The few minutes between when a meeting begins and when it really starts is a great opportunity to connect to team members. Seizing on chances like this is increasingly important with the rise of hybrid workforces and digital meetings.
So, with just a little bit of time at the start of a meeting, how can you help your team to really start getting to know each other?
The simplest answer is you need to break the ice. And if you think your icebreaker questions are boring, fret not! There’s no need to worry about boring team building activities. These fun team building questions will let you spice up your next Zoom call!
When to Use Icebreaker Questions
When are the best times to whip out a few icebreaker questions? Here are a couple of situations where having some great icebreaker questions will empower you to make the most of the situation:
- Breaking awkward silence. Whether it’s in a meeting, on a Zoom call, or in the break room, having a few good icebreaker questions can help make awkward silences a great opportunity to connect with your team members.
- Helping new employees feel welcomed. The first couple of days at a new job are often awkward (even with a great onboarding process). Ice breakers can help your new team members feel welcome — they’ll be more likely to settle in and bond with their coworkers.
- Building relationships. Building relationships is huge when it comes to creating a team that’ll work well together. Having great relationships on the team will actually help everyone perform better when working together.
- Having fun! Having fun at work can help engagement, creativity, and purpose. So use these icebreaker questions to have a little fun while at work.
Why Are Icebreaker Questions Good for the Workplace?
Icebreakers don’t have to be just time fillers. When done properly, they can shape your team for the better.
Improved Team Building
Teams that do icebreakers together perform better together and can help build your team’s morale. They aren’t just a silly game at the beginning of a meeting. Icebreakers really can actually help your team become, well, a real team.
Alleviate Stress, Anxiety, and Tension
Fun at work (through things like icebreakers) helps build resilience and allows everyone to relax and take a break from stress. Icebreakers can reduce stress, bringing down anxiety and tension for individuals and for the team as a whole. So taking some time to break the ice (especially for new employees) is a great way to help your team relax.
Shape Workplace Culture
Workplace culture is the attitudes, beliefs, practices, and more that shape the atmosphere of your company. Icebreakers help you build a stronger culture, and companies with strong cultures have 72% more engagement.
Connect With WFH Employees
Working from home isn’t going anywhere. By early 2023, 12% of American workers were fully remote, and 28% were working in a hybrid workplace, which involves some level of remote work. Icebreakers are a great way to foster connection between physically separated teammates. Asking a few fun, poignant questions can help those cameras and mics to switch on.
What Makes an Ice Breaker Question Good or Bad?
Before diving into examples of icebreaker questions, let’s consider what makes an icebreaker question good rather than boring or uncomfortable.
There are a couple of key characteristics of bad icebreaker questions. They often…
Have Right or Wrong Answers
Icebreaker time is not the time for trivia or a pop quiz. It’s a bad icebreaker question to ask someone to list all the company values. Keep the question open ended with room for self-expression.
Make People Feel Inadequate
Avoid questions that focus on accomplishments and achievements. Those types of questions can lead to comparison or feelings of inadequacy, which is the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve with icebreaker questions.
Reveal Nothing about the Person
While you might want to avoid getting too personal, icebreaker questions like, “What’s your favorite color?” reveal almost nothing about your team members. Those types of questions aren’t problematic, just a little dull.
On the flip side, good icebreaker questions…
Encourages Talk and Discussion
Yes and no questions are boring. Great icebreaker questions require a little thought and can get discussion going. Instead of asking, “Do you like ice cream?” ask “What ice cream flavor best fits your personality?” That requires a little more talk and can get some good conversation flowing.
Can be Answered by Anyone
Icebreaker questions should be as universal as possible and not exclusionary. Try to avoid niche questions that not everyone can answer and questions that are too personal to the point they’d potentially make some people uncomfortable answering them.
Doesn’t Require Prep
If your question requires several hours of prep and a slide deck, it’s not a great icebreaker. A great icebreaker question is something that can be answered on the fly, with only a minute or so to consider the answer.
With those principles in mind, let’s dive into some great icebreaker questions!
100 Icebreaker Questions for Work
Category 1: Team Building
These team building icebreaker questions are a great way to get to know your team better, strengthen relationships, and gain some fun insights into the way your team members operate. Most of these questions aren’t work-related, so you can get to know each other a little better outside of the office.
- What is one thing you enjoy most about working in this team?
- Share an interesting fact about yourself that most people don't know.
- If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
- What is your favorite team-building activity or game?
- If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you want with you?
- What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?
- Share a memorable team success story or achievement.
