One of the most essential aspects of the onboarding process is helping new recruits to connect with their colleagues and make them feel like a part of the team. This encompasses both occupational training and a process of personal familiarization, trust development, and socializing. Allowing team members to get to know each other fosters comfort and lays the groundwork for collaboration between new recruits and their colleagues.
The icebreaker, a relaxation activity for employees, helps to break the ice between new recruits and existing team members. Icebreakers can also be games or discussions that help you and your team members get to know each other better and spark discussion. Primarily, they are meant to “break the ice” between employees who don’t know each other much. One could get to know a new team member, or it might be used to kick off a training session or a team activity.
However, would this approach work for remote employees as well? Yes, “virtual icebreakers” are an excellent method to overcome one of the most significant obstacles associated with managing a remote workforce. This blog would introduce you to the concept of a virtual icebreaker session; how it strengthens a team; when to use it; how to design one; its benefits, and much more.
What is an Icebreaker activity?
An icebreaker is a question-based activity, puzzle, or conversation that is designed to familiarize team members with a new team leader, a new team, or a new workplace, and encourage sharing and learning. When it comes to picking the new recruit orientation icebreakers, there are no rules.
Some are rather straightforward, such as “problem-solving game, “some trivia,” or “Rock-Paper-Scissor game.” Thus, some icebreakers are physical activities or interactive ice breaker games, while others may be intellectual and some are discussions.
Virtual icebreaker process
Virtual ice breakers are identical to conventional ice breakers, but they are done using online mediums (a video call, web chat, or a conference call). They may be helpful to your team in a variety of ways, as outlined below:
- Inspire employees to get better acquainted with one another.
- Enhance better communication and establish rapport within the team.
- Incorporate a sense of fun, competition, and interaction into team meetings and brainstorming sessions.
- Assist employees in feeling calmer and more optimistic, as well as in reducing emotions of isolation and loneliness.
A virtual icebreaker: When to use it?
If team members work in different locations and cannot meet in person, virtual icebreaker ideas may assist them in getting to know one another and developing a natural connection. Another instance in which virtual icebreaker activities would be beneficial is when businesses combine or when a company is acquired.
Fun and good ice breaker activities may be an excellent method to introduce new members to a team informally. This will assist new recruits in learning more about their new colleagues (and vice versa), allowing them to create new bonds immediately.
The crucial role of icebreakers in fostering collaboration in a workplace
Icebreaker activities help lighten the mood, foster camaraderie and give an opportunity for team members to express their opinions, likes, dislikes, and distinctive traits in a fun environment. They are often amusing and bring team members together who turn resilient during chaotic times.
Moreover, icebreakers not only boost employee engagement but also turn out to be an effective tool for business growth.
Well-designed virtual icebreaker activities may assist team leaders and human resources colleagues in gaining useful knowledge about team talent and employees’ skills. This information may be used for a project as when a need pertaining to their skills and talent arises.
Factors to consider while designing virtual icebreaker activities for employees
You can follow the below techniques to design your virtual icebreaker.
You need to have clarity on which employees will be part of the icebreaker process. Are you merely introducing employees to one another for the first time, or are you bringing together employees from various levels within your organization? Do you wish to bring together individuals from diverse cultures and backgrounds? You’ll need to navigate these distinctions delicately and ensure that everyone understands and participates in the icebreaker activities.
Breaking the ice with objectives
Are you performing icebreaker exercises in order to resolve project-related issues? Or is your goal more sophisticated, such as you want to inspire participants to think creatively or to address a specific problem?
Your icebreaker will be effective only if everyone feels comfortable taking part in it. Therefore, assist employees in feeling at ease and consider if there are any impediments, such as language or cultural issues.
Your organization’s employees, based in various locations, may participate in virtual icebreaker activities. Therefore, take into consideration various time zones and their associated degrees of comfort. Besides, regarding activity timing, determine if you want a brief five-minute exercise or something more substantial for your icebreaker activities, depending on your goals.
You’ll need to decide whether the same employee would lead the virtual icebreaker activities or to implement a rotation policy – who gets to choose and lead the activity? Decide if this will be a regular exercise or a onetime activity.
Location and technology matter
Be mindful of where your participants are likely to be when virtual icebreaker activities start. Will they all be at home or traveling? This may influence the time they can devote to the call, as well as their degree of involvement and engagement.
Ascertain that everyone uses a similar video chat software and is comfortable with its operation prior to the meeting. Additionally, bear in mind that some may have issues with their internet connection.
Last, decide the format of your icebreaker activities. Will employees make use of a webcam or will a voice call suffice?
When are virtual ice breakers ineffective?
If your team works remotely and is already in touch regularly, participants may see the exercise as condescending or pointless.
