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Zoom team building: 25 activities that are actually fun

Cathy Reisenwitz

by Cathy Reisenwitz on June 8, 2021

zoom team building

When I asked my friends for examples of Zoom team-building activities they actually enjoyed, some of the answers were rough.

“Define enjoyed.”

“Clicking ‘leave meeting’"

“The one where they end it early has been a fav of mine....”

“When the call is over and I get to watch my TV.”

“Burning my laptop”

However, there were some great Zoom team-building ideas that people actually enjoyed. Here are 25 Zoom team-building activities, including classes, games, presentations, and unstructured activities. Listed below in alphabetical order.

Classes

Cocktail making

Required materials

  • Liquor

  • Mixers

  • Measuring cups, jigger, or shot glass

  • Ice

  • Glass

  • (Optional) Cocktail shaker

  • Computer or phone

Overview

In a virtual cocktail class, everyone gets a care package of mini bottles and ingredients beforehand. Then your bartender walks everyone through how to make a few drinks, offers fun facts and basic info about cocktail making, and answers questions. You can mix it up with drag queen sangria-making lessons or keep it classic with a simple virtual cocktail class. It’s a good idea to make sure there’s a virgin option for your non-imbibing colleagues.

Benefits

  • Drinking and learning simultaneously!

Drawbacks

  • Can get messy

  • Colleagues who don’t drink alcohol may feel excluded

Cookie decorating

Required materials

  • Cookie decorating kits

  • Computer or phone

Overview

There aren’t many constants in this world, but most humans seem to enjoy sugar. A cookie decorating class is less intense to set up and clean up than a cooking class. Providers like Sweetology make things super simple by mailing participants everything they need ahead of time. You can also hire them to lead the class.

Benefits

  • Pre-baked cookies and cupcakes make for less fuss, less mess, and more time for bonding

Drawbacks

  • Sweets aren’t exactly the healthiest option

  • Cookies maybe off-limits for team members with allergies or medical conditions

Cooking

Required materials

  • Ingredients

  • Cookware

  • Computer or phone

Overview

In a Zoom cooking class for beginners, you and your colleagues learn how to make delicious meals at home. From a perfectly pan-seared steak to making stock for soups or stews, it’s a great way to up your culinary skills while having fun as a team.

Benefits

  • Cooking is a pretty useful skill

  • It’s fun to see team members’ kitchens

Drawbacks

  • Some team members might not want anyone to see their kitchen

  • Might be remedial for expert chefs on your team

Drawing

Required materials

  • Pencil

  • Eraser

  • Sketch pad/paper

  • Computer or phone

Overview

A skilled teacher can take your team from stick figures to actual faces in an hour and a half. Or more interesting looking stick figures. Artists like Cathy Nolan are offering art classes over Zoom for teams looking to learn the basics of drawing.

Benefits

  • Learn from art teachers worldwide who have moved to Zoom for the pandemic

Drawbacks

  • Art supplies can be expensive

Improv

Required materials

  • Computer or phone

Overview

“Theater workers, actors and directors have centuries of experience to draw from in terms of how to get a group of individuals together and work as a team to create something bigger than themselves,” former music/dance/theater producer astarteny wrote. Improv is all about working together as a team, and having fun while doing it. “Just finished a great online improv class series with Moment Improv Theatre,” Joshua Sorkin told me. “The Hideout offers a 45-minute free sample to get a feel for how easy and engaging their classes on Zoom for Improv are.”

Benefits

  • Free or low cost

  • Doesn’t require any skills or materials

Drawbacks

  • Might be painful for shyer team members

Spray paint

Required materials

  • Cans of spray paint

  • Canvas or other surface

  • Area where you can spray paint

  • Computer or phone

Overview

Andrew Horner hosts spray paint workshops for teams via Zoom. “I’ve done them for Google multiple times, Airbnb, ReMax, and I’m doing a big one for Wix right now too.” Street art is a great combination of the fun of art without all the pretense. It can feel more approachable, and therefore more fun.

