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50 Icebreaker Games for the Workplace in 2021

Whether you’re putting together familiar faces for a new project or forming a brand new team, icebreaker games can make everyone feel a bit more comfortable with each other. These types of games challenge assumptions, boost morale, build rapport, and make people laugh.

Facilitating harmony from the beginning can spark conversation, fuel creativity, and enhance productivity, which is why the team here at ZoomShift, the leading employee scheduling tool strive for this on every new project. That sense of teamwork is sure to spill over into your meetings and the day-to-day of the project, helping the team reach their shared goals.

With that said, here are 50 icebreaker games perfect for the workplace:

1. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

Ask people to stay in their chairs until you call out a household item. The first one to get it and bring it back to the camera gets the point. Tally up the points at the end to see who wins a prize.

Examples: Grab a book with a red cover. Grab something that was a gift.

2. Scavenger Hunt

Give small groups a list of locations around the office or campus and have them take selfies in front of specific places or monuments. Find people that fit certain criteria. Offer up a worthy prize for the winners.

Examples: Take a picture with a director or vice president making a silly face. Bring someone coffee or a snack at their desk and grab a selfie with them.

3. Two Truths & One Lie

Go around the room and have people tell the group three statements – two true and one a lie. People then get to guess what’s true and what’s not. It works best when the fib is somewhat believable.

Example: I’m a vegetarian, I once backpacked across Italy for a month, and I adopted a puppy over the weekend.

4. The Candy Game

Pick your favorite multi-colored candy like Starbursts, Skittles, or M&Ms. Pass the bowl around and ask people to take however many they want but to refrain from eating them. Once the bowl is passed around, each person has to answer a question for each color they take.

Examples: Red, what’s your favorite book? Brown, what did you study in college?

Employees playing cornhole

5. Paper Airplane Game

Pass around a pack of multi-colored paper. Ask everyone to write an interesting fact about themselves on the paper, then fold it into a paper airplane. At once, everyone launches the airplane into the air, and each person picks up one. Then, go around the room and guess whose interesting fact lines up with whom.

Examples: I didn’t learn to swim until I was 28. I was a junior Olympian bronze medalist snowboarder before I went to college.

6. Year Of The Coin

Bring your coin jar into the office and sort out any coins that may be too old. Have everyone randomly pick a coin and share what they were doing the year the coin was minted.

Example: 2002, my niece Caitlyn was born. 2017, I started working here.

7. Bowl Of Questions

Fill out a sheet full of questions that are good conversation starters. Cut them into little strips and put them in a bowl to pass around so people can answer questions about themselves. Here are 350 good questions to ask to get you started. Or you can opt for a digital spin-the-wheel style for prompting questions.

Examples: What strange food combinations do you enjoy? What was the last photo you took?

8. One Common Thing

Create a list with everyone’s name on it and give everyone a copy. Set a timer and have everyone find one commonality with each person in the room. No repeating commonalities to keep it interesting.

Examples: We both played basketball in high school. Our favorite comedy film is Airplane!

9. Speed Networking

Set a 2-3 minute timer and pair people up. Give everyone a conversation starter to answer (or a few). Switch partners when the time is up. Move around the room until everyone has met.

Examples: If you were stranded on a desert island, what fictional character would you want by your side, and what five items would you pack in your backpack? What’s your idea of a perfect vacation?

10. Would You Rather?

You ask a question and have everyone hold up one finger if they choose option one or two fingers if they select option two. It can be played in-person and is a fantastic option for virtual icebreaker games.

Example: Would you rather… 1. Be able to talk to animals or 2. Know the history of every object you touch?

11. Group Trivia

There are countless trivia versions, and it’s an easy way to get people alert and working together. When using trivia as an icebreaker game, it’s best to pair people into teams so they can pool their resources and work together toward winning.

Example: Make it interactive with a “Guess That Song” version. You can make a Spotify playlist and quiz people on what song/artist performs it.

12. Heads Up

There’s a free version of the popular game available for iOS and Android. You hold your phone up to your forehead, and there’s a card displayed that only the group can see. The group then gives you clues until you guess what’s on the card. If you’re playing virtual, it’s best to hide your camera when it’s your turn, so you don’t see the card accidentally.

Heads up game in action

13. Explain That ‘Gram

Have people scroll through their Instagram, other social media platform, or their camera roll on their phone and share an image with everyone. Explain why they picked it and any exciting backstory that goes with it. It’s a great way to let people’s personalities shine through.

Another fun alternative for this game is sharing embarrassing photos such as childhood photos.

14. The Friendly Debate

Pick a harmless question you think may divide the room and prompt people to then spend a few minutes coming up with reasons why their choice is better. Then have the teams debate. It’s especially fun to pick some judges ahead of time to give points to whoever had the best arguments.

Example: Which food is better, pizza or tacos?

