Who could have predicted years ago that the opening scene from The Brady Bunch would become a ubiquitous part of the everyday lives of most Americans? Yet– here we are in 2021 in an increasingly hybrid world where Zoom meetings and the related Zoom fatigue have become a reality for employees.
Managers, team leaders, trainers, and others know that they need to be increasingly creative in finding ways to improve employee engagement during online meetings. Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, a firm that helps companies plan virtual online events, recommends following the “8% Rule”—spending eight percent of the time in any online meeting on fun and engagement.
Alexis also mentions meeting hosts and participants share responsibility for making the virtual meeting experience engaging. He recommends leaders be attuned to both large and small group dynamics. “For example, you can do the main games and activities in the main Zoom room, and then put people in breakout rooms for smaller activities and discussion,” he says. “The breakout rooms ensure that everyone can participate in a way that is meaningful to them.” Here are 3 Zoom team-building activities and ideas that can help your managers keep virtual or in-office employees connected with the workplace and engaged during online meetings.
3 Zoom Team-Building Activities to Improve Employee Engagement
1. Game Night
Game nights have proliferated during the pandemic and for good reason—they are a simple, inexpensive and fun way to connect with others safely. For organizations operating a hybrid workplace, game nights can also be a great way to build camaraderie and teamwork among employees who may be in many different locations.
Robert Johnson, the founder of Sawinery.net, an online information site focused on woodworking, says his company has a weekly voluntary game night to help employees connect with each other. “Try playing charades using Zoom,” he suggests. “It has really helped us be closer with each other even though we don’t see each other a lot.”
2. It’s a Mystery!
Thomas Fultz, CEO and founder of Coffeeable, a website dedicated to coffee enthusiasts, says that “a great team-building exercise within Zoom is a good old mystery to solve.” There are plenty of online sources of mystery games that teams can work together on virtually, he says. “Something as simple as an escape room that you have a certain amount of time to complete can get everyone thinking and wanting to work together to see success.” Team building activities over Zoom don’t have to be boring just because participants are sitting behind screens, Fultz says. “If anything, they can be more fun, because they become more challenging,” he says.
3. Bringing Out Their Artistic Side
Sabriya Dobbins is CEO and Head Retreat Leader of Project Passport LLC, an organization that offers virtual retreats and events. Zoom offers ample opportunity for teams to get creative. It is, says Dobbins, “the perfect space for team building because there are so many bells and whistles if managers are able to learn how to use them.” For instance, she says, the whiteboard can be a creative way for teams to complete collective artistic activities or anonymous activities.
“Another fun team building activity is the ability to create a collective mural together with the group,” Dobbins says.
From scavenger hunts to tours of the cities where your employees live, to trivia contests, talent shows, Zoom seminars and more, there are plenty of ways that Zoom can supplement the team-building aspects of the in-person workplace.
Tips for Optimum Online Interactions
When thinking of Zoom team-building activities to help engage your employees—or other business connections—there are some best practices that can help your interactions over Zoom flow smoothly. Be patient, Johnson stresses. “Not everyone is well versed with technology. Don’t snap at them just because they don’t know how to turn on their cameras,” he says.
Keep in mind that the virtual workplace experience is one that is very new for most employees. While some unexpected benefits have emerged, there have been some challenges as well. For instance, It can be hard for employees to separate work from personal time when working from home, says Dobbins. Because of this, she recommends using a separate Zoom room for employee engagement and team-building activities. “Staff need to know when they click on that link, they’re going into a different world and not just ‘another call’,” she says.
“From cooking as a team to mixology to stress management, make sure teams get to experience a variety of different types of virtual connection activities,” Dobbins recommends. She also recommends that team-building activities on Zoom take a much less structured approach than other interactions. That, she says, will boost the odds that team members will “dive into the activities from a unique perspective.”
Companies should get creative by getting outside of their figurative boxes when it comes to thinking of new Zoom team-building activities to improve employee engagement. Many organizations are clearly already doing just that.
Eric Holguin is a brand ambassador with Herrman and Herrman PLLC. To keep their team together during the pandemic, Holguin says, Zoom was used to host weekly meetings to discuss the previous work week, future goals and any concerns that team members had.
Finally, while Zoom has been a godsend during the pandemic, try to avoid overdoing it—too much communication may have unintended consequences, says Holguin.
“One thing to not do in a hybrid office is to micromanage team members,” Holguin. “Although it may be under the guise of communication, micromanaging a team member can lead to distrust between the team member and leadership, the team member losing confidence in their ability to do their job, and burnout in micromanaged team members.”
Team-building via Zoom is a great way to engage staff members now—and after the pandemic has passed. Now that so many companies have gained experience in how to use Zoom for meetings, coming up with creative team-building activities over Zoom has never been easier.