Benefits

  • Out-of-the-box idea

  • Likely something your team hasn’t done before

Drawbacks

  • Might be difficult for teammates who are space-challenged

Chocolate tasting

Required materials

  • Different kinds of chocolate or a tasting kit

  • Computer or phone

Overview

A Zoom chocolate tasting is exactly what it sounds like. Get together, eat chocolate, learn about the factors that go into the taste such as the beans, production process, and other ingredients. It might even change the way you eat chocolate.

Benefits

  • Very accessible

  • You get to eat chocolate, and you’ll likely have enough left over to share with family or friends

Drawbacks

  • There are those who do not like chocolate, quelle alors!

  • Most chocolates include milk, peanuts, and/or gluten

Games

Among Us

Required materials

  • Computer, iPhone, or Android

Overview

Among Us is one of the most watched games on Twitch and is making player records on Steam. Among Us is a modern reincarnation of the well-known game Mafia. Players are on a spaceship and must find the traitor in their ranks. To play in a group, select “online” while setting up. If you’re creating the group game, choose “host” and then “Create Game.” Click the “Private” button if you don’t want random players to join. To invite your colleagues, send them the code at the bottom of your screen. They’ll paste the code into the Private section of the Online menu.

Benefits

  • Players can play from their desktop, iPhone, or Android devices

  • Can use Zoom to chat during discussion periods

Drawbacks

  • Requires at least 4 players

Artemis

Required materials

  • Computer or phone

Overview

If you’ve ever dreamt about commanding a starship of your own with your favorite colleagues, the Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator is the game for you. Enjoy the thrill of discovering new planets, investigating scientific anomalies, and staring down enemy ships ready to attack. Geeks and Sundry describes it as “Rock Band for Star Trek geeks.”

Benefits

  • The game rewards cooperation and effective teamwork

  • Pretty affordable at $35 for six seats

Drawbacks

  • Might not appeal to non-Trekkies

codenames.game

Required materials

  • Computer

  • (Optional) Webcam/microphone

Overview

Codenames is a multiplayer online matching game where teams compete against each other. Two rival teams of spies must try to make contact with their own undercover agents operating in the field while avoiding the assassin. The first team to make contact with all their own agents wins. If a team makes contact with the assassin, they instantly lose.

Each team has one spymaster and a bunch of field operatives. The spymaster knows which codenames represent innocent bystanders, agents, and the assassin. Each turn, a spymaster is allowed to offer their agents a hint in the form of one word and the number of visible codenames the word corresponds to.

Benefits

  • Incorporates audio or video chat

  • Free to play online

Drawbacks

  • The rules are more complicated than some other online games

Escape room

Required materials

  • Computer

  • Virtual escape room service

Overview

The escape room trend started in desktop gaming. In 2007 it launched into meatspace with the Real Escape Game in Kyoto. “I wondered why interesting things didn’t happen in my life, like they did in books,” Takao Kato, a 34-year-old publishing employee and a manga fan, told the Japan Times in 2009. “I thought I could create my own adventure, a story, and then invite people to be a part of it.” Before the pandemic, escape rooms had exploded in popularity across the world. Luckily, you can strap a GoPro to someone’s head in an escape room and play from the comfort of your home.

Benefits

  • Anyone can play

  • Doesn’t require many materials

Drawbacks

  • $30-$32 per player

Quiplash

Required materials

  • Phone or tablet

  • Quiplash stream code

Overview

Quiplash is an online multiplayer game where you compete against your teammates to give the “best” answers to prompts provided by the game. Example prompts:

  • Something you’d be surprised to see a donkey do

  • A double rainbow doesn’t have gold at the end of it. Instead, it has ______.

  • A better name for France

Each player submits their answers anonymously, then the whole team (plus an audience of up to 10,000 people if you want) votes on which answer they liked best. While only 8 people can submit answers in each round, anyone on your team can vote.

