46 Best Employee Engagement Ideas in 2024 (Remote + Free)

How do you keep hybrid and remote teams connected? Check out these 46Employee Engagement Ideas and Activities that never get stale. From our own experience.
Wendy Ng
Wendy Ng
Content and Operations Strategy Manager, FlexOS
4+ experience with Employee Experience background in Human Resources industry, Wendy is dedicating to share invaluable strategies, empowering managers to boost team productivity and engagement.
February 16, 2024
min read

Now that we're all working from different places at different times, one of the big questions is how we all stay connected and engaged.

Plenty of research shows that people easily disconnect from their work, team, and company when working remotely.

In my interview with Company Culture expert Josh Levine, he said about this:

“In any remote situation, you don't have as many connections, and you don't feel as closely connected or as strongly connected to the company. You're just at home. Now, of course, you're seeing your colleagues and all this stuff, but you don't have those physical reminders of what you're doing and for whom you're doing it. It's almost like you've distilled it down to simple tasks. That is the opposite of what we're trying to do here.” – Josh Levine, Great Mondays

But it's not always easy to do. You need to invest real time and effort.

We've been deeply inspired by Priya Parker's The Art of Gathering, which teaches us the importance of getting together and how to make gatherings meaningful. While it isn't a book about Employee Engagement, many engagement lessons exist.

Based on those principles, we've organized hundreds of online employee engagement activities and events over the past years.

These are our favorites:

Virtual Icebreakers For Hybrid and Remote Meetings

Virtual Icebreakers For Hybrid and Remote Meetings
Virtual Icebreakers For Hybrid and Remote Meetings

Virtual icebreakers take traditional 'getting to know you activities' to the online world. They’re easy to run before or during a meeting, getting everyone in the right spirit.

The only problem? They get stale quite quickly. A healthy rotation of virtual icebreakers is important to avoid fatigue and, worse, eye-rolls. 

Here are some of our favorites we love playing with the team:

  • Mood Check-in: Use mood polls or emojis to gauge team members' feelings. This fosters deeper sharing and understanding within the team.
  • Would You Rather: Sushi or Pizza? Pose intriguing “this or that” choices to ignite discussion and bond the team. Make it interactive with an AI-powered generator for customized scenarios. (We have hundreds of Would You Rather Questions here.)
  • One Thing: Sharing a positive moment or experience from the past week sets a productive tone for the meeting and enhances team morale.
  • Photo Collage: Sharing personal photos and stories helps team members connect on a more personal level and appreciate each other's backgrounds. (We have a great Photo Collage template and facilitation guide for you.)
  • Gartic Telephone: Probably our favorite, Gartic Phone adapts the traditional telephone game to a virtual setting, encouraging creativity and communication.
For all virtual icebreaker ideas and links to all the games and templates, check out our article on 17 Virtual Icebreakers for Hybrid and Remote Meetings.

(And if teams are too big for a quick and fun icebreaker, you can divide into smaller groups. Our free random group generator does this in seconds.)

Virtual Team Building Activities

Virtual Team Building Activity
Virtual Team Building Activity

The simplest way to get people to leave work stress and reconnect with their team members is through virtual team building games.

And they don't have to be difficult: from a simple online game that you set up in seconds to virtual camping experiences, below are nine virtual team-building activities we love.

  1. Tiny Campfire: A virtual camping experience with a gourmet s’mores kit hosted by Camp Counselors to foster team interaction and bonding.
  2. Human Bingo: An interactive game where team members discover commonalities and unique facts about each other, fostering connection.
  3. Random PowerPoint Night: A creative activity where team members present on random topics, promoting learning and entertainment.
  4. Work-Themed “Team Vacation”: A themed happy hour reflecting team members' locations to explore diverse cultures and customs, enhancing team understanding and connection.
  5. Scavenger Hunt: A virtual game focusing on problem-solving and team collaboration, suitable as a meeting warm-up activity.

These activities are designed to improve collaboration, communication, and connectivity in remote and hybrid work environments, addressing the challenges of isolation and disconnection.

And the great thing is that they work for all virtual meeting platforms and can be tailored to fit the team's size and preferences.

For more ideas, details, and all the links, check out our article "Online Fun: 9 Virtual Team Building Games for Remote Teams in 2024."

Getting To Know You Questions

Getting to know you questions
Getting to know you questions

Get-to-Know-You Questions are a great way to establish connections and strengthen bonds at work.

We put together a comprehensive list of 300+ get-to-know-you questions includes professional, personal, remote, funny, and weird questions that will help you build a strong community and unlock team dynamics. For example:

  • What's a new skill you'd love to learn or activity you want to try?
  • What's on your bucket list before your 30s? (Or your life bucket list) Have you already checked off any items?
  • What topic could you talk enthusiastically about for hours?
  • What topic could you give a 30-minute presentation on without prep?
  • What's your favorite home-cooked meal or takeout order?

By getting to know each other better, you can create opportunities for collaboration and achieve great teamwork, even when you are not physically together.

