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Building a good team dynamic is a difficult ask. It’s tough to create a connection between new hires and existing staff, and even more difficult encouraging a remote team to work well together. This is where ice-breakers, getting-to-know-you games, and team bonding activities come into their own.
As your team’s de facto spirit guide, icebreaker games are definitely your friend. But please, promise us one thing: don’t bring down the mood with boring icebreakers. Don’t go around the circle asking people to awkwardly introduce themselves. That’s stressful for everyone and doesn’t do much to actually bond your team.
Push the envelope and try bolder activities instead.
We’re talking meaningful get-to-know-you games that actually help create a sense of belonging and positive team culture. Or out-of-the-box ideas that work well in a remote setting, like making videos that take your icebreakers up a notch. (Don’t worry. We’ll give you plenty of tips for that!)
These 19 icebreaker games are tailor-made to help your people think deeper, connect, and maybe even look forward to team meetings. Win, win, win.
Fun online icebreakers
These icebreaker activities are a perfect fit for remote teams and teams working from home.
1. Scavenger hunt
Break the ice with a game that doesn’t require too much brainpower. List off a few items and send your team on a quest around their house or office to find something that matches.
Ask your team to hunt for something specific like “a broken phone charger” or leave a little room for creativity with items such as “something that represents your favorite hobby”.
A scavenger hunt is a great way to get a little insight into what your people like to do outside of work. Your team just might find shared hobbies and interests to bond over.
Who it works for: Remote teams or people working from a home office.
Level up with video: Turn your scavenger list into a video or build the hype for your upcoming scavenger hunt with a video that covers all the must-know details.
2. Two truths and a lie
Two truths and a lie is a great way to get to know new people. The premise is simple: everyone gets a chance to share three things about themselves — two that are true and one that’s a lie.
It’s the perfect balance of getting-to-know-you material and ice-breaking creativity. After each person states their facts, have the group try to discern the truths from the lie.
Who it works for: Teams (either remote or in-person) who don’t know each other well.
3. Kahoot quizzes
University lecturers know what’s up when it comes to hyping up a room full of people — it’s all about Kahoot. Kahoot quizzes are easy-to-access live quizzes that anyone can take part in from their own internet-connected device.
As the host, you’ll create the quiz content yourself, so the sky is the limit. If your team just finished an important training, use this as an opportunity to reinforce the material in a fun way.
Create a sense of camaraderie with your staff by grouping people together, or pit them against each other and see who can rise up the leaderboard.
Who it works for: Particularly effective for teams who need specialist know-how to work well. Shore up their industry knowledge in a fun way.
4. Jackbox.tv games
Jackbox.tv games are similar to Kahoot quizzes but a lot less serious. You can buy a suite of games on your laptop or gaming console. To play, your team just needs access to a device and the password to get into the team game. All games can be played remotely or in person.
The most popular Jackbox.tv game has to be Drawful (with a player limit of 8), where each person draws a different obscure phrase and racks up points if their competitors guess it right. No prep is needed to play Jackbox.tv games.
Who it works for: Teams who need to improve their communication.
Level up with video: Create a video montage of everyone’s Drawful sketches and guesses (they’re usually quite funny) and play it at your next meeting.
Really makes you think…
These getting-to-know-you games are a great way to level up your team’s critical thinking. Hype up your team in advance with a video invite full of the need-to-know details.
5. Team trivia
Trivia ignites the competitor in everyone, and it’s the perfect way to pull people out of their shells. If your people are a little shy about creative activities, trivia is the perfect team-building game that doesn’t require them to put themselves out there too much.
There are plenty of sets of trivia questions you can borrow from the internet. Or, you can custom-make trivia questions that help your team get to know each other (like “When did Ellen join the team?” or “What type of coffee does Dan drink?”).
Who it works for: New teams who need to get acquainted; remote teams looking to build camaraderie from afar.
Level up with video: Do your trivia sesh right by turning your questions into a video quiz. You can even include snippets of video or images for multimedia questions.
For a problem/solution game, break people into small teams and assign each team a different problem. Be ambitious with the problems you assign. Make it big enough to be complicated, with many possible solutions.
Try questions like “How would you prevent animals from ending up at the pound?” or “If the government implemented a healthy eating initiative, what would be most effective?”.
Teams have 15 minutes to come up with a plan that’s as comprehensive as possible and present their ideas to the larger group. The aim isn’t to solve the problem entirely, it’s to think around different approaches and the possible outcomes that arise from each.
Who it works for: Remote or in-office teams that need to practice working and problem-solving together closely.
