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Remote team offsites are possible, and can be great

How we ran our first virtual team offsite while WFH

September 30, 2021

Even for teams that were distributed pre-pandemic, offsites were the one thing that brought everyone together in person.

Teams are craving connection that's more meaningful than back-to-back Zoom meetings. We have existing connections that need to be re-established and strengthened, and we also have new connections that need fostering. But how do we bring everyone together like before?

Well, we don’t have to. Instead, we can get creative and embrace the fact that we’re not all together in one place. A virtual team-building offsite is a great way to intentionally and impactfully bring your team together. We know, it sounds unlikely. But hear us out! We just held our first virtual offsite. Here’s how we did it.

What do we mean by offsite? “Offsite” might mean a few different things to different people, For this post, we’re talking about team-building events meant to build connection and belonging. In-person, that might be a day trip, or a cooking class, or a glass-blowing workshop. In this post, we won’t be talking about all-day planning and strategy sessions (which are often also called offsites).

The idea: A selfie scavenger hunt

Our team at Range is very practiced at prioritizing team-building — it’s built into our product and it’s how we operate. For example, we:

The idea for a remote team offsite came up in one of our Teamwork Guild meetings. With our team spread out across the United States, we knew we needed to get creative, especially when some teammates shared that they would appreciate not being in front of their computers even longer,

So why not get people out of their homes and into the world around them with a scavenger hunt? Scavenger hunts are a great way to bring teams together: they require a certain level of communication and coordination, and they bring out a friendly competitive nature. Adding another layer of fun and laughs, we turned this scavenger hunt into a selfie scavenger hunt. Individuals on each team would have to capture as many selfies with various people, places, and things around them.

Great. Now, how were we going to make this work remotely with people in different cities and states?

The planning: Making teamwork the objective

We wanted everyone to be able to participate, so, we put a hold on everyone’s calendar during our core hours well in advance and made an announcement so everyone had enough time to reschedule any internal and external meetings.

With location in mind, we divided the teams as fairly as possible — taking into consideration urban vs suburban locations. We also tried to form teams around people who didn’t usually work together.

We put together a target list of items that would be manageable by teams. Categories included animals (e.g., dog, spider, butterfly), food (e.g., watermelon, croissant, fruit on a tree), nature (palm tree, body of water, mountain), objects (green car, outdoor gym, trampoline), and more.

Points were awarded to teams for complete selfie submissions (item + team member in-photo). To add another layer of complexity (because, why not), we included a special set of high-scoring “SuperSelfie” items that would be announced after the hunt began. Whichever team had the best  “SuperSelfie” would net an additional 20 points.

After presenting all of the rules (you can view the presentation here) and answering questions, the hunt began!

The execution: Selfies all over our neighborhoods

With over 60 items to capture and competitive spirits, we knew teams would have to coordinate to maximize their scores. Different teams coordinated in different ways — using google docs, shared slack channels, and more.

Teams found Slack’s audio-only huddle feature to be incredibly helpful, especially while outside (and even while biking). Teams were able to quickly communicate about planning, progress, and any necessary changes, and it felt like we were actually together competing to win bragging rights (the prize). Interacting as a team while moving about in our local neighborhoods, made the activity feel a little less remote and made us feel more connected.

The fun: Bringing the whole team together

After about an hour outside literally chasing butterflies, dropping into wine shops to get a selfie with the shop owner, waving off confused stares, saying hello to neighbors, and trying to find rodents to take a selfie with (FYI: squirrels are rodents), the team reconvened online.

We uploaded our photos to a Figjam file — the same medium we use for our cycle recap celebrations — and took turns sharing our favorite selfies and encounters from the activity.

Here’s what we created in the end.

Selfie photos from Range remote scavenger hunt

Run your own scavenger hunt

Want to run your own team scavenger hunt? Feel free to take what we put together, and build on it. Here’s everything you need:

  • Slides to introduce the offsite, as well as where to upload photos (Figjam)
  • List of scavenger hunt items (doc)
  • Easy scoring spreadsheet (spreadsheet)

The conclusion: Make connection a priority

Don’t wait until your team can reconvene in person to plan a team offsite! Setting aside time to come together to socialize, have fun, and share new facets of our personalities is incredibly valuable. This transition from in-person meetups to virtual events and gatherings is one we discussed with Beau Lebens in an episode of Lead Time Chats. (Go watch, listen, or read the conversation and let us know what you think.

Our selfie scavenger hunt is just one example of how you can bring your team together in a way that allows people to step away from their desks and connect with teammates. Even just a few hours of team-building can be a significant investment in your people and culture.

If you have an idea for a remote or virtual team offsite you’d like to share, or if you want some additional tips from our team, reach out to us on Twitter at @RangeDotCo. We’d love to hear what you’ve got in mind!

Remote team offsites are possible, and can be great
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