Remote Team Building and Collaboration
Virtual icebreakers are fun activities you can use to warm up conversations among a group of individuals. They are excellent for encouraging discussions among employees who work remotely and communicate with each other through online platforms like zoom.
Virtual icebreakers are an excellent method to get around one of the most challenging aspects of managing a remote team: a lack of opportunity for team bonding. Walking over to someone’s workstation for a short catch-up or a casual talk over the “water cooler” is no longer an option. Building rapport, establishing communication channels and getting to know their coworkers take time when employees work from home.
This article will explain virtual icebreakers and when to use them, how they can benefit your team, and look at some examples that you could try out.
What Are Virtual Icebreakers?
Icebreakers are activities that can break down the workspace barriers by bringing together everyone throughout your organization’s departments and hierarchy. They are an excellent way to build that initial comfort level among participants and get them talking and laughing.
Virtual ice breakers have the same purpose, but they are geared towards virtual collaboration via a video call or webchat for teams working remotely.
Why Remote Teams Should Use Icebreakers
Working side by side with coworkers in a shared office space is unifying. Coworkers that work alongside each other benefit from collective participation in team-building activities that encourage friendships and trust.
Remote teams may acquire the habit of focusing solely on work duties, denying themselves the opportunity to create relationships and develop effective work patterns that naturally occur when a level of personal understanding is achieved. Virtual team ice breakers can help break down communication barriers, promote creativity and cooperation, and reduce feelings of isolation.
The CEO of Virtual Distance International (VDI), Karen Sobel Lojeski, explains that when virtual teams fail, employers frequently believe that geographic constraints are the root cause and focus on measures to address that issue. However, statistics suggest that virtual distance is the fundamental problem. It alters how individuals interact with one another.
Thus, incorporating new ways of virtual team-building can ultimately boost productivity and motivation.
The Best Time to Use Virtual Icebreakers
Virtual ice breakers may be used at the start of every zoom conversation, but a few situations where they are most beneficial include:
- Suppose your team members operate in various areas and cannot meet in person. In that case, virtual icebreakers can assist them in developing the types of connections and rapport that a team situated in an office would naturally create.
- Perhaps you’ve had to bring teams from various companies together due to a corporate or departmental merger. Initially, there may be mistrust of the “other” group, but a virtual ice breaker may help bring the two teams together, build trust, and encourage collaboration.
- An ice breaker may also be an excellent method to introduce new team members casually and enjoyably. They allow team members to learn more about their new teammates so that they may begin building new relationships straight away.
When to Avoid Virtual Icebreakers
The following are some situations where you should avoid using icebreakers:
- When employees are under pressure because of increasing workloads, using icebreakers will likely annoy them.
- If a senior manager joins the call, it’s more important to recognize that their time is likely limited, and quickly getting to the point might be a better idea!
- Employees who are already in regular contact with each other might view the activity as condescending or a waste of time.
Virtual Icebreaker Questions
Ask an icebreaker question to each attendee. These can assist in sparking vibrant discussions and even debates. Most importantly, they will allow individuals to get to know one another and promote communication and team building.
The following are some excellent icebreaker questions you can ask:
|What was the title of your first job?||What is your favorite sport?|
|What is the origin of your name?||Take a photo from your window and ask people to guess where you are.|
|What was your first pet’s name?||How is the weather where you are?|
|What did you accomplish this week that made you proud?||Which color is your favorite?|
|What new information have you gained this week?||Show me anything on your desk and tell me a story about it?|
|I look like __ [fill in the blank] when I dance.||What was the most recent movie that made you cry?|
|What flavor would you be if you were an ice cream?||When you were little, did you have any imaginary friends?|
|What does your environment look like?||I look like __ [fill in the blank] when I dance.|
|What is your favorite guilty pleasure?||What kind of music do you like?|
|Who would portray you if someone created a movie about your life?||What is your favorite perfume?|
|What’s your favorite meal or beverage?||Which of the following is your favorite movie or book?|
|Which season is your favorite, and why?||What is your favorite vacation destination?|
Virtual Icebreaker Games
Here, we have compiled some of the best virtual icebreakers from various sources:
Two Lies and a Truth
Ask all your participants to introduce themselves and share two facts and one lie about themselves. Then, ask the rest of the group to vote on which of the facts is a lie.
This activity aids in initiating group interaction and getting to know one another as individuals.
The idea for this icebreaker comes from Nancy White’s online facilitation course.
Instruct participants to collaborate on the creation of a tale. The rule is that everyone is limited to three words. They may post again if at least one other player has posted three words. At the end of the activity, you may summarize the entire tale or even read it out and publish it as an audio or video file.
Same and Different
Divide the participants into groups and ask each participant to find something that the group has in common; for example, everyone has been to London. Then, ask participants to find unique things about each person in the group; for example, person A plays soccer, person B speaks Arabic, and person C was born in Egypt.
The time machine
Another very good icebreaker is the time machine question. Ask the following questions to every participant in your team: “If you found a time machine and could travel forward or backward in time:
What would you do?
Which time period, if any, would you go back to? Why?
Who would you choose to meet if you could go back in time, and why?
Would you like to visit and return or stay?
Using Online Whiteboards for Icebreaking Sessions
Online Whiteboards are an excellent tool for virtual icebreaking sessions. They help you and your team visualize the activities to make the collaboration more enjoyable. You can adapt all the icebreaker games given above into Fresco’s online whiteboards and perform them to kickstart your remote meetings.