Remote work
3 min read

5 ways to bond as a team remotely when you're sick of video calls

September 22, 2021
Two colleagues speaking over video call

Team quiz? Lunch and learn? You’ve heard it all over the past few months. 

But let’s face it, video calls are exhausting. 2020 has seen us coin the term “Zoom fatigue” with research showing that being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat. If you’re spending most of your working hours on Zoom, socialising over video may not be your idea of fun. Yet seeing each other is proven to help form bonds and build trust.

So how do you replicate the bonds that happen organically in the hallways or at the coffee machine? Here are five alternative ways to bond as a team. 


1. How do you feel right now, in a gif? 

Team size: Any

Trust level: Any

Time: 1 minute

Prep effort: None

One of my personal favourites because it’s quick, fun and informative. Ask your team, How do you feel right now (in a gif) over Slack or Microsoft Teams. It only takes a minute to find a gif that accurately represents how you feel.

A GIF is worth a hundred words

When I ask the team at Saberr, I learn that...

  • One of my colleagues is really excited that their knee injury is finally improving.
  • Another is overwhelmed because the product feature that they are building is proving trickier than anticipated.
  • Another is enjoying his favourite gelato as a treat because today was meant to be his wedding day (thanks Covid-19).

It’s a good reminder that behind the slack messages are real people with stuff going on. 

Watch out for: Watch out for anything you need to act on or follow-up on. 

2. Reminisce

Team size: Any

Trust level: Medium

Time: 5 minute

Prep effort: Medium


The feeling of nostalgia is one of the fastest ways to build trust. Share your favourite team photos on Slack or Microsoft Teams to bring back memories of the times you spent together and everything you’ve been through as a team. Invite the team to do the same.

Watch out for: New team members. You may not have many memories with new joiners but they may still enjoy learning about what the time was like pre-pandemic.

3. The existential-o-meter

Team size: Any

Trust level: High

Time: 1 minute

Prep effort: Medium


The existential-o-meter is a fancy name for a scale that we made up at Saberr to take a quick pulse of how lost or ‘existential’ we feel at any given time. 

10 = Very existential = Lost, overwhelmed, dealing with lots of uncertainty that may lead to despair over time.

0 = Not existential = Clear, calm, collected. 

The beauty of the existential-o-meter is that it normalises a difficult conversation. Asking your team “How lost are you feeling?” or “How overwhelming is the world right now?” is a bit loaded and may feel quite uncomfortable. So instead…

A quick question on Slack to see how everyone is feeling


Your team may not need an existential-o-meter… maybe a Stress Gauge or a Resilience-meter could help. Make it your own.

Watch out for: Those who are feeling very existential. Seek to understand what is behind it and think about how you can support them. 

4. Start your regular meetings with ice-breakers

Team size: 4-10 people

Trust level: Any

Time: 5-10 minutes depending on team size

Prep Effort: 1 minute to pick a good ice breaker


Instead of adding a separate meeting for socialising, sprinkle some into your existing meetings by kicking off with an ice-breaker. Here are our favourite ice-breakers and warm-up questions from the Saberr team.

You’ll learn something new about your teammates and by getting everyone’s voices in the first 5 minutes of the meeting, you’ll increase participation for the rest of the meeting!

Watch out for: Participation. Take it in turns to answer and make sure you don’t miss anyone out. 

5. My MVP this week...

Team size: Any

Trust level: High

Time: 5 minutes 

Prep Effort: None


Round the week off by asking the team to name their most valuable player (MVP). It could be someone who has done a great job, someone who has supported you or someone who has overcome a challenge. 

This simple question encourages everyone to reflect on the week, show gratitude and build trust.

Watch out for: If some team members work more individually than others, they’re likely to be named less often.   

A great way to wrap up the week.

Bonus... Cocktail (or mocktail) hour

Team size: 4-10 people

Trust level: Any

Time: 45 minutes 

Prep Effort: High. Everyone needs the ingredients!


This one takes some work but it's a great way to celebrate as a team (whether that’s hitting your goals or a big birthday) so I’ve taken the freedom to include it.

In my experience, it doesn’t feel as intense as other ways of socialising over Zoom because you’re busy in the kitchen, rather than staring into a screen.

Pick a simple cocktail and matching mocktail. Send the ingredient list out beforehand, allowing people plenty of time to shop for them. Then on the call, act as a mixologist… Teach the team to make the drink and enjoy it together.

Some ways to make it extra fun...

  • Share interesting facts about cocktails 
  • Turn some of those facts into quiz-style questions
  • Take a silly survey on what kind of cocktail matches your personality and share
  • Get partners or house-mates involved

Watch out for: Inclusivity! Don’t alienate those who don’t drink. 

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