And the best thing: asking get-to-know-you questions doesn't cost you anything and requires no preparation or set-up time.

Check out our 300+ Get-to-Know-You Questions for work.

Getting To Know You Activities

Getting To Know You Activities
Getting To Know You Activities

A staple for employee onboarding and project group formation, Getting To Know You Activities are more than just fun: they're strategic tools for building unity among team members. Especially when they are scattered across the country or globe. 

Of course, you can just ask your team members some Get-to-Know-You Questions, but we’ve done way better get-to-know-you activities with the team. And as with many ideas on this page, they don’t cost you anything. 

Let me share a few of our favorites here:

  • Cultural Exchange: Encourage team members to share cultural heritage elements, enhancing understanding and appreciation of diversity.
  • Pecha Kucha: Utilize this concise presentation of Japanese origin format for team members to share personal stories or interests creatively.
  • The Interview Hat: Team members take turns answering random questions, fostering curiosity and deeper personal connections.
  • Five Favorites: Share five favorite things within specific categories, uncovering team members' unique preferences and interests.
  • Interview Pairs: Pair team members to interview each other, leading to deeper understanding and new connections.

These activities encourage sharing, learning, and celebrating individual differences, contributing to a more cohesive and understanding team environment. 

Pro tip: The leader goes first! Sharing first means you create an environment of trust and make others feel less awkward when sharing. 

For more ideas and all the detailed instructions, check out our guide to 13 Getting To Know You Activities Your Team Will Actually Enjoy. 

5-Minute Team-Building Activities

5-Minute Team-Building Activities
5-Minute Team-Building Activities

Sometimes, you don't have all the time in the world.

You need to get a quick team-building activity into a town hall or meeting.

Well, that's where these 5-Minute Team-Building Activities are perfect.

They take no time to prepare, and deliver so much fun and connection.

Some examples include:

  • Virtual Trivia: Kick off meetings with various trivia questions to challenge and excite team members. This activity encourages quick thinking and team bonding over diverse topics like food, history, and technology, uncovering hidden talents and fostering a fun, competitive atmosphere.
  • Photo Games: Have team members share photos based on prompts like "Your Workstation" or "Favorite Hobby." This activity offers a glimpse into colleagues' lives outside work, sparking conversations and strengthening connections within remote teams.
  • Two Truths and a Lie (Probing Questions Allowed): A simple, engaging game where each person shares two truths and a lie about themselves, with others guessing the lie. This activity encourages curiosity and deeper conversations, helping break down barriers and reveal fun facts about team members.
  • Charades: Play virtual charades to get team members to guess words or phrases through actions alone. This classic game promotes creativity, non-verbal communication skills, and plenty of laughter, enhancing team cohesion and spirited collaboration.
  • Icebreaker Questions for Remote Teams: Start meetings with thought-provoking icebreaker questions. This quick, easy activity helps set a positive tone, encourages personal sharing, and fosters a sense of belonging and understanding among remote team members.
If you have a bit less time, check out the Best 5-Minute Team-Building Activities Your Team Will Never Get Bored Of.

Employee Engagement Ideas for Bonding over Food and Drinks

Team Bonding with Food and Drinks
Team Bonding with Food and Drinks

What unites people more than eating and drinking?

From virtual potlucks to going out and co-working, tap into the power of food and drinks to drive workforce engagement, no matter where your team members are with these food team building activities:

  1. Culinary Trivia Night: Host trivia nights focused on culinary facts, challenging and educating the team.
  2. Drink and Share: Utilize informal gatherings with drinks to encourage relaxed discussions and idea-sharing among team members.
  3. Co-Working Cafes: Use local cafes or co-working spaces for brainstorming sessions or to work in a different environment, sparking creativity and collaboration.
  4. Lunch and Learn: Conduct sessions where team members can share insights or invite experts, combining learning with a relaxed mealtime.
  5. World Cuisine Night: Have team members prepare dishes from different countries, facilitating cultural exploration and team bonding.

These ideas boost team morale, enhance productivity, and foster stronger connections through shared culinary experiences.

They are adaptable for in-person and remote teams, focusing on creativity, collaboration, and cultural exchange.

For more ideas and all the logistics, check out our guide to "16 Unique Food Team Building Activities."

Occasion-Based Employee Engagement Ideas

Some special occasions are perfect to engage your team around. From New Year to Halloween and Christmas, special moments are a great opportunity to reconnect with your teams.

Below are some occasions we've found great to celebrate with teams and employee engagement ideas to activate them:


Christmas Icebreaker Questions

Even for distributed teams across countries, Christmas is worth celebrating. (I'm writing this from Southeast Asia, where, despite a severe lack of snow or any semblance of cold, all shops and offices are decorated in Christmas style!)

TGM Research found that for 81% of people, Christmas is the most awaited time of the year, and a 2022 study by Mitie showed that 62% of people report a better mood at work as Christmas nears.

