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10 remotely accessible icebreaker games
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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how work is done in the United States Just over a third of jobs involve working from home at least part-time, according to a March 2022 survey from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a slight increase from pre-pandemic figures, as nearly one in three employers increased telecommuting during the pandemic. The Pew Research Center reported in February 2022 that the majority of workers whose work can be done remotely are choose to continue working from home as offices reopen.
With more and more employees working from home, employers need to think about how to keep staff engaged and avoid feelings of isolation. Icebreaker games are a way to foster relationships between virtual colleagues. Psychologist Anton Villado describes three main goals for effective icebreakers: They decrease anxiety within the group, allow the facilitator to model expected behavior or set the tone of a meeting, and encourage individuals to open up and share about themselves.
Pyn has compiled this list of icebreaker games that can be done virtually, along with instructions on how to play them, from sources around the web. Keep reading to discover 10 fun ways to promote employee engagement when working remotely.
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The view from my office
Rear view of a man at his home office
The View from My Office is an icebreaker specifically designed for teams that don’t work together in a traditional office environment. This game requires advance notice for employees to prepare, as they will be showing their personal workspace – usually in their own home – to each other.
There are two options to play: use webcams to share a real-time view during the meeting or take photos of the view in advance. Employees can also have the freedom to choose which aspects of their workspace they want to share. Some might want to show a full view of the room they’re working in, while others might want to show just their office setup.
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this or that
Rear view of man on video call
This or that is a classic icebreaker that can be done almost as easily as in person. Group members take turns asking each other questions that have two possible, usually opposite, answers: Coffee or tea? Cat or dog? Sweet or salty ? The respondent must choose which of the two options they prefer.
To help colleagues interact and learn more about each other, questions should include a range of topics and players can ask each other to explain their answers. A list of questions can be generated in advance for large groups – there are many This or that questions online— or participants can invent questions as they go along.
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Take a picture of…
Woman taking selfie with cat sitting on sofa
Sometimes business meetings need an activity to break up the agenda and spark creativity. Take a picture of… is a game where employees are asked to take a picture and then share it with the group. The meeting manager can request photos of anything, from the shoes each employee is currently wearing to the view out the nearest window.
When everyone has taken a photo, everyone has a few minutes to explain their photo. The game can be modified by asking the staff to take a single photo each if the group is large or several photos if the group is smaller.
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show and tell
Smiling woman showing shoes via video call
Showing and telling isn’t just for kids. It’s also a great way to bond between team members who are working virtually. Staff should be told a few days in advance to select an object that has special meaning and be prepared to discuss it at the meeting. It’s a good icebreaker to use in large groups, but a timekeeper must be appointed to keep the game on track.
Each person has a set time (a minute or two is enough) to share their object via webcam and explain why they chose it. The rest of the group can then ask follow-up questions, with the aim of learning more about the presenter.
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virtual treasure hunt
Young man having a Zoom video conference call via computer
For team members who may not know each other very well, a virtual scavenger hunt is the perfect icebreaker that lets everyone jump on the same task without sharing anything too personal. It’s also an easy activity to implement with any size group.
Everyone is given a list of items to find within a set amount of time, and the person who finds the most items wins. There are also a number of variations of the game to make it more challenging and exciting. For example, rather than finding items in their physical home or workspace, staff may be asked to find a list of items online. Or a list of clues can be given, prompting participants to solve puzzles to find out what items to look for.
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A young man in a meeting on a laptop
When used as an icebreaker, quizzes promote interaction and bonding between team members, especially those who may be new. Trivia is extremely easy to play virtually with any size group; the game can be played individually for small groups or in teams for larger groups.
A list of trivia questions should be prepared before the meeting, but the format can vary from multiple choice to fill in the blanks. Questions can be answered out loud or via forms on a virtual meeting platform. There are also many quiz versions available online, including those based on popular TV shows such as “Jeopardy!” and “Who wants to be a millionaire?”
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Rear view businesswoman chatting with colleagues online
For small groups, collaborative storytelling is a quick icebreaker that easily engages all participants. The group or meeting leader begins by beginning to tell a story with a single sentence. The next person then follows by adding another sentence, and so the game continues.
The goal is for the group to work together to create a cohesive story, one sentence at a time. This game often gets a lot of laughs as players take the storyline in unexpected directions.
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Two truths and a lie
Man talking to video call on laptop
Two Truths and a Lie plays out exactly as it sounds: each participant gives the group three statements about themselves, two of which must be true and one of which is a lie. The group members then guess which statement they believe to be a lie. Once everyone has guessed, the lie is revealed and the game continues to the next person.
Although this game can be played with groups of all sizes, it is best suited for small groups. Leaders may want to inform their teams of the game in advance so that each employee can prepare their well-rehearsed truths and lies.
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Young businessman talking with colleagues in video conference
Common Ground is typically played in person, but can be adapted for use with telecommuters when breakout rooms are available for virtual meetings. This icebreaker works especially well with groups that don’t know each other well, as it promotes mutual knowledge.
Participants are divided into small groups to identify the things they have in common. Groups can be given a list of items drawn up ahead of time – or they can work together to generate their own ideas – to identify as many commonalities as possible before time runs out. This activity also encourages thinking outside the box, as things in common can extend beyond obvious things like appearance to lesser-known aspects of their lives, like the color of their first car or use.
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Remote Work Bingo
Young smiling woman on video call on laptop
Bingo is a well-known game that can be played with any size group, so adapting it for virtual use is simple. Premade bingo cards are available online to make preparing this icebreaker even easier.
Bingo cards are filled with activities a remote worker is likely to do or things they are likely to say: activities such as getting up to stretch and statements such as “Hear me you ? Employees are asked to track their activities over a period of time, such as a day or a week, and the first to get bingo wins. Leaders can make the game harder by having employees fill in more than one row or column, a specific pattern, or completely cover the map to win.
This story originally appeared on Pyn and was produced and
distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.