Last updated: 05.01.24

Team Building for Virtual Employees - How Can It Help?


Hybrid working is now the norm in a wide variety of industries. Though there are many benefits and research is showing that many are happy to have a more flexible work style, we must remember that this way of working has changed the way teams work, especially when it comes to how they are managed.

One such change is that of team culture, which is important in any team. Without regular face-to-face interactions, it is harder to create a team culture in a remote or hybrid team and so more effort is required to make sure it is positive and thriving. 

In this article, we explore a tool that can prove incredibly useful here: virtual team building.

What Are Virtual Team Building Activities?

There are many different types of team building, ranging from simple ice-breaker activities to multi-day trips at corporate retreats. Some may need more preparation to run successfully, whereas others can be organised in the moment.

Virtual team-building activities happen online with either some or all attendees taking part remotely. They can be icebreaker activities, which can be used before longer meetings, or can be a collaborative activity or a quiz.

When you’ve got a team working together virtually, team-building activities are a great way to engage attendees and help them work together more collaboratively. In cases where a team is meeting for the first time, remote team-building activities are also really useful to help people get to know each other better, diffuse any awkwardness and ensure more productive conversations.

As with any approach to team building, the kind of activity involved really depends on what it is being used for. Not all are activity-based though; you could arrange a virtual team room where employees can chat over a cup of coffee, or create a space for team members to share achievements, projects, or news.

The essential ingredients for the best virtual team-building activities are a team, a strong leader or manager, some good ideas, creativity, enthusiasm, reliable technology, good communication, and an understanding of how to carry it off successfully.

The Benefits of Virtual Team Building

There are plenty of benefits to virtual team building, whether you have a fully remote team or you regularly facilitate meetings with a combination of in-person and virtual attendees. Here are some of the main advantages of remote team-building exercises.

Firstly, it can help teams to get to know one another better and is a great way for a manager to look out for their team, creating a space for them to show their support and recognition. Over time, virtual team building exercises help to reinforce a shared team identity, build trust and increase productivity, collaboration and motivation, which all lead to teams working together more effectively.

Team building activities for remote employees can also be a great way to welcome new joiners. It can be strange joining a remote team, as there are no natural ways of building relationships with the rest of the members, which can often add to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Virtual team building activities for work is just one way of ensuring any new joiners are made to feel part of the team.

If your company has employees based in a range of different locations, members of remote teams can often feel lonely, isolated, overwhelmed, uncreative and unsupported, especially if they are new starters. For team members who feel lonely or isolated, virtual team-building activities to boost morale provide the interaction and communication they are missing out on, as well as a fun way to keep in touch with the other members.

It also helps reinforce the sense that they are part of something, and helps them forget that they aren’t in the same space. This is really important when teams don’t often or ever see each other face-to-face, as working from home 5 days a week can harm mental health.

Lastly, team building for remote employees can also be a way of connecting as a team and giving them some time out, especially if they are suffering from creative fade or are low on productivity and need a fun boost. Whilst many team-building activities encourage problem-solving or connection, some of them are just designed to ease tension and give teams something fun to do together, which has a lot of value in terms of boosting morale.

Virtual Team Building Challenges

As you can imagine, there are some challenges when it comes to team-building activities with remote employees. Here are the main ones.

Unreliable Technology

When you’re running team building for virtual teams, make sure you’re using technology you are familiar with, or if you aren’t, make sure to test it first and have a practice run. Technical issues like being unable to share your screen, split people into breakout rooms or send links can interrupt the flow of remote team-building exercises and lessen their impact, which you obviously want to avoid.

Finding Availability

It can be hard to find a time that suits everyone if you’re trying to sort team-building activities for remote employees. The best sessions are ones where the entire team is present, and having to manage a lot of conflicting schedules can make this impossible to organise.

To get around this, you could organise your virtual team building exercises as a regular meeting so it is always in the diary, whether that is weekly, bi-weekly or monthly – as often as you think you need, or book it far enough in advance that people’s diaries are unlikely to be booked.

Misunderstanding of Etiquette

Some employees might assume that virtual team-building activities will be the same as in-person ones, which might impact how they behave in and engage with these sessions. Therefore, consideration needs to be had around some elements so that attendees know how to interact and participate and don’t disrupt the meeting.

The removal of a lot of physical cues will affect how you interact during remote team-building exercises. For example, when a team meets in-person conversation will often organically develop between smaller groups, but in a digital call, there is no space for that – everyone is present and involved. 

You need to make it clear whose turn it is to speak, what the rules are, how to use the technology and so on. Setting some ground rules will help the team to feel more comfortable in the setting.

Low Engagement and Participation

Something that has to be mentioned in an article about team building is that team building can induce feelings of dread in certain employees. To combat this challenge, make sure you know your team and what they like, dislike and are likely to be open to.

Don’t just cater to what your business needs; make sure everyone’s are considered. When your team building for remote teams is done to suit everyone’s preferences, the team is likely to be more open to the idea. 

It is also helpful to highlight the benefits of team building to your employees and explain why you think it is necessary. Emphasise the importance of bonding and having fun away from your work, as well as how it can help to make collaborative working easier for everyone.


What is a team-building event?

A team-building event is an organised session for a team that is focused on helping attendees feel more connected and improving how they work together. It might involve several different activities, or be a prolonged activity that runs throughout the entire day, but the purpose of the entire event is to help bring teams together.

What are the 4 main types of team-building activities?

The four main types of team-building activities are personality-based, activity-based, skills-based and problem-solving. These categories refer to the nature of the activity and the main theme that it draws on, as well as the type of activity that it will involve.

How does team building improve performance?

Team building can help to improve performance because it gives teams the tools and experience they need to work together more productively and efficiently. By overcoming challenges, learning more about each other and understanding personal skills better through team-building activities, employees are better equipped to navigate scenarios at work where the same skills are required, which improves how they perform at work.


There are plenty of ideas for virtual team-building activities to choose from, but before you start organising an event for your team, you need to understand what the benefits and challenges are. That way, you can plan your team-building activities with remote employees fully aware of what you’re trying to achieve and how you can ensure your success.

If you are eager to gain more insights into how to lead and manage remote teams, we recommend our ‘Leading and Managing Remote Teams Training Pack’, which includes six courses. If you would like to find out more about how to maintain team culture, try our specific course ‘Maintaining Team Culture for Remote Teams’.