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Table Of Contents

Keeping Remote Teams Connected: Fun and Creative Virtual Water Cooler Ideas

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Table Of Contents

Remote work had an immensely positive effect on the workforce, but didn’t come without a price to be paid. Working from home keeps you disconnected from your workplace collective, and makes it hard to maintain professional relationships and a spirit of community. The generations that entered the job market during the pandemic never even got to experience watercooler banter in person, let alone the office culture in its entirety. In-person communication produced trust and a strong belief system that became hard to emulate when everyone works from home (although getting more sleep and avoiding morning traffic are considerable consolation). To overcome these remote work flaws, we came up with some creative virtual water cooler ideas. Spontaneous, fun, and thrilling, these are far more efficient in keeping their bonds tight than an obligatory half-an-hour weekly standup!

Keeping Remote Teams Connected: Fun and Creative Virtual Water Cooler Ideas

Battleship — Place the ships and start playing!

A quick game of Battleship requires no pen, paper, or being in physical proximity to your opponent.

Place the ships at their positions manually or hit “Randomize” to arrange them, pick the “Friend” option to get the link to the game, and send it to your coworker. It’s a swift game with simple rules: try and guess where the enemy ships are on the field; the first who sinks all of the opponent’s ships wins.

You can play 1 on 1 with a coworker of choice, or include everyone and organize a weekly tournament with active scoreboards.

Similarly, you can try out these if Battleship doesn’t suit your fancy:

Virtual book club — Bookworms, rejoice!

If scrolling Reels and TikTok made your attention span considerably shorter and your coworkers report the same — it’s time to get together and get back to the books you once devoured!

A monthly booklover meetup in the virtual space of choice has plenty of benefits:

  • It instills and strengthens good habits;
  • It helps the less talkative employees come out of their shells;
  • Speaking of things you’re passionate about boosts the mood and creates positive associations to work;
  • Elaborating on literature helps non-native speakers improve their vocabulary and get more confident about their language skills;
  • These meetups bring you closer to your coworkers and help people learn about each other.

For starters, set the ground rules for your newfound book club.

You can all agree on the same book and discuss what you liked or didn’t like about it at the meeting. 

Or, you can pick a genre, and maximum/minimum number of pages, and each participant gets 5 to 10 minutes to present their book in the readers’ meeting. 

Photo contest — A competition for the best snapshot

Keeping Remote Teams Connected: Fun and Creative Virtual Water Cooler Ideas

Having a weekly photo contest takes little time and effort but is still an engaging and rewarding experience for everyone involved. To spice things up, you can even vote for your favorite and set a reward for the winner.

Some of the themes you can pick for your next photo competition:

  • Your pets doing their thing;
  • Nature’s beauties;
  • Things in places they shouldn’t be;
  • Funny notes spotted in the street;
  • The most ridiculous thrift shop find;
  • An expertly plated homemade dish.

Get as weird, goofy, romantic, or artistic as you wish, and enjoy the unleashed creativity of your coworkers. If you have a physical office, print and frame the photos so you can cherish the memories in person whenever you visit. 

Use water cooler time to enjoy amusing quizzes

Remember the “What kind of bread are you?”-style Buzzfeed quizzes era? Well, it got a little more advanced in 2023!

When in doubt, gamify your water cooler break a little. A quiz is a safe and easy way to do so, and there are tons of ways to approach them! Pick a pre-made one from the category familiar to your coworkers, or create one yourself.

You can be as specific as you want and use apps such as Water Cooler Trivia, and Kahoot!, or never even leave your workspace and create a quiz with Slack’s Quick Quiz, or Google Forms.

The possibilities are practically endless, and in addition to having fun, participating in quizzes together will strengthen employee engagement

Online coffee break — Strike a conversation with workmates

Keeping Remote Teams Connected: Fun and Creative Virtual Water Cooler Ideas

This is one of the more simple virtual water cooler ideas that still have a positive impact. 

It helps people get closer, share their thoughts, wind down, and improve their mood. Mere 15 minutes of a casual chat can make a difference in how employees feel about their day, or colleagues they don’t have the opportunity to meet otherwise.

Sometimes, it can be as simple as sharing a virtual cup of coffee, tea, or another hot/cold beverage of choice.

Mystery lunch — Serve a surprise on their plate

Thai? Indian? Italian? Can’t decide?

Leave it to someone else!

When the lunch is on the company, gather a couple of gastronomically adventurous participants, and take turns in who decides what kind of cuisine is on that day’s menu. 

Enter the names in a spin-the-wheel program, and let the fortune decide! The chosen contestant gets to pick what the others are having that day. It could be a type of cuisine, a restaurant, or even as precise as a dish!

To avoid making someone hangry (an unpleasant combo of hungry and angry) with a dish too bold, set some baseline rules:

  • Don’t repeat the last time’s choice/decision-maker;
  • Chose something that provides satisfactory options for people with different needs (vegans, vegetarians, kosher, halal, keto, etc);
  • Let people veto certain foods they absolutely don’t want to eat. 

This way, the experience will remain exciting and pleasant. And who knows — maybe you’ll discover a dish you never considered before, but now have to eat at least once a week.

The bottom line

To sum up all of the virtual water cooler ideas mentioned above:

  1. Have a quick online Battleship tournament: it’s simple and fast-paced, ideal for quick post-lunch breaks;
  2. Host a virtual book club, where every contestant reads the same book for the discussion, or gets to speak about a book of their choice (in case everyone had their own pick);
  3. Pick a theme for the weekly photo contest and share them in a dedicated channel; then everyone can vote and the winner is rewarded;
  4. Have a look at the quizzes on Water Cooler Trivia, choose one, or create a special one for your remote office;
  5. An online coffee break is a good way to wind down after a hard workday, or gather strength for the upcoming workload;
  6. Take turns in picking a restaurant or the type of food you’ll eat that day — and make it a surprise!

Having fun as a team boosts morale, employee engagement, and productivity, so be sure to leave some space for relaxation!

Anja Milovanovic
Anja Milovanovic

A journalist turned content writer – Anja uses her investigative skills to produce high-quality SaaS, Marketing, and HR content.

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