Workplaces always thrive when everyone knows each other well, but it’s challenging to do that with busy schedules. Consider trying these fun and exciting virtual icebreakers. You and your coworkers can bond in new ways and develop deeper relationships even if everyone works remotely.
What Are Virtual Icebreakers?
Virtual icebreakers are quick virtual team building activities that help team members make personal connections with conversations during video conferences, chat, slack or even over email. They establish easy ways to find things in common with people you may have never met in person. You can use them during meetings, one-on-one discussions, or even instant messages.
Why use an icebreaker?
Finally, stop having a boring chit-chat at the start of calls—no more endless talk about the weather, and, more importantly, build deeper connections with the people on your team.
Virtual icebreakers also come with perks such as:
- Making it easier for introverted people to start or join conversations.
- Finding new topics that wouldn’t usually come up at work.
- Creating memories by laughing during icebreaker conversations or games.
When you feel more comfortable with your coworkers, working on projects or figuring out ways through problems is more effortless. Everyone will have more success by having a little fun.
Remote Work Virtual Icebreakers
Weekly team meetings or one-on-one conferences are about to get much more fun for remote teams. You don’t need to be in the same room to enjoy these icebreakers.
1. Start an emoji check-in
People sometimes feel awkward about chiming in during a meeting because they’re not together in person. Disengaged employees cost businesses $450 and $550 billion annually, so utilizing icebreakers saves companies money and forges better relationships.
Help your team members overcome the fear of public speaking by trying an icebreaker that requires no words (these are great for introverts).
Start every meeting with this challenge:
Put an emoji in chat to describe how you are feeling today!
Mention each person by name while reviewing their emojis to make them feel part of the conversation. They can explain their emojis in the chat or over their microphone. Everyone may be more engaged and communicate in ways that make them feel comfortable.
Pick the PERFECT emoji for your vibe: 45 Emojis You Should Know and Their (Hidden) Meanings
2. Guess that city
Prompt your coworkers to get to know each other better by describing their hometowns or nearest city. The challenge– they can’t say it’s name. Instead, everyone should pick a name, city product, or another notable fact. Your coworkers can pitch ideas while a timer counts down to develop their confidence, communication, and relationships.
3. Pick a Dream Airbnb
Anyone can say where they want to go on vacation, but that’s a standard icebreaker. Change things up by asking everyone to pick an Airbnb or other rental listing and save the link for your upcoming meeting. People can pick cabins, yurts, mansions, or whatever tickles their fancy!
Each team member can visit each presenter’s link while the presenter talks about why they’d stay there. It’ll start conversations about bucket list destinations, vacation activities, and creative rentals like this treehouse in Florida or this modified French cave.
4. Submit a hot take
Hot takes almost always go viral. They’re usually social media posts where someone says an opinion the general public disagrees with. Hot takes can stick with work-friendly opinions, too, like:
- Listening to podcasts is worse than listening to music.
- Pineapple is actually the best pizza topping.
- Spiders are some of the cutest animals.
- Voice memos are better than texts.
Ask your team for their office-appropriate takes before a conference call. They could post in chat about what’s the best cuisine, who’s the worst superhero, or what’s the worst ice cream flavor. Hot takes get everyone talking because they’re mildly controversial and fun. See what everyone comes up with by using them as an icebreaker.
5. Guilty pleasure shows or movies
People always have a favorite TV show or movie. Ask your coworkers what they’ve been binging on a favorite streaming service or seeing at the movie theater. Other coworkers will likely enjoy the same things and chime in excitedly. If you really want to make it fun, ask people to share a show or movie they like but feel a little embarrassed about. This could be a favorite kid’s movie or a trashy reality show.
6. Guess that background photo
Most video conferencing software allows users to change their background pictures to different photos. Send an email reminder before your next meeting to give everyone time to find a new image.
They should look for an image that everyone has to guess. It could be a picture from their last vacation, and everyone has to think of where they were. Maybe your coworkers select backgrounds of places they’d like to visit, the best food they’ve ever had, or a snapshot from their favorite movie. The visual prompts are immediate conversation starters that double as displays of each person’s personality or interests.
