Ice Breakers for Virtual Teams

Instructor: Allison Tanner
Working in a virtual team makes it difficult to get to know one another. Using these ice breakers, you can begin to get to know your teammates and improve your virtual experience!

Get to Know your Virtual Team

You've just been assigned to work on a virtual team. This means that you will be working with a group of people you may never meet in person. Sure there is FaceTime and Skype, but how do you get comfortable with one another if you never meet in person?

The First Hello

The leader of the virtual team will likely be in charge of contacting the team members and scheduling the first meeting. In order to help 'break the ice' and get to know your virtual team members on a more personal note, you can use the first email to assign the first activity.

The First Email

Get started by introducing yourself and explaining your role with the team. Whether you are a moderator or leader, help the team get a feel for who you are and how you will be contributing to the project. Then, tell everyone that you will be using a few ice breakers to get to know one another. In this first ice breaker, you will have them answer the following questions.

Note: These questions can and should be modified to fit your particular team.

  • Do you have pets? If so, what kind and how many?
  • What company do you work for? Or which school do you attend?
  • Where were you born?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • What excites you most about this project?
  • What time zone do you live in?
  • What times are best for you to meet with the team?

You will have each person send this information to the 'entire' group. In doing so, everyone will get to know one another. You also have their 'time zone' and 'availability' which will help you in solving important challenges of working in virtual teams.

The First Live Chat

Although you may be ready to 'get to business' it is still important to remember that your virtual teammates don't know one another yet. You may have started some general tasks, but it is important to resist the urge to dive into the work. Start the virtual chat by introducing yourself. Then you can move into a short ice breaker.

Reiterate the Email

In order to enhance the personal connection, draw the team back to the initial ice breaker. You can ask a combination of questions.

  • What did you find most interesting about our group's dynamics?
  • What commonalities did you see in the goals?
  • Did anything stand out to you?

Select, or come up with questions that will help your group begin to feel at ease.

A Million Dollars

Get to know your team by asking each person to take one minute and discuss what s/he would do if given a million dollars. People may talk about where they would move, cars they might buy, activities they would participate in, and the list goes on. You can use this as an opportunity to discuss hobbies, travel, and family. This helps create a human connection and can assist team members in finding similarities with one another.

For the Group

It is a good idea to start your virtual relationship off with an ice breaker, but you may also want to use an ice breaker to better understand the group's dynamic. You can find out who the leaders are, who is strategic, and who will be a great reporter. This will be valuable information as you assign tasks and begin to work on the project.

Flat Tire Dilemma

Tell the team they will be working together to solve a dilemma. They have no specific way of solving the problems that occur. They can use their imagination and if it isn't in the story they can add it in. For instance, the following example doesn't say they have their family members with them, but if they chose to include that, it would be fine. The point is to see how they work together and solve challenging problems:

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