Virtual icebreaker games are a great way to break the tension and get your team in on the fun. Whether you’re looking for an activity that can be done while everyone is remotely located, or one tailored specifically to local teams, there’s something here for every need!
This post will introduce you to a variety of virtual icebreakers and team-building activities that can be used in the workplace. Virtual icebreakers are helpful because they allow groups to get acquainted without all the awkward silences. They also help build trust, communication skills, and relationships between members of a group. These exercises make for a great way to start off the workday or kick off a meeting!
When to Use a Virtual Icebreaker Activity
When you want to break the ice with a group of people, try using an interactive activity. This can help get everyone talking and feeling comfortable around each other before they start doing normal activities.
If you’re looking for fun ways to introduce yourself or your company when meeting new folks at a conference, use one of these virtual icebreakers! These are great because it helps every person feel involved as well as gets them chatting about what their interests are right away which is always nice if we don’t know anyone else in attendance yet.
1.Virtual in-meeting bingo.
If you need an icebreaker that can also be a contest, look no further than an in-meeting game of virtual bingo. By doing bingo throughout your meeting, you can ensure your employees are paying attention and staying engaged. This will also help normalize the sometimes embarrassing things that happen and make employees feel more comfortable.
How it’s done
Create bingo cards ahead of time listing common situations that happen during virtual meetings.
Here are some virtual bingo ideas to get you started:
- Pet in the background
- Baby crying in the background
- Dog barking in the background
- A person in the background
- Someone forgets to turn off mute
- Someone forgets to turn on mute
- Someone loses connection
- You can also include things your employees can mark off right away:
- Someone is wearing a hat
- Someone is wearing tie-dye
- Someone is wearing a sports team’s logo
- Someone’s hairstyle has changed (if your group knows each other well enough)
Before the meeting, send each employee their card and let them know you’ll explain what it’s for at the meeting.
When your meeting starts, ask your employees to have their bingo cards ready. Explain that as the meeting goes on, they should mark off whenever a situation on their card happens. The first one to get five in row types “BINGO” in the chat to win.
2. Online Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Rock, paper, scissors is a classic game because it’s fun but still very easy to play. Bringing it into the virtual world can help your remote employees feel a little more connected before your virtual meeting starts.
How it’s done?
Using the website rpsgame.org, your employees can play together online. First, assign each employee a partner and designate one to be the lead. The lead will go to the website to get started. They will be given a link to share with their partner. Once they have their link, they can share it privately with their partner in the chat and play away. The game continues until one player has won three rounds. Did you know that research has shown one-third of remote workers don’t get any face time with their teams? Missing out on that face-to-face connection (even virtually) can be detrimental to employee engagement and team connections.
Virtual team building is how you can help remote employees foster connections and strengthen relationships. Similar to in-person team building, virtual team-building activities can improve collaboration and communication while helping employees feel more connected.
3. Corporate spirit week
Do you remember having spirit week at school? Everyone was so excited to dress up and try to come up with the best outfit for the day. Similar to spirit week held at many schools, you can hold a virtual corporate spirit week to help your employees build a sense of camaraderie. During spirit week, encourage your management teams to hold themed meetings. Invite employees to submit pictures of their own spirit day outfits and select a small group of winners.
Here are a few spirit day ideas for work to get your creative juices flowing:
- 80s day
- Movie day
- Fairy tale day
- Animal day
- Book character day
- Favorite color day
- Beach day
- Corporate colors day
If you have too many ideas to decide, consider letting your employees have a say. Send out your top 10 themes in a TINYpulse survey and ask your employees to rank each one.
4. Air guitar competition.
Not all of us have the amazing guitar talent some were blessed with, but we all love to pretend. Hosting a virtual air guitar competition (live or recorded) evens the playing field. You can let employees vote on the best performances or just keep it for fun.
