In the post-pandemic remote and hybrid working culture, getting to know your team could be challenging.
But you also want your department or project teams to know every member to establish a culture of collaborative working.
Here come virtual ice breakers. These games or activities are equally suitable for remote, hybrid, and on-site workers. New and existing employees get to know each other and feel free to work together on projects or tasks.
Continue reading to find some ridiculously effortless virtual ice breakers that you can practice in the workplace, virtual meetings, online classrooms, remote offices, and more.
Remote Work Culture in Post-Pandemic World
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote or working from home was a benefit only a few employees could experience in a company. During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become essential for a business to survive.
But what about the post-pandemic world?
After the pandemic, some digital businesses still choose to work remotely. Because it reduces the overhead cost of operating a company. However, there are risks of remote team management as well.
Despite all the challenges to remote work, some vital market surveys and statistics find that remote work has become a trending culture. You can find some hand-picked examples below:
- According to Findstack, 16% of companies are fully remote, and 40% of businesses have chosen a hybrid working model.
- Another reliable survey data from Owl Labs show that 84% of the surveyed employees in the US prefer remote work even with a salary cut.
- The same Owl Labs survey also says remote employees feel 22% happier than those working on the site.
- Intuition ran a remote work survey among 669 CEOs, and 78% of this group says they are considering remote collaboration as a long-term business operation strategy.
Challenges of Working With Remote Teams
#1. Real-Time Communication
Remote work is asynchronous.
You could text or call a team member for immediate help. But a colleague may not be available instantly. You will need to wait until someone is in the group Slack channel to help.
You can not call the whole team into a meeting suddenly. You need to plan every meeting at least 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time.
#3. Isolated Feeling
Employees usually feel isolated during working hours when working from home. In a brick-and-mortar workplace, you could reach out to other colleagues in person if you are stuck at work. In WFH, such expert help is not conveniently available.
#4. Introducing New Employees
Introducing new employees through Slack messages in the General company or team channel is challenging.
#5. Balancing the Professional and Personal Life
It could be tempting to get into your home life when working from a home office. Alternatively, if you are a workaholic, you will always work on your laptop.
So, balancing work and life activities is also a challenge.
There are various distractions in a home office. Family members are moving around; kids are making noises, pets are trying to get your attention, guests, salespersons, and so on.
Such distractions could easily reduce focus in work.
#7. Administrative Oversight
The business admin team must always jump through many apps, spreadsheets, and emails to manage the workforce.
#8. Time Management
Maintaining time sheets in an extra app, clocking in and out at the right time, reviewing all billed hours, etc., are some extra tasks you need to do.
So, all of the above challenges contribute to the overall company or individual team performance, especially during collaborative work.
Ice Breaker Games to Know Your Remote Coworkers
When it comes to ensuring better teamwork, remote teams need to focus on connections. When your coworkers have a strong bond with each other, the teams will become more productive.
Certain organizations might emphasize individual performance, but that is not as important as a sense of community among the team members.
You may ask, how to develop better connections among teammates, especially when they are located in different remote locations? The answer is ice breakers.
Ice breaker refers to activities and games that help to start conversations among the employees. The aim of these activities is to “break the ice” that might exist between the old employees and new joiners. Once the ice breaks, colleagues can get to know each other better.
An ice breaker is a proven approach to introducing new people to the team members in a fun way. It allows both parties to familiarize themselves with each other and start developing connections.
Departmental and company merger is another occasion when you might want to organize a virtual ice breaker event. As both groups of people will know each other, initial doubts and hesitations will disappear, and a sense of trust will grow.
These virtual ice breakers are the same things, but some via video calls. A wide variety of ice breakers exist, but these mainly belong to three major categories:
No matter which ice breaker method you use, it can be concise or elaborate depending on the time or resources you have for these activities. For example, if you have a short team, asking them questions about themselves or engaging them in games are great ways to break the ice.
If you want to have ice breakers for your virtual team, schedule them at the start of a video conference. However, companies should avoid arranging such events when the meeting is supposed to discuss some crisis.
Benefits of Virtual Ice Breakers
#1. Introducing Team Members
Virtual ice breakers eliminate awkwardness in introducing yourself to the team remotely. Since everyone is introducing themselves during gaming activities, it feels like fun.
