As freelancers and solo consultants, it was infrequent that clients ever invited us to their office parties, happy hours or other team-building events. But in this new world, not only are we on the invite lists, but we can actually earn money supporting the creation and execution of virtual team-building events.

From post-work mixers to Friday night pizza night to inclusion workshops with a fun twist, all sorts of activities and exercises have been moved to the virtual spaces. Not only are favorite teamlancers invited to join, but those with a knack for creative ideation and execution are often the ones pegged to pull the events together, both before and during.

5 virtual team-building events by and for teamlancers

Here are five types of events that are familiar from pre-pandemic, have been pulled into the virtual space in order to cater to newly remote workforces, and lend themselves to being produced by teamlancers.

Virtual team-building events by and for teamlancers: Comedy night

1. Comedy night

Before social distancing, an office manager or events staff might bring in an improve troupe for a customized workshop, or perhaps book a corporate comedian to do a set at an after-work party.  While some of these would be just for laughs, others were to encourage colleagues to have fun with each other and perhaps — with guardrails set — express things that they wouldn’t in a normal day.

Working in the virtual space does set new, less penetrable social barriers, but laughter still has great power to engage folks and deliver a lesson wrapped in metaphorical candy coating.

Possible billable tasks for teamlancers:

  • Come up with a shortlist of potential comedians and /or troupes to hire.
  • Think of other types of talent that could collaborate with a comedian (chef? HR person? productivity coach?), and scout those talent as well.
  • Handle negotiations and contracting for the talent
  • Work with the talent to create a program and/or a loose script of their set for client review.
    •  Provide them with company backgrounder, messaging points, notable news, and other information about the client that’s approved to incorporate into their set.
  • Manage the AV and tech platforms that will be broadcasting the show and hosting guests.
  • Create run-of-show, contact list and other necessary documents.
  • Manage the performance for the client, including recording it so that someone can potentially cut it down to shorter videos later.

2. Scavenger hunt

Because virtual scavenger hunts allow people more time and location flexibility to compete than the IRL ones do, this challenge-based activity is enjoying a new burst of popularity with people who have just discovered it. People who have done scavenger hunts before are often called upon, not just to explain how the game is played, but to lead the customized creation of one.

The virtual scavenger hunt lends itself to remote workforces because players can complete missions within a time window — sometimes even a period of days — and still be in the running to earn points. Also, virtual platforms like GooseChase can be even more engaging than traditional, because of their capabilities to allow players to view each other’s photos, comment, vote and otherwise interact.

Possible billable tasks for teamlancers:

  • Come up with the theme of the scavenger hunt, as well as themes for different days.
  • Create missions and point structure.
  • Write the copy that will encourage people to sign up, explain how the game is played, and otherwise give a “voice” to the virtual competition.
  • Review submissions and award bonus points and special prizes (i.e. “most spirited,” “best outfit”).
  • Create prize list and buy prizes.
  • Create and post social media around the game.

Virtual team-building events by and for teamlancers: Trivia night

3. Trivia night

Whether people are ferociously competitive or just playing along for a laugh, trivia competitions always pull in a healthy number of participants — and the small-team format naturally lends itself to office dynamics.

Possible billable tasks for teamlancers:

  • Figure out what platform or software the trivia game will be hosted on, and what the game structure will be.
  • Come up with themes and categories for the client to decide on their favorite.
  • Create questions and answers.
  • Outreach to potential participants and collect RSVPs.
  • Act as the virtual host, calling out the questions and tracking points scored.

4. Game night

From Bingo to charades to Uno, a lot of games can move to the virtual space, and because of their structured nature, they can be easier for people to engage in than virtual conversations. Game night could even include trivia quizzes or a mini scavenger hunt, but the beauty of ‘games’ plural is that it provides multiple options in one block of time to accommodate different preferences. You can jump from drawing games to card games to something a little edgy like Two Truths and a Lie.

Possible billable tasks for teamlancers:

  • Create a list of games that could be played, along with the software or platform that hosts the virtual game.
  • Help the client set up the back end for whatever games are chosen. Is a special app needed? Can the game be played via one of the standard virtual videos? Will attendees need to download anything ahead of time?
  • If needed, curate clues/questions lists ahead of time to make sure everything is appropriate and lighthearted.
  • Create a program with time blocked out for each game.
  • If the client wants attendees to raise hands in advance to play certain games, set up a registration process and manage the list.
  • Make sure all attendees have instructions on how to join and play: i.e. what screen will they need to have pulled up on their computer? What programs need to be running?
  • At least one person and maybe one small team will need to volunteer to support everything during the event, making sure people can log on OK, get into virtual ‘rooms’, that scores are being fairly kept, etc.

Virtual team-building events by and for teamlancers: Culture immersion night

5. Culture immersion night

This type of activity used to be more of a theme party (Cinco de Mayo, Country-Western Night), but with the recent emphasis on diversity training and inclusivity, culture night can be planned with a bit more depth. It may even crossover with D&I event, if planned correctly. You could, for example, plan a virtual Polynesian luau with lessons and stories. Or, a Southern regional cooking class hosted by someone who knows the deeper history of where the dishes and traditions originated.

Of course, it’s best if a team member who is an expert on the featured culture leads the program-planning, but other people can join in on the planning and presentation.

Remember, if you’re involved in planning such an event and you’re not an expert in the culture, take a support role and don’t attempt to dictate what the right activities and guests are.

Possible billable tasks for teamlancers:

  • Create presenter/talent lists.
  • Wrangle the talent: negotiation, contracts, content deliverables, time commitment.
  • Coordinate the program.
  • Design event invites and other digital materials.
  • Manage invitee/RSVP list.
  • Will attendees need certain special items in order to participate? If so, coordinate ordering and shipment.
  • Will there be interactive activities with visual components? If so, pre-produce these elements.

The new style of team building has a place for teamlancers

While remote work has made many former in-house people feel lonely and siloed, it’s made teamlancers feel the opposite in many cases. After years of being offsite, teamlancers are now as integrated as anyone else is.

Sure, a virtual pizza party might not be quite as fun and yummy as taking over the favorite local pub, but the social aspects are still there… and if you can bill 30 hours toward helping plan that virtual pub night, plus enjoy a beer with your colleagues at the end, there’s really no room to complain.