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9 team building activities for remote communication
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9 team building activities for remote communication

Developing trust and communication in remote teams can be challenging. Here are 9 virtual games focused on team building for communication to bring your people together.

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Like the Roman Empire, remote teams stretch across vast distances, united by a common purpose. And just as Romans needed effective communication to build roads and conquer new territories, today’s remote teams need strong connections to stay united behind a common goal.

In this article, we embark on a journey inspired by the spirit of the Roman Empire, exploring nine dynamic team building activities designed specifically for remote teams.

From real-time problem solving to trust building tasks, these activities will help your remote teams overcome communication barriers and forge close connections between colleagues.

We’ll also show you how using a digital workspace like Switchboard lets you create a central hub for your people to find each other anytime—whether it’s for team-building games or collaborative work sessions.

You send a company-wide announcement on Slack about an upcoming team building activity on building trust and communication. The emoji reactions start to appear and they’re all positive—from excited to grateful. You even see the odd fire emoji. 

You’re getting this much engagement because effective communication and trust are both vital aspects of how well your remote teams work together—and employees know this. But it can be hard to bring teams together and create connections when your people rarely, if ever, interact in person. 

This means that to improve cross-team, inter-team, and client-facing communication skills you need to organize activities that focus on team building for communication that your people actually want to participate in.

Here are nine ideas to help you do just that, both async and in real-time. We’ll also show you how using a digital workspace like Switchboard lets you create a central hub for your people to find each other anytime—whether it’s for team-building games or collaborative work sessions.

Organize remote work communication activities your people will actually enjoy.
Switchboard’s collaborative digital workspace is the ideal space to organize events that connect your team and build trust.
Sign up for free

TL;DR: an overview of our recommended activities

Here’s a visual overview of our nine team building for communication activities, broken down into when you can do them and what you need. Step-by-step instructions are also explained below.

Comparison chart of team building activities

To learn more about how to organize these activities, and how they benefit your teams and build trust and communication, keep reading!

6 real-time team building activities for communication and trust

When you’re managing a remote team, you and your leadership team need to be intentional about getting people together to socialize and get to know each other better. That’s where remote team-building activities for communication and trust come in.

Here are six real-time activities you can do with your teams to develop deeper relationships and build trust:

1. Icebreaker questions 🧊

Type: real-time 

Time: 5-15 mins depending on the number of people 

Necessary tools: a video conferencing platform    

Number of participants: 4+ 

It’s been done before. But when done well, dedicating some time at the beginning of meetings to icebreaker questions is an effective way to get to know each other. It can also work wonders by teaching everyone about their coworkers’ unique communication styles. 

Consider dividing icebreaker questions into three ‘levels:’ easy, medium, and difficult. Easy icebreakers are straightforward and casual. They let groups with newer members learn some basic facts about one another. For example, “Do you have any pets?”

Medium-level icebreakers dig a little bit deeper. They’re great for teams who have been working together for a while and are already familiar with each other. A medium question could be, “What’s the last movie you watched?”

Finally, difficult icebreaker questions are for coworkers who have known each other for a long time and are quite comfortable with sharing. These questions require them to go that extra mile to be vulnerable and trust each other with personal information. For example, “What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?”

Pro tip: With Switchboard’s digital workspace, you can play virtual games side-by-side. Write down a list of icebreaker questions on a sticky note in your permanent virtual meeting room. This cuts down your prep time and makes the activity more engaging.
Switchboard room with multiple apps and participants
With Switchboard, you can host team building activities with your remote workers as if you were in the same physical room. Source: Switchboard

2. What’s your superpower? 🦹

Type: real-time

Time commitment: maximum 60 minutes as a group

Necessary tools: a digital workspace

Number of participants needed: no limitations 

This team-building activity can be a fun and interactive way to help team members discover and share their strengths and unique talents with each other. 

This game involves asking each team member to come up with a "superpower," which can be a skill or talent they excel at or something they're passionate about. Then, everyone hops on a call and takes turns sharing their superpower with the rest of the team. 

This activity helps people get to know each other better, build trust and rapport, and encourage collaboration by highlighting each person's strengths. It can also be a fun way to inject some energy and positivity into team dynamics. You can even discuss how those superpowers could benefit the team. 

