What is virtual team building?

Is virtual team building the practice of organizing online activities and spaces that give remote team members a chance to socialize and connect with colleagues they rarely meet in person?

Recreation vs Teambuilding – This is a conversation that must be addressed.

Team Bonding & Socialization
  • Is designed around having a good time.
  • Typically does not require reflection time.
  • Can act as a stand-alone event.
 Team Building
  • Is designed around a particular goal or outcome that is transferable to the workplace or school environment.
  • Has an intentional curriculum or flow.
  • Is designed and/or facilitated by trained facilitator with skills in experiential facilitation techniques.
  • Allows for built-in reflection time where participants reflect on their experience and relate those experiences back to the real world.
  • May include follow-up work.
Team Development
  • Is designed around long-term, targeted organizational goals.
  • Has a multi-phase curriculum including behavioral assessments.
  • Includes a minimum of one program a quarter and ongoing coaching for team members.
  • Is facilitated by a Master Facilitator who works closely with the organizations internal Human Resource team.
  • Outcomes include behavioral and organizational change.
It’s essential for organizations to clearly define what their goals are.  Working with a teaming facilitator is the first step in assessing goals and designing for success.

Actual team building in a virtual environment is brand new

Virtual team building can help replace some valuable in-person forms of communication that are missing from the remote office. But let’s be honest, the vast majority of “virtual team building” is heavily leaning towards socialization and recreational play. i.e. team bonding.


Genuine team building, in the virtual environment, is in its infancy right now. The canvas is fairly blank and its up to creative, skilled facilitators to lead the way. Team building requires an understanding of each other’s values, a willingness to listen, to advocate for yourself, and to compromise, all of which are essential skills in decision-making. As we are all facing challenges in this new reality of remote work and online learning, it is especially important to recognize that we are not alone. Team building experiences offer an important lesson that others are available to support us and help us thrive together.