Working remotely can sometimes cause the days to blur together. A daily just-for-fun TINYpulse survey can help break up the monotony and help your employees feel more connected. Every day, send your employees a different fun question to answer. Publish your results the next day and allow your employees to comment on the results. When you’re creating your questions, just make sure to keep it fun and avoid political or divisive questions.
Here are a few sample team-building questions to ask:
- “Does pineapple belong on a pizza?”
- “What’s the best 80s movie?”
- “Pepsi or Coke?”
- “Domino’s or Pizza Hut?”
6. Box it!
How many times did you order something online this month? If you’re like most people, it was probably more than once. With COVID-19 still a concern, more people are ordering online than ever before. That also means boxes are stacking up.Instead of letting those boxes go to waste, why not use them for remote team building? Create a competition using boxes to see who can create the best creation out of boxes. A car, a house—the sky’s the limit. If you can encourage your employees to get their kids and pets involved, even better.
7. Create a team song and music video
Who doesn’t love a good musical? By creating your own team song, you can help your employees connect about their shared experiences and values in a fun way. The first step to creating your own team song is deciding on a beat. Get your employees together virtually to select which popular beat they want to use. You could use anything from Justin Bieber to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Just make sure it’s catchy then give your employees a collaborative document to add and revise lyrics. Once you’re done, ask each employee to contribute to the video and use your team members’ individual contributions to create a team music video.
8. Virtual awards ceremony
Awards banquets and parties give you the chance to recognize your employees for a job well done. However, in this virtual awards ceremony, you aren’t exactly recognizing their hard work. Instead, come up with a handful of fun and kind of silly awards for your team. You can have your employees vote on each award or decide who gets them yourself. Just make sure everyone’s a winner and the awards are fun — and nothing is hurtful.
Here are some fun employee award examples to get you started:
- Fashionista: COVID has changed many of our dressing expectations. This award is for your one employee who always looks pulled together, Zoom meeting and all.
- The Fixer: Technology can challenge even the best of us. This one is for that employee who’s always ready to step in and help out when someone’s screen isn’t presenting or the audio won’t connect.
- Team Spirit: Is there one employee who is always excited to participate in your team-building activities? Or maybe, they even come up with some of their own. If so, this is the award for them.
- Mr./Ms. Mute: It’s hard to master the mute button. This is for your employee who just can’t seem to remember. Just keep your presentation kind-spirited and not come across as shaming. Mute happens.
9. Gardening Challenge
Do your employees have a green thumb? Or do they struggle to keep a succulent alive? This team-building challenge will give your employees the opportunity to show off their gardening skills and bond over shared gardening failures. To start your own gardening challenge, decide what you want your employees to grow. Aim for something that can be grown indoors to make it easier for your employees. Avocados or carrots are two great plants to consider. You could also give your employees a head start by purchasing a plant and having it shipped to their house. This will help even the playing field for beginners. Throughout your challenge, ask employees to share photos of their plant’s growth and provide resources to help them. In the end, the employee whose plant has grown the most gets the green thumb award.
10. Virtual book club.
Your virtual book club can be whatever you want it to be. Whether your members are solving mysteries or learning new leadership skills, they will feel more connected as a team and be able to spend a little downtime reading. To get started, pick a genre for your book club to focus on, or ask your employees to vote on a genre. You could also keep the genre open and have a different employee select a book each month. Let your book club members know what the book of the month is and give them a few weeks to read it. You could even provide inexpensive eBook copies of the book if your budget allows. At the end of the month, get your members together to discuss the book and compare their perspectives.
11. Health and wellness challenges.
Everyone loves a good challenge. Group challenges bring employees together and help them connect with shared goals. To create your own virtual health and wellness challenges, set a fitness goal as a team — such as 90 days of movement — and give each member a way to track their progress online. You can also provide a virtual space for your employees to post updates about their progress, celebrate their personal accomplishments, and share resources with each other. Throughout your challenge, have drawings for small prizes and a larger, group award if you meet your goal as a team.