Debating the different sides of an argument is a skill that doesn’t have to end after high school.
Teaching your team how to form an argument and debate each other respectfully is an investment that’ll pay off ten-fold. Creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable and able to raise (and resolve) a disagreement is a bonus.
Set up two teams of three and assign a moderator. To ease any possible friction, don’t declare a winner. Instead, make your debates simply about having a well-formed argument. It can work well to create debate topics relevant to your industry so everyone already has the expertise to argue either side.
Who it works for: Both in-person and remote teams.
Better in person
These activities are best saved for when you can gather in the same room. Use the office or turn these ideas into a team outing — either way, use a video to share the who, what, when, wheres.
This is a seemingly easy challenge that might test your team once they get started.
Break everyone into small groups (three per group work well here). The aim is simple: use whatever materials you can find to build the tallest structure. The way people interpret the rules and treat their competitors without a strict etiquette guideline is always revealing.
This icebreaker is also a great way to flex a different part of the brain. For employees who work on laptops all day, using your hands is a refreshing change of pace.
Who it works for: Big teams with space to stretch out.
Level up with video: While everyone is running around trying to build their structure, play an infographic video in the background that gives out valuable hints and tricks.
9. Electric fence
Warning: neither a fence nor electricity is needed for this one. Just grab a piece of string or yarn and suspend it across a walkway. The string represents an electric fence, and the goal is to get everyone in the team over without touching it.
To succeed requires a bit of team organization and a lot of practical sense. It’s interesting to see the roles people naturally fall into when faced with a new challenge.
Who it works for: In-person teams who need a little more cohesion.
10. Silent line up
No, not that kind of lineup (we hope). This one is exactly as advertised. No one is allowed to talk but the group needs to find a way to wordlessly communicate and get into a line in the right order.
The easiest version of this challenge is to have everyone line up according to height. But you can kick it up a notch by asking them to line up according to date of birth or when they started working at your company.
Who it works for: In-person teams.
Icebreakers for team bonding
These icebreakers are perfect for teams who’ve known each other for a while but need to connect on a deeper level.
11. Unique and shared
Unique and shared is an easy way of building links between your team members. For the first round, divide everyone into randomly assigned groups of two or three. During each subsequent round, increase the group sizes.
The goal for each round is to find a commonality between all people in that group. It can be something as easy as “We all work on the same floor of the office” or as obscure as “We all saw Shrek 2 in the cinema on opening weekend”.
The trick is, no one can use the same shared trait twice. As the groups grow in size, they’ll need to share more and more information to find a common link. Assign points on a sliding scale based on how quickly groups find their shared trait.
Who it works for: In-person teams. This icebreaker game also works for remote teams if you can put them in smaller breakout rooms.
12. Critical conversations
Facilitating deep and critical conversation is a great way to help your team align on a deeper level. But it ain’t easy!
For this getting-to-know-you activity to succeed, spend time researching critical (and work-appropriate) questions beforehand. During the activity, pitch a few of the best questions to your team.
Questions like “What’s more important in the long run, kindness or ambition?” or “What advice would you give your younger self?” can pull thoughts out of the team and help them get to know one another’s values.
As the moderator, your job is to ensure everyone has a chance to speak equally. Otherwise, this icebreaker can easily become a contest for the spotlight.
Who it works for: Established teams who work together in-person. It’s always better to have these types of conversations face-to-face.
Level up with video: Create a quick animated text video displaying the rules of engagement (asking people to be respectful and open-minded, for example), followed by a 10-minute countdown timer to keep the meeting on track. (Discussions like this can go all day if you don’t put boundaries around them.)
13. Describing blind
In the lead up to this getting-to-know-you game, collect a few weird items that would be difficult to identify just from touch (mind puzzles, strange toys, or obscure tools are always a winner).
Divide everyone into teams of two. Give one person on each team a piece of paper and a pen, and sit them where they can hear — but not see — their partner. Ask the second teammate to close her eyes, then place an object in her hands. She must describe the object while their partner attempts to draw it.
This is such a hard challenge, but a great way to highlight potential communication problems between people. Once your team gets the hang of it, they’ll want to do it over and over until they improve, so make sure you have enough items on hand.
Who it works for: In-person teams who need to improve their communication.
Brand new teams usually need a bit of help getting comfortable with each other. Use these getting-to-know you games to loosen things up and begin building a sense of camaraderie.
14. Teammate introduction
As a new hire, it can be stressful getting up in front of the whole team to introduce yourself. Take the pressure off your new team member and make a video about them instead.
