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It’s hard to replicate the experience of working side-by-side with your coworkers, day in and day out – but it’s not impossible for remote teams. Being in the office allows for organic opportunities to chat, connect, and learn about the miscellaneous quirks your coworkers have (What is their go-to 3 p.m. snack? How do they take their coffee? Do they take notes on their laptops during meetings or use pen and paper?) 

We know small talk is important for team morale and a positive work culture. But sometimes starting a meeting five minutes early or throwing a “virtual happy hour” on the calendar every couple of months isn’t enough. When trying to encourage virtual water cooler conversations for your remote team, it’s important to be intentional. Taking time to send and share out icebreakers can make a huge difference for virtual teams. 

What are virtual icebreakers?

Virtual icebreakers are small interactive activities, conversations, and questions that can be used to help “break the ice”, so to speak, and get people more comfortable and acquainted with each other. It can also help ease watercooler conversations in a social setting, especially for folks that work from home and might have limited experience interacting with others during their work day. In an online capacity, virtual icebreakers can be sent at a designated time (like during a meeting) for people to share about their weekends, or offer more specific opportunities to learn about each other. You can ask coworkers questions related to travel, hobbies, and more.

A photo of 2 remote coworkers interacting over icebreakers at a virtual watercooler during a video call meeting.

What types of virtual icebreakers are good for remote teams?

It may seem daunting to start incorporating icebreakers to your virtual water cooler. Remember though, technology is the advantage here – use what you have access to! And we’ve got you, too – here’s inspiration for your next team icebreaker. 

Open-ended virtual icebreaker questions

Open-ended questions are exactly what you think – questions where your team can write anything, keeping their responses however long or short they want. This is a good place to start when setting up your virtual water cooler, as you can begin to gauge what types of questions your team members like to answer, and how willing they are to participate. 

You can keep these questions specific to specific categories too. We’ll share a few examples:


Travel is a great topic to bring people together, especially in a dispersed workforce. If you have a company off-site, chances are your team would need to travel anyway!

Consider the following questions to kickstart conversation:

  • If you could teleport anywhere, where would you go?
  • What’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to, and why?
  • If everyone came to where you live for a company trip, what’s the first stop on the tour? 

How does your team spend their time outside of work? You may get a glimpse if you’re in the office when someone is designated the go-to baker for events, or you see photos of sports teams on a coworker’s desk. These icebreakers will help you learn more about the people your team members are, outside of work.

  • You’re unexpectedly given the day off and have no responsibilities to worry about. How will you spend your time?
  • How do you unwind after a long day?
  • What do you like to do to pass the time?
Throwback moments

Your team has had a whole life before they started working at your company. Who knows what kinds of experiences they’ve had? Take the time to ask questions about how they got to where they are (and uncover funny anecdotes along the way). It can be especially funny when comparing them to who they are today!

  • What kind of music did you listen to when you were a teenager?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What was your favorite subject in school?
A remote coworker greeting her colleagues in a virtual watercooler moment during a virtual video team call.

Interactive icebreakers

Interactive icebreakers are a great step up if you have a team that frequently engages and shares when given open-ended questions. These questions require a bit more investment than jotting out a response, but allow you to add more context for a richer experience. 


A picture is worth a thousand words. A fun icebreaker idea for your virtual water cooler? Encourage your team members to share photos in response to certain prompts. 

  • How did you spend the holiday weekend? 
  • Calling all animal lovers – share a picture of your pet, and what their name is! 
  • Have a great home office setup? Let your coworkers use you as inspiration! 

Sometimes our own words or pictures don’t suffice. Sharing what you’ve seen or read is a low-effort way to start a conversation and spark up a virtual water cooler discussion – similar to conversations about buzzworthy TV shows or news events in the office. In this case, it can be a story that tugged at your heart, or maybe just a funny industry-specific TikTok that made you laugh. 

Either way, sharing videos or links can be a great way to start dialogue among teams. Try the following prompts:

  • What made you LOL recently? Send it here (safe for work only please!)
  • Post your favorite recipe or cooking tip.
  • What’s the last thing you read that made you think? Share it here! 

Maybe you don’t want to get too personal with your virtual icebreaker questions. If you want to keep things light and fun, consider using poll questions to get the team engaged and ready to participate. 

It can be as simple as a poll for a vibe check – ask people how they’re feeling and give them some options to choose from. You can also get creative with trivia questions of the day and see how many people guess correctly. You can even share a hot take and see if your coworkers agree or disagree!

Here are some examples:

  • Vibe check – how are you feeling today?
    • Fantastic!
    • Good!
    • Okay!
    • Could be better!
  • Trivia time! Which artist painted “Starry Night?”
    • Pablo Picasso.
    • Vincent van Gogh.
    • Leonardo da Vinci.
    • Claude Monet.
  • Agree or disagree: A hamburger isn’t a sandwich.
    • Agree, a burger is different from a sandwich.
    • Disagree, a burger is a sandwich.
A person snapping photos of the ocean to answer an interactive icebreaker at their remote team's virtual watercooler.

Set up your virtual water cooler with Airspeed

You have the questions and knowledge to engage your employees. Now it’s time to implement what you’ve learned!

Icebreakers by Airspeed can automate this whole process for you. Simply copy and paste the questions from this blog and use them in the app for easy remote team building. From there, you can tie questions to a recurring meeting or set a time to send them out. Icebreakers by Airspeed will send out the question in advance and collect the response, also reminding those who haven’t sent in responses yet to do so. 

Once the meeting starts, you’ll be ready to easily start conversations at your virtual water cooler!

Download Icebreakers to your Slack workspace for free.

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