(Actually) Fun Virtual Icebreakers for Remote Teams & Meetings

Chris Carnduff
June 7, 2024

When you're working remotely, it's important to find ways to connect with your team. While video chats and conference calls are a great way to stay connected, they can often be a little bit...stuffy. That's where virtual icebreakers come in.

At CoffeePals, we know a thing or two about breaking the ice and warming up to your fellow colleagues. And in this blog post, we're going over seven fun virtual icebreakers that you can use with your remote team or at your next meeting.

Ready? Let's break some ice.

What are virtual icebreakers?

Virtual icebreakers are activities or games that you can do with your company online. They're designed to help people get to know each other better and build relationships, all while having a little bit of fun.

Many HR managers and executives use virtual icebreakers to encourage more online meetings and better lead remote teams by sparking engagement and collaboration.

Why are virtual icebreakers important?

It's frighteningly easy to feel disconnected from your team when working remotely. And when you don't feel connected to your team, it can impact your virtual communication, work performance, and career satisfaction.

96% of employees said they feel team bonding positively impacts their relationships with colleagues – and another 95% said it benefits their collaboration.

That's why virtual icebreakers are so important. By taking just a few minutes to do an icebreaker at the beginning, you can have a more productive virtual meeting by helping everyone feel more in touch and engaged. And that can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your team's productivity and morale.

Doing icebreakers right: Five quick tips

  • Don't do icebreakers every meeting – If you do icebreakers at every single meeting, people will start to dread them. Do them sparingly, and only when it feels natural. Instead, you can build better team rapport by promoting friendly conversation in the community channels with the Coffee Maker feature on CoffeePals, where the bot posts a fun, thought-provoking question for people to discuss throughout the week (you can choose the frequency).
  • Got a meeting with more than 10 people? Try using breakout roomsBreakout rooms are a great way to keep large groups from getting overwhelmed. Plus, they'll give people a chance to bond in smaller groups. CoffeePals automatically matches colleagues across different groups, teams, or time zones with cross-group matching, so its randomized selection ensures that everyone has a chance to speak to different people.
  • Be sensitive & thoughtful to all participants – you want to choose icebreakers that fit your team's personality, size, and demographics. For example, avoid any icebreakers that might make introverts feel uncomfortable or outnumbered.
  • Have backup questions ready – If an icebreaker isn't going over well, have a few backup questions in your pocket to help get the conversation flowing. If they can't think of anything good that happened last week, ask, “What do you hope to accomplish this week?" Watch their tone and facial expressions. If they seem uncomfortable, move on. Need help with thinking what to talk about CoffeePals? CoffeePals comes ready with a large collection of fun, friendly, and thought-provoking discussion topics that automatically post in your Teams channel.
  • Know when to move on – In person, it's easy to tell when an icebreaker has run its course. But online, it can be harder to tell when people are ready to move on. As a general rule of thumb, give people about 2-3 minutes to answer each question. If the conversation starts to drag, move on to the next question.

1. This, or that?

This icebreaker is great if you have a large team that isn't very close yet and you want something that won't make them uncomfortable. It's a quick and easy way to help people learn more about each other's preferences.

To play, simply go around the panel and have each person answer a series of “this or that” questions. For example:

  • Coffee or tea?
  • Dog or cat?
  • Netflix or Hulu?
  • Beer or wine?
  • Summer or winter?

You get the gist. After each person answers, you can ask them to explain why they made that choice. This is a great way to engage your remote employees and get them to learn more about each other.

2. Soup, Salad or Sandwich

Soup, Salad or Sandwich is a great way to get people involved and chatting. The idea of the game is to categorize different food into one of the three categories. You wouldn’t believe it but everyone on has a strong opinion on whether a food is a soup, salad or sandwich!

To play, get a list of food items to categorize. Go around the room and have each person categorize a food item into one of the three categories. For example:

Host to Participant 1: “What is a pizza?”

Participant 1: “I believe it is a sandwich because you eat it with your hands.”

