Team-building events have always been important for companies and corporations, as it’s a way to get people away from the work environment and to improve morale, team bonding and communication in a fun and exciting way.

When the pandemic hit, in-person team building events were cancelled—but that didn’t mean the concept had to end. Companies specializing in team building started coming up with innovative virtual team-building exercises, and that has been a great way to provide some relief for those workers who are tired of working from home and losing out on their work interactions.

Will Leggett, owner and president of United EVENTures, based in Oradell, N.J., notes team morale is the biggest reason to host a virtual team-building event in 2021.

“A lot of corporations still have their employees working from home, most with no end date in sight,” he says. “People are not feeling the human interaction with their colleagues they crave, so by hosting a virtual event we can provide a platform for them to stop thinking about work and the stress of what is happening around them and just have fun with one another.”

One of the most popular in-person events held by United EVENTures is its geo-trekking adventure, a tech-driven scavenger hunt that maximizes team efficiency and collaboration while workers compete in a series of mini challenges and trivia along the way. 

“Since moving to a virtual world, we shifted this event to a good ol’ fashioned scavenger hunt where participants need to find an array of household items as a team as well as solve trivia questions, riddles and puzzles along the way,” Leggett says. “We use the Zoom platform and breakout rooms to separate the group into teams before coming back together as one.” 

Other popular offerings from the company include a cocktail hour, where people learn how to make new fun cocktails with a live bartender; a cheese & charcuterie board workshop; and music video bingo. 

“I think people need to have fun together as there is so much uncertainty in the world today,” Leggett says. “A good laugh and story to tell later is what we all are craving.”

David Goldstein, creator of opportunities for TeamBonding, which regularly runs virtual events in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, says companies need to continue to recognize, maintain, reward and motivate their teams, and virtual team building events are bridging these gaps for remote employees and their teams. 

Many of TeamBonding’s live events were designed to engage, entertain and build morale, and the company was able to quickly pivot those events to use the technology, the breakout rooms and the design to do more than put teams in a virtual room together. 

“There are two types of events that companies choose, starting with group engagement events such as happy hours, chocolate, wine, and cheese tastings and other events that allow people to connect socially; and team building events that mirror in-person events that challenge and encourage teams to work together, to accomplish something and to compete,” Goldstein says. “Both are important to do on a regular basis.”

One of its most popular virtual team bonding events is based on the TV show Jeopardy.

“Pre-pandemic, we obtained the rights to the official Jeopardy game to do for live events,” Goldstein says. “We were excited to bring the official game show to meetings and conferences as it has a celebrity feel to see the graphics, to hear the Jeopardy music, and play the game they see on TV.  Little did we know that the side-benefit of this license was the ability to do this as a virtual, facilitated event.”

Outback Team Building & Training, with operations throughout the country, offers more than 60 different virtual, in-person, and self-hosted team-building activities, with virtual options including scavenger hunts, code breaking and office Olympics. Tiff Daniels, vice president of sales for the company, notes one of its most popular options is the Virtual Clue Murder Mystery, an online activity designed specifically for remote teams.

“Using  video conferencing software, we will  split groups into teams,  examine clues,  review case files and  channel their inner detectives as they race against the clock to  solve the mystery  of who had the means, motive and opportunity to murder Neil Davidson,” he says. “It allows teams to tap into their problem-solving skills, think analytically, collaborate closely and communicate effectively in order to successfully solve the case.”

At this point, many people haven’t been in the office for more than a year and relationships have to be nurtured, employees need to be valued and attention needs to be paid to onboarding new staff and having fun as a team.

Bottom line, everything that companies used team-building for prior to COVID-19 is as important—if not more important—to keep their productivity and interest recognized and rewarded

Kevin Hubschmann is a New Jersey-based comedian who has been making people laugh for most of his life. But after not finding as many opportunities to perform live even before the pandemic, he started hosting popup comedy shows in New York City in 2019 under the business name Laugh.Events (pronounced Laugh Dot Events).