Remote working continues to grow each year, with more people working from their homes. The recent pandemic accelerated the need for remote workers, with most people having to use social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As time goes by, remote workers are becoming an essential part of most businesses' workforce.
Statistics show that by 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month. 2020 revealed how beneficial having people working from their homes can be, but the trend continues to climb in the coming years. The number of people who are going to be permanently working from their homes is said to double during 2021 as productivity has gone up during the pandemic.
That said, with most businesses transitioning over to remote working out of necessity, managers must find ways to ensure these employees can work together. Some of these employees will most likely be new and now know the rest of the team. Setting up ways for everyone to get to know each other is crucial in making sure team cohesion is possible.
Fortunately, there are ways for remote team managers to make sure the team can not only get to know each other better. Doing so will lead to them developing a bond that is similar to an office working environment. To do so, we need to look at virtual icebreakers.
Here at Brightful, we have made it our duty to come up with ways for managers to break the ice with their team members. That is why, for this article, we are going to go over what a virtual icebreaker is and why it is crucial for your business.
What is a virtual icebreaker?
A virtual icebreaker is a team exercise that allows you to warm up a team and help them get to know one another virtually. It is known as virtual icebreakers because they are conducted online through video conferencing. Software like Zoom is used to connect with the team during remote working and can be used for these virtual icebreakers as well.
These virtual icebreakers are considered far more fun than simple introductions. Virtual meeting icebreaker games can serve as great team building exercises, especially when working remotely can cause employees to feel isolated.
Virtual icebreakers are excellent for keeping your team engaged, even when they are apart from one another. Typically a traditional virtual icebreaker activity can last somewhere between five to ten minutes, but they don’t have to. Icebreakers are an incredible way for bonds to form among your team members. Virtual icebreakers can be conducted during any moment of your meeting. You could start a session during the early parts of your meeting or dedicate an entire conference to one.
These virtual icebreakers can be almost any activity that can lead to your team getting to know each other better, from casual conversing with one another, playing games, having a coffee break, sharing pictures, and so much more. The idea here is to start an activity that can spur everyone into action and start a dialogue among your team members.
Now that you know what a virtual icebreaker is all about, let go into why it’s vital to use them.
Why are virtual icebreakers important?
Virtual icebreakers are an excellent way to get your team members to switch over to something else that does not involve the daily grind and refocus. These icebreaker activities are usually fast and exciting, but they come with an assortment of benefits.
Most of the people on your team may not know each other, mostly because they are new hires to the team. Or your business can be entirely new, and this is the first time everyone is meeting for the first time. Either way, you want to get past the awkward stage of having everyone get to know each other.
Introducing yourself to new people can be a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. Most people want to make their first impressions an excellent experience but are unsure how to accomplish that without coming off as awkward. That can especially be dreadful when it comes to being the new team member in a group of people who already know each other well enough.
These people have spent enough time around each other to know each other's cues and making inside jokes, feeling entirely comfortable. Fortunately, there are ways to introduce a new employee to a team that is already aware of each other.
Virtual icebreakers are excellent for getting past the dreaded introduction stage every team needs to go through. It allows you to get creative with the ways employees introduce themselves without making them feel pressured. These fun games and activities can disarm participants, allowing them to loosen up a bit and connect with their fellow team members on a more human level.
Setting the right atmosphere
These virtual icebreakers also allow for some much-needed levity in meetings. The excitement and laughter that these activities can lead to a more relaxed atmosphere, which is excellent for brainstorming and ideas to flow in afterward. Creating an atmosphere that makes everyone feel comfortable is critical for ensuring the free flow and exchange of ideas.
It also ensures that everyone manages to get into the right mood to start their workday. Having your day start negatively can severely impact the workflow of your employees and disrupt the entire project. These icebreakers will ensure that your team can start their day on a more positive note and ensure they can put theirs all into their work.
Improves creativity and workflow
Some of the virtual icebreakers you use are made to stimulate creativity. Offering your team a chance to take a break from their usual routine is crucial for their health. Mix things up and let them catch a break and converse with one another. Getting the team together in an open and laid-back setting offers them the chance to see each other perspectives, which can then be used in their daily work.