12. Remote scavenger hunts.
Scavenger hunts are always a fun team-building activity. By taking it remotely, your employees will also get the benefit of seeing what their coworkers have laying around the house. For this one, create a list of interesting but common-enough items for your employees to look for in their houses, cars, and garages. The only rule is it has to be theirs; no borrowing from the neighbor. To make it more interesting and help employees bond more, you could create a more challenging scavenger hunt and have employees team up to complete it.
Here are some virtual scavenger hunt ideas you could use:
- A non-working remote
- A wilting plant
- Multiples of the same shirt
- A cracked coffee cup
- A container of used cooking oil
To complete the scavenger hunt, ask employees to take a picture or video of each item. The first one to round up all the items wins.
13. Virtual trivia.
As trivia master, your job is to host a virtual trivia night. That means selecting the right questions, getting teams together, facilitating trivia rounds, and keeping track of the score. When you do a company virtual trivia night, you have the opportunity to mix fun questions with company-related questions. Try to keep a good balance and use a variety of questions.
Some example company-related trivia questions to ask include:
- “When was [company name] founded?”
- “What is the most recent product or service we launched?”
- “Who was the president of our company in 1995?”
When you kick off trivia night, be sure to introduce yourself and explain how trivia night works. For each round, you’ll ask 10 questions. First, ask the question then send teams into breakout rooms. No Googling allowed! Have someone from the team document their answers. After 45 seconds, close the breakout groups then continue to ask the next question. Once all questions have been answered, give teams two minutes to finalize answers then have them return to report their final responses. Score the team’s answers and repeat for round two.
14. Virtual karaoke in Zoom.
Ready to let off some steam and share some laughs as a team? Virtual karaoke is just what you need. Using Zoom, you can host karaoke night with your employees. To do this, first, send out an open-ended employee survey asking your team what their preferred karaoke songs are. Once you have your song list ready, you can use Watch2Gether to find and assemble your list.
When your list is ready, create a Zoom meeting invite and send out the invite with a link to your Watch2Gether. Have your employees stay on mute unless it is their turn to perform and use the chat to share the line-up and give each other praise for their performance.
15. Photo contest.
Photo contests are a fun way to break up the day-to-day work and support team-building virtually. You can either do a contest as a one-off or tie it to another team-building activity like a gardening challenging or photostream. Just make sure you provide clear rules and instructions in advance.
16. Baking competition.
Baking can be fun (and delicious). Friendly competition is also nice. So what better than a baking competition? To hold your own virtual baking competition, select a theme and ask your employees to create something that embodies it. From cakes to cookies, there’s no end to what you can create. For the best results, have your team share pictures of their creation and send a short employee survey so everyone can vote for their favorite.
17. Virtual movie club.
Similar to a virtual book club, a virtual movie club will also give your employees a shared experience they can connect over. Once you select the movie of the month, you can either ask employees to watch it on their own or — depending on bandwidth — try to watch it together as a club, You can meet afterward to discuss what was surprising, key messages, and more. To make it even more fun, you could ask your employees to dress up as a character from the movie and share why they choose that character.
18. Recipe exchange.
Food brings people together. With a recipe exchange, your employees can connect as they try new dishes. To host a recipe exchange, invite your employees to share a recipe that’s meaningful to them. Then assign a recipe to each team member and give them a week to test it out. When the week is over, host an informal virtual meeting and ask employees to share the history behind the recipe they shared and what they thought of the recipe they tried.
19. Alien makeover
Aliens. Makeovers. What?! A makeover is always fun. But it’s pretty difficult in a virtual environment. Instead, why not partner up employees and have them give each other an alien makeover? For this, partner up your employees and ask them to imagine their partner as an alien. They can depict their alien partner via drawing, molding, electronically, or however else they want. Providing an artistic outlet can help relieve stress and give your employees a unique way to connect with each other.
20. The weirdest thing.
This team-building activity is all about vulnerability. Have your employees share the weirdest thing you own. Some may have an ant farm. Some may share their firstborn baby teeth. The idea is that what they share is unique to them and lets their team get a glimpse into their personal life.