Want more ideas for great Zoom backgrounds? Check out our article: 101 Best Zoom Backgrounds to Rock Your Next Meeting (2022)
7. Explain that item
No worries if you don’t have much time before your next team meeting. After everyone enters the meeting room, ask them to grab one item from their desk or office space. Each person will explain the item’s background, why they have it, or why it matters to them. It’s another type of icebreaker that prompts conversations people wouldn’t typically have.
Want to revamp your meetings? Watch our video for the top 20 meeting icebreakers:
8. Find the airport
Send your team a link for the geolocation of a spot in a random city. Ensure it’s a city where none of your coworkers live before giving them 10 minutes to find the airport. Everyone can submit suggestions over chat or mic while the team leader navigates the map. It’s a communication-based team-building exercise that gets everyone warmed up over a silly exercise.
9. Name a commercial jingle
Some commercials run nationally, and others are regional. Your coworkers likely know a few jingles they either love or can’t stand. Ask them which one comes first to their minds. You could even quickly search for the commercial jingles on YouTube so everyone can hear them for a laugh.
10. Pick your best trivia topic
Your team members might attend trivia night in their hometowns or play it with their families. Get everyone to mention a topic they could excel at in a trivia contest. The team will instantly get to know each other, and you can collect topic ideas for a team trivia challenge later in the year.
Large Group Virtual Icebreakers
Creating a solid team bond can be challenging when there are more than a handful of people at your workplace. Use these remote work icebreakers to help everyone get to know each other.
1. Online poll questions
There are numerous websites where you can make a poll and get a private link for it. Your coworkers could answer the survey in real-time during a meeting or before a conference call.
Pick a light-hearted question or two, and everyone will have a blast. Your team might enjoy questions such as:
- Pancakes or waffles?
- Music or podcasts?
- Coffee or tea?
Mention who submitted each answer or group them together to learn more about each other. Try utilizing poll-creation websites like:
Your team can review the results in infographics like colorful piecharts that get everyone talking. Check out this StrawPoll chart to see how your team’s responses could appear in your next meeting:
2. Two truths and a lie
Telling two truths and a lie is a classic icebreaker. Team leaders can collect responses before a meeting and display a few on a slide. Everyone submits their thoughts in chat before the answer gets revealed.
Get everyone started with a practice prompt like:
- I cut my own hair once. My cousin has a twin. I go to yoga twice a week.
The light might be that you only go to yoga once a week. Get creative and have fun while keeping the conversation light.
3. Talk about your heroes
Encourage everyone to reach out to you via email or instant message with one word that describes an office hero they work with or have worked with. The answers could become a word cloud for team motivation.
This is another excellent option for large groups because the words can come from anonymous coworkers. You can prompt them by explaining how your office hero is a specific team member who always meets their deadlines or rocked a presentation last week. Celebrating each team member by name will help them feel like a hero because everyone will cheer on their latest successes.
4. Create office superlatives
Superlatives are always fun because they’re supportive. Ask your team to answer superlatives like:
- Most Likely to Run a Marathon
- Most Likely to Be at a Dog Park on the Weekend
- Most Likely to Publish a Book
Everyone can submit their answers with a web form or in the chat while you’re discussing the potential within each team member.
5. Conference call bingo
Anyone can make a custom bingo card with a five-by-five table in a document or spreadsheet. Fill out every square except the middle one with quick icebreakers, such as:
- Has a fish
- Prefers dark over milk chocolate
- Is left-handed
Share the link or send a copy before your meeting. Ask everyone to turn on their mics or answer in chat when you call out a space that applies to them. The first to check off five in a row wins.
6. Guess who
Get to know each other quickly with a game of Guess Who. Everyone should submit one fact about themselves before your upcoming meeting or call. The attendees have 10 seconds to guess who the fact applies to in the chat before the conference leader reveals the answer.
Prompt everyone’s facts by telling them to submit things like, “I’ve watched Titanic over 10 times” or “I’ve been to more than five theme parks.”
7. Caption pictures
Your team members can display their personalities by captioning a picture on their screens. Set a timer for 30 seconds and review everyone’s submissions by reading through the chat when the time runs out. Amp up the hilarity by picking a meme or two if you’ll caption a group of pictures.
Use The New Yorker’s weekly cartoon contest as inspiration. They recently had this winning caption submitted by a fan:
Your team can do the same thing with a picture or meme as a visual prompt. Ask them to caption it while a timer counts down during your next meeting, or email their captions before the meeting starts. Either way, everyone will have a laugh and show off their creative skills.
