Virtual Ice-Breakers: Bringing Remote Teams Together In 2020 [Updated]

virtual Ice-breakers

Before understanding the virtual ice-breakers, let’s see some benefits of working remotely, like:

  • Setting your own working schedule. 
  • The comfort of being at home. 
  • Avoid commute time. 
  • Less stress. 
  • Spend time with your kids and family. 
  • More satisfying.

But it has challenges as well: We can feel lonely and isolated while working remotely. In our survey, we found that approx 46% of employees said they miss coming to the office.

springworks survey

The Importance of Virtual Ice-breakers

A virtual Ice-breaker is a great way to keep your remote teams engaged and learn more about each other.

Ice-breaker is a game or activity that you can do with your team members to get to know each other and start the conversation. Virtual ice-breakers are the same,  but they are done via video calls.

Here are some reasons why virtual ice-breaker activities are useful:

  • You can introduce new hires to teammates in a fun way to make them feel comfortable.
  • A well-placed interactive icebreaker can lighten virtual meetings and keep your team’s attention throughout the meeting.
  • It gives you an opportunity to learn more about your teammates’ personalities and thoughts.

5 Elements to Design Virtual Ice-breakers

Here are some elements that you should consider before designing your virtual ice-breakers:

Have a Purpose: Ask yourself, “what’s your purpose with ice-breakers activities?” Introducing new hires? Or bringing your teams together and let them know each other? First, you must establish a purpose clearly.

Help Employees Feel Comfortable: A virtual ice-breaker activity will be successful if your employees feel comfortable to participate. Tell your team clearly what’s the purpose of these activities and encourage everyone to participate.

Timely: Probably your virtual teams are calling from different time zones, so take time into account. Do you want your ice-breaker activities to be a quick 10-minutes or 30-minutes?

Frequency: Consider whether the virtual ice-breaker is once per week or if you want to make it a daily thing? Discuss with your team and come up with your plan.

Tool: Make sure everyone is using the same video conferencing tool, like Zoom, and they’re familiar with the tool. Also, decide the format – do you want your team to use their webcam or a voice call will be sufficient?

11 Ice-Breaker Activities for Remote Teams 

Here are 11 virtual Ice-breakers ideas for your remote team meetings – these are easy to implement!

Recommended Article: Top 50+ Remote Work Tools For Happy And Productive Remote Teams

1. Critical Thinking Questions

One of the best initiatives to break the ice for a remote team meeting is to start by asking a question that facilitates critical thinking. 

For example, you can ask a question like, ‘A man is lying dead in a field. There is an unopened package lying next to him and no other creature in the field. How did he die?’ 

Post lateral thinking questions in the group and give everyone some time to answer. Then let them have a brief conversation about their answer and the learning experience behind it.

2. A Ride in the Time Machine

People love to have conversations about themselves. You can channelize this habit of your employees by asking them the time machine question. 

For example, ask them about a place or a time they’d like to visit if they had a time machine. You can use follow up questions to have an ice-breaking conversation. 

3. A Stroll Through the Childhood

Ask your team members to share their childhood pictures privately with you. Then, post these pictures in the office group and ask people to guess the person. Not only can it be a great ice-breaking activity but also reminiscence people of their childhood memories. This would facilitate open conversations and a good laugh to top it off!

4. Current Affairs Conversation

Asking members to have a conversation about an open issue can be a great team-building activity. For example, you could share a topic that people can read about in your office group. 

Then start the remote team meeting by asking them to express their views about the same. Once people are done sharing their views uninterrupted, set aside some time for an open conversation.

5. Social Question

Start a team meeting by asking people little questions, people love to answer about themselves. These could be about their favorite season, team, food, etc. This activity, on the one hand, focuses on enabling a lively conversation among people, even leading to a debate on why one’s favorite football team is better than the others. On the other hand, it helps people get to know each other better.

6. Host an Open Mic

Let the people in your organization speak about something they like. This could be a poem, a short story, a song, jokes, etc. Taking the central stage would give them due attention to showcase their talent. 

Similarly, performing in a group would also serve as a key to social validation. Ask team members to applaud others.

7. Emoticon Starter

Ask your team members to share an emoticon that precisely tells how they are feeling at the moment. This will help start the meeting on a lighthearted note, as people witness the range of emojis being put to use. This activity makes use of one of the best virtual things that people love to do- use emoticons.