Film an interview where you ask them a bit about themselves, their new role, and their work history. And don’t forget to clearly display their name for everyone to absorb — most of us are bad at remembering new names.
Who it works for: Any team with a new addition.
15. Name game
No one remembers names the first time they hear them, especially in a high-pressure situation. If you have a new team or a workshop with new people, do them all a favor and start with a name game.
The game starts with one person saying their name. The person to the right of them in the circle (or the Zoom grid) says the first person’s name and adds their own. The next person continues the chain, saying the first two names and adding their own. And so on.
If someone forgets a name in the chain, start again (but start with another person so everyone gets a turn). The game finishes when you make it around to everyone and end with a full list of names.
Who it works for: New teams or groups, remote or in-person.
16. Speed dating
Speed dating is the quickest and easiest way to help big groups of people get to know each other.
Set up a long table with pairs of chairs facing each other all the way down. The group on one side of the table should be stationary, the group on the other side should move one chair to the right at the sound of the buzzer.
Give each round a minute and start them off with a few easy questions. Cat or dog person? Favorite dessert? Best travel experience? It’s amazing how much these quick interactions help build connection and create a more relaxed atmosphere.
Who it works for: New in-person teams who’ve never met before.
17. Getting-to-know-you bingo
This icebreaker is so much fun but does require a fair bit of prep work from the moderator. To prepare, find an online template for bingo and populate it with facts you know about individual team members.
Include things like “Someone who orders chai lattes” or “Someone with a birthday in October”. It’s best if you make a few variations of the bingo sheet and distribute them randomly to slow the game down.
If people start racing to get through, you can add extra rules to make it trickier. Try things like not allowing them to ask the question directly. For example, you can’t say “When’s your birthday?” but you can say “What would the weather normally be like at your birthday party?” to hone in on a bingo square.
Who it works for: In-person teams who are new to each other but not to you.
Creative play icebreakers
Sometimes it pays to have fun, especially at work. Use these icebreaker ideas to shake things up and let your team enjoy themselves.
18. Murder mystery
There are two versions of murder mystery — one that’s more low-key and one that’s more elaborate. Both versions take some time, so it’s best to save this game for a longer workshop or a company retreat.
In the easy version, you can play with no props and no required reading. Set up a game of Werewolf and see how your team interacts to uncertain alliances.
If you really want to put on a show, find a more elaborate murder mystery structure. (There are plenty of free versions online.) As the host, you’ll have to do a lot of legwork to progress the story and resolve the mystery, but it’s a lot of fun.
Who it works for: In-person teams who need to loosen up.
Level up with video: Create a video that guides your team through the mystery or sets the mood with atmospheric music and backgrounds. (Try searching “creepy” in Biteable’s stock video footage library…if you’re brave enough.)
19. Draw your coat of arms
This icebreaker activity is perfect for helping staff get to know each other’s values. It also helps managers understand how staff perceive themselves and their role in the office.
It’s pretty simple. Provide drawing tools and print off a coat of arms template for people to fill in. Coats of arms were created for important families in medieval England and worn by knights so they, and their heroic deeds, could be distinguished on the battlefield. As such, they contain a lot of symbolism.
You can ask your staff to think about the animal that represents them, the colors they like, even the saying that resonates with them the most as a motto. After they’ve finished drawing, have them explain their choices to the group.
Who it works for: Remote or in-person teams who need to get to know each other.
20. Movie pitch
Movie pitch is pretty much what it sounds like. In movie pitch, each person has to pitch a movie based on prompts. It’s a creative exercise to make your group laugh, loosen up, and get to know each other.
Here’s how it works: choose a motif — A block of cheese? A plot twist involving a pair of twins? — that must be included in the story. Give everyone a few minutes to prepare their pitch. (Keep it short.) If you want, the moderator can award an Oscar for best pitch after everyone’s had their say.
Who it works for: Teams who already know each other a little; teams working in a creative field.
Level up with video: Task your team with making their pitch into a movie trailer. (You can give them the video template below as a starting point.) Then, crack open the popcorn machine and set up a viewing of all the movie trailers (they are, after all, the best part of the movie).
Take people ops to the next level with video
Video is an effective way to engage staff, align teams, and activate your entire workforce. Do it in minutes with Biteable, the world’s simplest video maker. With professional templates, an intuitive workflow, and trackable video analytics, your can rest easy knowing your message will stick.
Looking for more ways to shake up your people ops game? Check out the Biteable blog for loads of other HR video ideas.