Icebreakers Won’t Solve Your Remote Culture Problem

Icebreakers Won’t Solve Your Remote Culture Problem

October 30, 2020

We love icebreakers! Our customers have shared countless stories about how our icebreakers have sparked meaningful conversations that would have never even gotten started without the right questions at the right time in the right context. Even though Icebreakers are a great way to engage your remote team they are only the tip of the iceberg. Most of our customers come for the icebreakers but stay for the Coffee Chats and Shout Outs. The reality is that icebreakers are only a tiny part of what is needed to build a strong remote team culture.

There are many reasons to use icebreakers to get the conversation started:

  • Easy
  • Low Cost
  • Professional
  • Non intrusive
  • Fun

Despite all the great reasons to use icebreakers there are many reasons why they don’t do enough for your team culture:

  • There is little follow up.
  • Not everyone participates.
  • Some team members may not relate to questions.
  • They rarely drive meaningful conversations.

Instead of detailing an icebreaker plan, you should detail a culture-building plan. You can still include icebreakers, but your culture building plan should be focused on meaningful team engagement. Here are a few simple steps in developing more meaningful relationships on your remote team:

  1. Top-Down Approach: Leadership needs to be involved in any company-wide culture initiatives. If you are working on a certain department or team then the leader in that part of the organization must be involved.
  2. Hiring: “A” players hire “A” players. Hiring problem solvers and doers will create a culture of growth.
  3. Define Your Challenge: What is the actual problem? Often the issues that you are seeing around turnover or productivity are much deeper issues. Dig deeper into the problem to understand what is happening within your organization that is creating the larger issues.
  4. Define A Goal: Do you want to increase engagement? Improve communication? Lower isolation? Do you need better people? All of the above? Determine what you think will solve your challenge and create clear steps.
  5. What Resources Will Help: There is an enormous amount of research around company culture and productivity. Access insights that can help guide you.
  6. What Tools Will Help: There is a lot of software out there. It is unlikely that one service will solve all of your problems. When looking at software tools for remote teams make sure that you take the following things into consideration:
    1. Time Zones: Your remote team is working on multiple time zones, so why would you have a tool that does not take that into considerations. Tools with time zone algorithms increase participation and engagement.
    2. Notifications: Give your team a break from additional emails and chat notifications. They have enough to do in a day. They will likely start ignoring tools that overwhelm them with notifications which will lower participation.
    3. The number of solutions: Do your tools solve multiple problems?
    4. Adaptability: Is the company you are working with listening to your needs? Do they add your requests to your roadmap?
    5. Support: Does the team get back to you when there is a problem? Are they considerate of your time zone and work hours?

Icebreakers are a small part of your solution when it comes to remote team challenges. If your tools are overwhelming with too many notifications at the wrong times then your team will stop participating. Make sure you take a wholistic approach to your remote team culture. It is a strategic issue, not one that a few icebreakers will fix.

About ChatFox

ChatFox is a Slack app that builds remote team culture. Remote teams that only engage through projects, tasks, and deadlines do not foster a culture around shared values and goals. Build a strong remote team culture, improve remote team productivity, and eliminate team member isolation. Use ChatFox Icebreakers to build rapport with team members, use ChatFox Coffee Chats to have meaningful conversations with people across your organization, or use ChatFox Shout Outs to recommend a colleague and endorse their skills. Unlike other remote team solutions, ChatFox looks at remote team culture from a strategic perspective and has created engaging chats for your team that provide management with insights into remote team engagement, skills, contributions, and mobility.


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