The past few weeks, I've been hearing from engineering leaders over and over again that on remote teams, people miss in-office social interactions — running into someone on the stairway, getting introduced to someone by a mutual acquaintance, chatting up someone new during lunch. How do we intentionally replicate some of that virtually with team building exercises?
Just because we are working remotely, doesn’t mean all your team interactions have to be strictly about work, or strictly with the team you work with. Our CEO Dan Pupius has shared a more comprehensive look at team building activities (beyond 6pm happy hours no one wants), but I wanted to dive deeper into one specific area which has become a source of delight and a core part of our team culture and team bonding— online drawing games.
To make time to connect socially, we have weekly game time on Tuesdays 11:30-12:00 PT. We often also finish our hour-long remote team meetings a half hour early, and give people the option to stick around for a team building game. If you don’t already have something scheduled, find a regular half-hour chunk of time that works for folks — perhaps right after a team meeting, or right before lunch — and get drawing!
Here are our top three Range-team-approved online drawing game recommendations — the websites are all pretty good with onboarding, so no need for someone to read a 20-page board game manual beforehand:
Classic, competitive, every person for themselves
Of course, we started with sketchful, also available as skribbl. In this classic drawing game, it’s every person for themselves, creating some healthy competition. You take turns drawing, and everyone else guesses. The drawer gets points for how quickly someone guesses correctly, and guessers get points for how quickly they guess.
The most I’ve ever laughed this whole past year is when I tried to draw a nutcracker, but it looked so awful that I couldn’t stop laughing, and because I couldn’t stop laughing, I couldn’t steady my hand enough to improve my drawing. My kids also love to join in, but I have to mute myself because they’re too busy loudly trash-talking Stephanie as she closes the gap between second and first place.
Highly competitive, team-based
DrawBattle is sketchful-like but with delightfully competitive team dynamics. You split into two teams, and each team has a drawer — drawers go head-to-head in a draw-off as everyone else guesses. Speed is of the essence, and minimum viable drawing is the name of the game.
The final draw-off at the end is the cherry on top, but I won’t ruin that surprise for you. Expect elevated heart rates and hilarity all around. Learn which teammates can execute under pressure, and which ones crumble (just kidding).
Chill, hilarious, collaborative
Gartic Phone is our newest addition, and the classic version and all its variations have been a delight. One important feature of Gartic Phone is that the game doesn’t scale linearly to the number of players (though viewing the results does), so it’s a great one for if you suddenly have 8-10 people show up to game time!
Gartic Phone has a chill, collaborative vibe, and the final reveal of telephone-like results usually has some amazing gems (it also gives you the option to download results in handy gifs).
Range folks are very serious about these online drawing games — one coworker has upgraded to a wired mouse to level up his drawing game. Another has dusted out their drawing tablet. Whichever one you try out, you really can’t go wrong with any of these tried-and-true fun games for team meetings.
Added bonus for getting everyone into drawing? Our product manager, Bhavika, recently hosted a virtual sketching session to get some literal pens on paper to sketch out some exploratory ideas. After months of training with drawing games, all team members were warmed up and ready to go.
Laughter is so important for team building and connectedness, especially on remote teams, where spontaneous casual interactions are harder to come by. Laugher is also just as a powerful stress reliever (as Dan talks about in his post about Closing the Stress Cycle).
And, well, it seems one of the funniest things is our terrible drawings.
While drawing games are a great way to bring teams closer together, they are just one small piece in the larger puzzle of fostering a healthy team culture. In addition to drawing games, there are so many ways to help your (remote) team feel more like a team. Team icebreaker questions can be a powerful everyday tool to help teammates get to know one another more deeply and build a foundation of trust. Additionally, check-in tools like Range can help you take your team culture to the next level by encouraging daily practices that keep your team aware of what and how everyone is doing.
With Range, your team can create a habit of daily check-ins to increase awareness and shared context, helping everyone work together more effectively. Wherever, whenever your team is working, Range’s mood sharing and team-building questions create moments of connectedness that help teams build trust and achieve their full potential.
With lightweight asynchronous check-ins, you can easily stay connected and build trust across your team.