We did it. Many businesses have successfully made the leap from being on-site to being fully-functioning remote workplaces. But before we congratulate ourselves for mastering Zoom meetings and group Trello boards, it’s time to do a gut check. Are we still having fun?

Engagement was easier in the office

Before hybrid and remote came along, fun was something we took for granted in the old come-in-everyday, cubicle-and-water cooler workplace. Being around your team came with laughs and inside jokes and coming together for meetings and events was par for the course.

But for many, that’s all changed now. In a world of distributed work, a more strategic approach to engagement and inclusivity is required. People teams and managers are flexing their creative skills to keep cultures alive and thriving for companies that don’t share a physical space.

Going back to the drawing board

Finding new ways to make our digital time together fun and feeling connected can be a challenge. But sometimes, it’s just a matter of changing your mindset. It’s all about experimentation. Don’t put pressure on the process. Try to make culture building a team initiative.

A great way to start is to introduce new routines that make connection a priority. At Avanti, our culture has always been a big part of who we are. Two years ago, we became a fully distributed team and needed to rethink how we connect. Time zones, communications tools, and access became considerations for team events and gatherings.

As a company well-versed in product testing, we got straight to work by researching and testing a wide array of online games and activities. Some were awesome, some were duds, and some were technical nightmares. But the learnings were key for finding and continuously looking for new ways to have fun together. Who knew fun could feel like a product? With every test, we felt like we were getting better at it.

You never know until you try

There’s no secret sauce for creating a good time. Our best advice is to keep trying new games and activities and to keep a list of the ones that resonate. And don’t be afraid to repeat an activity you like. Everyone likes it for a reason. Like a favourite board game, you can keep coming back to it. Once you get things initiated, ask team members to host activities and get everyone involved. You’ll be surprised how naturally and easily it can all come together.

Here’s what we’ve explored so far:

Skribbl: Like Pictionary, this online game has one teammate drawing while everyone else is guessing what the drawing could be. It’s easy to execute, always gets laughs, and inspires friendly competition. The worst drawings are always the best.

Spyfall: You're an FBI detective and someone in your department is an enemy spy. You must question each other to discover the spy. This one takes a few minutes to get everyone up to speed, but it’s worth it. You’ll need 4-12 players.

Kahoot: Ask your team a series of multiple-choice, trivia, or open-ended questions in this online quiz generator where questions are asked and the team has a set time to answer them.

Codenames: In this game, two teams compete by each having a "spymaster" that gives them one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. The other players on the team attempt to guess their team's words while avoiding the words of the other team. The winning team is the first to guess all words correctly.

Movie Emojis - Can you guess a movie title from seeing a few emojis strung together? The answer is yes, yes, you can. All you have to do is find a list of movie title emojis online and share. This fast and fun guessing game is a crowd-pleaser. Can you guess the movie from these emojis?

Show & Tell - This activity is great for getting to know your team through the things they hold near and dear. Our Client Care team recently had a show and tell where they shared their favourite souvenirs from a vacation.

Team workout - Get your team moving! There’s nothing wrong with getting everyone’s blood pumping, just be sure to keep it accessible to all abilities and keep the equipment requirements to a minimum. Avanti’s Marketing team recently gave this arm workout a go.

Scavenger hunt - Like show and tell, this activity gives you a chance to see your teammate’s creativity (and household items) in action. There are tons of online resources for putting together your own unique scavenger hunt.

Icebreakers - Sometimes a good Q&A can be pretty fun. You find out interesting facts about your team and let’s face it, the vibe is pretty chill compared to a competitive game.

Game shows - All the shows we watched during our sick days as kids are fun to play online with your team too.  From The Price is Right and Jeopardy to Family Feud, most game shows have online versions posted on their sites.

It’s all in good fun

Find the right activities for your team, and you can turn virtual social events from something to sit through into something to look forward to. Luckily for everyone, the number of free online games and activities has grown over the past two years, so it’s easy to keep things light on a tight budget.

The whole objective is to come off mute and relax a little. Play a game for ten or fifteen minutes and get back to your day. Just because a team works separately, doesn’t mean they can’t be tight-knit. When early morning latte runs and team lunches just aren’t feasible anymore, taking a few moments to connect and laugh is the perfect way to keep the good vibes alive.

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