1 What does a Virtual Coffee Break Mean?
A virtual coffee break, also called a virtual coffee meeting or virtual coffee break, allows employees to break away from the monotony of daily work. It rejuvenates staff and heightens their focus and attention. When they work with a refreshed and focused mind, their productivity increases - which benefits the organization as well. Thus, making virtual coffee break ideas is a win-win.
While oftentimes virtual coffee breaks are unscripted opportunities for remote colleagues to connect and engage with each other beyond work, there are ways to structure them to ensure excitement and maximum participation. With a little planning and direction, virtual coffee break activities may include online quizzes, puzzles, or opportunities to learn something new.
2. 11 Virtual Coffee Break Ideas
2.1 Kickstart a Book Club
For the bibliophiles in your team, you could start a reading club, allowing employees to share the recent book(s) they’re reading with the group. A reading club creates awareness around the value of reading and allows book enthusiasts to have interesting discussions on themes, plots, character developments, and much more. You may even get the non-readers to join it and into the reading habit as well!
During the discussion, let everyone have a chance to share a book or books they’ve recently read and why they did or did not enjoy it. Be sure to have one of the participants recap the books discussed and any important details so those who want to seek them out after can have a list to refer back to.
We really enjoyed this idea as it doesn’t require everyone to read the same book (it’s hard to come to a consensus on what to read with a big group), and what goes better with coffee than a great book?
2.2 Organize a Quiz
Hosting a quiz during your next coffee break is one of the more intellectual virtual coffee break ideas on this list and is a great way to keep the competitive and inquisitive ones in your group engaged. It also enhances participants’ knowledge about facts and current affairs. You could include coffee break topics such as:
- History and facts about your organization
- Movie and TV show trivia (facts quiz, or guess the movie or TV show from the theme song/ scene/ dialogue)
- Celebrities (guess the celebrity from their childhood picture)
- Geography (guess the country from the flag)
- Sports facts
- General knowledge
- Music (name the Album from the album cover)
- ‘What Country Are You In?’ - an employee is given the name of a famous personality, a place, an animal, or anything else exclusive to a country, and they have to guess the country.
Last time, we picked “Guess the Movie''. Our colleague, who is a profuse cinephile, gave us clues, and we had to guess the movie. During my turn, I received three clues: ‘Jordan Belfort,’ ‘drugs,’ and ‘stockbroking.’ It took me just 5 seconds to guess “The Wolf of Wall Street” since I’ve already watched it four times! Overall, it was great fun, and we kept the coffee chat light and engaging!
2.3 TEDx-Style Talks
Engage your employees in light-hearted discussions as those giving a Tedx-style talk take participants down memory lane. Some may share their career journey, college, or even fun stories from childhood. Encourage speakers to present as if they are on a stage and ask them to do a virtual coffee break about their side hustle stories, hurdles that they faced, or anything they are comfortable discussing. This creates a bond between the employees, gives them a morale boost, and enhances team building as well.
One of our teammates gave a short ‘speech’ for about 10 minutes on how they started my career as a remote team manager 5 years ago. This also helped us learn a lot about my teammates’ journeys through their stories, which I would have for the coffee chat Tedx-style talks!
2.4 Interactive Game Sessions
Interactive game sessions are always a hit as virtual coffee break ideas. Some examples are given below:
2.4.1. Scavenger hunt
The host (can be yourself or any pre-decided employee) asks the players to fetch a household item, and the first one to grab all the right items wins the game. There could be fun items such as a plant, an album CD (Gen Zs, you know what a CD is, right?), something from the kitchen like a wooden ladle, cumin powder, or even your pet!
2.4.2. Spelling Bee
A Spelling Bee is a nice game to complement your coffee chat. Employees can be divided into teams, and the host asks each team to spell some tricky and confusing words. You could have a timer to make things interesting and provide clues like the country of origin of the word or using the word in a sentence. Take the difficulty level up a notch and give words with silent letters. The team with the highest overall score wins!
Online Pictionary is a fun and interactive game to play with your co-workers. This game is best enjoyed with both the cameras and mics on to observe the reactions of the employees during the game. In each turn, an employee is given a word to draw on the screen, which the others are supposed to guess. Whoever guesses first gets points. The one with the most points at the end of the game wins, so put the coffee down and start guessing!
