Top Online Icebreakers and Fun Activities for Remote Teams
When working in a team, you should definitely get to know your co-workers before working on a project together. Having reliable bonds with your team members enhances better communication and trust.
In the office, you may find many situations where you can build solid work relationships. However, today people tend to work remotely for well-known reasons (we will not remind you of the terrible pandemic once again). How can remote teams build friendly relationships when they rarely see each other face-to-face?
Using online icebreakers before the start of a virtual team meeting is an excellent way to break down barriers between remote workers and create a more open and friendly environment. In this post, we list some of them engaging virtual icebreakers you can try at your next team meeting.
Online Icebreakers Do Matter
Why do virtual team building activities matter? Caring about effective team building activities and online icebreakers is not a priority for many team leaders. Some managers just suggest that distributed workers don’t care about connecting with their team members. Unfortunately, they may not realize all the benefits of collaborating with people who work from home.
However, there are many firm reasons to prioritize team-building among your remote colleagues. Here’re some of these benefits:
The current situation with the pandemic makes many employees work from home, but this doesn’t mean they can’t have strong relationships with one another. It will be easier for remote workers to collaborate on their projects if they feel that they know each other and are comfortable communicating with one another about various matters.
Sometimes, remote work can get lonely. In case your team members are all working separately and rarely get a chance to communicate, they may be less engaged at work. Additionally, they may also experience lower satisfaction from their job and it can lead to replacing people on the team more often than you’d like.
Online icebreakers connect people. They can positively influence engagement. When remote employees are engaged with their work, there is a good chance that they will be productive and get more done on a daily basis. They will be able to cheer each other on and be more motivated to reach their individual and collective goals.
What do you need to run a virtual team-building activity?
Virtual icebreakers are very low cost. They typically do not require many materials. You will need the following before arranging any virtual team building activity:
- A facilitator who will help to moderate a particular activity or game. This can be a virtual team manager or project manager. Often the team leader won’t be able to directly participate in some games as they will know the answers. However, it is still a great way to laugh and bond together.
- Time set aside for the team building. Remote teams usually want to meet quickly, just talk about what they have to do, and then get back to their work. Dedicate a specific time at the beginning or end of a virtual team meeting and be clear that this is as important as a regular meeting.
- A video conferencing tool. It can be a regular phone teleconference or web-based conference software. Do not forget to warn everyone prior to the meeting that they will be on-screen so they can properly prepare.
- A collaboration/screen-sharing system. Be sure that you can share your screen to let everyone see what you are presenting. Actually, many video chatting platforms now have this capability, so that is one less tool to track down.
The List of the Best Virtual Icebreakers and Team Building Activities
1. Virtual coffee break
An online coffee break for the community is an easy but effective way to catch up with the people you work with. Simply schedule a 15-minute period every day (or weekly) when your colleagues can join a video chat held with the help of video-conferencing software. Use these 15 minutes to enjoy your coffee and discuss formal and nonformal issues, as desired.
2. Favorite things
This activity is also a simple way to break the ice and give your virtual team members a chance to learn more about each other. This fun is also less anxiety-inducing than other activities because it is impossible to get a question about a person’s favorite thing wrong.
To initiate this activity, assign a favorite thing topic, for example, “My favorite online tool for remote work” or “Favorite part about working from a home office. Then, give team members a chance to answer and express their creativity.
3. Fun facts
Another effective ice-breaking activity based on guessing is the Fun fact game. All you should make is to ask everyone in your team to submit a fun fact about themselves to you privately. Then, initiate a meeting with the whole team and read out the facts one by one. Let everyone guess which fact matches with which team member.
4. Birth map
Another online icebreaker activity that lets everyone on the team learn something new about each other is the Birth Map.
Share an available world map’s image in your group chat. Use Google maps to make a collaborative map or any other option. Invite your colleagues and ask them to place a sticker on or near their place of birth. Then propose to them to share a story or about their favorite thing from their birthplace.
5. Emoji check-in
This is easy to implement round table team check-in. However, instead of a one-word or something, you should draw an emoji that best describes how you are feeling right now. Add creativity and modify this to be how they feel the sprint went or project, etc.
When you share pictures, you get to know your team members and bond over shared interests. This virtual team building activity assumes inviting everyone on the team to share a picture from their workspace and asking them to write a little blurb describing the pic.
Make it a guessing game and have everyone on the team try to guess which image belongs to which person.
7. Weekly gaming session
Send out an email to your team players asking them to vote on their favorite virtual group game. You may do this every Friday, for example. Online team building games are popular options, especially for remote teams.
Get everyone’s input and schedule an hour at some point during the week for everyone who’s interested to get together and play as a group.
8. Fun chat
This practice can be great for keeping team members engaged on a regular basis although it is more of an on-going team-building activity.
Dedicate a special talk space in your team management app specifically for random fun conversations. Post fun memes, crazy videos, and quotes in this space but make sure you lead the example to make your team members feel comfortable doing so as well.
9. Gift exchange
It is a good idea to pull off a gift exchange even if you’re not at an offsite. You will need about 60 minutes, a video conferencing tool, and a task board to arrange this online icebreaking activity.
Create a handy task board (online Kanban boards will suit perfectly well) and invite your teammates to join. Each person buys a gift that can be shipped easily. Do not announce what the gift is, just add a card to the board with a picture and title that provides a hint. During this activity, you’ll take turns clicking on cards to reveal what the gift is. Once you open a card, you’ve claimed that gift. After the game is over, mail or deliver the gift you contributed to the person who ended up with it.
10. Movie night
Hosting a monthly or quarterly team movie night is also a great idea. Invite your team members to submit a vote for a movie and a time to watch it. Then organize a stream through a conference call for the entire team, no matter where they’re located. It can be also useful to open a chat channel to let everyone share reactions and hot takes during the movie.
Effective virtual team building should include two elements:
- First, it should include ways to recreate natural conversations (like in traditional workplaces).
- Second, it should contain the means of visualization to let teammates see and talk to each other without typing.
Online icebreaking events may transform your remote team members, making them feel connected, engaged, and happier at work. Hopefully, the info we’ve provided has left you feeling informed about what it takes to plan effective virtual team buildings and also empowered to see what works specifically for your team.
If you have outstanding online team building success stories, please, don’t hesitate to share them with us!