Being a part of a remote or hybrid team can at times feel disconnected, lonely, or just lacking in the day-to-day office banter. The good news is that Slack and other instant messaging software create an easy platform to initiate more casual conversations throughout the workday and create a more inclusive environment.

Remote team building can be specific to your team and won't look the same for every group. To start having remote and hybrid team conversations, use these tools to open a line of communication via Slack. The following tips for managing remote teams can be used as a remote team building activity or as an everyday remote team communication strategy.

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Slack Team Building Ideas

1. Create Interest-Based Slack Channels

Many organizations have a few main channels for discussing business-related topics. For example, you may have channels for #general channel, #announcements, #marketing, #sales, etc. Encourage employees to start (or request) new channels based on common interests. These could be channels for video game enthusiasts, Bachelor/Bachelorette fans, cyclists, football fans, Harry Potter aficionados, and more.

You can also start channels specifically for casual conversation. Try something like #fun-and-games or #random as a place for employees to share jokes, news stories, or anything that doesn't fit into other channels. Some companies even have channels specific for finding free food around the office. Yum. Make sure every channel has a purpose listed or pinned to the top. If conversations get off-topic, kindly suggest a better channel for the new discussion. Interest-specific Slack channels are a great way to build culture as a remote team and feel more connected.

2. Use Slack Conversation Starters

If you have a Slack channel for your remote or hybrid team, use the below prompts to kick off a conversation. To promote remote team building, you can set up a time every day for a prompt (maybe mid-afternoon once your team has had a chance to get some work in) or do this once a week on Mondays.

  • What's one interesting thing you did this weekend?
  • What shows are you watching that you can't get enough of?
  • Poll: Which fall activity are you most excited about? (For polls, try a Slack app like Simple Poll and see more integrations below.)
    • A: Hiking
    • B: Pumpkin patch/pumpkin carving
    • C: Not sweating
  • Does anyone have any fun trips planned?
  • What's your #1 travel tip?
  • What's the best Halloween costume you ever had?
  • What was your favorite memory from the summer?
  • What's your favorite snack to make when working from home?
  • What's your guilty pleasure show or movie?
  • Has anyone read any good books recently?
  • Poll: What's the best Sunday night viewing?
    • A: Sunday Night Football
    • B: Game of Thrones
    • C: Downton Abbey
  • What's your best strategy for focusing when you need to get work done?

These prompts are a great way to replace the "water-cooler" (or espresso machine, barista line, communal kitchen) chatter for remote or hybrid teams. Make sure to limit these prompts to once a day or folks may get annoyed at constant chatter in the team Slack channel. For those who want more casual conversation, create a channel that is chitchat-friendly. Finally, make sure leadership sets an example by chiming in. Slack can be a great way to recognize accomplishments and promote cross-team bonding as well.

3. Recognize Team Accomplishments via Slack

Use Slack as a tool for recognition. Did your sales team exceed their sales goals for the month? Or did a team member go above and beyond on a recent project? Sharing your appreciation for them will brighten their day.

The Disco Slack integration allows your team to share stars to commend each other for accomplishments. You can then show leaderboard stats to the team if you choose. And for even more fun, try the HeyTaco! app -- you can send a positive message to a teammate and send them a virtual taco. Taco recipients can even redeem the tacos for rewards. This is a great way for your remote team to give each other a virtual high-five for a job well done.

4. Celebrate Birthdays

Whether your employees are in-office or remote, don't forget to celebrate their special day. BirthdayBot is a free Slack integration that reminds you of upcoming team birthdays, privately. The app even comes with birthday wishes and funny Gifs that you can share in your team Slack channel to recognize a team member's birthday. It's a fun way to get the team involved to create a positive experience for their teammates.

5. Add Slack Apps to Facilitate Remote Team Building

Looking for even more fun, team-building integrations? Slack provides many free apps that can help promote effective remote team working. These can help if you manage a remote team to free up some of your time spent checking in on remote or flexible employees.

1. Simple Poll

Simple Poll allows users to create a poll in Slack channels using the command '/poll'. You can also create anonymous polls to get honest feedback from your remote team.

2. Giphy

Giphy provides GIFs that can be used with the command '/giphy'. This is a fun way for employees to communicate, encourage, and say anything with a silly GIF.

3. Zoom 

Zoom is a free video conferencing software that makes video chats as easy as a Slack command '/zoom'. Instantly start a video meeting right from Slack to increase face-to-face time with your hybrid team.

4. Vote

Vote enables your team to vote anonymously about workplace issues. Anyone on your team can call for a Vote.

5. Donut

Donut randomly sets employees up on coffee dates (or video chat dates for remote/hybrid teams!) With a dedicated channel, you can track Donut dates and share stories about these new connections. This is a great way for remote or flexible employees to feel connected and build relationships.

6. Stop, Breathe, & Think

This app provides guided mindful meditations for your remote team. Post meditations in a main channel or create a space for those interested in meditation, yoga, and mindfulness.

7. GameMonk

GameMonk provides 90-second games for your team for a quick break from work. These include GIF guessing games, trivia, and more.

Managing a remote or hybrid team can be challenging and it can be difficult to know how your team is feeling. Using these strategies to leverage Slack to help build remote team culture and communication will encourage team bonding and improve morale. Take advantage of polls and anonymous surveys to keep a pulse on how your remote team is feeling, then adjust your strategy to their preferences. Grow and learn with your team-- and don't forget to have fun while you're at it!

Looking for more? Check out these team-building ideas for hybrid teams next.