2.5 Fun Facts
Think of some fun and interesting questions to have coffee chat participants answer. Some ideas include:
- What is the most interesting food you’ve ever eaten?
- What is your most hated household chore?
- What is one thing you want to own but don’t yet?
Have employees take turns answering the questions and allow the group a bit of time for Q&A afterward. This coffee break activity is not only engaging but will bring coworkers closer together.
2.6 DIY time!
For those who enjoy experimenting with new recipes or craft ideas for their home, this is an opportunity to share their passions with the group! Hold a session where employees discuss innovative recipes, dishes from their culture/ country, hand-made crafts, or even DIY hacks for their homes. This can bring out the creative side of employees as they share their ideas and even review DIY hacks on the internet together and find out if they work. DIY life hacks? Count me in! You can even create your own virtual coffee break names for each cooking session.
One of our team members shared his favorite “Baked Macaroni and Cheese” recipe, and it turned into a sensation. Everyone tried cooking it and found it so delicious. Then came “Vegetarian Tacos with Avocado Sauce,” a 15-minute recipe from another worker, and both the recipes were sumptuous.
2.7 Virtual Karaoke
Virtual coffee break ideas aren’t complete without group singing. Enter Karaoke! Play any karaoke track in the background ask employees to join the singing, and keep turns for solo singers as well. Employees could request various song tracks and ensure everyone gets a chance to take part. These Karaoke sessions act as a stress-buster and spread cheerfulness amongst everyone. You’re going to hear a lot of Justin Bieber from me!
We really enjoy karaoke sessions at SIWOM. In our last karaoke session, a co-worker surprised us all with his rendition of Ed Sheeran’s beautiful song “Thinking Out Loud.” Everyone applauded him, and he’s somewhat of a celebrity now! I must say, he has got a great voice, and we always mock fights over which team gets him for the next karaoke session!
2.8 Host a Short Movie/Video
Employees could also gather and watch a video on YouTube or an OTT platform such as Netflix/ Prime/ Hulu. The idea of Netflix with your co-workers and a smashing cup of coffee sounds tempting.
You can decide upon a video or show beforehand and send out a link to watch it via sharing a screen on a video conferencing software for your virtual coffee break platform or a Teleparty link where you have a virtual coffee break with employees. You could choose an inspirational video documentary or a comedy show to lighten the mood. Michael Scott fans, anyone?
The SIWOM team watched this documentary featuring Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) for one of our virtual coffee breaks. It’s a speech about what he was and how he became what he is today. As one of the best coffee break ideas for work, we played a 12-minute video that inspired us to pursue our dreams no matter what. By the end of the speech, we were all filled with a newfound respect for The Rock.
2.9 Skill Swap
Learning is a never-ending process, and you can get your team members to learn each other’s skills in the virtual coffee breaks. Send a survey out asking team members to list the skills they are good at. The skills can be either professional or general. Plan the session in a manner where one or more employees (depending on the time and skill) take turns to demonstrate and teach everyone the skill, and they follow the tutor by doing the activity simultaneously.
It could be anything, such as:
- Learning a new language
- Basics of coding
- A new pasta recipe
- Painting a scenery with watercolors
- Handwriting analysis
- Different facial emotions in theatrics
- Rules of table etiquette
These virtual coffee sessions are refreshing as they divert the minds of the employees from their daily work and make for fun and growth-based virtual coffee break ideas.
One of us had taken sculpting classes before and decided to teach what they learned in the last skill-swapping session. It was enjoyable for both the team and me. In return, We also learned the basics of French from one of my colleagues, who is well-versed in 3 non-English languages.
2.10 Host a Pet Show
Animal lovers and pet parents will bask in an opportunity to share their beloved pets on-screen with them for a virtual coffee break. Send an invite out and ask those who have pets if they’d like to have their furry (or non-furry) friend participate in a virtual pet show. Let employees introduce their pets, tell the story of their adoption, show photos, narrate funny incidents, and showcase their tricks.
