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Eight ‘virtual’ team challenges to help you connect socially and professionally

Online Team Challenges
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In a time when many of us are working from our own homes often with only video-conferencing to connect us every day, the need for innovative ways to bond teams together has never been greater. A ‘team challenge’ is one of the most effective ways to create a common purpose and goal among your team members beyond the output of the working day, and if you pick the right challenge, you can raise employee morale and wellness in one go. Whether you are using your team challenge to break habits, make new ones, achieve goals, have fun or help others, there are plenty of options to choose from that can be done remotely but collectively — wherever you are in the world. We’ve picked out eight great suggestions for challenges — some for the short term, others requiring longer commitment — that will bring fun and a sense of bonding to your team, as well as positively impacting the wellbeing of everyone involved.

 

Get Cooking…

Cooking Experience

A remote cooking experience is a great way to bond your team together, beyond deadlines and project deliverables — after all, who doesn’t love a cupcake? Set up a #cooking channel on workspaces such as Slack or Trello to provide a place for amateur cooks to chat and swap tips and recipes (and maybe liven up home-working lunches). Or make it an office-wide effort, perhaps by picking one ingredient a month and challenging people to cook a healthy recipe using it. A classic office bake off is still possible at distance too — there are now numerous companies offering digital bakes, with ingredients sent through the post for an online session led by a professional patisserie chef, with judging and a prize at the end.

 

Get Healthy…

Healthy Lifestyle

What is your ‘real’ age? Challenge your team to see if they can make time go backwards with realage.com. The wellness app shows your ‘health age’, as opposed to your chronological one, based on factors such as how much you sleep, what you eat and your exercise patterns, via a scientific assessment. You can then all individually set goals to maintain or ‘lower’ your age by integrating healthy habits into your lifestyle, such as meditation, exercise and nutrition. Create a network and compete against your co-workers for the biggest ‘time travel’ or use the opportunity to set prizes for all goal hitters to further encourage a group effort to wellness.

 

Get Laughing…

Happy Woman

Online challenges can be a quick and fun way to inject a little fun into your weekly work and they have proliferated through the pandemic. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine, so get your team to join in and post their entries (on the company intranet boards if you don’t want to go down the social media route); recent examples have included the Quarantine travel challenge, in which participants share two pictures — the first of a place they had visited and then a recreation of the same scene at home, using props and ingenuity. Other online weekly challenges for the sheer fun of it could include Conference Call Backgrounds, where users upload an image to use for the best virtual background or a Slack channel dedicated to ‘GIF wars’ — where people post the funniest gifs on a daily theme.

 

Get Sharing…

Online meeting

Start your own office TedX-style talks — challenge someone in your team to talk each week for 15 minutes about a passion of theirs; a great way to get to know your colleagues better. Alternatively, talks could be work-based, perhaps around something they think is important for colleagues to grasp, to promote better collaboration. For example, the design team could explain the time-intensive process of a certain aspect in greater detail and show why it might often mean 24-hour turnarounds are not feasible. Or use Google Maps and have each team member share their screen, zoom into Street View and give a virtual tour of favourite spots in their locale or city — an excellent option for teams with international offices. 

 

Get Moving…

Running shoes

The Step Challenge is one of the best-known and most popular office team challenges — the dates for two national ones in the UK in 2021 are 3rd May – 27th June and 25th October – 21st November at Step Count, which can also help you set up your own bespoke challenge just for your workplace. Alternatively, try something a little different with the Ramblers #RoamSweetHome steps challenge, climbing virtual mountains or long-distance trails together or Walks Around The World, wherever you are, and wherever you want to ‘walk’. Or simply challenge your office to log a million steps in three months (10,000 steps a day) with a group prize at the end if you succeed. And if you want to encourage people to incorporate steps into their workday why not hold one of your meetings ‘on the go’ with everyone walking and talking – which will increase blood and oxygen flow and help to sharpen the mind.

 

Get Helping…

A helping hand
Volunteering as an office or team is a great way to foster team-building and with the sense during the pandemic that people want to give back to their communities, it can be a great way to introduce resilience and a sense of greater purpose to the working week. A study by Deloitte showed that a culture of volunteerism boosts morale and creates a better working environment overall and Research by the University of Georgia showed that workers who volunteer feel better physically and mentally, and are more productive and engaged in their jobs. Organise a group volunteer or charity challenge; collect food for foodbanks, guerrilla garden in your locale, volunteer with the Covid vaccine programme (you’ll need to do some research to find your local touchpoints), or help children to learn to read online. There are endless ways to give back. Open calls for help can be found on sites like Idealist or local authority or government websites.

 

Get Habit-Building/Busting…

healthy habits

Small healthy habits add up, so why not leverage the collective power of your office to help you to build (or break) one. Positive habits can include drinking enough water during the day, getting enough sleep, eating five a day or taking the stairs at a run — done consistently in your daily routine they can make a big impact on your overall health. Choose a weekly challenge, something small but doable, each week for the office to focus on — and then add another in the following week when the first one has been embedded and so on. It can take up to 30 days to truly build or break a habit, so consistency is vital — track daily habits using a group Google Sheet or other suitable tracker, or designate accountability partners and perhaps reward your team with a reusable water bottle, healthy snack box or online exercise class voucher for completing the challenge.

 

Get Relaxing…

yoga

Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to be incredibly beneficial to wellbeing and resilience, as well as improving performance at work. So challenge your team to relax and tap into their inner resources. Life coach and therapist Matthew Jones notes: ‘Meditation is a practice that teaches you how to become deeply present. It helps you leave behind the expectations society has placed on you and empowers you to get in touch with your heart.’ He recommends a five-day challenge as a simple way to begin to include meditation into your daily routine — use a guided meditation app such as Headspace, Buddhify or Unplug to help your team start the practice, with a 10-15 minutes guided meditation either alone or as a group at the start of the day.