If employees are under extreme time constraints, ice breakers may not be effective. Spending time on a “fun” activity may certainly distract and irate workers who are working under duress and have a lot on their plate, or who are meeting to handle a crisis or emergency.
When a new member joins an existing team, an ice breaker may help to break down harmful groupings. Such team members may initially oppose the effort, assuming it is a waste of time. If this is the case, explain why you believe it is a smart idea and urge them to participate completely in the activity.
Virtual icebreaker games for remote employees-
Here is an overview of some of the most popular virtual icebreaker games and activities below.
This is a very common icebreaker game for virtual team meetings. You might invite participants to take a photograph of their shoes and share them over the intranet with the team members. The photographs must be uploaded prior to the commencement of the meeting.
Once the meeting begins, you might invite each person to talk something about their shoe choice. A fascinating component of discussing shoes is that participants may also bring up their hobbies, behavior, interests, or aspirations. For instance, describing about formal and polished shoes may elicit discussion about an employee’s ambition to be in a leadership role or his habit of achieving perfection in whatever he does.
Make a guess who it is
A guessing game helps employees to get to know one another well. Prior to the meeting, conduct a survey among employees in which they would respond to questions such as “Which is your favorite song?” Later, a song will be played and certain employees will be asked to guess whose favorite song it is.
A riddle or mental challenge may be an excellent way to start a discussion. Here, you provide a hard yet solvable challenge for your team to consider. For instance:
- What is densely packed with holes yet still contains water? (Answer – sponge).
- What stands in front of you, but you cannot see or feel it? (Answer – future).
Time Travel Machine
Time Machine is a very successful professional tool, serving as a creative virtual icebreaker for distant teams.
The host or meeting organizer invites participants to consider a time in the future or past to which they would want to visit, seated inside a time machine. Once they have determined the time, they must discuss the location they want to travel to and the people they wish to meet. They must provide a rationale for each of their responses.
Conduct a personality test or an interesting quiz before a virtual encounter. For instance, if a new movie is released, employees may take a quiz to determine which character they resemble the most. Then, at the meeting, everyone may present their insights.
You may also ask participants to photograph some of the most important objects on their work desk. It might be a souvenir, a present, or a picture stand. Participants might discuss the object’s relevance in their professional and personal lives. This dialogue might give you an idea about a person’s personality.
Identifying culinary interests is a nice icebreaker activity to play with distant teams. Each participant may talk about his favorite food, either as a recipe or a photograph. Then, other employees will be asked to guess whose favorite food is it.
If your team is spread across different locations, the culinary game is a fantastic way to get familiar with the local eating customs and original cuisines.
Present an issue that employees may encounter in the course of their job and encourage them to discuss ways to fix it. Invite team members to propose a solution and justify why they would take certain measures. This icebreaker allows you to see how your team members collaborate.
Expectations and worries
Employees are asked to share hope and fear they always have with the rest of the group. This might serve as a springboard for conversation among employees to allay fears and anxieties.
Benefits of virtual icebreakers for remote teams
As per a Gallup research survey, “virtual team-building activities result in an improvement in employee performance, with a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 21% gain in profitability.” Various benefits of virtual icebreakers for remote teams include:
Regular virtual icebreaker activities for employees aid in the rapid adaptation of your team to a new remote work environment.
“Community” in the corporate world refers to an association of employees who have similar goals, ideas, or competencies. However, the community is not limited to those people who congregate in a room. Community building is a process, and the practice of employing icebreaker activities allows employees to get to know one another.
For instance, when you discover what you have something in common with your colleagues, you will feel more connected to them; will be more supportive, and will cooperate to accomplish goals.
Interaction is an integral part of team-building exercises. Even a few minutes of icebreaker activities may elicit laughter; open discussion, or debate. Most significantly, it avoids a compartmentalized work atmosphere, which promotes inefficiency.
Empathy is the capacity to see events or circumstances through the eyes of someone else. Empathy is critical for developing a good team because it enables team members to take a step back; consider others’ perspectives, and then cooperate to make choices, or at the very least, decide while considering the effect on others.
When teams lack empathy, they cannot perform successfully because they, in essence, do not care. The icebreaker encourages participants to see their colleagues’ challenges in a new light, allowing them to be more compassionate.
Virtual icebreakers are an excellent approach to get remote teams to interact and establish rapport. Additionally, they help improve communication; stimulating creative thinking and developing internal networks. It aids in forming a bond between new recruits and their colleagues in a positive, fun, and engaging manner.
Prior to deciding on which virtual icebreaker to utilize, there are many factors to consider. Consider your primary aims and objectives of icebreakers activities; remote employees’ time zones, comfort, and their culture variance, and type of devices used by them. You can create virtual icebreakers to assist new employees in interacting with work colleagues and to strengthen bonds among existing employees while providing a break from the grind.
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