team meetings, which helps create a more fun and engaging work environment.
Your Switchboard workspace lets you open and work on all your favorite browser-based apps with no need for an integration. Just hop into your room, add a link, and… lights, camera, action! Communicate in real time with video, audio, and chat and work side-by-side with your team allowing everyone to scroll, type, and browse the same document at the same time.
One of the best things about Switchboard is its persistent meeting rooms. Unlike other video conferencing tools, you don't have to create a new meeting link or set up the room every time you want to jump into a conversation. Switchboard saves all your files after every meeting, so you never need to download anything or repopulate the room again: It's always there, ready and waiting for you. This makes it easy to have quick conversations and spontaneous interactions. Think coffee shop meets virtual workspace.
Remote teams can recreate some of the camaraderie of office socials and water cooler chats with apps that are designed for quick, fun interaction. While the tools below can be used for more official team building activities, why not try letting your team members take the lead and use them in more informal ways that suit them?
Donut is a fun and easy-to-use app that can help virtual teams stay connected in a casual and lighthearted way. Team members sign up, set their availability, and the app takes care of the rest. When it's time for a virtual coffee or lunch date, Donut sends a message to two or more randomly paired team members with a fun icebreaker question to help kick off the conversation.
The beauty of Donut is that it takes the pressure off team members to find common ground or come up with conversation topics on their own. For example, team members might talk about their favorite hobbies, the latest Netflix series they're binge-watching, or the best restaurant they've ever been to. This not only helps build stronger connections among team members, but it also creates a positive remote work culture.
Slack is more than just a messaging platform—it's a virtual space where teams can collaborate, share ideas, and have fun.
Use dedicated channels to share memes, funny videos, or jokes, which can help lighten the mood and make the workday a little less stressful. For example, a channel dedicated to sharing pictures of pets or sharing favorite recipes can bring a little joy to the workday.
Another way Slack can help virtual teams stay connected is through the use of emojis and GIFs. These can add a touch of humor and personality to messages, making them more engaging and fun to read. Team members can use them to express their feelings, share reactions, or simply lighten the mood.
Kahoot is a game-based learning platform that allows team members to create and participate in quizzes, surveys, and other types of online office games.
Create team-building games to help team members get to know each other better, build trust, and improve communication. For example, you can create a Kahoot trivia with questions about each team member's hobbies or interests, and have everyone play and learn about each other.
You can also test your team's knowledge and skills with quizzes. Make these about work and it becomes a fun, engaging way to reinforce important information or skills, which can help team members feel more confident in themselves.
Kahoot helps break up the monotony of the day by allowing team members to interact with each other in a different way. Plus, a bit of healthy competition can help to build a sense of community and camaraderie among team members.
Build stronger teams with fun ways to stay connected when working remotely
Your hybrid or remote team is like the cast and crew of a movie production. Take a diverse group of talented individuals, add communication, state-of-the-art tools, and sprinkle in a healthy dose of fun, and you have cast, crew, and a killer script.
But you still need to put the work in to turn them from a collection of individuals into a united team. All teams benefit from a positive, supportive work environment, whether on an in-person movie set or remote team. When you create this, you bring people together and help team members feel like they're all in it together. And when they feel that way, they’ll work better together toward a common goal.
The key is to connect people in fun ways. For example, by breaking up the monotony of the day through rituals, call backs, shared interests, games, or humor.
Then, create a space where all that fun can happen by using a collaborative digital workspace like Switchboard. Use it to create persistent rooms for team-building, games, brainstorming, or water cooler chats that mimic the spontaneous interactions you get in an office. Complement Switchboard with other tools that promote fun, connection, and knowledge sharing, like Donut, Slack, and Kahoot.
With the right combination of tools and our recommendations, your virtual team will be connected and thriving in no time—and you’ll have the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster on your hands. Or a small indie cult classic, whichever you prefer.
Easily connect your people, wherever they are.
Switchboard lets you get everyone together in a collaborative digital workspace—for work, rest, and play.
Sign up for free.
Frequently asked questions about fun ways to stay connected when working
How do I stay connected while working remotely?
To stay connected when working remotely, regularly schedule virtual meetings and check-ins to share updates, discuss projects, and address any challenges. You should also encourage open and transparent communication, fostering an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing ideas and concerns.
Also, you can promote connection through fun activities like virtual coffee breaks, team-building events, or shared interests, which allow personal connections and informal conversations to flourish. You can also use a collaborative digital space like Switchboard to keep your team connected and able to hop into conversations anytime.
How can I make my remote work fun?
To make remote work fun, add employee engagement games like Kahoot to your virtual workspace. Trivia, icebreakers, and knowledge quizzes are great ways to get your team talking and having fun. You can also use emojis, GIFs, and online polls in Slack to add a bit of humor and personality to your conversations. Finally, incorporate creative activities like virtual cooking classes or movie nights into your team’s agenda to help build relationships and lighten the mood.
How do you bond with remote coworkers?
Team bonding activities are a great way to build relationships with your remote coworkers. Create virtual gatherings, such as team lunches where everyone can get to know each other. You can also organize online games and activities that allow everyone to have fun together, such as trivia nights or group exercise classes. Finally, don’t forget the power of appreciation—acknowledge your colleagues for their hard work and celebrate wins together.