Participant 2: “No way it’s a sandwich because it doesn't have a bun!”

This is a great icebreaker because everyone loves food and the justifications can be really funny. The game works best when you pick foods that might fall into different categories. This should stir up (pun intended) some strong opinions!

3. Song on repeat

Who doesn't listen to music? Have employees bond over their love of music and get them to learn more about each other's tastes.

To play, have everyone go to their favorite music streaming platform and choose one song that they've been really into lately. Then, have everyone share their song with the group and explain why they chose it. This is a great way to get people talking about their favorite music and why they like it.

Plus, it's a great way to introduce everyone to new music that they might not have heard before. Just make sure you have an open and welcoming work culture and environment to pull this off, because some may naturally feel a bit timid or embarrassed to share their tunes.

4. 'Tell us which city you're in without telling us which city you're in'

This one is an absolute gem for remote and distributed teams because it takes the factor of distance from something "negative" to a positive learning opportunity about each other's culture and homes.

The premise is simple: go around the room and have each person share one distinctive thing about the city they're in without actually telling us which city they are in. By saying something your city is known for, the challenge is to see who can recognize the actual place.

For example, if you're from Las Vegas, you might say, "My city is known for its famous people, huge casinos, and world-class entertainment." See if anyone can guess which city you're in! If you're from New York City, you might say, "Another name for my city is "The Big Apple" and its known for all the high-flying business tycoons."

This is a great way to get people working across different time zones to talk about their cities and homes without feeling like they're being interrogated. If your team is all over the world, or from lesser-known cities, then feel free to broaden it by having people describe their state or country.

fun virtual icebreakers

5. 'If you could have any superpower, what would it be?'

This icebreaker is great for sparking creativity and imagination. It's also a great way to get people talking about what they would do if they had superpowers.

To play, have everyone go around the room and share what superpower they would want to have if they could have any superpower in the world. Then, have them explain why they chose that particular superpower.

For example, someone might say they want the power of flight because they've always wanted to travel the world and see all the different sights. Or, someone might say they want the power of invisibility so they can explore places without being seen.

This is a great way to get people talking about their hopes, dreams, and what they would do if they had superpowers. It's also effective for sparking some creative thinking.

6. Two truths and a lie

This is a classic icebreaker to get to know people. The premise is simple: each person goes around the room and shares three things about themselves, two of which are true and one of which is a lie. Then, the rest of the group has to guess which one is the lie.

For example, someone might say, "I have a fear of heights, I'm allergic to dogs, and I've never been out of the country." The group then has to guess which one is the lie.

This is a smart way to get people talking about themselves and their interests so everyone can learn more about each other without the boring introductions.

7. Play 'guess the background' during the video call

Virtual meetings pushed us to go live on video from our homes. Many remote workers decide to use a green screen background for some privacy or professionalism. Well, now you can make something fun out of the new normal.

To play, have everyone turn on their video and choose a funny or interesting background beforehand. Then, have everyone go around the room and guess what the background is – or where it's from.

Some ideas:

  • A picture of a favorite vacation
  • Places they'd like to visit
  • Famous landmarks
  • Your childhood home
  • An inside joke (works best with closer teams who have been working together for a while)
  • Their favorite meal (guess where it's from and what it's called)
  • A scene from a movie they love

All in all, it's a great way to get people to laugh and have some fun with their coworkers – even if they are only virtual.

Meet different colleagues spontaneously with CoffeePals

Icebreakers don't always have to be a company-wide coordinated virtual activity – especially if you're a larger organization with different departments that don't usually meet up.

That’s why many successful remote companies use CoffeePals to connect with different colleagues during times that work best for them. You can choose to have a one-on-one chat or join a group chat with up to 4 people. Plus, there are tons of interesting CoffeeMaker topics (virtual icebreaker questions) posted in the app to help start conversation.

So if you're looking for a way to meet new colleagues and get to know them better, try it out today.

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