Team Building Works. You Just Need to Do It Right

How to incorporate team building activities into your remote workplace

Emily Jones
Mar 14, 2022

Fun fact about the GQueues team: We start each week with a game. 

Every Monday we get together on Google Meet. We update each other on what we accomplished last week and where we'll be focusing our energy next. It keeps everyone in the loop and we can all check in about how we're making progress toward our shared goals.

But before we get into the work stuff, it's game time! Word games, Pictionary, jigsaw puzzles, you name it. If we can play it online in a reasonable amount of time, we’ve tried it. 

Starting the week this way makes such a difference. It's energizing. It gives us a chance to interact socially instead of always being in 100% work mode (and we're fully remote, so those types of interactions can be hard to come by organically). And to state the obvious, it's fun! 

What are the benefits of team building?

Sure, interacting socially and getting an energy boost are the immediate effects of these games. But over time, it also adds up to some serious team building benefits:

  • Communication. These games force us to figure out new ways to communicate with each other. Even if it’s in a silly way, those exercises do translate into our daily work.
  • Problem solving. We often need to change course on-the-fly when our current strategy isn’t working.
  • Rapport. Whether we play games collaboratively or have some friendly competition, we all get to know each other more, which helps us jell for work tasks too. 
  • Trust. Trust is built up over time. It’s an accumulation of small interactions. Playing games with your colleagues definitely qualifies as a low stakes situation. But that’s what makes it beneficial. This builds the foundation for us to take risks and trust each other in high stakes situations. It all contributes to creating that positive ongoing relationship.

Now don’t get me wrong. Team building on its own won’t cut it. It’s not like playing some games in meetings will instantly turn a dysfunctional team into a top performer. You also need to dedicate time to regular 1:1 meetings with your direct reports. And if you want to foster a culture of transparency and collaboration, you should share your tasks and make projects visible for all stakeholders.

So team building isn’t a magic wand that will make everything run perfectly. But it is a corner piece of the management puzzle. You need to dedicate time on a regular basis to getting to know your employees and appreciating them as individuals, not just cogs in a machine. If you don’t do that, you’ll never be able to have a culture of trust.

Does playing games really count as team building?

There are lots of different ideas out there about what constitutes “team building.” There’s the grand scale like taking your top performers NASCAR racing and company-wide retreats. Then there’s escape rooms and happy hour drinks. But you don’t need to spend a ton of time and money to reap the rewards. 

At GQueues, we:

  • Play games for ~8 minutes at our weekly meetings
  • Treat the team to lunch to celebrate birthdays

That’s it. And it still improves our communication, problem solving, rapport, and trust.

Even if you do splurge on some larger events outside the office, you also need to keep that energy going on a regular basis at the office too (even NASCAR lovers agree)! The big gestures will end up feeling pretty meaningless if you don’t pay attention to the little things. 

Coworkers enjoying lunch together

How to incorporate team building activities into your remote workplace

As mentioned earlier, GQueues is a 100% remote company. It’s not exactly easy to get everyone together for in-person bonding. 

We knew we wanted to play games in our virtual meetings, but it was always kind of hacking together a way to make it work. We’d need someone to present their screen (and they’d inevitably choose the wrong tab). Or even if we found a site with virtual game rooms, we wouldn't be able to see both the game and each other unless we had a multiple-monitor setup. (Spoiler: not everyone has that.)  

In short, it was a little messy.

But these games have a real value, so we kept playing. And in the meantime, GQueues founder Cameron decided to take on a little side project - Hijinx!

Remote team playing Guess Phrase with the Hijinx extension in Google Meet

Team building games for Google Meet

Hijinx is a FREE Google Chrome extension that makes it easy to play team building games with your remote or hybrid teams. It’s fully integrated with Google Meet so you don’t have to deal with the hassle of sending everyone to a different virtual game room. You're already in a room - just get to the game! 

And because research shows that in order for team building to be successful it shouldn’t be mandatory, everyone in the meeting is given the option to join the game or just watch. Forcing everyone to play a word game isn’t going to get you the results you want if one of your direct reports isn’t in the mood. 

It’s currently in beta mode, so give it a try and send in your feedback! We want to know how your team has put it to use, and how it can be improved. 

Install Hijinx on Google Chrome, so you too can start your remote meetings with the zany, silly, all-around-fun energy boost we could all use. 🎉

About the author
Emily Jones
Customer Care Manager

I love chatting with our users! When I'm not answering questions about GQueues, I keep our Help Center up-to-date, make tutorial videos, and write our newsletter. My favorite dogs are basset hounds.

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