Whether an office group knows each other well or it is time for an inter-departmental task, using an icebreaker game is a great way to get everyone relaxed and ready to be involved. Our list of icebreakers for work includes those for large groups and small. You will find introductory icebreaker games, icebreaker games for teams, quick and easy icebreakers, icebreaker questions, and some icebreakers that need some equipment and advance preparation. You are sure to find whatever you need to make the work environment friendly and fun.
To make your meetings more interesting read or collection of Icebreakers for Team and Staff Meetings.
Table of Contents
Introductory Icebreaker Games for Work
Sometimes you have a work group that does not know one another, and even those who do frequently lack personal information about each other. Inter-departmental tasks also require icebreaker introductory activities. Whatever the situation, our list has some fun ways for people to get to know one another.
- Pass out three notecards to each person and have them write a statement on each card about themselves.
- Suggestions are favorite color, interest, hobby, or vacation.
- After the cards are collected, pass them out so everyone gets cards not their own.
- Then instruct them to find the owner of the card and introduce themselves.
I Am an Artist
- Pass out a piece of paper and a pencil to each person, and then allow five minutes to draw a picture that tells who they are with no numbers or words.
- After the five minutes, collect the pictures.
- Show the completed pictures to the group one at a time and have them try to guess who drew it.
Additionally, you can have artists introduce themselves and tell how their picture tells about them.
- You must have twelve or more people to Pass out paper plates to each person and have them draw a face clock, numbering each hour with a line next to it.
- Tell them to walk around the room and set a “date” for each hour by place a name their clock.
- You can only have each person’s name on the clock once.
- After everyone has made his or her “dates” allow one to three minutes for each hour and have the pair get together.
- You can either have a set question for each “date” or just give them time to get to know each other.
Team Icebreakers for Work
When you have a team meeting, icebreakers are an excellent way to build team skills and relationships. Additionally, we have icebreakers designed to divide work groups into teams.
- Divide the group into teams of four or five people each.
- Give each team scissors, tape, and many old newspapers.
- Put each team in a separate room or corner.
- Tell each team to choose one person as a model, decide on a costume, and make an outfit for the model.
- You can pick a theme is you wish, such as superheroes, actors, or famous person.
- Check periodically on the groups and when most are finishing up give a two-minute warning.
- Then call everybody together for a costume show.
This team activity helps people learn about each other’s problem solving skills and values and promotes teamwork.
- Tell participants they are to pretend they are marooned on an island.
- Depending on the size of the teams, have them choose either five or more items they would have brought if they had known they would be stranded.
- Have each team list their items, and then explain and defend their choices to the whole group.
Quick and Easy Icebreakers for Work
These fun icebreakers are quick and easy and can be done with no advance preparation. The first two can be used more than once with the same group, so keep them in mind for whenever you need an activity in a hurry.
Start a story for the group by saying a sentence. Then go around the table or circle having each person add one sentence to the story after repeating the previous sentences.
This icebreaker game challenges participators to have self-control.
- Have people pair up by randomly lining them up back to back.
- Tell them that on the count of three, they must face their partner, look each other in the eyes, and try to remain completely serious and quiet.
- The first pair to smile or laugh must sit down.
- The activity continues until only one pair remains standing.
If you wish, you can have a second round with teams facing each other and try to keep straight faces.
What Is in Your Purse or Pocket?
Have each person select one item (or two if the group is small) from their purse or pocket, preferably one with some personal significance to them. Each person then introduces themselves to the group and plays “Show and Tell” for their items, telling why they are important to them.
Icebreaker Questions for Work
As the name implies, icebreaker questions for work are short, one-sentence questions used to get people to relax. They are fun and provide a way for people to share something about themselves. Combine personal and work-related questions on a prepared list. You can have everyone answering the same question, randomly draw questions from a bag or basket, or let them choose one from a list. Consider using your own questions specific to the work environment or use one of the following:
- How do you prefer to be awakened up in the morning?
- What was the last thing on which you wasted your money?
- What is the thing you like best about your work?
- What do you do when you cannot sleep?
- Are you ever late? To what? Why?
- What hobby or activity that you not do now but think you might like when you retire?
- Whom do you talk to on the phone most often?
- What technology do you wish you understood better?
- What would you like more control over in your life?
- What in life do you “just know”?
- What was something that really hurt to let go?
- What was your toughest accomplishment?
- What characteristic do you value the most in your coworkers?
- What is the most important personal attribute that you bring to your job>
- What are you most excited about in relation to your job this year?
- What is one work-related skill that you would like to develop, especially if you could do it easily?
- What coworker characteristic do you find most irritating?
- What is the one word that you would like to hear from your boss?
- What is the single most important factor that you would change about your job?