Benefits

  • Inexpensive. The stream code is just $4.49/player

  • Doesn’t require mailing anyone anything

  • The rules are simple to learn

Drawbacks

  • Answers could veer into contentious territory (but the prompts are very PG-rated and apolitical)

Scattergories

Required materials

  • Giant die or online equivalent with letters on each side

  • Computer

Overview

Scattergories is a word game where you try to come up with the most original words. The first player rolls a giant die with letters on each side. Whichever letter they get, everyone else offers one word for each category, such as singers, movies, or animals that start with that letter. Each word that no one else has gets you a point.

“If you and your friends crave inconsequential competition — my favorite kind — Scattergories is the low-stakes drama you seek,” writes Mia Mercado.

Benefits

  • You get to argue about who counts as a celebrity and have creative license when it comes to color names

  • You can make up your own rules, such as bonus points for creativity

Drawbacks

  • If your team isn’t good at arguing productively, this might not be the game for you

Scavenger hunt

Required materials

  • A room with stuff in it

  • A list of things to find

Overview

The scavenger hunt is a classic group activity. Someone comes up with a list of items to find and a group works individually or in teams to find every item on the list before time runs out. Whoever has the most items at the end of the game wins. It’s easy to modify for Zoom. Just create lists of items many people will have in their homes and make people find them and bring them to their computers. For ideas, just Google “zoom scavenger hunt list for adults.”

Benefits

  • Free

  • Easy

Drawbacks

  • Able-bodied colleagues might be at a slight advantage

Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective

Required materials

Overview

In this board game brought online, you and your colleagues are London urchins who help Sherlock Holmes solve mysteries. You’ll work together to find clues in the newspapers, the London streets, and in suspects’ heads. When you think you’ve figured it out, find out if you’re right by comparing your theories to the master’s.

Benefits

  • The game rewards teamwork and effective collaboration

Drawbacks

  • It’s not clear how to purchase the online version

skribbl.io

Required materials

  • Computer

Overview

skribbl.io is Pictionary, but free and online. In each round, one person chooses a word and has a set amount of time to draw a picture that represents that word. Others players guess for points and whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins. “Scribbl dot io* in particular provides opportunities for one team member or another to make an *amazingly early* correct guess based on practically zero information,” Paul Echeverri said.

Benefits

  • Lots of options for number of rounds per game and length of drawing time

  • Offers you the option to add custom words or use custom words exclusively

Drawbacks

  • You have to watch ads to play

Trivia

Required materials

  • Pre-written questions and answers and a host or a trivia platform

  • Computer

Overview

Just because you’re not at the bar doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a bit of trivia. “We all need a bit of direction at the minute, and a pub quiz sits right in the sweet spot of normality and novelty,” writes Tom Nicholson. One friend told me his company’s Zoom trivia contest “was more fun than I expected.” Jeanine Crider said, “I like it the most when an exec team member or other leader is smack talking and perhaps giving clues.” If you can find Zoom trivia that relates to your company that can be fun as well. For example, Clockwise could do trivia on “time.” Check out Kahoot for quizzes and trivia.

Benefits

  • Inexpensive and doesn’t require many materials

  • Very inclusive

Drawbacks

  • Might make you miss the pub

Presentations

Live tours

Required materials

  • Computer or phone

  • Tour guide

Overview

Being remote doesn’t preclude a visit to a museum or other places of interest. Now you can attend a tour, ask questions, and see the sights right from your living room. Dan Von Hoyel is also a docent at the Oakland Aviation Museum and has done live walkaround Zoom tours for companies.

Benefits

  • Little prep or supplies required from participants

  • Doesn’t have to be expensive

  • A great way to make a tour more accessible for differently abled colleagues

Drawbacks

  • Not the ideal platform for free-flowing conversations between colleagues

Magic show

Required materials

  • A Zoom magician

Overview

Watching a magic show together is a fun way to be entertained as a group. “We watched a magic show recently by Dan White and it was legitimately magical,” Dan Von Hoyel said. “It involved little packages sent to each attendee up front which connected you into the magic tricks.”