8. Six-Word Story

Watch the ice shatter as people become their creative best with this activity. Ask your team members to tell their life’s story using six words. Or if there is something interesting that they want to share, ask them to do it within the six-word limit. Not only is this fun but also a great platform for people to be their quirky best.

9. Guess a Riddle

Post a riddle and ask your team members to reply with answers within 5 minutes.  Tell them to not use any search engine or write answers they might have already known. Watch them be at their creative best as they try to answer questions with a race against the clock. 

10. Build a Story

Again, one of the most popular activities in the list, this breaks the ice and builds an interesting story. Start by assigning random numbers to your team members. Then ask the person who has number 1, to write down a sentence and leave it incomplete. 

The next person with the succeeding number will write another line, and this would go on until all members have had their turns. Read out the story that is sketched in the end.

11. Guess the Gibberish

This game is already viral among social media enthusiasts. You could leverage this as an ice breaker for your team by posting gibberish words for common movies, songs, or even names of some of your team members. Not only will people rush to answer it correctly but also enjoy the competitive spirit. 

25 Quick Virtual Icebreaker Questions

Don’t have time for virtual icebreaker games? Here are quick icebreaker questions you can ask at the beginning of your video call to have some fun and help coworkers get to know one another.

  • What’s the best trip you ever had?
  • What’s your favorite thing about your native place?
  • What single event has had the biggest impact on your life?
  • What childish thing do you still do as an adult?
  • What’s something you’ve done this year that you’re proud of?
  • In your opinion, what is the most beautiful place on earth?
  • What is your spirit animal? (The animal who is most similar to your personality.)
  • What famous animal movie character do you like the most?
  • What is your favorite restaurant?
  • If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you eat?
  • What is something you are great at cooking?
  • What is your favorite breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner?
  • What is your favorite sport or physical activity?
  • What three things do you consider yourself to be very good at?
  • What is something you love/hate doing? And Why?
  • Have you ever lived in another state/country?
  • If you had to delete all but 3 apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?
  • What technology innovation made the most impact on your life?
  • When did you get your first mobile phone? What kind was it?
  • Where would you time-travel, if it were possible?
  • What are your favorite movies/TV-series?
  • If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?
  • If you won a lottery of $1 billion, what would you do with all the money?
  • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What “old person” things do you do?

BONUS: Fun Slack Apps for Remote Team Meetings

Icebreakers: Icebreakers help you to get to know your coworkers.

Trivia: With Trivia’s suite of interactive quizzes, you can bring Social & Fun back to your workspace right inside Slack.

Water Cooler Trivia: Build team culture, one trivia contest at a time.

RandomCoffees: Match teammates for coffee in the workplace!

Moji: Moji is a friendly bot that keeps a count of the emojis you and your teammates use in Slack.

Sneek: See all your teammates and start instant video chats.

Lunch Train: The easiest way to coordinate lunch with your team. 

Here are 30 Fun Slack apps to build remote team culture and increase engagement

Virtual Team Building FAQs

What is virtual team building?

It’s a practice that includes conducting online games and activities that give remote employees an opportunity to socialize and communicate with their teammates.

Why virtual team building activities?

A virtual team building activity builds an emotional connection between your remote teams and they can learn new things about each other. To get you started, we created a list of 25 virtual team building activities that offer an amazing shared remote experience.

How can we make our next virtual meeting spicy?

Get inspiration from our 11 virtual ice-breaker activities and let your team know you’re going to conduct these virtual icebreakers frequently.

What are some virtual team-building challenges?

Unreliable technology, slow internet, different time zones, lack of engagement, and participation.

How can we keep our remote workers engaged?

Do formal check-ins with your teams and know their feedback. Also, offer gift cards and reward for winners. You can also use the above mentioned virtual team building icebreakers.

What tools can help us to build a strong team culture?

Here is a list of 30 fun Slack apps to build remote team culture and increase engagement.

How do you use virtual icebreakers with a new team?

Use an icebreaker activity at the start of a meeting. It will help employees relax and get to know each other on a personal level before getting to work.

Got some other virtual ice-breakers ideas that can boost the engagement of your remote workers? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Want to bring your teams together? Trivia is the new way to connect with your remote team while playing exciting quizzes on Slack and Microsoft Teams. Get your Free Trial Now!

Originally published May 13, 2020 1:22 PM, updated Aug 18 2020

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