8. Select their favorite snacks
A recent study found 59% of adults prefer snacks to meals, so your coworkers are bound to have opinions about their favorite snacks. Ask everyone to submit their top choice or pick one from a list to get everyone talking during your next meeting.
Fun Tip: Want to spice things up? You can be more playful by asking everyone to bring their favorite snacks for the virtual meeting—eating is allowed!
9. Exaggerate the story
Challenge everyone to an icebreaker that stretches their brains. One person should start the game by saying a sentence like, “I’m going to the store.” Each person that follows has to make the most exaggerated statement they can think of. The story might go like this:
- Person 1: I’m going to the store.
- Person 2: I need a UFO.
- Person 3: To win a contest.
- Person 4: Against outer space creatures.
- Person 5: Who only speaks in Morse code.
As your group story continues, it will get more ridiculous and laughable. It’s an easy way to help everyone have fun because there are no stakes or rules.
10. Pick a store
When your coworkers are ready for an icebreaker, ask everyone to imagine themselves as a store in a mall. Which brands or products display their personality? You can go through the list during the meeting by asking each person individually over the mic.
Fun Virtual Icebreakers
Branch out from the traditional idea of an icebreaker by using these fun ideas with your coworkers during an upcoming conference call.
1. Would you rather questions
Prepare a list of questions that are slightly challenging to answer but fun. People may have fun answering ridiculous questions like:
- Would you rather speak in riddles or rhymes?
- Would you rather permanently give up deodorant or toothpaste?
- Would you rather be able to talk to plants or hear the stars talk?
Nonsense questions help everyone release workplace stress by shifting their focus to silly challenges. Their answers also reveal new aspects of everyone’s personality.
Need some inspiration? Here’s 246 Best Would You Rather Questions For a Fun Game Night.
2. Desert island essentials
What would everyone choose to bring to a desert island? Ask your team to pick one to three essentials and ask everyone to explain why they chose them. Someone might show their dog’s favorite bandana because they’d never vacation without their pup. Another team member might reveal a bag of MnMs since they eat chocolate every day. Personalities, hobbies, and more will come to light and forge new friendships.
3. Spill your celebrity tea
Most people love talking about when they interacted with or were close to a celebrity. Ask everyone to talk about their experiences. Someone may have had front-row seats to a Taylor Swift concert, while another met Chris Evans at a coffee shop. You’ll immediately learn which celebrities everyone likes, which reveals what kinds of movies, TV shows, and music they like.
4. Dream about bucket lists
A research study found 78.3% of people with bucket lists have personal goals they want to accomplish. Your team members will likely have some, too. Everyone can mention the top thing on their bucket list they haven’t done or have done to get to know each other.
5. Reflect on your skills
Teams are more effective when they support each other. Ask your coworkers to talk about a skill a team member next to them excels at. It could be a skill that contributes to the workplace or their personal life. Maybe someone is great at making an aesthetically-pleasing slideshow while another person meal preps creative foods they bring to work. Everyone will shine in the spotlight for a minute as each person cheers the other.
6. Get lost in nostalgia
What’s something that makes you feel nostalgic? It could be a smell, an item, an experience, or a movie. Your coworkers will likely enjoy this icebreaker because they can step back and reminisce about their happiest memories.
7. Share a meme
Memes are everywhere, so they’re easy to find. Ask your team members to submit a workplace-appropriate meme to your inbox or bring one to your next meeting. You can review the most popular meme formats and put them in a slideshow where each person talks about why they chose that image or joke as an example of their sense of humor.
8. Skip that song
Music is an easy thing to bond over. Flip the typical conversation on its head by asking everyone to name a song they always skip if it comes on the radio. You’ll get to know everyone while people playfully defend their favorite artists.
9. Tell a joke
If people in your workplace don’t prefer laughing at memes, you could always ask them to submit an icebreaker joke. Whether they get on the mic to say it or type it in the chat, the humor will still loosen everyone up and showcase their personalities.
10. Give a pop quiz
Come up with a list of pop quiz questions about the latest celebrity gossip, popular show, or whatever else you can think of in the pop culture realm. Asking one new question at the start of each meeting results in everyone submitting their answers before discussing the subject.
Think about asking questions like:
- Who played Katniss in “The Hunger Games”?