Some of our favorite ideas to celebrate the holidays with your hybrid and remote teams are:

  1. Break the Christmas Ice: Utilize Christmas-themed icebreaker questions to enhance team interaction and learn fun facts about each other.
  2. Draw Telepathy Christmas Edition: Use drawing games like Gartic Phone to challenge team understanding and creativity in a festive context.
  3. Christmas Desk Decoration Contest: Encourage team members to decorate their desks with a holiday theme, fostering creativity and a festive atmosphere.
  4. Ugliest Christmas Sweater Competition: Hold a competition for the ugliest sweater, emphasizing fun and laughter to embody the festive spirit.
  5. Host A Christmas Movie Night: Arrange a movie night with classic Christmas films, providing the team with a relaxed and bonding experience.

These ideas foster team bonding, creativity, and a sense of togetherness during the festive season, suitable for hybrid and remote work environments.

For more ideas, details, and links to resources, check out our 21 Most Engaging Work Christmas Party Ideas For Hybrid And Remote Teams, and our Non-Cliche Christmas Icebreaker Questions.

Halloween Employee Engagement Ideas

Halloween Employee Engagement Ideas
Halloween Employee Engagement Ideas

What’s scarier than an unengaged team? Halloween! 

After organizing hundreds of online and offline team bonding events, we’re still really into this hilarious occasion and definitely know how to make it fun for everyone, even if the team is working remotely or hybrid.

Here are some of our favorite activities: 

  • Virtual Costume Contest: Encourage team members to wear costumes during a virtual meeting and award prizes for categories like Most Creative, Scariest, and Most Inventive.
  • Childhood Halloween Photo Sharing: Have team members share their childhood Halloween photos and guess who's who, fostering camaraderie and nostalgia. (I absolutely loved doing this one with our team.)
  • Halloween Meeting Icebreakers: Use themed icebreaker questions for work like "Pumpkins or candy corn?" to spark fun conversations during meetings.
  • Halloween Movie Watching: Organize a movie-watching session with Halloween-themed snacks, selecting age-appropriate movies that cater to the team's preferences.
  • Office Trick or Treating: To encourage interaction, set up in-office trick or treating with fun missions at each stop, such as telling a joke or sharing a spooky story.

These activities are designed to build team spirit, foster creativity, and let team members strengthen relationships and create a positive team culture. There’s nothing spooky about it.

For more, check out our article with the 10 Best Halloween Ideas for Work to Engage Hybrid and Remote Teams.

Summer Employee Engagement Ideas

Summertime is a time like no other, where many wish they could spend their days outside instead of on a laptop working. (And some may, but that’s another topic.)

How can we keep teams tight when the sun is as tempting as a double scoop of ice cream on a cone, melting faster than our willpower to stay indoors? Some of our favorite Summer Team Building Activities include:

  • 4th of July Ideas: If you're in the US or have team members there, bring Independence Day to life by organizing a USA facts bingo, getting people to compete with each other about their knowledge.
  • Host a Donation Drive: Organize a donation drive to give back to the community. Collect essential items or monetary contributions and coordinate with a local charity.
  • World Chocolate Day Celebration: Celebrate with chocolate-themed ice-breaker questions. Encourage sharing of favorite chocolate treats, recipes, and memories.
  • Self-Care Channel for International Self-Care Day: Create a dedicated channel for sharing self-care tips. Include mindfulness, fitness, mental health strategies, and hobbies.
  • Share Your Favorite Emoji for World Emoji Day: Encourage team members to share and explain their favorite emojis. Use this activity to understand team members' communication styles better.
For more ideas to have a summer of fun, check out our article “10 Fun Summer Team Building Activities."

Company Retreats

Company Retreats
Company Retreats

Especially for remote teams, frequent company retreats can cure any work-from-home-loneliness they may experience.

Retreats like those by expert remote-first companies boost retention and collaboration. They provide opportunities for connection, collaboration, and team growth. Experts advise to keep these tips in mind when planning a company retreat:

  • Strategic Planning: Planned retreats intentionally, focusing on the company's current needs and setting clear expectations for participation.
  • Personal Connections: Emphasize personal connections during retreats. Activities should balance formal and informal interactions to foster relationships.
  • Retreat Activities and Ideas: Use our tips above to create great team-building activities now that you're finally meeting in person. Include professional development workshops, outdoor adventures, cultural excursions, and unstructured social time.

You can also utilize retreat planners like Midstay, WorkTripp, and The Offsite Co who offer specialized services for organizing and executing effective company retreats.

For more, check out our complete guide to Company Retreats.

The Bottom Line: Employee Engagement Ideas

In running your employee engagement plan, frequent employee engagement activities are a key ingredient to keep your hybrid and remote team connected.

As you can see, I love to err on the fun side with these activities, but we always keep the strategic intent in mind.

What are your favorite employee engagement ideas? Share them with me and I'll update the list above!

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Engaging hybrid and remote teams is a new muscle for many of us to train. Let's work it out together!