- If you could switch roles with anyone in the team for a day, who would it be and why?
- What was your favorite childhood TV show or cartoon?
- What is one thing you hope to accomplish with this team in the next year?
- If you could invite three famous people to a dinner party, who would they be?
- Share a funny or embarrassing work-related story.
- What is your go-to karaoke song?
- What is the most interesting place you've ever visited?
- What is your favorite hobby or pastime outside of work?
- Share a book or movie that has inspired you recently.
- If you could live in any decade, which one would you choose?
- What is the best professional development opportunity you've had so far?
- What is your favorite thing about the company culture?
- Share one thing you are grateful for today.
Category 2: Department-Specific
Department-specific icebreakers are designed to really help your team delve into what it means to be a member of your department. If you’re looking for great questions to help members of one department learn more about each other and the department, these questions are for you.
- How did you decide to pursue a career in [department]?
- What is the most challenging part of working in [department]?
- Share one thing you've learned recently that has helped you in your role.
- What is the most rewarding aspect of working in [department]?
- If you could change one thing about [department], what would it be?
- What is one skill you think is crucial for success in [department]?
- Share a recent accomplishment or project you're proud of in [department].
- If you had unlimited resources, what project would you tackle in [department]?
- What is one goal you have for your career within [department]?
- Share a tip or trick that has improved your productivity in [department].
- What is one thing you wish everyone understood about [department]?
- If you could job shadow anyone in [department], who would it be and why?
- What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened during your time in [department]?
- What is the most valuable lesson you've learned in [department]?
- If you could bring one new idea or innovation to [department], what would it be?
- What is the biggest misconception people have about [department]?
- Share a recent industry trend or development that excites you.
- If you could collaborate with any other department, which one would it be and why?
- What is one thing you appreciate about your colleagues in [department]?
- Share a professional skill or competency you'd like to develop within [department].
Category 3: Casual Conversations
Sometimes icebreaker questions should be conversation starters. Having some great icebreaker questions that will be casual conversation starters is a great way to work toward building relationships with your colleagues, relationships that can help your team perform better and help new team members feel comfortable and welcome at work.
- What is your favorite way to unwind after a long day of work?
- How would you commute if you could use any form of transportation?
- If you could have any pet in the office, what would it be?
- What is your favorite lunch spot near the office?
- Share a hobby or interest that you enjoy outside of work.
- What is your favorite office perk or benefit?
- If you were in charge of the office playlist, what playlist would you choose?
- What is your favorite office tradition or event?
- Share a funny or interesting encounter you've had with a coworker.
- If you could have any celebrity work alongside you for a day, who would it be?
- What is your favorite way to celebrate a colleague's birthday or work anniversary?
- Share a funny or memorable office prank you've witnessed or been a part of.
- If you could have a dedicated office snack or treat, what would it be?
- What is your go-to activity for team bonding outside of work hours?
- Share a fun fact about the city or town where the office is located.
- If you could have any fictional character as a coworker, who would it be and why?
- What is the most interesting or unique desk decoration you've seen in the office?
- Share a favorite work-related meme or funny video that made you laugh.
- If you could create an office club or group, what would it be focused on?
- What is your favorite team-building exercise or game that you've participated in?
Category 4: Professional Development
Icebreaker questions can be all fun and games, but they also have the power to help you and your team have discussions that move your professional development forward. Professional development is a powerful way to build confidence at work. So taking some time to hone in on professional development with these icebreaker questions is a great step toward more confidence and morale.
- What is one skill or competency you'd like to develop in your career?
- Share a recent training or workshop you attended that had a positive impact.
- If you could attend any conference or seminar, which one would you choose?
- What is your preferred method for staying updated on industry trends?
- Share a book or podcast that has influenced your professional growth.
- What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting in your field?
- If you could have a mentor in your career, who would you choose and why?
- Share a professional goal you've set for yourself for the next year.
- What is one thing you've learned from a professional setback or failure?
- If you could switch roles with anyone in the company for a day, who would it be and why?
- Share a valuable lesson you've learned from a previous job or position.
- What is your favorite professional development resource or platform?
- If you could create a workshop on any topic, what would it be about?
- What project have you been a part of in your career that you’re most proud of?
- What is one thing you appreciate about your colleagues' professional skills?
- If you had unlimited time and resources, what skill would you master?
- What is one thing you would like to see improved in the professional development opportunities offered?
- Share a professional challenge you've overcome and what you learned from it.
- If you could have a conversation with any industry expert, who would it be and why?
