Form team-bonding rituals

Virtual First | Teamwork Kit

Healthy organizations depend on close ties within teams—and virtual work requires regular effort to sustain these ties. Use this practice to develop rituals that deepen bonds, build shared values, and reinforce good habits. It’s a powerful way to connect that can transform your team or organization’s culture.

 

10–60 MINS | VIRTUAL TEAM PRACTICES

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1: Start a team check-in ritual

Part of psychological safety is knowing we can show up as we are. Begin recurring team meetings and 1:1s with a 5- to 10-minute networking opportunity, using one of the humanizing welcome questions below.

Check-in rituals (5–10 minutes; 1 minute per person)

Ask how each team member is feeling by choosing one of these questions/rituals.

  • What’s your internal weather right now (sunny, thunderstorm, cloudy, drizzle sunsun behind small cloudsun behind cloudsun behind rain cloudcloud with lightning and raintornado)?
  • In one word or one color: How are you feeling?
  • If your mood right now were an animal, what would it be? Why?
  • What’s one thing you enjoyed doing this week?
  • Share one high and one low from the week.
  • In an abstract way, draw how you’re currently feeling. It might be a cloud floating in the sky or a snail hiding in its shell. Hold it up to your laptop camera and discuss.

2: Try a team-values exercise

Teams bond best when they have a common purpose. Do the exercises below every quarter or once a year to develop a motivating North Star for your team.

  • Write a team charter (35–50 minutes; yearly or as needed). Why does your team exist? What is its core purpose? High-performing teams tend to have a shared answer to this question.
  • Define team values (2–3 hours; yearly or as needed). An activity kit for exploring values and building stronger team connections.
  • Design a team summit (3–6 hours; quarterly). This kit has everything you need to coordinate a fun virtual offsite for your team. 

3: Have some fun together

Allowing time to play and weave non-work conversations into your team’s day is a great way to connect. Try setting up a recurring monthly meeting that incorporates one of the exercises below.
Corporate tarot connection cards (30–45 minutes) These cards use the principles of tarot to facilitate open conversations with storytelling and play.
Creative conversation cards (60 minutes) This exercise helps teams (especially newly formed ones) get to know each other in a deep, meaningful way.
Spirit of Joy planner (45–60 minutes) Make joy a priority by using this group facilitation guide to plan joyful moments during your day. 
Creative energy worksheet (30 minutes) Build self-awareness and resilience by having your team members reflect on which tasks give them energy and purpose—and which don’t. 
Reading ritual (30 minutes) Have your teammates pick a favorite poem, line from a podcast, or article they recently read. Then discuss.
Creative bursts (30 minutes)

Have each team member choose an activity below and work on it for 5–15 minutes. When time is up, ask them to share their creation with the rest of the team. 

  • Brainstorm gross things (ex: haggis, a dumpster). Now turn one into a beautiful product. 
  • Draw a team mascot or use materials around you to make one. 
  • Create a story about office supplies. 
Show-and-tell (15–30 minutes; 2 minutes per person) Ask each team member to think of a super-secret skill they have (poetry? beatboxing?) and have them present it to the group.
Lunch club / learning lunch (30–45 minutes) Create a system of 1:1 lunches for people who don’t know each other well, or have a group lunch where people share something they’re good at. Ask your manager to fund the lunches so there’s an extra incentive to participate.
Team meditation (5–10 minutes) Start the day off right with a group meditation. Organize a session for yourselves or join an existing sangha. Check out Headspace or Calm if you need a guided meditation.
Create a Spotify playlist (5–10 minutes) Collaborate with other team members on a Spotify playlist. It doesn’t have to be music only—you can add podcasts, poetry readings, audiobooks, or even vintage radio dramas.
Rapid-fire connections (15 minutes)

This is a great way to quickly build trust and community by giving pairs of people something to bond over.

  • Round 1: Create random breakout rooms with two people in each. Give them five minutes to tell each other about where they’re from and then create a secret handshake (or set of gestures for Zoom) inspired by that information. 
  • Round 2: Recreate the random breakout rooms with different pairs of team members. Give them five minutes to tell each other about a recent failure (big or small) and then create a life motto inspired by that information. 
  • Round 3: Recreate the random breakout rooms with different pairs of team members. Give them five minutes to tell each other about a recent success (big or small) and then create a touchdown dance inspired by that information.

4: Share gratitude

Making gratitude a habit can have a positive impact on your team’s happiness. Use these exercises to wire healthy new grooves into your collective brain. These exercises are great at the beginning or end of each week, or after you’ve finished a project. 
Individual thank-yous (10–15 minutes) In your regular team meeting, say what you’re grateful for or give a shout-out to a team member whose great work hasn’t been recognized yet. 
Team kudos / gratitude posts (10 minutes) Do this in a meeting or asynchronously: 
  1. Open a whiteboard (for example, this Gratitude Board in Miro)
  2. Have everyone choose a Post-it and write their name on it
  3. Have the rest of the team write down something they appreciate on each person’s Post-it
  4. Copy and paste a sticker or emoji on the Post-its to liven up whatever you’ve written
Small Moments jar (5 minutes) Create a virtual “jar” (for example, a Google form or Doc) to say thank-you to teammates for any small, positive moment you recently had during a project or meeting. At every weekly meeting or company all-hands, have the facilitator read one of the submissions in the jar.

More resources

3 easy wins

Build the habit

  • Tomorrow: Add a check-in ritual to your next team meeting agenda.
  • Next week: Try doing a gratitude exercise with your team.
  • Quarterly: Add a quarterly hangout (30–45 minutes) to your team’s schedule. Incorporate one of the practices from above.