The game can work well for small groups of five to ten people, as well as larger groups of 20 or more. If you’re doing this with a larger group, break them into smaller sub-groups to promote more individual participation and discussion.  

The key is to make sure everyone has a chance to participate and share their superpower with the rest of the team. 

3. Problem-solving activities 🧩

Type: real-time

Time commitment: 2+ hours

Necessary tools: a digital workspace or a virtual event platform 

Number of participants needed: 5+ 

These team-building events focus on developing critical and creative thinking skills, in addition to building trust. Here are some examples of games you can try out:

  • Virtual scavenger hunts create an interactive, fun opportunity for employees to work together, communicate, and solve challenges. For this, use Slack or a dedicated scavenger hunt platform. Alternatively, run it in your virtual workspace. Just create a list of items for teams to find or tasks they need to complete, assign teams, and get playing!
  • Virtual murder mysteries are a creative, compelling way to increase employee engagement, forge new friendships, and inspire original thinking and problem-solving. You can either use a ready-made adventure or, if you’re feeling creative, make your own. 
  • Virtual escape rooms are a stimulating way to combine relationship-building with problem-solving and communication skills and work through challenges together. There are many different scenarios out there, from haunted houses to heist-themed rooms. Pick one that appeals to the majority and figure out how to escape together. Don’t forget to hold a short post-game debriefing session to discuss the game, what skills you used, and how you could improve if you did it again.
Screenshot of five remote employees playing a virtual escape room
Virtual escape rooms can encourage team building, communication skills, and brainstorming and help build trust between your people. Source: The Escape Game

 4. Virtual tea or coffee chats ☕

Type: real-time

Time commitment: 15 minutes 

Necessary tools: Slack or a digital workspace 

Number of participants needed: two

According to Atlassian, teams that build stronger interpersonal connections with other coworkers are 60% more likely to achieve more, faster and 80% more likely to report high emotional wellbeing. 

When you’re all working in a physical office, people can have short interactions on the fly as they pass each other in the hallway or take a break by the water cooler. These spontaneous conversations help people build connections. Your remote team doesn’t have these opportunities, though, so you need to actively create them.

Encourage your people to dedicate just fifteen minutes a week (or more if they’d like!) to having an informal, short chat with a coworker. This can be with someone from their team, or better yet, someone from an entirely different department. 

Connecting with people who don’t normally work together can help your people get to know each other better, which builds empathy and collaboration across cross-functional teams and inter-team.

If you’re using Slack as your main internal communication tool, check out the Donut app. This tool randomly connects coworkers for virtual chats every two weeks, helping people connect across departments and continents.  

Pro tip: Use Switchboard to create a permanent virtual “water cooler” room, specifically for these conversations. This way, your people can regularly pop over to that space and have a virtual coffee break in a collaborative space anytime they want.
Screenshot of a game room space on Switchboard
Switchboard lets you set up permanent game rooms for team-building activities—or just fun, spontaneous water cooler conversations. Source: Switchboard

5. Mirroring/labeling/active listening exercises 🪞

Type: real-time

Time commitment: >1 hour per week 

Necessary tools: a digital workspace

Number of participants needed: 2+

When everyone’s working in person, it’s easier to catch body language cues and other nonverbal communications that tell you people aren’t at their best and may need some support. In a remote work environment, however, you can miss those cues, so you need to think differently about how to foster vital communication skills. 

Mirroring, labeling, and active listening are all communication exercises that can help your teams improve understanding and empathy in a conversation. This exercise is particularly helpful for sales teams to establish rapport with customers, but these skills can be applied to all client- and team-facing communications.

Encourage your teams to practice this technique in day-to-day conversations or meetings, or schedule dedicated meetings and training sessions with the rest of the team. 

Here’s how it goes:

  • Mirroring involves repeating what the other person is saying in your own words, which allows the other person to feel heard and understood, and can also help clarify any misunderstandings. So if a coworker tells you about some technical issues they experienced, and finishes with the words “I can’t get it to work”, you might say something like, "You can’t get it to work?” to echo their words and encourage them to continue with their explanation. 
  • By labeling, you identify and name the emotions that the other person is expressing, which validates them and lets you see things from their perspective. For example, if a client wants to streamline their workflow, a salesperson might say, "It seems like you're feeling a bit overwhelmed by the current system you're using. Would you say that's accurate?"
  • Active listening means giving your full attention to the other person and asking open-ended questions to better understand their thoughts and feelings. For example, if a colleague is presenting a proposal, you can ask something like "Can you tell me more about why you think this approach would be effective?" 

