Pyn has compiled a list of icebreaker games that can be played virtually, along with instructions on how to play them, from sources on the internet. – Andrey_Popov // Shutterstock
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the way we work in the United States. According to a survey conducted in March 2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is an increase from pre-pandemic rates, as nearly one in three employers increased remote work during the pandemic. The Pew Research Center reported in February 2022 that the majority of workers whose work can be done remotely are choosing to continue working remotely even when offices reopen.
As more employees work remotely, employers need to think about how to keep employees engaged and prevent feelings of isolation. Icebreaker games are one way to strengthen relationships between virtual colleagues. Psychologist Anton Villado identifies three main goals efficient icebreakers: They reduce anxiety within the group, allow the facilitator to model expected behavior or set the tone for the meeting, and encourage people to open up and talk about themselves.
Pyn compiled this list of icebreaker games that can be played virtually, along with instructions on how to play them, from sources on the internet. Keep reading for 10 fun ways to increase employee engagement while working remotely.
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View from my office
View from My Office is an icebreaker specifically for teams that don’t work together in a traditional office setting. This game requires advance notice from employees to get them ready, as they will be showing off their personal workspace – usually in their homes – to each other.
There are two options to play: use webcams to share a live view during a meeting, or take a photo of the view ahead of time. Employees can also be given the freedom to choose which aspects of their workspace they want to share. Some may want to show a full view of the room they are working in, while others may only want to show their desk settings.
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This one or that one
This or that is a classic icebreaker that can be done virtually 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 he prefers.
To help colleagues interact and learn as much as possible about each other, questions should cover a range of topics and players can ask each other to explain their answers. A list of questions can be compiled in advance for large groups – there can be a lot of them. This or that question online— or participants can come up with questions as they go along.
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Sometimes it takes activity in work meetings to break up the agenda and let the creativity flow. Take a Photo is a game where employees are asked to take a picture and then share it with the group. The meeting leader can request photos of anything from the shoes each employee wears to the view from a nearby window.
When everyone has taken a picture, everyone has a few minutes to explain their photo. The game can be changed by having employees take only one shot each if the group is large, or multiple shots if the group is smaller.
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Show and tell
Show and tell is not just for kids. It’s also a great way to build connections between team members who work virtually. Staff should be told a few days in advance to select an item of particular importance and prepare to talk about it in the meeting. This is a good icebreaker for large groups, but a timekeeper should be assigned to keep an eye on the game.
Each person is given a certain amount of 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 clarifying questions to find out more about the speaker.
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Virtual scavenger hunt
For team members who may not know each other very well, a virtual scavenger hunt is the perfect icebreaker that allows everyone to do the same task without sharing anything too personal. It is also an easy activity that can be done in any size group.
Everyone is given a list of items to find within a certain amount of time, and whoever finds the most items wins. There are also a number of game variations to make it more challenging and addictive. For example, instead of looking for items in their physical home or workplace, employees can be asked to find a list of items online. Or you can give a list of clues, asking participants to solve riddles to find out what items they should be looking for.
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When used as an icebreaker, quizzes promote interaction and bonding among team members, especially those who may be newbies. Trivia is extremely easy to play with just about any band; the game can be played individually for small groups or in teams for larger groups.
A list of simple questions should be prepared before the meeting, but the format can vary from multiple choice to filling in the blank. Questions can be answered out loud or via forms on the virtual meeting platform. Many existing versions of quizzes are also available online, including those based on popular TV shows such as Jeopardy! and “Who wants to be a millionaire?”
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For small groups, collaborative storytelling is a fast icebreaker that easily gets everyone involved. The leader of a group or meeting begins by telling the story in just one sentence. Then the next person adds another sentence, and so the game continues.
The goal is for the group to work together to create a coherent story one sentence at a time. This game often generates a lot of laughs as players take the storyline in an unexpected direction.
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Two truths and a lie
“Two Truths and a Lie” plays out exactly as it sounds: each member gives the group three statements about themselves, two of which must be true and one must be false. The group members then guess which statement they think is false. After everyone has guessed correctly, the lie is revealed and the game moves on to the next player.
While this game can be played with groups of any size, it is best suited for smaller groups. Leaders may want to inform their teams about the game ahead of time so that each employee can prepare their own truth and well-rehearsed lies.
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Common Ground is usually played in person, but can be adapted for use with remote workers when lounges are available for virtual meetings. This icebreaker works especially well with unfamiliar groups as it encourages getting to know each other.
Participants are divided into smaller groups to determine what they have in common. Groups can be given a pre-made list of items—or they can work together to generate their own ideas—to uncover as many similarities as possible before time runs out. This activity also encourages out-of-the-box thinking, as similarities can range from obvious things like looks to lesser-known aspects of their lives like the color of their first car or their first job.
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Remote work Bingo
Bingo is a well-known game that can be played with any group, so adapting it for virtual use is not difficult. Pre-made bingo cards are available online to make getting ready for this icebreaker even easier.
Bingo cards are filled with actions a remote worker is likely to do or things they are likely to say: actions like standing up to stretch and statements like “Can you hear me?” Employees are asked to track their activities over a period of time, such as a day or a week, and whoever gets the bingo first wins. Leaders can make the game more difficult by requiring employees to complete more than one row or column, a specific pattern, or completely cover a card in order to win.
This story originally appeared on Pyn and was produced and
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