Those casual interactions between coworkers in cubicles, at the coffee maker, or even around the copy machine, aren’t wasted downtime. They are relational touchpoints between team members! But just because your team isn’t in a shared space, doesn’t mean you have to forgo the inherent team building benefits of coffee breaks. Now’s the time to take a “virtual coffee break”!
What is a virtual coffee break?
A virtual coffee break is a scheduled break for co-workers that happens over Zoom where they can chat and connect with one another, often while drinking coffee.
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Just like other team building activities, virtual coffee breaks can help keep teams engaged and on task by providing a reprieve from the isolation and burnout that comes from working remotely. But without the right kind of planning, scheduled “hang out” time can at best be awkward and at its worst a total flop. Below we provide the essentials on how to host a successful virtual coffee break!
Virtual Coffee Break Topics
To get off to a quick start, ask invitees to bring their favorite coffee mug to the meeting. This is an easy way for the team to share a little something about themselves. Ice breaker questions are also a good way to spark conversations. These questions are usually light-hearted and can lead to longer discussions. Often, participants find out that they have some things in common and these commonalities build group unity! Check out this list to find 160 ice breaker questions. But here are ten to get you started!
- What’s your preferred hot beverage: coffee, tea, chai, or something else?
- Where did you grow up?
- What are some of your recently used emojis?
- Are you reading a book right now, and if so, what’s it about?
- What is your favorite part about working from home?
- Who was your role model when you were a kid?
- If you could have any superpower what would it be?
- What was your first job?
- Are you listening to any good podcasts right now?
- What’s one country you would like to visit and why?
Virtual Coffee Break Ideas
Ironically, recreating the casualness of an in-person coffee break requires some artificial structure. If the flow stops or begins to feel forced, here are some ideas for what to do during this team building time.
1. Share Your Gratitudes And Wins For The Week
Have participants share something they are grateful for in their professional or personal life. Sharing information like this can provide a necessary shift in perspective, either for the person sharing or the people listening.
If your team is working on a difficult project or needs a morale booster, sharing gratitudes can help relieve and shift a stressed mental state!
Aside from saying what they’re grateful for, your team can also celebrate each others’ wins for the week, whether that be something work-related or personal.
2. Get Physical!
Staying active isn’t just good for the body physically but also mentally. Quick workout sessions can help your team get their blood flowing, increasing productivity and focus. Even though they’re working from home and staying active might seem more convenient, that’s not always the case. Encourage your team to get up out of their chairs and get moving!
One simple activity that everyone can benefit from is performing stretches at their desks. When it’s time to return to the office permanently, they can do these stretches anytime! You can also try a quick yoga session or for those with limited mobility, a guided meditation.
3. Tour Each Other’s Work From Home Setup
Sharing workspaces can be a light-hearted way to spark conversation. Teammates may also enjoy the chance to show off the efficiently laid out work-from-home setup they’ve created. For those who prefer not to show their space, have them describe it!
4. Play A Round Of A Trivia Game
Playing a trivia game is a guaranteed way to get your team members’ minds off of work and into fun! Team members can do this one-on-one or if you’re interested in gathering the whole crew together check out these virtual trivia game options!
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5. Play an Ice Breaker Game
A platform like Virtual Coffee Chat makes ice breakers easy. First, your team answers ice breaker questions. Then the answers get shuffled and team members guess who gave what answer. This is a great way to turn ice breaker questions into a game and keep the conversation going while people sip their drinks.
How To Organize A Virtual Coffee Break
We recommend scheduling a virtual coffee break at least once a week. Of course, you can have more depending on the needs of your team, but once a week should be the minimum to keep everyone connected!
Scheduling and sending invites is easiest through e-mail or a shared calendar. Don’t forget to include the video conference link to the scheduled meeting! Aim for between 10 and 20 minutes of chatting time. Less than that can feel rushed, but longer can feel forced or bleed into important on-the-clock hours.
Use Breakout Rooms To Keep Groups Small
There are several video conferencing platforms you can use for your virtual coffee break, however, we recommend using Zoom for its breakout room feature. This feature allows you to bring your whole team into a meeting, then split them off into smaller groups for certain activities.
Smaller groups make it more comfortable for everyone to speak and stay engaged. This could be an especially useful feature if you have a large team.
While keeping things small is great for helping everyone have a chance to talk and connect, it can also be awkward. Be sure to include an ice breaker question or two before you send everyone off into their separate rooms!
If you’d like to make sure that all team members have time together, keep track of which teammates have met in a breakout room. This way you can ensure that the same people don’t end up in a breakout room together over and over again!
Avoid Potential Technical Issues And Distractions
Double-check prior to the date that everyone can sign in and knows how to navigate the chosen virtual coffee break platform! Just like the coffee machine in your office, you want everyone to know how to brew a fresh pot!
We hope that we’ve given you the tools you need to start having fun virtual coffee breaks. Though it’s often a challenge connecting hybrid and remote teams, an intentional virtual coffee break can make it possible! Learn more virtual team building insights and ideas here.
Anecia is a Nashville-based writer who believes in the power of team building. She writes a variety of content focused on creative corporate team building ideas, to help teams become more dynamic, unified, and successful.