One of our colleagues is a mom to a furry cat - Katie. When she was shown around, everyone found Katie’s playful ways adorable. Some employees brought their dogs, cats, and even a set of parrots along with them. We were highly impressed when the parrot repeated a couple of words spoken by an employee – it was the highlight of the virtual coffee break and the day!
2.11 Organize a Poetry Slam
Everyone loves poetry in one form or the other. Some like writing prose down, while others like reciting it. A poetry slam is a great virtual coffee break idea for all poetry lovers to bring them together.
Find out who enjoys poetry and make a note of those who can compose poems. Send an invite out and let them read out poetry themselves or share the screen for others to read. This way, everyone can get to know each other’s taste in poetry and enjoy the coffee break to the fullest. Enthusiasts could discuss the poem’s analysis as well.
3 How Do You Make a Virtual Coffee Break Successful?
A few virtual coffee break ideas that are primers for success are as follows.
- Each virtual coffee session should be short (Ideally between 15 mins to 30 mins) & casual (avoid work-related topics)
- Encourage employees to forge real connections and join as often (or as little) as their calendar allows
- Be on time & turn on your video for better interaction and experience
- Include a beverage of your choice (coffee is in the title, but tea drinkers and others are welcome)
- Try to make sure the technical/network problems are kept to a minimum
- Encourage the first-timers to speak up and participate actively without any hesitation
4.1 What are the best coffee break ideas for work?
Some coffee break ideas for work include - quizzes, virtual karaoke, skill swaps, scavenger hunts, and spelling bees.
4.2 How do you schedule a virtual coffee break?
To establish a vibrant virtual coffee break platform, select suitable video conferencing software based on group size and desired features like recording, chat, and reactions; FaceTime and Google Hangouts suit smaller teams, while Zoom accommodates larger groups. Create a dedicated channel on the office communications platform for invites and brainstorming with catchy names like “Coffee buddies.” Plan sessions accommodating various time zones, offering multiple time slots for flexibility. Craft engaging invites with date, time, and meeting links, prompting RSVP for headcount. Choose interactive but easy activities, gathering employee suggestions via polls or surveys in the channel. Establish ground rules for inclusive discussions
4.3 Why are virtual coffee breaks important?
A virtual coffee break is important because
- It helps employees take a break from the monotony and stress of work and lets them unwind and loosen up. This helps in driving their focus and productivity, which in turn is beneficial for the organization.
- Employees get opportunities to socialize with other people and bolster team-building efforts.
- It gives employees something to look forward to and takes the drudgery out of work.
4.4 What icebreaker questions can be asked during virtual coffee breaks?
Some icebreaker questions that you can ask during virtual coffee breaks to keep the environment friendly and light are:
- Are you finding the work-from-home engaging or willing to be back in the office? How about a balance of the two?
- What’s the biggest challenge, according to you, while working remotely?
- Do you have a home office at your place?
- What is your daily routine while working from home?
- How do you stay productive and motivated working virtually?
- Do you like taking tea, coffee, green tea, or any other beverage to keep your energy high?
- Are you an early bird or a night owl?
- Which web series are you watching these days? Do you like binge-watching?
- Which kind of movies do you like the most? Thriller, Romantic, Comedy, Romcom, or any other?
4.5 What are the best virtual coffee break questions?
Some of the best virtual coffee break questions are -
- What's your go-to coffee order, and how do you take your coffee?
- Have you discovered any new hobbies or interests during the pandemic?
- What's a book or movie you've recently enjoyed and would recommend?
- What's one thing on your bucket list that you hope to do in the next year?
- What is the first thing you’d buy if you won the lottery?
4.6 What are some creative virtual break room ideas for remote teams?
Virtual break room ideas for remote teams can include virtual trivia contests, themed dress-up days for video calls, virtual game nights, and even virtual cooking or baking classes.
4.7 How can I make virtual coffee chats with employees more engaging and productive?
To make virtual coffee breaks with employees more engaging and productive. You should establish a clear agenda, create a comfortable and casual atmosphere, and encourage open conversation. Be sure to actively listen, ask open-ended questions, and provide opportunities for team members to share their thoughts and ideas.