Build team rapport
Team managers need to get to know their employees. They also need to encourage the rest of the team to get to know each other as well. You need to understand their motivations and drives if you want to get the most out of your team. Not every single person on the team will respond the same way as each other, so the more you get to know each other, the better everyone's relationship will become.
Furthermore, this allows you the chance to show that you actually care about them. With the pandemic going on, most people are going to feel isolated with being shut indoors for most of their time. Virtual Icebreakers offer you the chance to check up on them and ask them if you can help them in any way.
As you get to know them through these icebreaker activities, you will be able to react in ways that will make your employees feel good about themselves. Knowing that they have a group of people that cares about them will eventually lead to productivity and collaboration.
Communication is crucial for the success of any organization. Your employees need to be capable of communicating with each other. Having effective communication among your team members not only creates a more positive work environment but increases productivity, employee engagement, and profit margins.
These virtual icebreaker activities will allow everyone to communicate with each other. It ensures that not only are they learning something new about each member of the team, but understanding how to communicate with them. Some of these teammates might even discover that they share similar interests. That could lead to them developing even deeper relationships and improve overall productivity amongst the team.
These communication attempts will also encourage the team to reach out to one another whenever they need assistance with something. The hesitation that would ordinarily be there will eventually disappear as these icebreakers continue to normalize communication amongst everyone.
Reducing isolation and loneliness
Unfortunately, most people these days are isolated for most of the world due to a rampant epidemic impacting our lives. Everyone is mostly stuck at home, incapable of going out and doing their usually outside activities. Social distancing has made it challenging for people to get together and have an exciting time as well.
These are issues that are most likely plaguing your team member's lives constantly. It could be worse if the person is living alone with no one else in their home. The only people they are interacting with are their fellow workers. And while that may offer some levity, it may not be enough for them, especially if they do not feel connected to their team members.
Virtual icebreakers can be used to close that gap of isolation and make your team come together through your meetings. Everyone will get to know each other and learn something new, which could lead to more communication occurring with each other even outside of working hours. Best of all, it could lower the chances of your team members feeling isolated and lonely during these trying times.
When should you use virtual icebreakers?
Virtual icebreakers can be used during the start of any of your video team meetings, but there are several scenarios where they are especially helpful. For instance, if your team member is working from different locations and is incapable of meeting in person, icebreakers can assist them with developing a similar relationship and rapport that an office-based team would happen over time.
Chances are you had to combine teams from different businesses following a company or department merger. There will be lingering suspicions about each other's group at first, but with virtual icebreakers, you can assist both of these sides by getting them together. It is at this point where you help them to develop trust and encourage collaboration among everyone.
When are they not appropriate?
Virtual icebreakers may not be appropriate for every meeting you have with your team. For instance, spending time on activity could potentially annoy a team member if they are working under pressure. The person could have a lot of tasks to accomplish, or if you are currently in a meeting to discuss an emergency, these icebreakers will be in bad taste.
Furthermore, you may need to hold it off if a higher executive decides to join the call. While it can be tempting to demonstrate your team's excellent working dynamic, it is far more vital to recognize that their time is most likely limited. Instead, allow them to get to the point of their meeting so your team can get back on track.
While your team may be working remotely, an ice breaker may not be entirely necessary. The team may see these types of activities as patronizing or a waste of time if they are already in contact with each other frequently.
As mentioned above, icebreakers are great for breaking down any cliques when a new person joins an already established team. At first, you may receive some pushback from your existing team members, who consider it a waste of time. If that does happen, explain to them why you think doing it is a great idea, and encourage them to engage and participate in these sessions.
How can we help you?
Here at Brightful, we offer several games and activities that can be used during these virtual ice-breaking sessions. We have conversational games, knowledge testing games like Trivia, and fast-paced games that will ensure a fun time for the entire team. You can even customize your own games to make them fit your team's culture. Our games are guaranteed to spark excitement and laughter in your virtual meetings.
As a remote team manager, it’s going to be your job to ensure the team is capable of getting along with each other. Virtual icebreaker games and activities are capable of assisting you with making sure your team eventually becomes a fully functional team. Just make sure to pick something that everyone will enjoy and conduct them every once in a while.