Remote Engagement

5 Virtual Icebreaker Activities That Don’t Suck (Tried & Tested)

We get it. You’ve been remote for at least a year now, and you're possibly working from home forever. You know you want to plan more virtual icebreaker activities and games — because that's what they say you should do, right?But you feel like you’ve done all the obvious things — office trivia, scavenger hunts, quick reflections, or that-one-game-you-always-forget-the-name-of.If you’re a remote leader, you might believe in helping your remote team bond, connect, and communicate well together, but you can’t always find the time or energy to plan something fun. Maybe you’re a colleague on that remote team and you think “Ugh, here we go again” every time. Or perhaps you’re hosting an online conference soon, and you break into a cold sweat just thinking about the dread of icebreaker activities.

At WFHomie, planning virtual experiences is what we do for a living.

As a fully remote startup, we’ve done quite a few games and activities ourselves, and we know precisely what’s been amazing and what's been cheesy or cringe. In other words, we wouldn’t inflict the awkwardness of a poorly chosen icebreaker upon you for the world.We even have created virtual icebreaker activities for distributed teams optimized for all the popular virtual conference platforms!

What are some virtual icebreaker activities that don’t suck — and why bother?

Virtual icebreakers are short and interactive team-building activities that, according to Slido, “help remote or hybrid teams to connect on a personal level and enjoy some fun social time together.” By throwing some in at the start of your meetings, or hosting longer virtual icebreakers every now and then, you can help your remote team loosen up and feel comfortable around each other.

Virtual icebreaker activities help create a sense of belonging and trust within your remoe team, which helps boosts both job satisfaction and “embeddedness,” or the desire to remain with the same employer. Your company then benefits from improved internal communication, as well as increased motivation, productivity, and engagement.

Credits: Andrea Chronopoulos, “Welcome to the YOLO Economy”, the New York Times

Icebreakers, activities, and games matter now more than ever in remote workplaces.

As a rule, remote teams don't enjoy the serendipity of office environments, where random encounters can lead to fun chats and games. Instead, remote leaders must cultivate the informal with enhanced care and intention, putting effort into the ‘little things’ that can build up your organization’s culture and distinguish you from competitors. In a supply-side labour market, where top talent holds power over employers, you can't risk not investing in your remote culture. In fact, without that genuine commitment to making memories with your remote team, you risk losing them to the YOLO economy sweeping across 2021.

So, here are the 5 virtual icebreaker activities we and our partners have tried, tested, and enjoyed.

You’ll notice we categorized them by awkwardness potential. Of course, it’s not really about awkwardness, but rather about trust. Icebreakers suck when you choose activities requiring greater vulnerability than your remote team is prepared to give, so you should choose an activity that suits your current trust levels.

Virtual Origami Class

At WFHomie, we often test our own virtual experiences to ensure they will blow away our clients. This online origami class was clearly a 10/10!
  • Awkwardness Potential:  Very Low
  • Ideal for: quiet, curious, creative remote teams
  • Group size: Small, Medium, Large
  • Length: 15-45 minutes

In this virtual origami workshop, WFHomie’s talented host explains the history and evolution of the traditional Japenese folding practice of Origami. She then teaches you how to transform a simple square sheet of paper into creative and aesthetic shapes.
From the symbolism of the Crane to the amusement of the Leaping Frog, you won’t run out of cool folding projects! This chill virtual icebreaker presents the right mixture of interactive fun and tranquility to kick off intense work weeks or close a conference.

We had a great time hosting the Acceleprise team at RBC with this quick online origami class!

Learn more

Draw ____ From Memory

  • Awkwardness Potential:  Very Low
  • Ideal For: humble remote teams with a penchant for TV
  • Group Size: Small, Medium
  • Length: 3-15 minutes

The WFHomie team was inspired by the #DrawShrekFromMemory challenge on Twitter on May 18th this year, a trend commemorating two decades of Shrek. Fortunately, after laughing our hearts out for 10 minutes, we realized every remote team can recreate this challenge for any random Disney, Pixar, anime, or movie character.  

First, give a heads-up to your team a few minutes before your meeting, letting them know they should have a pen and paper nearby. Then, pick an iconic character from any film you’ve all heard of before. Find the associated theme song; as soon as you hit play, it’s time to draw from memory. The second it ends, it’s time to show your work… and the uglier the better.

As one #DrawShrekFromMemory proponent writes: “Can draw? Good! Can't draw? EVEN BETTER!!”

We clearly had way too much fun trying to draw Shrek from memory, as the terrifying picture at the left shows. This online icebreaker game was unforgettable!

‘Most Likely To’ Polls

  • Awkwardness Potential:  Medium
  • Ideal For: funny, chill, and casual remote teams
  • Group size: Medium, Large
  • Length: 5-45 minutes

Playing a round of ‘Most Likely To’ is bound to crack you up within minutes. For example, you might ask something amusing like ‘Who’d be the first to die in a zombie apocalypse?’, and each answer option would be one of your teammates’ names. Here’s how to play. The first question should be a test to ensure everybody understands how to vote. Then, set a 30-second timer for each question. When it rings, you reveal the results of the poll, AKA who’s been voted ‘most likely to’ for that question. The ensuing discussion is generally hilarious!The trick is to make your questions more surprising, interesting, or downright embarrassing as you go — with laughter guaranteed. You can choose any number of questions to make this icebreaker shorter or longer, although we recommend more than 2 and fewer than 30.

We had a great time with this quick online icebreaker activity one morning. Bantering over certain poll results certainly livened things up!

Virtual S’mores & More Night

  • Awkwardness Potential:  Low-Medium
  • Ideal For: quiet, curious, casual, and foodie remote teams
  • Group Size: Medium
  • Length: 60 minutes

Our S’mores & More night is the perfect blend of exciting and interesting to kick off an evening conference or ensure the perfect start to a cozy day. Previous to the virtual event, we’ll have exclusive S’mores’ kits delivered to your homes, complete with a set of matches and candles. All you’ll need to do is fire up your laptops and tune in to historic ghost stories and fun games while roasting marshmallows. We guarantee you’ll have fantastic team memories by the time it ends!

Tell me more

No Spain No Game Scavenger Hunt

  • Awkwardness Potential:  Low-Medium
  • Ideal For: casual, talkative, high-energy remote teams
  • Group Size: Medium
  • Length: 45-60 minutes

This extraordinary virtual scavenger hunt lets you have fun as a team while exploring the secrets of Spain. An unforgettable game, this virtual icebreaker gives you the chance to explore your creativity and learn hilarious tricks with your coworkers. Our host is a skilled NatGeo winner from Barcelona who knows how to create a high-energy ambiance. This is an ideal icebreaker to jolt your team before a long work week or to get your creative juices flowing before a brainstorming or design session.

Looking for more virtual icebreakers for remote work? Check out our updated list.

We enjoyed planning Blockthrough’s Spain-themed virtual scavenger hunt — based on the 5-star reviews and this picture, it was an amazing experience!

WFHomie is an employee engagement and culture-building platform for remote teams. We help team leaders build informal connections between remote employees through a whole range of services, including our epic virtual icebreaker activities. You can learn more about us here or check out our virtual experiences here.

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