15. Have You Ever?

Come up with a list of work-appropriate questions that can be answered with a yes or a no. Begin the game by asking, “Have you ever…?” and ask people to either stand up if their answer is yes or raise their hand if they are virtual.

Examples: Have you ever … sang in the shower? Regifted something? Flown in a helicopter?

16. Two Sides of a Coin

Pair everyone up and have each person share a recent negative experience. Their partner will listen and help them identify a potential positive aspect of said experience. The partners switch places and repeat the exercise. You get to learn something about your partner and begin your workday with an optimistic and problem-solving mindset.

Example: Yesterday I got a flat tire and none of my close friends or family picked up the phone to come to rescue me. I had to rely on an old friend who lives nearby to help me change my tire.

A positive twist here is that you got to connect with an old friend, and you learned how to change a tire.

17. Eighteen & Under

A unique game that encourages everyone to share interesting stories with each other. Ask each person to share an accomplishment they had before turning 18 years old. Chances are you’ll discover people’s secret talents, creative skills, or lesser-known accomplishments.

Example: When I was 16, I made a half-court shot during halftime and won free Whataburger for a year.

18. Straight Face Game

Create a list of work-appropriate silly jokes that you’ll have your group team up and tell each other. One person will go and try their best not to smile or laugh while each member of the team tells them jokes and does whatever they can to make them smile or laugh.

Example: Why did the employee get fired from the calendar factory? He took the day off.

19. Here’s One of My Favorites

Have each person answer questions about their favorite things. Each individual will share one of their favorite songs, movies, TV shows, podcasts, books, or dishes. Some people have trouble choosing favorites, so you can switch things up and say, “one you’ve enjoyed recently.”

20. The Hot Seat

One person gets into the “hot seat” and is the focus of everyone’s attention. Everyone in the room gets to ask them one question about whatever they want. The goal isn’t to cause conflict but to learn as much about them as possible, making it a great icebreaker game.

Examples: What you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? If you didn’t have to sleep 8 hours a night, what would you fill your time with?

21. Tic Tac Toe

Get everyone to create a tic tac toe board and fill it out with their passions. Each person then walks around asking people questions. When two people share a passion, they sign the passion on the other person’s board.

The first person to get three in a row is the winner.

22. Jenga Questions

Everyone loves Jenga, and this is a great take on the traditional party game.

Take a normal Jenga tower and write interesting questions on the blocks. When someone pulls a block, they read the question aloud and answer it to the group.

Jenga blocks

23. The Circle of Names

Line all the participants up in a circle. The first person will say their name, the second person will then say their name, and the first person’s name, and so on (the third person says their name, followed by the second person’s name, and the first person’s name).

You continue around the circle, gradually adding more names. For the people at the end of the circle, this is a little more difficult as they have to remember everybody’s name, but the group can help them out if they’re struggling.

24. The Four Quadrants

Each person draws a 2×2 quadrant on a large piece of paper.

The group is asked four questions and they each have to draw their answer to the question in one of the quadrants.

Once the squares are filled out, people walk around discussing the questions and their drawings.

25. Line ‘Em Up

Ask your team to line up in a certain order (e.g. by age, height, hair color, eye color, number of years with the company).

The team has a certain amount of time to line up in the correct order, but they can’t speak.

26. Team Jigsaw

This is a nice easy one, but entertaining nonetheless!

Split your team into two groups. Each group has a different jigsaw puzzle to complete (same difficulty). The tricky part is you switch some of the pieces so that each team needs to work with the other to complete the puzzle (although they don’t know this at the beginning).

27. The Marshmallow Tower

Teams need to build the tallest tower possible from:

  • 20 sticks of spaghetti
  • One yard of tape
  • One yard of string
  • One marshmallow

The teams can build their tower how they like, but the marshmallow has to be on the top.

28. Wink Banishment

Players are seated in a circle. Each player draws a card – either labelled citizen or banisher (1 person will be the banisher).

The banisher must banish a citizen by winking at them without getting caught by the other citizens. After someone has been banished, the remaining citizens must discuss who they think is the banisher.

A vote takes place and the citizens vote out who they think is the banisher. If they’re correct, the game is over, if they’re wrong, the game continues.

29. The Movie Pitch

Break the group into smaller teams. Each team must decide on a movie they would like to recreate.

The teams then make a pitch to show why their movie idea deserves funding. After all the pitches have been made, there is a vote to see which pitch deserves to be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster.

30. Trading Cards

Everyone creates their own trading card with a self-portrait, name, nickname, and fun facts.

People then trade cards, asking questions about each other’s cards. At the end, everyone reads out the card they are left with. The more trades that take place, the more people mingle and get to know each other.

31. Leave Your Shoes at the Door

Everybody leaves their shoes at the door. Each person then grabs a pair of shoes and has to return them to their owner.

Players can ask as many questions as they like but not about shoes. At the end, everyone takes it in turn to find their shoes.

