Ice breakers are an essential part of team building for any company or organization.
According to Forbes, effective team building “means more engaged employees, which is good for company culture and boosting the bottom line.” Low pressure activities provide a way for coworkers to become more comfortable around one other and more connected to their position in the workplace. Fostering teamwork and connection during socially distant times can seem challenging, however it’s not impossible! Here are eleven ideas for fun and simple ice breaker activities to try for virtual team building!
1. Fun Fact Matching
How much do you really know about your coworkers? Maybe not as much as you think! In this game, team members come up with a tidbit about themselves that they think no one else would guess. They then email it to the activity facilitator. Over Zoom, that host reads off the items and team members take turns guessing which fact applies to which person, racking up points for each correctly guessed answer.
2. Team HQ
HQ is an online trivia game individuals can play simultaneously through an app. On weekdays at 3pm EST, live quiz questions are presented and participants worldwide attempt answering all ten correctly for a chance to split prize money with other winners. Your team can partner up via Zoom, playing individually on phones but sharing answer ideas out loud. It’s not as easy as it seems, but you might win with the advantage of working together!
3. TEDx Talk Watch Party
Have your leadership summits and professional development seminars been cancelled until further notice? Don’t worry! Your team can still learn something new from the comfort of your home offices. YouTube features hundreds of informative TEDx Talks that team members can all benefit from listening to and discussing together. A host can even have discussion questions regarding the TEDx Talk prepared to present to the team via Zoom meeting.
4. Group Maps
With remote opportunities the main option for team building, you’ve got to make the most of what’s available! Even Google Maps can provide a chance for people to get to know one another. Create a collaborative map and team members can place a marker on their birthplace, favorite vacation spot, location they love going to in your city, or any category you can think of! This is a great way to remotely explore and learn more about your coworkers.
5. What’s Everyone Thinking?
This is a simple but surprisingly challenging game that requires zero equipment. First, the facilitator says a word. It can be any random word. Then, on the count of three, everyone else in the group says a new word that they associate with the previous word. The objective of the game is to get all participants to say the same word at the same time. For example: if the facilitator’s first word was “car,” the group might say a variety of words like “travel,” “driving,” “road,” and “engine.” The group hearing those words might now say words like “vacation,” “train,” “trip,” and “highway.” The game continues on until hopefully everyone ends up saying the same word at the same time!
6. Take a Tour
With travel banned in many places, vacations and company retreats aren’t an option. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still experience new places and cultures, especially as a team! Airbnb offers countless experiences for groups, some of which can accommodate up to 500 people! Learn about another country’s culture from a local or do a trivia quiz with a campy host. No matter which experience you chose, your team will have plenty to talk about!
7. Breakout Groups
It’s time to take advantage of the breakout sessions Zoom provides! In one large Zoom meeting, the host asks team members a simple question about one of their preferences with designated answer options. It can be something like their favorite color or whether they prefer cats or dogs. From there, participants who chose the same answer separate into smaller groups via breakout rooms to answer a more personal question, such as “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” or “What do you like most about your job?” This will give coworkers who don’t normally interact with each other the chance to become better acquainted.
8. Trivia Session (Even better if it’s themed!)
Using a collaboration of Zoom and online software like Kahoot!, companies can host a trivia tournament. Coworkers can be broken into teams that are each on their own Zoom call. One member from each team can share their screen and log into the Kahoot game and answer questions on behalf of their team. The team that most quickly and correctly answers questions wins! This is a great option for teams with a lot of members to still work together without being overwhelmed by a large number of people on a call. Feel free to add in fun prizes for the teams who come in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. Trivia questions can range from a variety of topics, from broad subjects like company history or niche options like The Office trivia.
9. Personality Quizzes
Personality qualifiers are an enjoyable way to learn more about coworkers and there are plenty of free online choices to choose from. Have everyone take a brief quiz and then share with the group one thing they agree and disagree with about their results. Personality Perfect is a quick Myers-Briggs test option that doesn’t require an email submission to use. Test Color is an unconventional test that initially seems quite silly. However users have said that it yields surprisingly accurate results.
If you’re willing to sign up for a free trial or donate a bit of budget to online team building, QuizBreaker is an awesome option. This software allows individuals to answer questions about themselves and give their responses to various scenarios. Coworkers then try to guess how the team member in question responded. The person with the most right answers wins!
11. Desk Snapshots
This is an easy way for team members to show off their spaces and see how well they know each other. Have everyone take a picture of their office or desk setup and then via Zoom or email, people can guess which desks belong to which coworkers. The same concept can also be applied to baby pictures!
When using ice breakers, it’s important to note that their purpose is to dissolve awkwardness and tension rather than create it.
Take inventory of what kind of team you have and what sort of activities would be best suited for helping them bond. There are different types of ice breakers and not all benefit a team equally. There are some that help individuals get to know one other, those that improve teamwork and collaboration, and others that are great for kicking off meetings and improving participation. Choose wisely for the best possible results.
Designating a group facilitator is also important to have during ice breakers to help dispel any lingering discomfort and move the event along. Facilitators also need to be aware of game rules and the logistics of how an event is going to work. They should already know the necessary passwords or Zoom meetings links.
Being remote doesn’t mean companies have to give up on inter office bonding.
It just means you have to get creative! For even more ice breaking and team building activities, try Unlocked: For Teams, a collaborative option for corporate competition!