5 Virtual Meeting Icebreakers for Distributed Teams

by in Best Practices, Mobility

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, companies globally have implemented mandatory work-from-home policies for their entire workforce. Without in-person interactions, it can be hard for coworkers to connect and get to know one another. New members of distributed teams may feel especially isolated and disconnected from their coworkers during this time of uncertainty. Fortunately, modern technology makes it easy to bring distributed teams together and connect face to face. All you need to do is hop on a video call to get started. In this blog, we provide five fun and simple virtual icebreaker activities you can do with your remote team members to boost morale, help employees feel more connected to one another and build team camaraderie.

Lady using her laptop for a conference call with her dog is sitting in her lap

What Are Virtual Icebreakers?

Virtual icebreakers are team-building exercises using video conferencing to help coworkers connect, get to know one another and improve communication. These exercises are especially helpful for teams with new remote workers who are located in different geographical areas. The face-to-face bonding can improve team morale and help coworkers feel more comfortable working together.

5 Virtual Icebreakers Your Remote Team Will Love

Taking the time to get to know your coworkers helps build stronger bonds and positively contributes to the team’s overall success. At the start of a meeting, especially if any attendees are new to the company, take a few minutes for an icebreaker activity to loosen everyone up, break down barriers and get everyone on the same page. You may also want to dedicate an entire meeting to an icebreaker activity to really help your team get to know one another and add a little levity in their day. When teams know one another well, it makes working together easier and boosts productivity. Here are five virtual icebreakers you can use with your team during your next meeting.

1. 2 truths and a lie

This one is simple: Ask each participant to write down three statements about themselves, where two statements are true and one is a lie. Then everyone else will vote for which statement they think is the lie. Since teams may be distributed or remote, each participant should send their statements via whatever chat tool the team is using, and the rest of the team can “like” or react to the statement they think is a lie. Once everyone has voted, the correct answers will be revealed, and the chat will be opened to any follow-up questions or discussions. This type of icebreaker ensures participation from everyone involved and allows for some fun and creativity.

2. A picture of your desk

Many remote workers like to share what their work environments look like since their coworkers may not have the opportunity to see their setups. By showing off your space, you can start friendly conversations about how you like to work and provide helpful tips for others who are new to remote work.

3. Virtual coffee talk

Setting aside time to chat about non-work-related topics over a coffee (or other beverage) parallels the coffee chat that typically takes place in the office kitchen or common area in the mornings or during a midafternoon break. These chats should be used as an opportunity to learn about your teammates’ hobbies or interests that wouldn’t otherwise be learned during a typical meeting.

4. Passion presentations

Each week, an employee will talk about something they are passionate about. Passion presentations are a fun way to learn more about coworkers and what they like to do outside of work. They also open the door for further conversation and relationship-building, especially if there are any shared interests among the group. 

5. Favorite things

Name or show your favorite thing from wherever you’re working. Maybe it’s your dog, maybe it’s your coffee mug or maybe it’s the beach when working abroad! Whatever it is, make sure it’s truly a favorite of yours so your coworkers can learn something new about you. You may find out you have a lot in common with someone on your team. 

5 Quick Icebreaker Questions

You may not have time for an entire virtual icebreaker activity. Here are quick icebreaker questions you can ask at the beginning of your video conference call to help coworkers get to know one another and warm-up participants. 

  • If you could make a documentary about anything, what would it be?
  • What is your favorite guilty pleasure?
  • What single event has had the biggest impact on your life?
  • What childish thing do you still do as an adult?
  • What’s something you’ve done recently that you’re proud of? 

Tips for Great Icebreakers

Virtual icebreakers should be lighthearted, fun and unrelated to work. When done right, they encourage engagement and collaboration among teammates and foster a sense of community. To ensure that your ice breakers are effective, follow the four tips below.

1. Use reliable video conferencing software

With distributed teams, the only way to connect face to face is with a reliable video conferencing solution. Lifesize is focused on delivering a consistent and seamless user experience that you can trust to work the first time, every time.

In response to COVID-19, Lifesize is offering free, unlimited video conferencing service to all global businesses for six months. Our goal is to support businesses as best we can during this difficult time and keep the world working.

2. Plan accordingly for time zones

No one wants to be in a meeting at 10 PM, so be mindful of time zones when scheduling meetings, especially if your team is spread across the globe. This can be a challenge, but using a tool like a time zone converter can help find a time that is suitable for everyone.

3. Have a meeting leader

Meetings don’t always go as planned, and when there are multiple people participating, it’s easy for the conversation to get off-topic. Designating one person as the meeting leader will help keep the meeting focused, productive and on schedule.

4. Don’t go over 30 minutes

Make the meeting brief so people can get back to work without losing too much time or productivity. This is where having a meeting leader comes in handy. The leader should schedule a 30-minute meeting and be in charge of keeping the meeting focused and within the scheduled time frame.

The Benefits of Using Virtual Ice Breakers 

A strong, well-connected team is the foundation of a successful organization. Virtual icebreakers can be used as team-building exercises to foster trust and camaraderie necessary to achieve that success. 

To get more comfortable with your coworkers 

It’s important to feel comfortable with your coworkers since you work with them on a daily basis. The more comfortable you are with one another, the easier it is to work together and the more positive your work environment will be. A comfortable work environment also opens the door for more collaboration and creativity that might not have existed otherwise, which will lead to a more productive and successful team.

To understand background

Are your coworkers early birds or night owls? Do they drink coffee or tea? Knowing the answer to simple questions like these can give you a deeper insight into who they are and can help you connect on a more personal level. These questions can also give insight into their workstyle, which is important for understanding and working together.

To do something non-work related

There’s a lot of stress every day at work, so it may be nice to break the ice before diving in. A quick 15- to 30-minute icebreaker helps melt some stress and open up a friendly conversation about things outside of the workplace while also providing an opportunity to check in with each other.

Conclusion 

When you start a new job in a traditional office setting, there is typically some form of introduction, icebreaker or get-to-know-you game, so why should it be any different for remote employees? Getting to know and bonding with your teammates is crucial for successfully working together. The fact that remote employees do not physically meet face to face is even more of a reason to hold virtual icebreakers. These interactions help distributed teams get to know one another and overcome the geographical divide.