Benefits

  • Very little prep required from participants

Drawbacks

  • This can be a little spendy, depending on who you hire

  • Doesn’t leave much space for conversation between teammates

Show and Tell

Required materials

  • Computer

  • Something to show and talk about

Overview

Show and tell isn’t just for elementary school! It turns out anyone can bring something to their camera and talk about what it means to them. It’s a great way to get to know your teammates a little better in a low-pressure, fun, nostalgic way. This could mean, every week, one person does a little presentation about something that’s meaningful to them. Or you could give everyone on the team a few minutes for their own show and tell in one sitting. “A team at my org were asked to all share a piece of art in their home and talk about it,” Jeanine Crider said. “They really enjoyed it!”

Benefits

  • Free

  • Easy to organize

Drawbacks

  • Some people’s might be boring but that’s what time limits are for

Unstructured activities

Book club

Required materials

  • Computer or phone

  • Book

Overview

Choose a book, read it separately before you meet, and then talk about it. A book club is a simple way to read more, learn stuff, and get to know your coworkers better. And it’s a super easy activity to move to Zoom. Plus, there are written discussion guides for many books available online for free.

Benefits

  • Good excuse to read more

  • Good way to get to know your colleagues better

Drawbacks

  • Reading a whole book in a limited time can be difficult for some people

“Curiosity”

Required materials

  • Computer or phone

  • Short presentation

Overview

One of our core values at Clockwise is curiosity. We have a ritual near the end of every Monday morning standup where one colleague gives a 5-minute presentation on something unrelated to work that they’re passionate about, learned recently, or just think is interesting. It’s a great way to get to know your colleagues better and learn something new at the same time. Nothing says you can’t make it longer, say 15 minutes, and add a Q&A at the end.

Benefits

  • Free and easy to arrange

  • No prep required of participants

  • Extremely accessible

Drawbacks

  • Some of these are bound to be more interesting than others

Hanging out online outside of Zoom

Required materials

  • A computer or phone

Overview

Who says there even has to be an activity? If the purpose is to hang out, talk, and get to know each other better, sometimes less is more. To make it a little different from a Zoom meeting, you could try something like Kumospace. Rob Raffety describes it as “a nice departure from Zoom, honestly.”

Benefits

  • Low-cost and easy to arrange

  • No prep required from participants

Drawbacks

  • It might be difficult to get your quieter colleagues to contribute without a prompt

Puzzles

Required materials

  • Computer or phone

  • A puzzle for each participant

Overview

Who says you need to make things complicated? Sometimes it’s fun to just sit around with your coworkers and put together a puzzle or LEGO kit. You could even spice it up with a prize for whoever puts theirs together first.

Sharon Wang enjoyed that it gave her team something to talk about during the call, a reason to look away from their screens, and a shared experience to look back on afterwards. “I think it went pretty well and most people seemed to enjoy it,” Wang said.

Benefits

  • Easy and cheap to arrange

  • No complicated rules to learn

  • Extremely accessible

Drawbacks

  • Not everyone will be into the puzzle, but that’s okay too they can always just chat

Two truths and a lie

Required materials

  • A phone or computer

Overview

Another classic. Someone says three things about themselves. Two of those things are true but the third is made up. Everyone has to guess which is the lie. You can guess with a raise of hands or via chat. Whoever has the most correct guesses wins. Or, you could say whoever fools the most people wins.

Benefits

  • Cheap and easy to arrange

  • Good way to get to know your colleagues better

Drawbacks

  • Can get boring or repetitive

Going forward

Take heart. There are Zoom team-building ideas that people will actually enjoy. Hopefully you found some good ones on this list.

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is Head of Content at Clockwise where she oversees the Clockwise Blog and The Minutes Newsletter. She has covered business software for six years and has been published in Newsweek, Forbes, the Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications.

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