- What is one thing you're excited to learn or work on in your current role?
Category 5: Work-Life Integration
Work-life integration empowers people with more flexibility and reduces the risk of negative consequences that come from boundary violations associated with work-life balance. These questions are all about helping you and your team evaluate how your work-life integration works and in what ways you can all continue to develop a better integration that empowers you both at work and in your personal life.
- How do you integrate work into your life?
- Share a self-care activity you enjoy outside of work.
- What is your favorite way to de-stress during the workday?
- If you had an extra day off, how would you spend it?
- Share a productivity tip that helps you integrate your life and work together.
- What is your favorite vacation destination and why?
- If you could work remotely from anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
- Share a hobby or interest that brings meaning to your life.
- What is one thing you appreciate about the company's approach to work-life integration?
- If you could introduce a new initiative to support work-life integration, what would it be?
- Share a memorable experience where you achieved a good work-life integration.
- What is one thing you do to disconnect from work over the weekend?
- If you could have a flexible work schedule, what hours would you prefer?
- What is your favorite way to recharge and relax after a busy workweek?
- Share a personal goal you have outside of your career.
- If you could work on a passion project, what would it be?
- How do you prioritize self-care during busy work periods?
- What is one thing you appreciate about your team's support for work-life integration?
- Share a time when work-life integration was a challenge for you and how you addressed it.
- What is your favorite quote or mantra that helps you maintain perspective in work and life?
Category 6: Virtual Icebreaker Questions
For all of those remote and hybrid employees, these questions are for you. Your remote team members need connection. Lower connection reduces performance and productivity. So don’t let your virtual employees feel separate from the team or the work by involving them with these virtual icebreaker questions. These questions work great over Zoom, and some of them can actually help your team gain more insights into how to work productively remotely.
- What is one positive thing you've learned or experienced since transitioning to remote work?
- Share a photo of your current workspace and tell us something unique or interesting about it.
- If you could have any virtual background during video meetings, where would you choose to be?
- What is your favorite productivity or collaboration tool that you use while working remotely?
- Share a fun or interesting fact about your hometown or where you currently live.
- If you could work from anywhere in the world for a week, where would you choose and why?
- What is your favorite way to stay connected with colleagues while working remotely?
- Share a book, podcast, or TV show recommendation that you've enjoyed recently.
- What is one challenge you've faced while working remotely, and how did you overcome it?
- If you could have a virtual lunch or coffee chat with anyone in the company, who would it be and why?
- Share a work-from-home tip or routine that has helped you stay focused and motivated.
- What is your go-to background music or playlist for enhancing your productivity?
- If you could do any virtual team-building activity, what would it be?
- Share a virtual team bonding experience or event that you've enjoyed.
- What is one thing you miss about the physical office environment and one thing you don't miss?
- If you could have a virtual mentor for your career, who would it be and why?
- Share a funny or memorable virtual meeting mishap or technological challenge you've encountered.
- What is one new skill or hobby you've picked up while working remotely?
- If you could give one piece of advice to someone new to remote work, what would it be?
- Share a virtual collaboration or communication tip that has improved your remote work experience.
Remember the Conversation Starts With “You”
Icebreaker questions are a great way to help bring your team together and foster workplace relationships. Plus they’re fun! Combining questions from each section can create a well-rounded discussion that’s both fun and relevant.
Connecting with your team through discussion is all about supporting a more unified culture and giving employees a safe space to engage together. But a lot can go on behind the scenes. Encouraging holistic wellbeing can be an effective way to build confidence and encourage engagement for every member of the team.
Empower your colleagues to feel better and do better at work with wellness benefits that build them where they are. Talk to a Gympass wellbeing specialist today.
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- Fallon-O’Leary, D. (2021, July 15). Work-Life Integration Is the New Work-Life Balance. Is Your Team Ready? Retrieved June 1, 2023 from https://www.uschamber.com/co/grow/thrive/work-life-integration-vs-work-life-balance.
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- Nelson, B. (2022, March 2). Why Work Should Be Fun. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved June 1, 2023 from https://hbr.org/2022/05/why-work-should-be-fun.
- Parabol. 330 Icebreaker Questions to Try with your Team. Retrieved June 1, 2023 from https://www.parabol.co/resources/icebreaker-questions/.
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- Ryba, K. (2021, June 1). 8 Tips for Keeping Remote Workers Connected. Retrieved June 1, 2023 from https://www.quantumworkplace.com/future-of-work/keeping-remote-workers-connected.
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The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.
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