Virtual Water Cooler Ideas for Your Next Team Meeting

Remote working has become the norm, which means that remote employees have to find new ways to enjoy those water cooler chats that often bring people together in a traditional office environment. This is where the concept of virtual water cooler conversations or virtual water cooler activities came into play. In a traditional setting, teams would naturally engage in water cooler talk in the kitchen, around the vending machine, the break room and the cafeteria. While a water cooler chat isn't strictly part of your job, it's a nice way to blow off steam and gain some insight into your colleagues and their personal lives.

Short Summary

What Is a Virtual Water Cooler?

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A virtual water cooler is an online space where remote workers can gather to socialize and have casual conversations. This can be done through a variety of tools, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom. Virtual water coolers can be used to discuss non-work-related topics, such as hobbies, current events, or simply to get to know each other better.

Many businesses have cottoned onto the fact that remote teams were missing the water cooler conversation that would happen in the physical office and have come up with online water cooler activities that can take its place. While virtual water cooler chats don't occur as organically as they would in real life around an actual water cooler space, virtual water cooler events can provide a great place for virtual teams to enjoy casual interactions, team-building activities, and play games during their lunch break.

You can use a water cooler session to:

There are plenty of professional digital water coolers you can use, but you can also have those virtual water cooler moments using the virtual tools you already have in place. Virtual water cooler setups don't need to be complex - all you need is a virtual space, a video call tool with multiple communication features (like group chat or break rooms), and a meeting link you can send to your team. The rest is up to you.

Benefits of Virtual Water Cooler Activities

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So, why should you have those water cooler talks if you have a virtual office? Let's take a look at the benefits:

Tools Needed for Virtual Water Cooler Activities Or Virtual Water Cooler Conversation

To facilitate virtual water cooler activities, you'll need some essential tools:

Now, let's delve into some popular virtual water cooler games!

The Best Virtual Water Cooler Activities for Remote Teams

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Need some inspiration for your next virtual water cooler? Try these ideas:

GIF Wars

GIF wars are one of the most entertaining virtual water cooler activities. To get started, install a GIF generator extension like Giphy on your chosen communication platform. Periodically issue challenges to your team, such as "your weekend plans," "the worst GIF to accidentally send to your mom," or "reaction to a Monday morning." Participants can submit GIFs for fun, or you can turn them into a contest. Encourage coworkers to react to the GIFs with emojis and comments, creating a lively atmosphere.

Online Trivia Games And Quizzes

Trivia games and quizzes are excellent for challenging your remote team's general knowledge and fostering friendly competition. Sign up for a trivia app like Water Cooler Trivia or Doozy, which may offer Slack integration for seamless use. Alternatively, you can post questions in a group thread or ask them during a video call. Tailor the quizzes to your industry or department for added relevance. Some engaging activities include Virtual Jeopardy Social, Virtual Trivia Time Machine, and Virtual Happy Hour Trivia.

Question Games

For a more personal touch, question games provide a fantastic opportunity for team members to get to know each other better. Games like "This or That?" "Would You Rather?," "Truth or Dare?," and "Never Have I Ever" can break the ice and initiate conversations. These games can be played using video meeting apps like Zoom or Google Meet, where team members take turns posing questions or statements.

Lunch And Coffee Breaks

Food often brings people together, so if your team shares similar time zones, consider organizing virtual lunch or coffee breaks. Conduct a poll to determine the most suitable break times, then schedule these breaks and send out meeting links. Employers can even arrange for an occasional snack or treat deliveries to enhance the experience.

Shared Interest Clubs

People with common interests tend to connect naturally. Discover these shared interests among your remote team members and organize virtual water cooler chats based on these interests. Establish dedicated communication channels or groups on platforms like Slack or Zoom to facilitate these gatherings. For example, book lovers could form a virtual book club, while movie enthusiasts could create a Netflix club.

Escape Rooms

Escape rooms provide both fun and a chance to observe how team members work together under pressure. Consider using companies like Outback Team Building, which offer Virtual Escape Room activities. During these events, your team will work together to solve puzzles and riddles within a virtual setting, striving to "escape" within a specified time.

Virtual Cluedo (Clue)

Virtual Cluedo offers a thrilling murder mystery experience for your team. You can download Cluedo or other mystery games from app stores or explore platforms like for Virtual Clue Murder Mystery. In this game, players explore a mansion, searching for clues to solve a murder, unleashing their inner Sherlock.

