How to ignite team spirit? Try an icebreaker!

In the past, people often worked in the same physical space as their colleagues. This allowed for easy conversation and getting to know one another personally. However, with the rise of remote work, this dynamic has changed. Now, people are working from all over the world, in different time zones, and often don't have an opportunity to meet their co-workers in person. This can make it difficult to get to know new people and build relationships with them.

For many, not having a relationship with their coworkers can lead to a feeling of isolation, and is detrimental to collaboration or job satisfaction.

One way to improve collaboration and relationships among your coworkers, whether in a physical space or through remote work, is to have a few icebreakers in your bag of tricks. In this article, we discuss ice breakers, including why they are important and how they can help you overcome challenges in the workplace, and we'll even provide a few examples for you to try out.

The Challenge of Getting to Know New People

Getting to know new people in the workplace can be challenging for several reasons. First, people are often busy with work and may not have much time to socialize. Second, people may have different levels of comfort when it comes to interacting with new people. Some people may be shy or introverted, while others may be more outgoing. Finally, there may be a lot of competition in the workplace, and people may be more focused on advancing their own careers than on making friends. 

However, getting to know new people in the workplace can also be rewarding. It can help you learn more about your colleagues and build relationships that can make work more enjoyable. There are many ways to get to know new people in the workplace, including attending company events, participating in team-building activities, and simply taking the time to talk to your colleagues. By getting to know new people in the workplace, you can create a more positive and enjoyable work environment for yourself and others.

The Challenge of Getting to Know Remote Workers

Given the changing work environment over the last few years, remote work and flexible scheduling have made getting to know your coworkers even more difficult. You don't have the opportunity to bond over coffee breaks or after-work drinks, and it can be hard to build rapport when you're not seeing each other face-to-face daily. Workers might be in completely different time zones, so they might be just starting their workday while you are finishing up yours. And even if you are both working simultaneously, there's still a big difference between being side-by-side and being miles apart. But there are ways to bridge the gap.

Fortunately, video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype make it possible to have face-to-face interactions, even if you're not in the same room (or country). And plenty of online tools are available to help with collaboration, whether you're working on a shared document or planning a team event. With a little effort and mindfulness, building strong relationships with remote workers is possible. And it all starts with an efficient icebreaker!

What Are Ice Breakers?

By definition, an ice breaker is an activity or event that is designed to help people get to know each other better. And while there are countless ways to break the ice, they all share one common goal: to create opportunities for connection and conversation. When used effectively, ice breakers can help you get to know your colleagues, build better relationships, and create a more enjoyable work environment for everyone. Icebreakers can make remembering names and job duties easier because you have information about that person, rather than just an email or internal chart. Learning about each other's quirks or personality traits can go a long way toward helping you feel confident working with that person or asking questions about particular jobs.

How Icebreakers Can Help Overcome Those Challenges

It's the first day of a new job. You enter the office (or online call) and are immediately greeted by a group of curious faces. Introductions are made, and you quickly realize that you have very little in common with your new colleagues. You may wonder how you will ever build meaningful relationships with these people. This is where icebreakers come in. Icebreakers are designed to help people get to know each other better and find common ground. They can be as simple as sharing a fun fact about yourself or asking everyone to name their favorite movie. By taking the time to get to know your colleagues, you'll be able to build stronger relationships that will benefit both you and your company.

Some Icebreaker Examples

Most people have experienced the awkwardness of a work meeting where everyone is a stranger to each other. This can make it difficult to start the meeting and be productive. One way to overcome this obstacle is to use an icebreaker. Here are a few icebreakers that we love to use in our own meetings that could be helpful for you in yours.

Two Truths and a Lie

"Two truths and a lie" is a great way to start team meetings or workshops. In only a few minutes, it warms up the group and creates a climate of trust between the participants. They feel closer to each other because they have shared funny confessions with their peers. This empowers everyone for an efficient collective thinking phase afterward.

How to Play

To play this ice breaker, each person comes up with three facts about themselves; two of them should be true, while the last should be a lie. Each person takes turns saying their three facts in any order they choose.

 For example, one person might say they:

  1. Have a pet turtle named Steve.
  2. Ran a marathon last month.
  3. Are fluent in High Valyrian.

Once the person shares their three facts, the group can vote for what they think is the lie. After everyone has voted, the person reveals which facts were true and which one was a lie. Typically, this revelation can lead to fun conversations about how exactly they learned High Valyrian or if they have any other pets named after a character from Stranger Things. Once that conversation dies down a bit, the group moves on to the next person.

Would You Rather...

"Would you rather..." is a fun ice breaker that allows people to pick between two wacky scenarios, leading to laughter and learning a bit more about each other's personalities.

How to Play

To get a round of "Would you rather..." started, you present the group with two options to choose from. For example, the question might be something like: 

"Would you rather have to fight one giant duck or 100 tiny ducks?"

As everyone answers, encourage some participants to share why they chose that option. This could lead to interesting stories and showcase how each of your team members thinks about solving problems.

Who's Who?

In "Who's Who?" the meeting leader collects interesting bits of information about each person in the meeting ahead of time, either through emails or by having each person write them down on a sheet of paper (there's also a great template for doing this virtually). Then the rest of the group tries to guess who that bit of information is about.

How to Play

After the information is collected, the team leader reads one aloud. The rest of the team then votes on who they think that information or fact belongs to. Once the guesses are in, the person who wrote the information announces it was theirs, and you can see if the group was right. You can encourage people to explain more information about it or tell stories about their lives that the group otherwise may never hear about.

And so many more!

Of course, there are many ice breakers for teams to latch onto and try out every once in a while. Some are best in person, but many can be transformed and used in virtual meetings just as easily. Regardless of the ones you choose to try, always stay open to the group's answers and leave space available for everyone so that they can participate in their own way.

The goal of any ice breaker should be inclusion and it's always best to keep the conversations light and fun. After the ice breaker, note how the rest of the meeting goes and if there is more or less engagement than a regular meeting. That'll give you a sense of whether or not the ice breaker was well-received and if it is worth using again in the future.

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