Code for unity: join the remote icebreaker challenge 💻✨

You’re in the weekly rhythm of planning, stand-ups, and retros. It’s all going fine, but you can’t help but feel that something’s missing – that spark in the team. Cultivating a vibrant culture is even more challenging when your team is scattered across remote locations. But fear not, because the solution is as simple as it is fun: icebreakers! 🚀✨

At first, they might seem a bit cheesy, and you might cringe a little. But when you make icebreakers a regular part of your team’s routine, you’ll see some magic happen. The initial cringe gives way to a more engaged and happier team, eagerly looking forward to their next call. You’ll notice higher energy, bigger smiles, better communication, and perhaps even a productivity boost (we’re still waiting for the data, but it feels fantastic). The spark is real, a humble delighter, here to stay!

The tools

1. Squiggle Birds (10 minutes)

  • Tools: Figjam board (or similar), timer

Need to spark those creative cannons? Open a shared board and ask team members to draw a squiggle with a single line. Then, set a timer for 2-3 minutes and encourage everyone to let their imagination run wild, turning their squiggles into unique birds. After the timer goes off, each team member shares their creation and choice of details.

2. Learning Moments (15 minutes)

Ask team members to reflect on the last time they learned something new, or someone changed their mind, describing what caused the shift in perspective. This icebreaker invites vulnerability by exploring personal growth, open-minded active-listening and you may even uncover hidden areas of expertise within the team!

3. Sunny Side Up (10 minutes)

For the foodies among us, discussing breakfast preferences is an egg-cellent way to kick off your virtual day. Share typical breakfast choices and any morning routines. Learning about your colleagues’ habits (maybe someone is hangry, needs their second coffee, or is trying to squeeze in time with their family) can build a sense of community and empathy.

4. Weather Forecast (10 minutes)

Encourage team members to describe their current emotional state by comparing it to a weather forecast. Are you feeling sunny, cloudy, stormy, or perhaps in the midst of a gentle breeze? This breaker is a creative way to encourage empathy, and helps individuals to recognise any existing emotions they may be bringing into the conversation.

5. Quizzes (20 minutes)

  • Tools: internet browser

Prefer something a little more light-hearted? Check out websites like HatQuest and explore the plethora of quizzes and games available. Choose one as a team or take turns over several sessions.

6. Seasons (10 minutes)

Great for international teams: different countries have different seasons! Discuss your favourites and why. This helps plan team-building activities, events and hey, perhaps your next travel destination!

7. Curious Cats (10 minutes)

  • Tools: search engine

Find a picture of a cat that represents how you’re feeling today and share it with the team. Cats have a wide range of expressions, making this breaker both amusing and a great conversation starter.

8. Memories (15 minutes)

Customise this breaker to your meeting topic and begin activating those neural pathways. For example, you’re about to begin an ideation session for an app to make road trips easier. Ask the team to share the last time they engaged in this activity and their thoughts or experiences.

Bonus tips

While many of these icebreakers can be initiated through simple conversation, if you’re transitioning to a workshop or presentation format, consider using collaborative tools like Figjam boards, the meeting messaging channel or similar shared platforms. These tools can help team members add notes, reactions and comments, fostering even more engagement and participation. You can also provide examples or screenshots to guide the process. But hey, if you opt for pen and paper and sharing through pictures or camera screens, that works too!

And.. don’t rush. The suggested duration is aimed at smaller groups (2-5 people), you can extend the fun if you are a larger team, making sure to choose an activity that complements your meeting duration and desired outcomes. Keep the space open for discussion and questions, it’s often the subsequent interactions that nurtures team connections.

Over to you!

Icebreakers are not just about creating a fun and engaging atmosphere; they are also powerful tools for building bridges within remote teams and fostering international relationships. They enable team members to appreciate their differences, learn from one another, and work together effectively, acknowledging and appreciating their diversity. So, join the challenge, give icebreakers a try and watch your remote team thrive!