Virtual Team Events – Gaming Night

If you are working in software development it is likely that your team is somehow distributed, eigther due to local distance or home office work. Outsourcing coding tasks to countries with lower labor costs looks promising to many managers, but often the challenges of communicating over a large distance and in a different language are underestimated.

The problem of distributed teams

In my current project, which is located in Germany, we collaborate with developers and testers  from Romania, that are members of our agile teams. Due to the physical distance, we face the common challenges of knowledge transfer and building a good team culture and personal involvement.

Lately the projects financial situation was bad due to overruns in development, mostly caused by lack of communication between the german and romanian devs.  The project got some management attention and after a root cause analysis the big question was:

How do we improve the relationship between the distributed team members?

In one of countless status calls with the management, a consultant who was hired to help us improve the efficiency pointed out how important it is to cultivate personal relations by visiting each other and have non-work related team events. “Well, we can’t do virtual team events, right?” was the reply of my project manager.


This made me think. There are many ways that people interact in a virtual way and not just for working. One that came to my mind immediately was gaming. There are many online multiplayer games that people can play together all over the world. Our dev team is relatively young and most developers I know like playing video games. The idea of gamification is spreading to other areas and also to the working spaces – so why not?

So the idea was to schedule an after-work event where we meet online and play some games together – a project Gaming Night. I proposed the idea and the other developers loved it, soI decided to plan the event.

What you need

We decided to pick only free-to-play online games, so the barrier to join the event is as low as possible. The ideal case would be a browser game, that does not even require installation or a beefy gaming machine. These games are rather simple and the long-range entertainment is rather low. We collected some ideas:

  • is a free browser game. You can create a private room and invite other players. One player picks a secret word and has to draw it –  the other players have to guess and get rewarded if they guessed correct.
  • World of tanks is also free to play, but requires installation. The players can create private games where they battle each other with tanks.
  • Team fortress 2 is a team-based shooter where players can pick different classes of soldiers and battle the other team.
  • Fortnite Battle Royale is a 100 player PVP game where up to 4 Players can team up and fight other players on a map that randomly gets smaller and smaller. The last standing man or team wins. The game principle is similar to Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds which is the current top hit in the gaming community.
  • Blizzard Heroes of the storm is a action strategy game where players can control a hero of their choice form the Blizzard Universe. There are two teams competing on an arena-like map where they have to conquer the other teams base.

Second you need a way to communicate during the games. There are multiple options like discord or teamspeak. We picked discord because it is easy to use and free. And last but not least, pick a date where most of your team members have time, we usually use doodle to organize our events. So that’s all you need, setting this up does not take much time (except installing the games might take a while depending on the internet connection). Put your game face on and have fun 🙂


Our first event was great fun and we already scheduled the second. Our team was relatively balanced, we only had one pro-gamer there, the rest where beginners (especially in that game) but we picked the teams so, that also the other team could win, if they used good tactics. I had a lot of fun and even if this does not improve our efficiency at work, we had a great evening together. We will see what the future brings.

What do you think about this? Do you have ideas for other games? You want to try this out in your company? Please let me know in the comments or dm me – I am looking forward for feedback and ideas!

Freeletics coach – week 13 & 14

Hey, I am back! Sorry for not posting for two weaks – but I had a lot of things to do. My project at work is at a critical state and everybody had to work a lot of extra hours. It is a software development project and we are slowly running out of developers – to complete my currently assigned tasks in time, I would have to clone myself three times 😛

Freeletics coach - week 13

Freeletics coach – week 13

But anyhow, now christmas holidays are about to start and it got a little more quiet and I finally found the time to write this post. During the past two weeks the freeletics workouts were a really good distraction from work. Nothing is better to clear your mind after a hard business week than a good and intense workout – besides alcohol, but you feel much better afterwards…So, today I want to talk about how freeletics – or sports in general – have an influence on my performance at my working place.

Training made me much more resistent to stress and increased my productivity. Before I worked out so much, being at the office for 8 or more hours exhausted me. It was hard to work extra hours and if I did one day, I left earlier on the next day because I had no more energy. And even on a normal working day, I felt that my productivity was at a really low level for the last 2 or 3 hours at work. On a stressful day, this point was reached even earlier. Most of the time, when I returned from work I was so tired,  I didn’t want to go out  anymore.

Now – here are the differences. I worked almost 10 hours every day for the past 2 weeks and this feeling of having my head full of things, that always gave me a headache during the day did not come. Many of my coworkers, who had to work extra hours too, were on a bad mood after short period of time or even got sick because of the stress. I didn’t. I can not really explain why – I had more to do then ever before, and even much more demanding things – but they never tied me down. I suppose it is because of the following things:

Freeletics coach - week 13

Freeletics coach – week 14

First, I feel better than ever before in my life. Eating healthy and habitually doing sports are the basis for this. If you are in a healthy and physically good state, progress will come and with progress comes self-esteem and confidence. And other people realize this and they will treat you in a much better way. You can work much more productive because your body is much more reliable and during stressful times it is easier for you to focus and keep your head clear. I realized this in many grueling meetings during the past days where complex things were discussed over hours. Most of the people got confused, lost their focus, got angry or backed down completely. And even though I was a rather small fish among these people, it was me who tied the important topic back on the agenda or showed solutions when it seemed like we ran into a dead end many times. Before I changed my lifestyle, I was rather the guy who was sitting in meetings and just trying to follow and it was always another person who brought up the solution.

Another key factor is the will to take challenges. If you are doing high intense sports, you will not be able to avoid challenging yourself. And if you do, you will see that almost every challenge can be achieved if you just try it. You may fail for the first time, but in the end you will succeed. You will learn that every challenge, however big it may look, can be beaten. You just have to keep going, focus on the next step but not loose the main target…And always care for yourself. As I said, a healthy body is the basis for all this. Eat clean, do sports, sleep sufficient, trink a lot (water or tee) and no or at least just a little alcohol.

You can see the workouts I did in week 13 and 14 in the two pictures. Week 15 is going to be the last week of this coach ( the coach will continue but I will stop to write a post every week). It is going to be a hellweek, I know this because I am already in it and almost at the end, as I am writing this lines. But you will see it next week. Until then, keep going, take your vitamins and remember: even though life is hard some times – you can be harder!

sincerely yours


PS: here are are some inspirational pictures of healthy food 😉

fish with vegetables, brown rice and tzatziki

fish with vegetables, brown rice and tzatziki

whole-grain noodles with prawns and pesto

whole-grain noodles with prawns and pesto

wholemeal sandwich with grilled vegetables, sheep milk cheese and salat

wholemeal sandwich with grilled vegetables, sheep milk cheese and salad