- What is the most significant factor that your organization has control over that interferes with your success?
- What is the single most significant factor, that your organization controls, that is fueling your success?
- If you were the king of your workplace, what are the three missing factors that you would add?
Work Icebreakers That Require Preparation
These three icebreakers for work take some preparation, but they are all fun and worth the time you spend getting ready. Most of them also take a bit longer than some other icebreakers.
My Favorite T-Shirt
You can either ask people to bring (or wear if the environment is casual) their favorite T-shirt. Have each person in turn show the shirt to the group and tell when and where they got it, and explain why it is their favorite.
Paper Clips and Straws
- Give each group a box of paperclips and a box of straws (not flexible).
- Before doing so, check to make sure the paperclips fit snuggly into the end of the straws.
- Tell each group to build a structure.
- Have them share their structure with the group.
The purpose is to build teamwork and situational leadership skills to accomplish a task.
Give each person a sheet listing facts or traits about people – I have been to Europe, I have two children, I have a dog – with lines next to them. Have people mingle around the room seeking people who are eligible to sign their sheets, but each person can only sign once on each sheet.
Purchase inexpensive jigsaw puzzles of not more than 50 pieces. Give each team a boxed puzzle and see which team can complete their puzzle first. You can add some additional parameters if you which, such as:
- Each team member can only add one piece at a time and the team must take turns.
- Team members must use whichever hand is not dominate – right-handers use the left hand and left-handers use the right.
- Team members must keep the puzzle pieces upside down.
- Team members must work the puzzle left to right, right to left, top to bottom, or bottom to top.
Inter-Departmental Icebreaker Games
If employees are involved in inter-departmental work or activities, these icebreakers provide activities designed to get large, unfamiliar groups of individuals to know each other and prepare for work.
- Have employees from different departments interview each other.
- Set participants in groups at tables or arrange chairs in circles.
- Allow people to interview the person to their right for five minutes.
- Then the group rotates and everyone interviews someone new.
- Alternatively, divide the large group into two smaller groups.
- Have one group at different tables or in different parts of the room – those being interviewed.
- Have each member of the other group of employees sit down and conduct an interview.
- Allow five minutes, and then have them move to the next stationary employee and interview them.
If you wish, you can prepare a list of activity specific questions ahead of time to be used during the interviews.
Circle of Friends Game
This greeting icebreaker is good for a very large group that may have trouble meeting each other easily.
- Form two circles facing each other, one inside the other, or two lines facing each other.
- Have the circles or lines take one step in the opposite direction and meet the person across from them.
- Continue until everyone has introduced himself or herself.
Agree or Disagree
- Write the words “agree” and “disagree” in very large letters on poster board and post them on two walls, preferably across from each other.
- Make statements related to the work that is going to be accomplished and have everyone move to the wall with the poster that match their opinion.
- Have the groups discuss why they agree or disagree and create a statement to support their opinion.
Icebreaker Games to Create a Positive Work Environment
Sometimes a work group has a situation or problem that brings everyone down. These two icebreakers are designed for making people feel more positive about themselves and others.
This icebreaker activity is designed to left everyone’s spirits ad create a positive work environment.
- Have everyone write his or her name in the center of a piece of paper and draws a sun around it. You can provide colored markers if you wish.
- Have people pass their paper to the person to their right.
- That person is to write something positive about the person whose name appears on the paper. They do not have to sign their name; it is better if comments are anonymous.
- Keep passing the pieces of paper until they get back to the original owner.
- Give a minute for everyone to read his or her paper to himself or herself.
- On a notecard or piece of paper, have people write their first name, favorite animal, and three adjectives to describe that animal.
- Collect the completed papers or cards and read each person’s name preceded by the adjective. For example, if Darla chose a cat and her three adjectives were cuddly, purring, and aloof, you would have “cuddly Darla,” “purring Darla,” “aloof Darla.”
- Alternatively, you can use the phrases on nametags with all three adjectives and the person’s name – “Cuddly Purring Aloof Darla.”
- Have them mingle explaining how the adjectives apply to them.
There are many situations at work where you can use an icebreaker to set the tone and get everyone ready to take on a new task or simply have fun. Once you begin using icebreakers, you will find they improve the work environment and create comradery that can add to job satisfaction.
Susan majored in English with a double minor in Humanities and Business at Arizona State University and earned a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Liberty University. She taught grades four through twelve in both public and private schools. Subjects included English, U.S. and world history and geography, math, earth and physical science, Bible, information technologies, and creative writing.
Susan has been freelance writing for over ten years, during which time she has written and edited books, newspaper articles, biographies, book reviews, guidelines, neighborhood descriptions for realtors, Power Point presentations, resumes, and numerous other projects.