Team leaders have had to get extremely creative as they’ve transitioned to working with hybrid or fully remote groups. And sometimes between trying to get things done and dealing with Zoom fatigue, you need a break and a chance for some social interaction.
A virtual coffee break is a great way to virtually have those conversations once held in the breakroom or standing at a team member's desk. Unlike in the office, virtual coffee breaks don’t have to involve an actual drink, but they still signal a group taking an intentional, engaging break during the work day.
And these 15 to 30 minute breaks aren’t just about socializing. Virtual coffee breaks can increase feelings of connection between coworkers and help nurture team bonds. When people feel isolated at work, it can cause them to be less productive. By taking time away from work in a more social setting, you can prevent burnout and loss of productivity.
However, you want to balance fun, social time with some structure. Creating a loose schedule for your virtual coffee breaks gives everyone a clear idea of what to expect. To help you create a fun, engaging virtual coffee break for your team, we’ve put together a few questions and games that work virtually.
These icebreaker questions are interesting enough to get people talking while also being light and entertaining. While you don’t want conversations to get too far off course, some of the answers might result in fun back and forth.
If you want your virtual coffee break to be a bit longer or to divide up long meetings, you should try one or two of these team building activities. They’ll take a bit more time than just asking questions, but these activities are very effective bonding experiences.
Tea vs Coffee, sometimes also called Waffles vs Pancakes, is a simple game where you ask your team either/or questions. For example, do they prefer tea or coffee? Would you rather ride on a train or a boat?
You can put together a list of good prompt questions manually, or just use a ready-to-play slide deck to run a tried and true tea vs. coffee game. This particular game is a live interactive presentation, where you can display your screen to your team, and they can all join in on their phones. Then they can each send answers in, and the game displays their responses and scores live.
There’s nothing people love more than showing off their adorable pets. Harness the love your team has for their pets by creating a virtual ‘pet parade’. Have your team send in their favorite picture of their pet and put together a slide show for the whole group. Remember to give time for everyone to talk about their fur babies. You can also use a simple "Photo Share" game on SlidesWith to let people upload and share their photos live, one by one.
In under 10 minutes, you can play fun travel trivia and find out about your teams' travel experiences and preferences. You can put together your own trivia game about your favorite places to go, or you can use a ready-to-play trivia deck like the one here.
These ready made games are great if you don't want to do any work. You can use the above deck, or any of our many pre-made trivia games. SlidesWith trivia games are great because they have all the question-your-audience / they-send-their-answer / automatic scoring functionality that make these events easy to run. Plus you don't have to come up with questions since all the questions already created, and the games come with other fun interactions built in like round breaks, sound boards your people can send in funny noises with, wordclouds, and more.
Some of us might be guilty of overusing our emoji boards. But is that something your team members would know? Have your team send in screenshots of their emoji boards and put them in a slide show. (You can create an interactive version of this super easily using a SlidesWith live photo sharing slide). Then give everyone a chance to guess who they think the board belongs to.
Use a free bingo card creator like Bingo Baker or My Free Bingo Cards to put together a game specific to your team. Add funny virtual prompts, too, like “wearing pajama bottoms right now”. Not only will your team get a kick out of the action items or accomplishments, they’ll enjoy the competition.
Create a list of fun prompts about life experiences or accomplishments. Some good examples are “speaks more than one language” or “has a pet dog”. Get your team together and have them hold up five fingers, then start reading through your list. Whenever someone has experienced the prompt, they put down one finger. The winner can either be whoever has the most fingers up or puts down all five fingers first.
You can create your own Word Blurt game or use SlidesWith to facilitate your game with this ^ ready-to-play word association deck. The concept of Word Blurt is to create a list of words or images and have one team member at a time ‘blurt’ out the word that comes to mind when they see the word or picture.
You can run the game above like a slide deck — share your screen with your players and they all join in. Then the deck will show you a word, and automatically call on each person individually to give them a chance to shout out what they think.
You can have show & tell one of two ways for a virtual coffee break. The first is to surprise your team and have them grab something random from their desk to show to the group. Or, if you want to be more organized, let the group know to bring something fun to talk about at your next team building activity.
Take some time to relax as a group by leading your team through a guided meditation. Taking time to refocus and re-center can make the rest of the day go more smoothly. And you don’t even have to take the lead! There are some amazing guided meditations on YouTube, this five minute video.
This fun game will get your team up and moving around their space, and will give everyone a chance to share things they love with each other.
Launch the game like a slide show presentation, and share that screen with your team. They can all join in to your game, and then everyone gets a prompt and a timer to go find that item. They take a photo and send it in, and the game will display the pictures one by one, giving folks a chance to talk about their scavenger find!
We’re big fans of a good laugh, but if you want to delve deeper into getting to know your team, you can ask more thoughtful questions. These questions will still prompt good conversations, but might cause your team to sit back and think for a second.
Virtual coffee breaks may not seem like a priority with everyone having busy, stressful schedules. But the benefits of these moments of conversation away from work are vital to improving connection and engagement with virtual teams.
Virtual coffee breaks need to be part of every team’s regular schedule. The good news is, these breaks don’t need to shoe horned into a busy day. Virtual coffee breaks can be scheduled into meetings or events already taking place. If you’ve already planned a team building event, simply add 15 to 30 minutes to socialize with your team.
While you will need to put some thought into the structure of your virtual coffee break, they’re definitely less rigid than more traditional meetings. The goal is to get your team talking and sharing.
You should go in to a virtual coffee break with some sort of plan. However, that plan doesn’t need to be overly structured. The key is finding the right balance between allowing the conversation to flow naturally, but not to get too off track or inappropriate.
First, you should encourage everyone to turn their cameras on for these coffee breaks. While it’s acceptable to keep your camera off during a meeting, the point of these breaks are to see and connect with people.
You should also plan a series of questions or an activity or two to do as a group. However, if conversations start to flow, be willing to let go of something planned to allow your team to bond naturally. But keep conversation light and don’t discuss work. You want these breaks to be actual breaks for your team.
With that in mind, you should never schedule a coffee break after work hours. While virtual coffee breaks are designed to be more social, they are still work. It’s fine if team members want to hang out virtually after work, but leaders should never schedule additional activities outside of work hours.
A virtual coffee break is a time you and your virtual team take to socialize without talking about work. While drinking coffee isn’t a prerequisite, these moments of chill activity give people a chance to talk more casually.
Virtual coffee breaks can be scheduled during a regular work day or used to give a break between longer meetings.
Virtual coffee breaks should be between 15 and 30 minutes long. You don’t want to rush the experience, but you also don’t want to take a huge chunk out of your team’s day.
Everyone on your team should be invited to your virtual coffee break. The goal of these breaks are to boost energy levels and improve connection between your co-workers.
In an article published by the Harvard Business Review, Tsedal Neeley suggests remote team leaders should increase how often they check in with their team leaders. And not only should touching base increase, but meetings and virtual coffee breaks should as well.
As a general rule, you should have a virtual coffee break at least once a week. However, Neeley points out that the key is consistency. Communicate with your team how often you’ll have coffee meetings and then stick with that schedule.
Virtual coffee breaks are all about socializing as a group. The majority of other remote activities, especially within a workplace, are resolved around business. However, when you’re in an office, you strike up friendships with the people around you. You have casual conversations. With virtual work, it’s difficult to create those little moments that mean so much to people.
Virtual coffee breaks, whether built around questions or group activities, bring back the sharing and fun to a workplace.