This is especially important in today’s environment, when many workplaces no longer have in-person “watercooler” moments. Organizations with remote workers and virtual teams don’t have the same in-person opportunities to connect and bond the way in-office teams do. But the lack of a physical workplace doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to bring a team together.
Let’s look at how your organization can build stronger, more connected remote teams through virtual icebreakers.
Table of contents: Fun icebreaker questions and virtual team bonding activities
- Why virtual icebreakers are important
- Best practices for virtual team bonding
- 20 fun icebreaker questions
- More virtual team building activities
- 8 bonus virtual team building activities
Ready to start bringing your distributed team together even if they’re spread out across the country or even the world? Let’s go!
Why virtual icebreakers are important
When kicking off a new project or job, it’s important to get to know your duties — and the team you’ll be working with.
In an office setting, you have opportunities to get to know your new colleagues and partners. You might grab coffee, sit together at lunch, or chat in the minutes leading into or ending a meeting. But these interactions don’t happen as naturally in virtual workplaces. A Buffer survey found that 52% of employees felt less connected to their co-workers after shifting to remote work.
They are a warm way to introduce new teammates and build immediate rapport. They give team members an opportunity to talk about topics outside of work, have shared experiences, and get to know each other on a personal level.
Best practices for virtual team bonding
While fun icebreaker questions are a great way to initiate team bonding, they can have the opposite effect when done incorrectly.
To make sure your virtual team bonding leads to positive outcomes, follow these best practices.
Change up the format
Icebreakers are a good way to kick off a call with new team members, but think about other times when you can use virtual team building activities. You may want to start meetings with a brief bonding moment as well as schedule sessions for teams to have more time to chat through virtual happy hours, coffee breaks or lunch sessions.
Turn your cameras on
Whether or not your organization requires cameras for all meetings, turn them on for icebreakers and virtual team building activities. Getting to see teammates’ faces creates a stronger initial bond, and it leads to more natural conversation between groups as physical cues can be included in the communication.
Assign an agenda and a facilitator
Don’t launch into virtual team bonding activities without a plan. Create an agenda and give your team a heads up of what is going to be expected of them. Assign a facilitator to lead the meeting, keep the conversation flowing, and avoid awkward silences.
Ensure icebreaker questions and activities are inclusive
When creating an agenda for icebreakers, consider the diverse makeup of your team. Recognize cultural backgrounds, preferences, abilities and any potential challenges employees might face in participating in virtual activities — and make sure all activities are accessible to all individuals.
Match activities to your team size and unique qualities
As you consider potential virtual team bonding activities, choose icebreaker activities that align with the size of your team, the purpose of the meeting, or your industry. For example, if you have 15 team members at a meeting, don’t start with an icebreaker question that requires a five-minute answer from each person. Match the team building activities to the dynamics and size of your group.
Team bonding activities will be more effective if your team enjoys participating in them. You don’t want the activities to be something team members dread. Pay attention to the types of activities your team wants, and seek feedback so you can align with what your team finds interesting and enjoyable.
20 fun icebreaker questions
For your next team bonding, use some of these icebreaker questions to keep team morale up and help build bonds with one another. These are some of our favorite insightful and funny questions to get the conversation started.
- Do you love working from home or would you rather be in the office? Is there a balance of both that you like best?
- Are you an early bird or night owl?
- You have your own late night talk show — who do you invite as your first guest?
- Say you’re independently wealthy and don’t have to work, what would you do with your time?
- What sport would you compete in if you were in the Olympics?
- You can have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what is it?
- If you were being introduced at an event, what would your entrance song be?
- What’s something on your desk (or around your home office) that helps you through the workday?
- Which do you prefer, oceans or mountains? Why?
- What’s your favorite thing to make for dinner?
- What’s a recent work accomplishment you’re proud of?
- What’s the most unexpected thing that could appear on your screen while on video chat?
- What emoji best represents how you feel today? Why?
- What’s a TV show you think is underrated?
- What’s the last book you read? Why would you recommend it to others?
- What’s your go-to comfort food or snack?
- What’s your favorite way to unwind and relax after a busy week?
- Do you prefer to travel to new places or revisit your favorite destinations? Why?
- If you could have any animal as a pet (regardless of practicality), what would it be?
- If you had a time machine, would you go to the past or the future? Why?
Use these exact questions or use them to inspire fun icebreaker questions of your own.
More virtual team building activities
Icebreakers are just one way to help your team connect and get to know each other. Here are a few other questions, activities and events that can turn an ordinary meeting into an opportunity for team bonding.
Would You Rather?
“Would you rather” questions are a fun way to get conversations started in an interesting way. Give your team two options and then follow up by asking them, “Why?” to get more insights into their thinking. Here are some great questions to learn about your fellow coworkers:
- Would you rather lose the ability to read or lose the ability to speak?
- Would you rather spend the rest of your life with a sailboat as your home or an RV as your home?
- Would you rather be a superhero or the world’s best chef?
- Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors or to the future to meet your descendants?
- Would you rather give up your smartphone or your computer?
Two Truths and a Lie
In this team building activity, each person writes down two true facts about themselves and one lie, and then people guess what the person’s lie is. Once the answer is revealed, team members are able to follow up and build connections based on the crazy statements.
Fun fact: Simpplr uses this team bonding activity in new-hire introductions to learn something cool about new teammates.
Add a little competition to your team building activities by playing a few rounds of trivia. Present your own trivia or connect to virtual games like Online Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Play as individuals, or assign teams to work together to share knowledge and win prizes.
Ask your team to provide their favorite recipe and invite team members to try them. Start a conversation around the recipes by inviting team members to share their experience making the dish, any adjustments they made, and how they liked the food.
Share a photo
Invite your team to share a photo of something that offers a window into their life. Without invading privacy, ask employees to post a photo or share it during a virtual meeting. Some ideas of what to share include their:
- Office space
- View out the window
- Favorite item on desk
Book or movie club
Give your team a topic of conversion by starting a book or movie club. Pick a movie or book of the month and then offer a time to discuss it amongst team members. Come to the meeting with four to five questions to get the conversation started.
Play a game
Teams can have a shared experience even if they are located hundreds of miles apart. Find online games that allow your team to participate from wherever they are. Virtual games can make teams feel like they are sitting right next to each other and inspire friendly competition between employees. Check out this list of 24 virtual games for ideas.
Virtual working session
Virtual team building activities often center around topics outside of work, but there can also be value in having online sessions focused on work. Schedule virtual work sessions where team members join a call, discuss an initial task, and then work together to complete it.
Build stronger virtual teams
Just because your team doesn’t share the same physical space doesn’t mean they can’t build bonds that improve both their professional output and their personal experience.
Use team building exercises like fun icebreaker questions and virtual team bonding activities to help individuals feel more connected to their team and their work.
Request a demo to learn more about how Simpplr’s modern intranet can help your organization set up communication channels that improve employee engagement, promote team building, and lead to better employee experiences.
This article includes content originally contributed by Hani Khan.