6. Shared interest Slack channels or groups 🧑‍🌾

Type: real-time and async 

Time commitment: >1 hour a week 

Necessary tools: Slack and a digital workspace

Number of participants needed: 3+

To work together effectively, remote teams need to communicate well and build relationships based on mutual trust. And nothing helps people bond better than sharing common interests and hobbies. 

That’s why creating Slack channels or groups where people can chat with each other about things other than work, helps them feel more connected.

Teams of all sizes can create interest-based channels and either exchange messages asynchronously or set up weekly meetings. For example, if you have a book club, you can share reading recommendations or read the same book individually and get together once a week to discuss it. 

Some other ideas include: 

  • Fitness challenge where team members can motivate each other, share workout routines, healthy recipes, and personal achievements. It encourages a healthy lifestyle and creates a supportive environment for fitness enthusiasts.
  • Gratitude channel where people share shout-outs, acknowledge each other's achievements, and highlight moments of collaboration or support. 
  • Social media challenge to encourage people to write and record social media posts, engage with each other online, and increase their following.
  • Virtual DJ for sharing favorite tunes. This can be background music for work or playlists that coincide with topical events or holidays.
  • Creative corner where team members showcase their creative endeavors outside the workplace, such as artwork, poetry, or stand-up routines.
  • Pets: Create a “pets” channel where employees share cute videos and pictures of their furry (or scaly!) friends.
  • Productivity: If some of your team are always on top of the latest productivity and organization hacks, give them a space to geek out and share tips.
Slack conversation showing an image of two books
Nothing brings people together better than shared interests like books or hobbies.

3 async team building activities for communication and trust

Real-time activities are great, but when your team is spread across different time zones, it can be hard to find a time that works for everyone. But you don’t always have to plan activities in real-time to help team members interact. Take a look at some async activities your team will actually enjoy, and use to get to know each other better and feel more engaged at work. 

1. Day-in-the-life 🌇

Type: async 

Time commitment: 5-10 minutes

Necessary tools: internal communication tools like Slack or email

Number of participants needed: no limitation

Not working from the same office means we have fewer opportunities to get to know each other and our quirks. From someone’s facial expressions when they pass you in the hallway to how they set up their desk. But noticing these things helps take you from a group of individual employees to an engaged, connected team. 

For this activity, you can share photos of your desk or setup, daily routines, weekend plans, and pets.    

Encouraging your people to share their daily routines lets them connect with others over similar interests, have meaningful conversations, and get to know each other beyond the face on their screen. In the long run, this translates to better teamwork and higher levels of collaboration, which positively impacts productivity. 

A screenshot of a Slack channel dedicated to the company’s pets
Sharing parts of your daily life with your coworkers is a great, asynchronous way to build deeper relationships.

2. “How to work with me” manuals 📗

Type: async 

Time commitment: 15+ minutes to create, 10-15 minutes to read

Necessary tools: Google Docs / Google Slides / Powerpoint and a central storage location like Google Drive 

Number of participants needed: no limitation

Your personal work style manuals, or your “user manuals”, let others know how they can communicate and work with you best. They’re especially valuable for leaders or newer members as they’re getting the hang of how to interact with established team members. 

Creating communication manuals is a one-time task that helps your people get to know each other better, develop empathy and understanding, and get things done more efficiently. 

Start by creating a standardized template for team members to fill out and include it in your onboarding materials too. Some questions you can ask are:

  • What projects give you energy?
  • What are three things people should avoid with you?
  • Do you prefer to have meetings in the morning or the afternoons?

Finally, you can encourage your teams to create short Looms to accompany their manuals. This helps put a face to the name and is valuable for people with more visual learning styles.

Pro tip: When you use Switchboard as a tool for remote internal communication and teamwork, you can create a dedicated room to keep all of your team members’ manuals. Switchboard’s persistent rooms keep everything you put in them before, during, or after calls and work sessions, so nothing’s ever lost.

