Remote Working

10 icebreakers for your return to the office

Lydia Watson

Like the first day of term after the summer holidays, returning to the office might feel daunting. Whether everyone’s back full-time, or you’re trialing a hybrid model, there’s sure to be some nerves about coming back together again. 

Find the answers to all your office icebreaker questions and more: download our free guide to remote and hybrid working. 

Try out some of these icebreaker ideas, to reconnect your teams:

1. Breakfast re-briefing 

Remove any ‘re-entry reluctance by’ sweetening the deal. That is, lay on a spread of pastries, yoghurts, bagels, and other breakfast treats. Literally breaking bread together will be the best way to start off – and while everyone’s enjoying their breakfast, your people leaders can give a short speech welcoming people back, and reaffirming your organisation’s aims.

2. Celebrate lockdown wins

For a lot of organisations, it’s been BAU aside from the remote working aspect. Now you’re all in the same space, take the time to celebrate the accomplishments made by employees, teams, and the overall company during the pandemic. People will appreciate a shout-out, and it’ll give everyone the boost they need to get stuck in. 

3. A round of reintroductions

For all the staff that’s been onboarded remotely, going to the office for the first time is a big deal. Reduce the nerves, by running an organisation-wide round of introductions – even for people who know each other well. Consider a speed dating style, or just go around the room.

4. Hand out branded merch

Time to get everyone excited about the company! Create a sense of community spirit, by investing in some inexpensive branded gifts – think tote bags, or mugs. Your team will appreciate the gesture, and it’ll give everyone something to talk about.

5. A long, long lunch

You’ve all got targets to meet, and numbers to reach. But one long lunch on your first week back can’t hurt – and it’s so important to encourage your company culture to thrive again. Give each team permission to take a long lunch, one that takes as long as it takes, so people can get all their catching up out of the way.

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6. Circle of show and tell

If you’ve been out of office for a while, then there will be a lot of catching up to do. A year is a long time, and people are likely to have had some positive experiences they want to share. Set up a ‘show and tell’ session to hear about all the engagements, new grandchildren, house moves, pet adoptions, and renovations that have happened while you’ve been away.

7. Randomised coffee breaks

Getting individual teams all caught up is one thing. But how do you encourage cross-department friendships to flourish? Set up randomised coffee breaks, where two or three people are selected to grab a cuppa together – it’ll be sure to get everyone looped up again.

8. Freeflow brainstorming

We’ve all had a lot of space to think. Your employees probably have a lot of ideas about what the organisation could (and should) do to provide better service to its customer, boost performance, or just be a better place to work. So ask them! Set up a freeflow brainstorming session, where all ideas are welcome.

9. End of day happy hour

Make sure to kick back early one day, with a full team happy hour. That might mean laying on free beer and wine, but for the non-drinkers you could consider ordering in pizza, loading up a games console, and putting on some music. Anything to help everyone relax, and enjoy each other’s company. 

10. Restart the social committee

Now you’re all back together, give your teams something to look forward to! Reinstate your social planning committee, and get them to put the first date in everyone’s diaries for a company-wide event. Maybe it’s a barbecue, or a film night – whatever it is, it’ll give everyone something to look forward to.

Want to understand what your people really want, when it comes to their work life? Find out with an employee survey, and powerful listening technology – try the platform for free:

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