Icebreaker games: how to get to know your office

Written by: the Officevibe Content Team
Published on November 17, 2016 | Reading time: 6m

Joining a new group can be pretty intimidating. I remember when I joined the team at Officevibe, I was pretty nervous, and wanted to make sure I became friends with the team as quickly as possible.

Luckily, the team here understands how to properly onboard a new employee, so I was okay, but I’ve had different experiences at other companies I’ve worked at.

Onboarding is one of the hardest things to get right in the employee life cycle, but in my opinion, the most important. If you get that part right, then they’ll be that much more engaged, and that much more productive.

Office games are a fun way to get to know people, and make the welcoming of a new employee or group much more enjoyable.

Download our free collaboration guide and meeting framework to share with your team!

10 Icebreaker games to get to know your office

  • Two truths and a lie
  • Lost on a deserted island
  • The trust walk
  • The one word icebreaker
  • The five favorites
  • Speed dating
  • The interview
  • What’s my name
  • Would you rather
  • World geography

Having icebreaker games that are fun and that people will actually enjoy is a hard thing to get right though, and if you screw it up, it can completely backfire, and you’ll end up making a terrible first impression.

Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and it’s hard to say what a “good” icebreaker is, but I’ll share some icebreakers that I don’t like, and then share some that I think are simple, and actually fun.

The bad icebreakers games

  1. The human knot: In this icebreaker, participants hold hands, and then the object of the game is to get out of this “knot” without letting go of each other’s hands. It’s day 1, and we’re already holding hands with coworkers? Can this be classified as harassment? What if your coworker has clammy hands? I’m not really a fan of this one.
  2. No words, only sounds: Not only is this game annoying, it’s loud, and would drive me nuts. The way this game works, is you receive a card with something written on it (like the name of an animal or a type of car), and you’re supposed to be blindfolded. Then you make sounds to find someone else in the room. For example, if it’s a type of car, and 2 people receive “Truck” they’re supposed to make a loud truck noise, blindfolded, to find each other. This might be the worst idea for an icebreaker ever.
  3. Have you ever: This is actually a pretty popular game, but I don’t like it, because I find it a little invasive. I think it’s important to keep work and your personal life somewhat separated. It’s also tricky from a corporate point of view because of privacy concerns. If the question is something like “have you ever been in trouble with the law”, I’m sure there are some people who might not be comfortable answering that.

But enough about the bad stuff, let’s get into some icebreaker ideas that you can use at your work to build engagement and team building.

The good icebreakers games

The next list of 10 icebreaker games are great for getting to know your new colleagues. Feel free to split your group up into smaller teams to make it easier (and faster) to play these games.

  1. Two truths and a lie: This is one of the more popular icebreakers and is pretty easy to play. It doesn’t require any equipment or anything which is good. The way it works is each person is supposed to tell three quick stories, with one of them being a lie. The object of the game is for whoever is listening to the story to guess which is the lie. It’s a fun way to get to know one another.
  2. Lost on a deserted island: This is a really fun icebreaker, and is also a cool way to see what really matters to people. The way this one works, is if they were stuck on a deserted island, name one thing that they would bring, and why. If you want to get really advanced with this game, ask people to pair up into teams, and to figure out how they can use their one object together to increase their chances of survival on the island.
  3. The trust walk: This is a great activity for building trust among your team, and learning how to listen to your coworkers. The way this one works is people are paired into teams of two, and one of the team members is blindfolded. Then the person who isn’t blindfolded leads the other one around by following their voice and listening for cues. The only bad part about this activity is it required a decent amount of space, so maybe do this one outside.
  4. The one word icebreaker: This one is great, because it requires everyone to be creative. Split the group into teams of four or five people, and get everyone to come up with one word to describe something. What topic you have them describe is up to you, but my advice would be make it something about their work. For example, if you could describe your company culture in one word, what would it be?
  5. The five favorites: This icebreaker is simple, and is a really good way to learn more about coworkers. The way this works is you ask each person to list their five favorites of anything, whether it’s movies, songs, TV shows, it doesn’t really matter. The point is to get some discussion started, and see where people have things in common. For an advanced version of this game, make the question more professional, like the five best qualities of a leader, or the five ways managers motivate employees.
  6. Speed dating: It’s not “dating” in the sense that you’ll go for a fancy dinner, but it’s modeled after speed dating. The way speed dating works is each person has a few minutes to chat and get to know someone else before being moved to the next person, to get to know them. This works very well in a corporate setting, because it gives everyone a chance to have a quick one-on-one with someone new.
  7. The interview: Think of this one as a more structured version of the speed dating example above. The way this icebreaker works is people split into teams of two, and they interview each other, asking each other questions about anything. At the end of the interview, each person has to come up with 3 interesting facts about the person they just interviewed. It’s a nice way to get to know someone.
  8. What’s my name: I’m not that good at remembering people’s names, especially if it’s in a large group. This is a really simple, fun way to learn people’s names. The way it works is, each person says their name out loud with an adjective that begins with the same letter as the first letter of your name. Ideally, you call the person by that name for the rest of the day. Joyful Jacob? Jazzy Jacob?
  9. Would you rather: This is one of my favorite games to play, and I play this one even when I’m not icebreaking. You go back and forth asking creative questions (often nonsensical) about whether the person would rather do X or Y. For example, would you rather eat nothing but insects for 3 meals straight, or not be able to watch TV for a year. It’s funny and light, which is always nice for relaxing the mood.
  10. World geography: This icebreaker game really challenges people to think, which is always fun. I’m sure many of you reading this have played this game before, but the way it works is you say the name of a country, and then the next person has to say another country, starting with the last letter from the previous one. For example, Canada → America → Afghanistan → Nigeria…

What do you think about these icebreaker games?

There are lots of fun icebreakers for getting to know the team and employee engagement. What are some icebreakers that I missed? Do you think that icebreaker games are a good way to boost team spirit at the office?