- What company did Michael Scott work for in “The Office”?
- When is Star Wars Day?
- In which movie did Reese Witherspoon play a blonde law school student?
- Who is Homer Simpson’s mustachioed neighbor?
Childhood-Based Virtual Icebreakers
Bring on the nostalgia by picking one of these exciting virtual icebreakers for your remote team members.
1. Ask about their music pastime
Music plays a significant role in most people’s lives. Your coworkers could mention their favorite band in middle school or the song they had on repeat in high school to help everyone get to know them. People can bond over their favorite pastime songs and get to know each other with a fun conversation.
2. Talk about childhood pets
Reminisce by asking everyone to say one thing they loved about their childhood pet. If they didn’t have one, they could talk about one their friend or family member had. Bonus points if they can share a picture as well!
3. Discuss favorite movies
Which movies did everyone love as a kid? They could mention them by name, or you could pick titles for a fun challenge. Did your team members love “Jurassic Park” or Disney princesses? “Clueless” or “10 Things I Hate About You”? Contrasting genres and debut decades could result in plenty of laughs.
4. Submit their favorite foods
Adult foods can be so dull. Get everyone to mention their favorite food as a kid. Everyone will likely love discussing things like mixing hot dogs into mac and cheese, eating cookie dough off of mixing spoons, or trying to finish ice cream treats before they melt.
5. Mention childhood achievements
Everyone on your team can mention one thing they did before turning 18. They might have won an award in a community or class event. Maybe they faced their fears and tried out for the school musical or did math speed tests the fastest in third grade. People can bond over shared experiences or celebrate what every person has accomplished.
6. Share a board game
Encourage everyone to talk about a board game they loved playing as a kid. There are likely a few people who have forgotten about that will come back to mind as a pleasant surprise.
7. Reflect on a video game
Some people may not have grown up with board games, so ask if they played any video games instead. There have been decades of games to choose from, so everyone may have an answer.
8. Describe their favorite Halloween costume
Start an icebreaker conversation about everyone’s favorite childhood costume if Halloween is coming up. People could bond over memories of homemade outfits or the costumes they wore on repeat. Anyone who didn’t participate in Halloween could still join the activity by mentioning what they wore during dress-up or even a school play.
9. Pick three words
Ask everyone to describe their childhood selves in three words. The words may come from specific memories they want to share with the team.
10. Talk about a childhood dream
Parents, guardians, and teachers always encourage kids to dream about what they want to be when they grow up. Encourage your coworkers to share what they once wanted to be. Whether they achieved it or not, the answers will be tiny peeks into their personalities.
Family-Based Virtual Icebreakers
You can also help everyone get to know each other by using family-based icebreakers to start conversations with your remote team members.
1. Play Family Feud
There are many free websites for workplace Family Feud competitions. Consider how many people will be in your meeting to make teams on sites like Arkadium and The Washington Post. Split everyone into teams by department or role to help them sharpen their conversational skills while having fun.
2. Describe a family holiday meal
Talking about a specific holiday may accidentally exclude some people on your team. Get around that problem by asking people to discuss their favorite family meal from any holiday. Food makes memories in every culture, so everyone will probably have an answer they’ll look forward to sharing.
3. Mention your favorite tradition
Traditions are another way to bond with each other. Everyone can say one thing their families celebrated during any time of the year to reminisce about some of their favorite memories.
4. Number your hometowns
How many places have you lived as a kid? Other people likely moved once or twice, too. People can name their hometowns or mention how many times they moved during childhood to start an icebreaker that spans states and countries.
5. Name your names
Many parents pick a few names for their future children and talk about them later on. Ask everyone what their parents almost named them or what they wanted their name to be as a kid. If someone doesn’t have an answer to either question, they can also talk about their childhood nickname.
6. Pick a famous mom
Put all your team members’ names into a random name or word selector website, like the random picker from MiniWebTool. When the site chooses a name, that person has five seconds to name one famous mom. Characters like Mother Goose, Morticia Addams, or even celebrities will pop up and remind everyone of people or figures they loved growing up.
7. Two truths and a lie: family edition
If your team enjoys Two Truths and a Lie, tailor it to family lore. People can name two true things about their family and one lie to keep things light and exciting. Topics can range from their immediate or extended family members as preferred.
