Since the world has opened back up (as we learn to live with Covid-19), hybrid work has grown in popularity. 83% of workers prefer a hybrid environment, where they can work from home at least one day a week.
Hybrid work allows for a better work-life balance. Employees can fit in a yoga session or pick up their kids from school, plus they can still reap the benefits of in-person collaboration at the office.
But with employees working from home, the office, and often in different time zones, it can take a lot of work to build genuine connections. Many fully remote employees can’t attend office-based team building events and so might feel left out (or worse, like second-class workers).
Team building can increase employee camaraderie, collaboration, performance, satisfaction, and retention. To help you work on team building in a hybrid remote setting, we’ve rounded up the best activities, platforms, games, and ideas.
Mix and match your favorites for a comprehensive team building strategy.
Free hybrid team building activities
Below, we share hybrid team building activities that are completely free or that have a free option.
1. Asynch team building with Ketchup
With Ketchup, team members build peer-to-peer relationships with each person on the team. People get a chance to connect with team members that they might not otherwise. Here’s how it works: team members answer 1-3 questions per day and include an image or gif. Other team members can comment on their answers to keep the conversation going.
Over time, this generates a profile or “user manual” with information about the person’s professional background, working style, personal life, and more. And because it's ongoing and automated, team leads no longer have to keep thinking of icebreakers and kick off conversations themselves so it takes the pressure off them.
2. Donut’s random connections
With Donut, hybrid team members automatically connect with other people in different regions or roles so they can learn more about the company and meet potential mentors. People chat on 15 - 30 minute Zoom calls with their new connections.
While Donut does offer a free plan, you might want to poll your employees before you try it. Many people are already experiencing Zoom fatigue and don’t want to take on any more calls.
3. A Slack watercooler channel
Slack is a popular messaging app for businesses. Many companies create a channel for random conversations called “general” or “watercooler.”
However, keep in mind that Slack isn’t super effective for team building because not everyone participates. When people do participate, threads and comments get messy. Plus, Slack is overwhelming enough as it is. So you might want to switch from a Slack channel to Ketchu
One of the best ways to build a better team is to give back.
But how can you make volunteering work as a hybrid company? Ask all employees to volunteer 4 hours over the next 6 months (on the company’s time) with any local organization that matters to them. Then, host a 60-minute meeting where team members can take turns sharing what they did. Or, instead of a meeting, write a custom question in Ketchup about the volunteer experience and have employees respond and post pics.
5. Show and tell
Little kids aren’t the only ones who like to show and tell. We all know that people love talking about themselves, so why not give your team the opportunity to do just that?
You can host a show and tell session where employees get 5 minutes each to share something. They can show off their guitar skills or share their screen to brag about their recent vacation.
Keep in mind that, like many things on this list, this activity is best done on a team basis as opposed to company wide. If you are going to do this activity company wide, try the PechaKucha presentation format, which relies on large screens of prepared slides with minimal commentary.
Paid hybrid team building activities
The following hybrid team building activities include fun games and events that are reasonably priced.
6. TeamClass games and classes
TeamClass offers virtual events, cooking classes, art classes, and games for hybrid remote teams. Some of the most popular sessions include a virtual succulent terrarium workshop and a pizza-making class. Costs range from $50 to $150 per person.
To put a hybrid spin on it, you could set up in-office teammates to join the session from a single room and camera. Everyone else can join in from home.
7. BoomPop’s virtual events
BoomPop is another great option for virtual events. BoomPop offers bulk pricing for events that don’t require materials to be shipped, so while the Magic of the Mind event costs $200 per person for 5 or fewer people, it only costs $40 per person for 25 or more.
8. Confetti’s mediated sessions
Confetti offers a lot of virtual games, trivia nights, and mediated chat sessions. One example session is called the Virtual Watercooler. During this event, the host breaks up the group into smaller groups, who all answer an icebreaker-style question. This can be great for onboarding new employees and helping them get to know the existing staff.
9. Weve’s multi-location scavenger hunts
Weve offers a few different hybrid team building activities, but the Multi-City Adventure is the most notable. Employees work on the scavenger hunt in their own city and then the Weve team puts on a live rewards ceremony to celebrate the winners (with plenty of laughs promised).
10. Celebrity chef sessions with HungryVX
HungryVX takes virtual cooking classes up a notch with celebrity chefs. For example, team members can cook pumpkin and ricotti gnocchi from scratch with Michelle Ragussis, a Food Network alum, for $80 per person. Make sure to survey your team about their dietary restrictions before choosing the right session.
Team building activities for hybrid meetings
What about meetings? With a hybrid team, it’s important to connect people regularly, not just during special events. Otherwise, the working environment will lack that human interaction.
Try these activities:
11. Icebreaker prompts
When hosting a meeting, you could kickstart things with an icebreaker that’s more meaningful than the weather. For example, you might say something like, “Let’s start with a little icebreaker. Pick one of these questions to answer: What’s a personal goal you’re working towards? or What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?”
Make sure to only use this with meetings of 5 or fewer people, otherwise there won’t be enough time to cover the main agenda.
12. Follow-ups from Ketchup conversations
With Ketchup, everyone can answer 1-3 questions a day about their experience, passions, and working style. This means that people are staying connected asynchronously throughout the week, as they view and respond to each other’s answers.
One of the best things about this is that it gives you better icebreakers during meetings. People tend to kickstart meetings by following up on their Ketchup conversations, such as chatting about upcoming vacations or similarities in past work experiences—as opposed to reverting to the weather or making the host think of a good ice breaker on their own.
13. Two truths and a lie
Looking for an easy activity to begin a hybrid meeting? Try two truths and a lie.
Everyone states three facts about themselves and then the other participants have to guess which one is the falsehood. The more outlandish and bizarre the facts, the harder and more fun it is to guess the lie.
14. Office or company trivia
Very few people actually like trivia, so we can’t recommend it as a team building activity. However, quick trivia questions about your teammates or company can be a fun way to begin a meeting.
You might ask trivia questions about the founding story, random facts about team members, or company goals. You can reward winners with Starbucks gift cards, or just move on to the content of the meeting.
15. Pre-delivered treats or lunch
At most offices, free lunch, treats, or snacks are provided on a weekly or monthly basis. But when you work remotely, you don’t get any of these. You can keep your hybrid company happy by delivering the same or similar food to people working from home.
For example, if you have your weekly team meeting at 1pm on Wednesday, you can have lunch delivered to everyone an hour before. Everyone will feel appreciated and the meeting can kickoff with a quick discussion about the yummiest items.
To create an effective team building strategy, make sure to choose a variety of activities—ones that can be done more regularly as well as special events.
Hybrid remote work is asynch, and so is Ketchup. Try Ketchup for free.