#2. Inducting New Employees
In virtual and hybrid work cultures, inducing new joiners can become more fun and engaging. It will also cost you less. You just need to play an ice breaker game using your resources online or by taking the team to a virtual team-building platform.
#3. Creating a Collaborative Atmosphere
Individuals who team up to complete fun activities carry the same spirit to collaborative work. Now that the barrier is gone and you have already played with a team member, it becomes easy to share work ideas and resolutions with the colleague.
#4. Stimulates Creativity
You can spare 10 to 15 minutes for virtual ice breaker games that stimulate creativity in the team members. This practice is effective before you host a brainstorming session to design products, websites, apps, etc.
#5. Team Rapport Building
Team managers can easily build rapport with their teams via virtual ice breaker events. You can mingle with the team less professionally, share personal experiences, and earn their trust.
#6. Communicate Effectively
When you participate in an ice breaker session, you explore the appropriate ways to communicate with different group members. Someone might like a personal approach, while others like professional texts, and so on.
#7. Adapt to a New Team
Virtual ice breakers are highly effective in building trust between teams from different work spectrums.
Also, business managers use this facilitation technique to introduce teams from different companies after a business merger.
Before the ice breaker session, you might have many questions about the other teams. Once the barrier is gone, it is truly easy to trust each other in a new team or company.
As you have gone through the importance of arranging virtual ice breaker events for your remote team, you might be looking for some interesting gaming ideas. We will briefly share some ice breaker activities below:
Two Truths and a Lie Game
This is a popular ice breaker that teams can play virtually. In this game, an employee will tell three statements about him or herself. Of these, two will be true, and one will be a false statement. Other participants have to find out which one is the lie.
Trivia is an ice breaker game that pulls the competitive selves out of people. Even the employees who are shy about creative activities would not hesitate to participate in this game with their hearts out.
This game can be played individually, or you can divide them into multiple teams. Putting new employees with seasoned employees helps in bonding between them.
Tell Us a Knock-Knock Joke
If you want to make the ice breaking events full of fun and laughter, it is time to incorporate some knock-knock jokes. Some of you might think these jokes are for kids, but some are so funny that you can not stop laughing.
In this era of social media, most of us love to share memes. Teams can include this activity in their ice breaking events and ask everyone to share their favorite meme. You can also ask the team to share a meme that describes their personality.
Moreover, if someone is interested in making memes themselves, they could share their memes with the team. Thus, you can also find out who is the creative lot in your team.
If most of your team members own a pet, asking them to share their pet’s photo in the meeting is a great way to break the ice. As someone share the picture, other will ask questions about the pet, like its name, age, habit, and character.
Thus, when multiple team members have the same animal or breed of it as their pet, it only becomes a matter of time before they develop a close bond over this issue.
Virtual Book Club
This activity is different from all other ice breaking tasks and games. It is not a game that you arrange once. Organizations can have regular virtual book club meetings for their employees where people discuss the recent books they read and their feedback on those.
This activity lets one know which of their colleagues have similar book preferences. They can also ask for book suggestions on a particular genre.
This or That Game
This game is quite easy to play, even when the participants are connected virtually. The host can offer two options to the team members and find out which one each of them prefers over the other. The options could be funny, boring, or annoying.
Not many virtual ice breakers are as perfect as this game for a team that operates remotely. Here, employees talk about novel features of their city without revealing the city name, and others have to guess it.
When someone new joins a team, this game would be a lot of fun if the HR does not reveal the city name beforehand.
While trivia includes some serious or interesting questions, riddles can be a fun way to break the ice among teammates. Again, this can be played individually or team-wise.
If your employees reside in various corners of the world, you can ask them to share local riddles and see if others know the answers. Participants can also discuss if some foreign riddles are similar to their local ones.
These days everyone is playing Wordle and sharing their score on social media. But you can also do the same thing in an ice breaker meeting for better team rapport. If your employees play similar games, they can also share their scores in these events.
If you find starting collaborative work or brainstorming challenging as a team manager, you can play any of the above ice breaker games with your team. These are some of the most effective facilitation exercises that break professional barriers and let employees team up.