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 20 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?
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 icebreakers.
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.
Source: PDL Hockey News
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.
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?
Do you have other icebreaker games we can add to the list? Tell us in the comments below: