According to 2023 Stanford research, more people work remotely than ever.
This means getting-to-know-you activities are more than just fun. They're strategic tools for building unity among team members scattered across the globe.
These activities foster trust, promote communication, and enhance performance.
So, how do you choose the ones your team will enjoy?
As a People Operations Lead, I love creating getting-to-know-you activities that help my teams get to know each other in a fun and exciting way.
Here are 13 of my favorite activities you can use with your hybrid or remote team.
Getting to Know You Activities to Discover Your Team's Diverse Backgrounds
If you've just built or joined a new team and want an understanding of their backgrounds, these getting-to-know-you activities are perfect.
Instead of simply asking for background information about your team members, these activities help break the ice and get people talking and presenting their backgrounds in a fun and engaging way.
1. Cultural Exchange
The Cultural Exchange is one of the easiest getting-to-know-you activities for team members to share and learn about their cultural heritages.
It's an excellent way for team members to express their individuality while learning about the team's different cultures.
Here's how to play:
- Encourage each team member to pick one element of their cultural heritage, such as a traditional dish, a custom, or a common practice.
- Schedule a team meeting where everyone will have the opportunity to share their chosen cultural aspect. They can do so through a presentation, a cooking demonstration, or simply by telling a story.
- Allow each person to explain the significance of their chosen element and how it ties into their cultural heritage. Encourage questions and dialogue to foster a deeper understanding among team members.
- Rotate the activity through each team member, making sure everyone gets a chance to share.
I've found that the best getting-to-know-you activities allow team members to open up about the things that are important to them.
Ensure to set a time limit so everyone gets time to share!
2. Pecha Kucha
Pecha Kucha, a Japanese term meaning "chit chat," is a fun, no-words presentation format that keeps your people excited and engaged.
Each presentation consists of 20 slides that last 20 seconds each, totaling 400 seconds. Yes, it takes about 7 minutes to get to know someone!
Short and snappy presentations challenge people to get creative and choose what they want to share.
Your team can make these presentations in:
- Google Slides
- PechaKucha website
3. The Cultural Potluck
The Cultural Potluck is a top getting-to-know-you activity that allows team members to share a taste of their home with the group.
This activity does not only involve taste buds, but it also provides a sensory experience that promotes understanding and appreciation of different cultures.
Here's how you can organize a cultural potluck:
- Ask each team member to prepare a dish from their home country or cultural background. This could be a main course, a side dish, or a dessert.
- Schedule a meeting where each member can present their dish. Encourage them to share the recipe, the significance of the dish, and any associated customs or traditions.
- Team members can send out the recipe beforehand so others may try to recreate the dish at home, adding a hands-on, shared experience to the activity.
Team members can share their culinary heritage through the Cultural Potluck in a tangible (and delicious) way.
I love these types of getting-to-know-you activities because they combine nourishment and knowledge, fostering a more profound sense of understanding and unity within the team.
Bonus: Choosing the perfect virtual platform to organize these activities is as important as choosing the idea.
There are many options, from the most popular platforms like Zoom (but with interesting features you might not know about) to more modern ones like Butter (with built-in interaction capabilities and games), that can help you create smooth and enjoyable experiences for your remote teams.
Check out our comparison guide of the most effective and engaging Virtual Meeting Platforms to find your best options.
Getting to Know You Activities to Uncover Hidden Facts About Your Teammates
Now that you've shared backgrounds, go beyond the surface with fun activities to highlight unexpected commonalities and kindle meaningful bonds.
These getting-to-know-you activities will help you unveil things you might have never learned about your team members otherwise, leading to deeper connections and friendships.
4. Pass The Ball
Pass The Ball is exactly what it sounds like, but with a twist!
Use a ball (or any other object) to pass around the circle. When team members catch it, they must share something about themselves.
While the game may seem simple at first, it challenges your team members to come up with new or interesting facts about themselves to share once they've caught the ball a few times.
You may even want to give topics or prompts for each round, such as:
- Your favorite travel experience
- A hidden talent you have
- The most interesting thing that's ever happened to you
The Pass The Ball game can be done online using a virtual ball or by simply typing "pass" in the chat box.
5. The Interview Hat
The Interview Hat is one of the most delightful getting-to-know-you activities that spark fun and revealing conversations among team members.
The idea is that team members will take turns wearing a "magic hat" and have to answer random questions from the group.
These could range from "What was your favorite childhood toy?" to "If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be and why?".
During a team meeting, randomly select a team member to "wear the hat." This person becomes the interviewee. Other team members take turns asking a question from the "hat" to the interviewee.
After you’ve asked all the questions, the interviewee selects the next person to "wear the hat." Continue this process until every team member has been interviewed.
6. Five Favorites
This getting-to-know-you activity is a simple and quick way to uncover unique facts about your team members.
Each person takes turns sharing five of their favorite things within a specific category, such as:
- Five favorite books
- Five favorite foods
- Five favorite travel destinations
- Five favorite movies or TV shows.
The possibilities are endless!
This activity helps team members learn more about each other and provides great conversation starters for future interactions.
Try it at the beginning of your next team meeting for a fun and easy icebreaker.
7. Never Have I Ever
One of the most well-known getting-to-know-you activities, Never Have I Ever, is a game that prompts team members to share experiences they've had or things they've never done.
In this virtual version of the game, each person takes turns making a "Never have I ever" statement, and anyone on the team who has done that thing must put down a finger. Once they lose all five fingers, they're out!
This can be a fun and revealing way to learn new things about your team members while creating lighthearted and enjoyable moments.
Some ideas for "Never have I ever" statements could include:
- Traveled to a foreign country
- Tried a new food or dish
- Getting lost while traveling
- Broken a bone
The possibilities are endless, so get creative and see what unexpected facts may come out during your Never Have I Ever game.
Getting to Know You Activities to Develop Team Dynamics
Leaders know strong team dynamics are essential for a successful remote or hybrid team.
When team members feel connected and comfortable with each other, they work more effectively together.
Are you trying to find the perfect activities to foster team dynamics and build rapport? Look no further than these engaging getting-to-know-you activities.
8. Your Best Self
Your Best Self is a great way to explore individual strengths and reflect together as a team to improve productivity. By playing this game, you can:
- Discuss the team's individual talents
- Identify areas of strength and potential growth
- Encourage each other to continue developing professionally
Everyone likes to hear positive feedback; this activity provides the perfect opportunity for team members to celebrate each other's strengths.
To get started, you'll want to have your team members fill out a strength test, compile the results, and reflect on them together during a team meeting.
You can create a strength test yourself. I love using our beautifully designed free toolkit that includes everything you need for the Your Best Self Icebreaker.
9. Personal User Manual
Technology and gadgets need user manuals, but what about people?
A Personal User Manual session is one of the most creative and genuine getting-to-know-you activities; it lets everyone share what’s unique about them.
Each team member fills out the template with information about themselves, including categories such as:
- Communication style
Your personal user manual can be simple or extensive with sections on your background, interests, pet peeves, goals - whatever you think is important for your teammates to know.
Encourage your team members to be creative and personal!
Once everyone has completed their manuals, take turns sharing them with the team.
I'm always surprised at how much I learn about my coworkers through this activity, even after working with them for years.
10. Interview Pairs
Interview Pairs is a fun and engaging way to build strong connections in new teams.
You simply pair up team members and let them interview each other for about 10 minutes. They can chat about their:
- Work experiences
- Favorite things
It's a great way for everyone to learn about each other on a deeper level.
After the interviews, each person introduces their partner to the group. They share what they learned during their chat.
While this activity may seem simple, I find that it can truly help team members get to know each other better and find common ground.
11. Guess Emojis
In remote teams, most collaboration takes place on Slack or MS Teams. This text-based way of communication means understanding each other is crucial.
Unfortunately, according to 2023 FlexOS research, one in two hybrid and remote workers struggle with their manager’s communication.
Guess Emojis is a fresh and exciting team-building activity that helps solve miscommunication at work. It’s especially great if you have a lot of Millennials and GenZs on your team.
It's all about interpreting the meaning of different emojis, which can be a fun and engaging way to improve team communication. (Trust me, you might not fully comprehend what 🙂 or 🙏 mean!)
I love this activity because it brings lighthearted fun to our team meetings and helps bridge the generational communication gap.
Remember, at the end of the day, it's all about understanding each other better and fostering a positive team spirit.
And what's a better way to do it than having a good laugh together over emoji interpretations?
12. Who Am I?
Who Am I? is one of the most classic getting-to-know-you activities that always brings laughter and bonding among team members.
In this game, each person wears a name tag on their forehead and has to guess their identity.
The rules are simple. Each person can only ask yes-or-no questions to figure out who they are.
I find that this game not only lightens the atmosphere but also encourages strategic thinking and effective communication.
It's especially interesting to pair team members who are less familiar with each other!
13. Personal Commercial
This activity is another great way to celebrate each team member's individual strengths while also encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone.
Each person prepares a "personal commercial" where they introduce themselves and highlight their unique skills, experiences, and interests.
You can encourage your team members to have fun with it and creatively share their commercials, such as using props or costumes.
Some great prompts for this activity are:
- What sets me apart from others?
- What am I passionate about?
- How can I contribute to the team's success?
- What is one random fact about me that most people don't know?
This activity is an excellent opportunity for team members to practice public speaking skills and build confidence.
It’s Never Enough for Getting to Know Each Other
Getting-to-know-you activities are more than just a bit of fun.
They're essential tools for building strong, cohesive teams, especially when we're all (or partially) working remotely.
These activities help you foster trust, promote open communication, and (as a result) enhance your team's performance.
Even though we’ve played these games a hundred times, they always spark something new and interesting that makes us either LOL or WOW.
How about you? Ready to give “User Manuals” or “Guess Emoji” a try in your next team gathering? I guarantee it will bring your team a new level of understanding and camaraderie.