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Top 5 Virtual Onboarding & Team Building Activities for Remote Employees

We’re a year into the pandemic – and sitting in front of a camera with a beer in hand is no longer the solve-all for remote team building. Today, Zoom happy hours are evolving with a purpose – to drive employee engagement and build high-performing teams through a crafted Organizational Development strategy. 

Mike Faber (Director of Learning & Development at Fivetran) and Alyssa Henriques (Sr Manager of People Operations at Kustomer) share the top 5 virtual team building activities that they leverages to increase team bonding, organizational agility, and company performance.

1. Encourage Healthy Competition – Deserted Island

In this game, teammates pretend that they’ve been stranded on a deserted island – and they must select 3 out of 7 given objects that will help them survive for the next foreseeable months. The facilitator should present 7 objects that are as obscure and challenging as possible to encourage critical thinking. 

Objects may include:

  • A bag of fruit seeds
  • 2 Couch cushions
  • A pocket knife
  • 3L of Kerosene

Next, break the team into small groups and have each group collaborate on which items they should pick as a unit. After 5-10 minutes, bring everyone back into the main session and have each team discuss their picks.  

Benefits of this activity: Exercises like this force employees to see each other as teammates and can lead to healthy competition and excitement within the team. Such games and exercises also demonstrate how working together helps a team achieve better results, and can help remote workers learn how to collaborate virtually – without being in the same room.

2. Build Effective Team Communication Strategies – Story Time

Building stories is one of the oldest and most engaging activities you can lead. Here’s how you can facilitate this exercise:

  1. Form a “virtual circle” on video to assign order of operations
  2. Facilitator will kick off the story with an opening sentence and an incomplete, leading sentence. For example, “On Rachel’s first day at WorkRamp, her internet totally crashed. At first, she panicked, but then she…”
  3. The next teammate in the ‘virtual circle’ will complete the previous line and add another leading sentence.
  4. The next teammate will complete the previous sentence and add another leading sentence.
  5. Each teammate will build on the story–and once everyone has had a turn or two, the game can conclude. 

Benefits of this activity: The goal is to build a comprehensive story structure through this game. Developing storylines encourage teams to be creative, listen to each other, and foster team cooperation. These are the building blocks to collaborative and listening skills that are critical for reinforcing clear and effective communication in the virtual workplace.

3. Humanize Co-workers and Breakdown Assumptions – Show and Tell

Each teammate has one minute to “show and tell” around a theme that the facilitator shares ahead of time. Themes could be as simple as “something red-colored” or “something that represents the last year in the pandemic”. Teams can share something intangible (sharing stories) or a physical object within their reach. 

If you have a chat functionality within your video conferencing tool, you should definitely encourage the team to share comments and foster conversations within the chat. This allows groups of all sizes to participate in the conversation, and folks who are sharing address them live – and engage with their teams. 

Benefits of this activity: By sharing stories or physical items you care about, you’re fostering a sense of intimacy within the team that helps build trust within the organization. This allows teammates to be vulnerable about themselves and “humanizes” your coworkers. This will help break down assumptions, drive more interpersonal communication, and create a strong team bond.

4. Reinforce Company Values – Alien Invasion

Breakout the team into small groups of 3-4 teammates. Present this funky scenario:

Aliens have finally landed on Earth–but they don’t speak English, and it’s up to your group to explain why they shouldn’t blow up your company. Each group must pick five symbols or pictures to best represent the values and the impact your company has on the world. 

Benefits of this activity: As the facilitator or the manager, it’ll be interesting to look at common themes or symbols that each group picks. This helps you better understand how remote employees are feeling about the company, the team culture, and the impact they’re making. You’ll also get insights into their problem-solving skills and ability to communicate effectively via other mediums.

5. Make Remote Onboarding Less Isolated – New Hire Passport

New hires are given a ‘digital passport’ at onboarding – designed to familiarize them with folks across the organization. This activity will ask new hires to meet other teammates for ‘virtual coffee’ – and have them complete a task associated with each meeting. Depending on what you’d like to achieve through this activity, you can:

  • Have new hires meet at least one employee from each team/department
  • Have new hires meet employees that match the ‘criteria’ – ie have vacationed in Hawaii, have a pet plant, loves ice cream, etc. 

New hire would get ‘virtual stamps’ from employees they’ve met with. You can serve this activity in a word doc, an excel sheet, or built into an LMS (like WorkRamp) with check-points. 

Benefits of this activity: When you leave it to the new hire to decide who to connect with – through conversations with their team or a buddy, you empower the new hire to build connections with folks throughout the organization. This also gives new hires a reason to start building relationships and feel more connected to the broader team.


Watch the full webinar with Mike Faber (L&D at Fivetran) and Alyssa Henriques (People Development at Kustomer) to learn more about Remote Learning Strategies for Hyper Growth Companies.


To learn more about how Learning & Development teams at Fivetran and Kustomer use WorkRamp LMS to scale remote onboarding programs – request a demo today.

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