8. Talk about childhood shows
What shows did everyone love as a kid? Everyone can pitch one title and laugh over their shared likes or dislikes. It’s especially interesting if your workplace has people of various ages who can bring different perspectives.
9. Discuss your favorite teacher
Teachers impact every student they teach. Some become secondary parents, so mention them in an icebreaker activity. The conversations focus on some of the most remarkable people who helped your coworkers become the successful, thriving individuals they are today.
10. Walk down the toy aisle
Discuss what everyone searched for in the toy aisle during their childhoods. They could talk about something they did or didn’t get. Others may have shared the same interests, which leads to team bonding.
Virtual Games for Icebreakers
It may seem challenging for everyone to play a workplace game if they’re remote employees, but these games make it easy to plan icebreaker entertainment for everyone.
1. Digital scavenger hunt
Planning a digital scavenger hunt is easier than you may think. Make a list before your next meeting, so everyone knows what to look for. Your team members could form teams that scour the internet for things like:
- A picture of their favorite childhood toy.
- An image of something they can’t live without.
- A recipe they love making.
Some internet searches will be faster than others, so create a long scavenger hunt list and set a quick timer to keep everyone on their toes.
Playing an online version of Scattergories with remote team members is easy. Find a free website with the numbered die and category list. Everyone can record their answers through the site to play lightning rounds that get everyone talking.
3. Show and tell
Each person can bring one thing to your next conference call that they want to talk about. Whether it’s something on their desk, across the house, or an object they just bought, show and tell is an easy icebreaker activity that’s stress-free.
Remote rounds of Pictionary on sites like skribbl are extra challenging and hilarious. Free websites allow players to draw their pictures with their mouse pointers. It’s hard to draw a perfect picture with a mouse, so it levels the playing field and makes everyone laugh.
Check out this example of a team trying to guess the word “plate”:
5. Don’t laugh
Videos of people trying not to laugh while watching hilarious videos go viral all the time. Recreate the viewing experience by asking everyone to watch 10-second videos with you during an icebreaker game. If one person laughs, the team moves on to the next video. It’ll be impossible to win, but the real goal is just having fun together.
The world became obsessed with Wordle and moved on after a few months of viral social media posts about the daily challenge. Bring it back by sharing the game on your screen and asking everyone to pitch a guess. Repeat as needed to get the right answer.
7. Guess the acronym
Tie your workplace’s mission into your next icebreaker activity by creating an acronym about it. Everyone can guess what the abbreviation means until the answer gets revealed. Create an abbreviation using your company’s mission statement or your team’s name before writing it on a whiteboard so everyone can take turns guessing.
Recycling a trivia-based icebreaker can be an exciting way to start great conversations. Ask about a new topic at each meeting, like pitching a question about books, history, or pop culture. People will learn their strengths and weaknesses while laughing about the right or wrong answers.
9. Guess who: coworker edition
Everyone can submit one thing about themselves to make Guess Who: Coworker Edition your next icebreaker game. If they don’t want to or you have too many staff members, your team leader can also pick an accomplishment or skill for each person.
When the meeting begins, ask everyone to guess who the person is by highlighting each skill or fun fact. It’s an easy way to celebrate and get to know each other in a low-stakes game.
10. Pick a personality quiz
Using a personality quiz based on the five big characteristic traits will help everyone get to know each other. You can discuss their answers to find out who’s most similar and inspire new friendships based on the entertaining results.
You can also use the results to learn how to communicate with each other more effectively. If most of your team feels extroverted and a few people feel introverted, better conversations can take place where everyone feels comfortable over emails or instant messages.
Takeaway: Fun and Exciting Virtual Icebreakers
There are numerous virtual icebreakers for remote teams. Consider how many people will be in your next meeting to pick an idea, such as:
- Submitting three emojis in chat to describe themselves.
- Mentioning a teacher, they loved during grade school and how that person made a difference for them.
- Uploading a background photo, so everyone has to guess what it is or where the image came from.
- Entering a caption in chat for random pictures selected for your meeting.
- Talking about a non-serious hot take that is contrary to popular opinions.
Whichever icebreaker ideas you pick for your team, you can combine practical activities with great conversation-starter topics to inspire workplace relationships that strengthen your team’s dynamics. Have fun laughing and getting to know each other in new ways.