32. Minefield

Set up your conference room with a big space in the middle and place objects across the floor (keep in mind the safety of the participants).

Ask the group to break up into teams of two. One person is blindfolded and the other has to guide them across the floor using only their voice.

Employees playing a game of chess

33. No Smiling Please

When everyone arrives, announce to the group that nobody can smile for the first 5-10 minutes of the meeting.

This goes against common convention for a meeting and gets people to do something a little different. It’s amazing how difficult it is not to smile and it will create some fun situations.

34. Crowd Participation

Split the group up into manageable teams.

Each team has to come up with their own icebreaker game and then pitch the idea to the group. As a team, you will then vote on the best game to play before playing it.

You never know what you’re going to get with this one.

35. Share an Embarrassing Photo

This one works well for virtual meetings.

Everyone shows an embarrassing photo of their choice and tells a story about it. It’s a great way to help people relax by starting with a lighthearted moment.

36. Desert Island

The team has been trapped on a desert island!

Each team member can bring one book, one piece of music, and one luxury item – what do they choose? Take it in turns for each team member to say what they would bring with them and why.

37. Name That Person

Split your team into small groups.

Each person writes five interesting facts about themselves and puts them into a pile with the rest of their group.

The groups then swap cards and have to guess which fact belongs to which person.

38. Around the World

Start by naming a country, city, town, river, mountain, etc.

The next person must then name a geographical feature beginning with the last letter of the word the person in front used. So if the first person said Peru, the second person might say Uganda, and the third person could say the Atlantic Ocean.

Words can’t be repeated, so as you take turns going around the circle it will get more difficult.

39. Build a Story

This is an easy game that takes no prep.

Team members build a story one word at a time. You can add rules to make this more challenging, but it’s nice to see where the groups’ creativity can take you.

40. One-Liners

Split the group up into pairs.

Each pair has to come up with a quote – from a book, movie, or song. The pairs read out their quotes, while the other pairs have to write down where the quote came from.

Each correctly identified quote is worth one point, plus teams that come up with a unique quote that nobody else used get a bonus point.

41. The Blind Square

Participants sit in a circle with a blindfold on.

Tie a long piece of rope together at both ends and get everyone to hold on to the rope. The aim is to turn the circle into a square without letting go of the rope.

It’s a fun game that should get people communicating.

42. Group Map

On a large sheet of paper, the group must draw a map that reflects where they all come from (this can be a world map, national, local – it depends on what they choose).

Together, they need to learn about each other and come up with a map that best showcases where the group comes from. The nice part is, they can be as creative as they like with this – it might not even be a geographical map.

43. All Aboard the Balloon Train

Place balloons of varying colors around the room and split the group into teams of six or more.

The teams stand in a line (like a train) and their goal is to fill their train with passengers (moving as a team). The balloons are passengers and once they’re blown up and have a face drawn on them they become live passengers.

Each person needs to have two passengers for the train to be full.

44. Human Billboards

Give everyone a large piece of paper and some colored markers.

Using pictures, symbols, and words, each person will design a billboard to describe themselves.

They will then cut a hole in the paper, placing it over their head so it hangs like a billboard.

Participants will then walk around with their billboards, asking each other questions and discussing their designs.

45. Secret Identity

Everybody writes a name on a Post-It (someone everyone will know). They then stick the Post-It on the person to their left’s back.

Players then take turns to ask yes/ no questions to discover their secret identity. At the end, each person announces who they think their secret identity is.

46. Blow Wind Blow

Set up chairs in a circle but make sure you have one less chair than people. Everyone takes a seat with one person standing in the middle of the circle.

The person in the middle will announce, “Blow wind blow.”

The circle replies “blow what?”

The person in the middle will then reply with a conditional statement such as “everyone wearing red,” or “everyone with glasses.”

Those people will then stand up and find a new chair, giving the person in the middle a chance to grab a chair.

You can start removing chairs to make this more competitive.

47. Picture This

Each person draws an image that represents them as a person. They then explain the meaning behind the picture to the person on their left.

The person to the left must then show the image to the group and describe the meaning behind it.

48. Unique and Shared

Split people into groups of four or five.

Each team has to find one thing that’s unique about each person. They also have to find something they share with each person in the team (characteristic, hobby, etc.).

They will then announce the results to the group as a whole.

49. Find Your Pair

Write different words on pieces of paper, making sure each word is part of a pair (e.g. salt and pepper).

Tape a word to each person’s back. They will then walk around asking questions until they figure out what their word is so they can find their pair.

50. Purpose Mingle

Another simple one!

Have people walk around and say what they will contribute to this event/meeting/session. It’s a chance to get to know people and understand what they bring to the table.

Do you have other icebreaker games we can add to the list? Tell us in the comments below:

Sam Molony

Sam Molony is the marketing strategist at ZoomShift, the leading employee scheduling software. When Sam's not publishing or promoting new content you can find him playing his guitar or baking.

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