As teams of all types continue to work remotely, companies, and their learning and development (L&D) leaders, are becoming increasingly creative to ensure optimum employee engagement and team-building via Zoom. Zoom fatigue is real, but remote meeting and learning tools are here to stay. But with so many virtual team meeting ideas and tools available, organizations can help to minimize fatigue and boost engagement in a hybrid workplace by thinking creatively about how they can adapt virtual team meetings to gain interest and interaction.
Here we share a roundup of creative virtual team meeting ideas for how to engage with remote teams, and build connections between employees who may be both on- and offsite. Virtual team building via Zoom can be both fun, and easy.
1. Forego the Formal Agenda
Eric Holguin, brand ambassador for Herrman and Herrman PLLC, a law firm in Corpus Christi, Texas, says that while it may seem counterintuitive, holding a remote meeting with no specific objective can help team members connect. “Only asking team members what is on their minds about their roles and tasks can comfort teams and allow members to bond with one another when most work is remote and alone,” he says.
2. Incorporate Virtual Team Ice Breakers to Lighten the Mood
Petra Odak, CMO at Better Proposals suggests the use of ice breakers at the beginning of meetings. These can be “completely random,” she says, and they should be designed to find out more about team members. She shares some examples of virtual team ice breaker ideas:
- If you could move to any country in the world, where would you go?
- What kind of food items do you combine that most people think are weird?
- If you could travel in time, where and when would you go?
Team members take turns coming up with and asking the questions, and each team member is required to provide a response. “We’ve discovered so much about each other through these random questions and answers,” she says. “It’s one thing that we’ll never change, no matter how big our team gets.”
3. Encourage Team Building Via Zoom By Finding Time to Play
Playful Mind Project is a company that helps organizations change their culture and engage remote workers. Rona Lewis, co-founder and CEO, is an expert in “playing” with corporate employees to encourage productivity and creativity. She says that getting employees to play, both before and during Zoom team meetings, can help keep them in the moment, shift their mindsets and lead to greater cooperation, authenticity and trust. She offers virtual team meeting ideas that incorporate play
- As a warm-up, play A and Q. For five minutes, break out into rooms of two or four, depending on the size of the meeting. Decide who will answer first, then the facilitator of the meeting feeds the first question to be answered. It can be anything but a business question. The first volunteer answers that question and then picks someone else. They pose a question to the second person who answers and picks a third person, and so on. With small groups, she says, there’s no need to use breakout rooms—just do the exercise with the entire group.
- As the meeting starts and people are reporting in or sharing ideas, ask people to respond using accents or imitating their favorite movie roles. It’s a fun way to keep people engaged and also get work done, she says.
- “Yes, and…” During the meeting focus on helping teammates and employees look good by not allowing anyone to say anything negative about ideas or viewpoints presented. They can only add to comments, even if their addition takes things sideways. “Why don’t we (insert first idea here), then…?” This, says Lewis, invites trust and vulnerability into the meeting, which allows for a tighter corporate culture.
4. Add Personality With Filters and Backgrounds
Nick Chernets, CEO of DataforSEO, a SaaS company, points to Zoom’s fun filters and backgrounds as a great way to add fun to a meeting. It can be tough for people to maintain focus during online meetings, he says, so he advises making the meetings more entertaining. “You can plan specific themed meetings and ask people to prepare a virtual background or choose one of the filters for the meeting,” he suggests.
“These don’t have to stay on all the time—people can simply check in with their backgrounds and go back to regular look,” he says. But, he notes, using this strategy can help boost energy at the beginning of the meeting and help participants prepare for the meeting. “I have used this strategy multiple times and so far we’ve had pirates, DC comics’ superheroes and even beach vacation themes for our weekly meetings,” he says.
5. More Virtual Team Meeting Tools? Focus on Incorporating Creative Add-Ons
New virtual team meeting tools are emerging all the time. Candace Helton, operations director with Ringspo, points to the app Mural as a fun way to use the whiteboard functionality. “Mural acts like a whiteboard where team members can put text, post-its, images, doodles, charts, and other tools during collaboration,” Helton says. “With visual aids in place, it’s much easier for employees to grasp meeting concepts, and everything will be much clearer as well. Whiteboarding processes like this also stimulate one’s creativity, which also gives a little mood boost compared to the usual Zoom meetings.”