Icebreaker Sessions

Not all virtual water coolers have to be formal games or challenges. Start your meetings with icebreaker questions. These questions can be company-wide or department-specific and can create a relaxed atmosphere, foster trust, and prepare employees for collaborative work. Use questions like "What book do you recommend reading?" or "Where would you like to travel next?" to initiate conversations.

Wine Tasting

Virtual wine tastings offer a social and enjoyable way to connect remotely. Team members can taste and describe wines together, either using the same selection or different wines. Create a list of words that participants cannot use to describe the wines, adding an extra layer of fun. Always encourage responsible drinking and respect the choices of team members who may choose not to participate.

Virtual Happy Hour

Similar to virtual wine tasting, virtual happy hours bring the team together for relaxed, after-work socializing. Team members can enjoy the same drinks or their preferred beverages. You can even invite a bartender or mixologist to provide virtual cocktail-making lessons for added entertainment.

Virtual Arts And Crafts

Organize virtual arts and crafts events to stimulate creativity and offer a break from work. Consider virtual art classes where a professional artist guides the team through a painting or sketch. Websites like and offer fun arts and crafts classes that your entire team can participate in.

Virtual Talent Show

Consider hosting a virtual talent show as an entertaining way for your remote team to share their hidden talents and bring a touch of amusement to your virtual water cooler gatherings. To set it up, pick a date and time and encourage team members to sign up in advance, sharing the talent they plan to showcase. Utilize your chosen communication platform for the event, allowing each participant a few minutes to display their unique skills, which could range from singing and playing instruments to stand-up comedy or magic tricks. Colleagues can express their support through emojis and comments, and you can introduce judges or let the audience vote for their favorite acts. Small prizes or recognition for top performers can add an extra layer of excitement, making the virtual talent show a memorable team-building experience.

Virtual Storytime

Virtual storytime sessions offer an engaging avenue for team members to connect on a more personal level, share anecdotes, and nurture a sense of belonging. By scheduling regular storytime sessions, you create a forum for colleagues to volunteer and share short stories from their lives. These stories can range from humorous and inspiring to touching. Encourage participants to prepare their stories beforehand to maintain brevity and engagement. Through your chosen communication platform, you can host these sessions, allowing time for reactions, questions, and related personal experiences after each story. Virtual storytime not only offers insight into team members' lives but also cultivates empathy and camaraderie among coworkers.

Virtual Escape Room Scavenger Hunt

Combine the excitement of an escape room with the adventure of a scavenger hunt in this virtual team-building activity. Your team collaborates to decipher clues and locate hidden items, creating a thrilling challenge. Begin by selecting a date and time for the virtual escape room scavenger hunt. Design or find a set of puzzles, riddles, and clues that lead participants to specific objects or information. Divide your team into smaller groups or pairs based on the number of participants, and utilize your chosen communication platform to host the event with breakout rooms for each group. Offer the initial clue to each group and set time limits for solving it. As they progress, teams receive additional clues that guide them to virtual "locations" (such as websites, documents, or team members' virtual backgrounds), where they discover the next clue or object. The ultimate objective is for each group to reach the final clue or solve the ultimate puzzle to "escape." To add a competitive element, time each group's progress and consider rewarding the fastest team. This virtual escape room scavenger hunt promotes teamwork, problem-solving, and a sense of accomplishment as teams work collectively to conquer the challenge.

Final Thoughts

As remote work continues to redefine the way teams operate, it's crucial to find innovative ways to recreate those water cooler chats that once brought people together in traditional office settings. Enter the concept of virtual water cooler conversations and activities. In a physical office, spontaneous water cooler talk often served as a valuable break from work, allowing colleagues to unwind and gain insights into each other's lives.

Set it up - and watch the magic unfold.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Small Teams Use Virtual Water Cooler Activities?

Small teams can absolutely benefit from virtual water cooler activities. It's about building connections, not team size.

How Do You Create a Virtual Water Cooler?

To set up a virtual water cooler, choose a communication platform like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom, and create a space for remote team members to socialize and engage in casual conversations.

How Can We Make Sure Everyone Enjoys Virtual Water Cooler Activities?

To ensure everyone has a good time, offer various activities to suit different interests, consider time zones, respect cultural differences, encourage participation, and create a friendly atmosphere where everyone feels welcome.