3. Collaborative playlists 🎸

Type: async 

Time commitment: >5 minutes

Necessary tools: an online music streaming platform like Spotify 

Number of participants needed: no limitation

Music is an incredibly personal thing and for many, it forms a vital part of who they are. It also has the power to bring people together over shared or new interests.

Create a shared playlist for your company, and encourage your people to add their favorite songs every week. For example, every Friday, someone can put a song or playlist that highlights their musical taste or favorite new finds. You can set themes, like “songs that always get you pumped up” or “all-time favorite artists” to give them some inspiration. Next Friday, someone else takes over, and so on. 

This activity doesn’t need much setup and helps your team members share something highly personal–but fun–while connecting with others. Plus, it gives everyone a new playlist to listen to while they work.

a screenshot of a company playlist on Spotify
Creating a shared playlist that employees can edit and listen to helps bring them together.
Check out our guide to remote team culture-building activities for more ideas!

Why developing trust and communication is crucial on remote teams 

Building trust and communication within your remote or hybrid team members creates a strong sense of camaraderie, respect, and belonging, which can lead to increased motivation and productivity. 

In fact, according to Atlassian’s survey of over 1000 team members, 94% feel that mutual respect is fundamental to their team’s success. In fact, almost 20% find it to be the number one contributor to their emotional wellbeing.

Effective communication also helps your people understand each other better, improve teamwork, and meet their goals more easily. On top of that, having open lines of communication fosters psychological safety. That means your remote workers feel safe to come to you and other leaders with any questions, concerns, or feedback. This is especially important for remote and hybrid teams that lack opportunities to connect in person to build deeper relationships.

By bringing your people together to connect and build relationships, you can also create a positive and engaging remote work culture and make your company a great place to work—one that motivates your people to do their best work, wherever they are.

Pro tip: Different roles use and need different communication skills. For example, a line manager needs to know how to communicate sympathetically, while maintaining authority. A salesperson, on the other hand, needs to communicate in a convincing way, while also knowing how to show empathy. 

So, before diving into team-building activities, take some time to identify the skills your teams need to build through games and activities. This will help you choose the right ones to ensure people are motivated to take part and can learn something useful.

Team building for communication: the key to close-knit remote teams

When your people are working on different schedules or in different time zones, it can be tricky to get everyone together for a team-building exercise. But remote teams need to communicate well to work together effectively, and to do that they need to trust each other. 

Trust and great communication are challenging for any team to develop, but remote teams that never meet in person don’t have the same opportunities as in-person teams do to hang out and connect over shared hobbies and interests. That’s why you need to get creative about organizing activities that actually excite people—and bring them together to build deeper relationships and improve their skills.

That’s why, we’ve suggested nine team building for communication exercises and ideas that you can do async or in real time. For example, icebreaker questions, problem-solving games, shared interest Slack groups, collaborative playlists, and active listening exercises. 

Whether you’re meeting to do these activities together or having fun async, Switchboard’s digital workspace helps you host team-building activities and games that are genuinely fun, not forced. Its persistent rooms save everything you put in them, which cuts your prep time and gives people a space to always find each other, communicate, and build solid relationships and trust. 

Organize remote work communication activities your people will actually enjoy.
Switchboard’s collaborative digital workspace is the ideal space to organize events that connect your team and build trust.
Sign up for free.

Frequently asked questions about team building for communication

1. How does team building improve communication?

Team building games and activities can be a powerful tool for improving communication between team members. By creating opportunities for your people to interact with each other in a fun, lighthearted environment, you can help them break down barriers and build trust. 

Additionally, it can:

  • Promote active listening
  • Build psychological safety
  • Enhance the understanding of individual communication styles
  • Encourage teamwork
  • Provide opportunities for feedback

2. What is team building for communication?

Team building for communication is the process of improving communication skills and building trust among team members through games and activities. Done well, it can enhance teamwork, resolve conflicts, and improve productivity. 

3. What are the benefits of team building for communication?

Communication team-building activities facilitate team bonding and help the whole team build trust more easily. When people trust each other, they’re more likely to communicate openly and honestly, which can lead to better problem-solving and decision-making. On top of that, team-building activities often require people to work together to achieve a common goal, which can help reinforce the importance of teamwork and encourage more effective communication.

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Organize remote work communication activities your people will actually enjoy.

Switchboard’s collaborative digital workspace is the ideal space to organize events that connect your team and build trust.