Icebreakers or Trivia? Team Building in The Remote Workplace 

Author:
Laurence Tognetti
Published:
December 4, 2023

I. Team Building in the Remote Workplace  

With an increasing number of companies shifting to a fully remote workplace, maintaining team cohesiveness is more important than ever. Remote work and its lack of in-person engagement run the risk of causing teams to experience social isolation and the potential blurring of work-life boundaries. Therefore, companies and workplaces must adopt strategic remote team-building methods specific to this type of work. Here, we will discuss how simple things like icebreakers and trivia games can help ensure a team is at the top of its game while providing the necessary level of cohesiveness and camaraderie.  

Remote work allows for greater flexibility and increased productivity but can also lead to social isolation, with additional challenges including trouble communicating and time management. Like in-person work, remote employees also experience procrastination, but remote work can amplify these habits as many work from home and have access to things that promote procrastination. By increasing camaraderie and social interaction in the virtual workplace, you can reduce the likelihood of succumbing to these distractions and sources of procrastination. 

Online games and icebreaker questions aim to alleviate social anxiety from working in a team and metaphorically 'break the ice,' that separates virtual team members who may have never met in person. Straightforward tasks geared towards helping your team get to know each other better lead to increased workplace engagement.   

II. The Role of Online Games in Remote Team Building   

Several types of online games are suitable for remote teams, including virtual escape rooms, team-based video games, and collaborative online puzzles. Other possibilities include gift swaps, messy desk pics, social chat channels, and book clubs, to name a few. While some activities can be accomplished occasionally, others can be accomplished regularly. Balance is critical, and striking the right balance of games and trivia within the workplace will help build a more robust long-term team.   

Chati platform for remote team building, showing the mystery escape room.

Examples of successful online game-based team-building activities include Pancakes vs Waffles, Virtual Pub Crawl, Typing Speed Race, Virtual Dance Party, Jackbox, and Spreadsheet Pixel Art, to name a few. Be sure to check virtual event companies like Chati for virtual team-building games that would suit the size and format of your team. These activities can be fun and impactful while requiring minimal effort in producing and engaging.   

III. Leveraging Trivia for Remote Team Building   

As the popularity of remote workplaces has increased, so has the popularity of virtual trivia games, which help bring people together while encouraging teamwork and promoting learning within the remote working environment. Additionally, virtual trivia games boost employee engagement, enhance problem-solving skills, and promote collaborative efforts among remote employees.   

Chati platform trivia page for remote team building.

Successful virtual trivia sessions start with proper organization, framework, and goals, like all endeavors. This involves constant communication with your team regarding the time of the event and what the sessions hope to accomplish in the short- and long-term. An essential first step is to plan the virtual trivia event well in advance, possibly several weeks or months ahead, allowing your team plenty of time to prepare. Additionally, periodic reminders of the event are also helpful in allowing your team to come prepared the closer the event arrives.    

A significant benefit of virtual trivia is that it promotes knowledge-sharing and camaraderie among remote employees, as the event provides your employees the rare opportunity to get to know each other and learn about each other, which only builds lasting connections, much like a virtual event or webinar.   

IV. Icebreaker Questions for Virtual Teams   

The primary role of icebreaker questions in remote team meetings is to increase inclusivity, which builds team bonds and allows them to engage on a more personal level. These bonds will carry over into the workplace environment, leading to more success in daily practice. 

Examples of creative icebreaker questions for virtual team sessions include: 

  • Who's your favorite band? 
  • What are your top 3 favorite movies? 
  • Which TV show is over-rated? Which deserves the hype? 
  • What pizza toppings are unacceptable? 
  • If you had to eat one food every day for a month, what would it be? 
  • What actor would play you in a biopic? 
  • Are you a cat or dog person? 

The important note is to keep things simple with questions that spark conversation and engagement. These icebreaker questions can range from fun to awkward and can be catered to individuals based on interests you already know about. Just like virtual events and webinars, it's essential to receive feedback before the event to gauge what questions could impact cohesiveness and camaraderie most. Try sending out a survey to glean some preliminary information about the participants. Do several people enjoy reading? Video games? Cooking? Incorporate these elements into your icebreaker questions! 

Virtual team building room on the Chati platform showing breakout rooms.

V. Real-Time Interaction in Remote Work   

Real-time communication and engagement in remote work must be balanced, as constant contact is vital to successful business and team engagement. While Slack has become one of the most mainstream platforms for remote work, other platforms include Microsoft Teams, Discord, Google Chat, Troop Messenger, and Flock. Research shows that spontaneous conversation sparks novel ideas among co-workers. These platforms allow for real-time communication, ensuring a constant flow of information throughout the workplace and promoting these 'spontaneous' interactions.   

VI. Measuring Employee Engagement in Remote Teams   

Like virtual events and webinars, surveys and feedback are vital to gauging the impact of team-building efforts, maintaining camaraderie, and building cohesiveness among remote work employees and employers. A survey could inquire about their level of engagement and what aspects of the event they enjoy the most and which aspects the least. This feedback will also ensure the next virtual team-building event is much more successful.   

Chati platform remote breakout rooms for team building and project assignments.

VII. Conclusion   

While remote work has some drawbacks in terms of team bonding and engagement, virtual team-building exercises like online games, trivia, and icebreakers can increase inclusivity and camaraderie while building team cohesiveness for both the short- and long-term. When developing virtual team building activities, make sure to give your employees plenty of notice ahead of time while keeping the activities simple, along with getting appropriate feedback afterward.   

The importance of team building cannot be overstated, and using team building activities will ensure employees are engaged and ready for the next challenge. Employees work the best when under the least stress, and virtual team-building activities are an excellent way to break the social isolation that comes with remote work while building camaraderie among everyone.   

Sources: Calendar.com, HubSpot Blog, Atlassian, MuseumHack, MuseumHack 2, Funny-Business, Fortune 

Written by Laurence Tognetti

Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran with extensive journalism and science communication experience for various outlets. He specializes in space and astronomy and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @ET_Exists.

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