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Virtual Coffee Breaks are Boring; Do These instead

Is it time to kill the Zoom coffee break in favour of something more — well, fun?

We sure thought so.

That’s why Impala kicked off a brand new employee engagement initiative to help remote team members connect over a welcome mid-work break. Say hello to: ‘Pop-Up Parties!’ 🎉

What’s a ‘Pop-Up Party’?

A 30-minute block purposed for fun between 3–5 team members.

Impalans can choose how they wish to spend the time together against one simple rule: no work allowed. (Yes, you read that correctly!)

Why would we do that?

For starters, LinkedIn’s Relationships at Work Report reveals nearly 50% of working professionals consider friends at work “essential to their overall happiness.”

Research from Gallup also shows that having friends at work boosts employee satisfaction and performance.

So, a better question is really: why wouldn’t you want to dedicate time toward enhancing working relationships?

The play-by-play (icebreakers > games > capturing memories)

Here’s how we loosely structure ‘Pop-Up Parties’ at Impala:

  • Icebreaker
  • Games & Activities
  • Capturing & Sharing Our Good Times


Icebreakers can connect people instantly by revealing shared experiences, stories, hobbies, or little-known facts about one another, and more.

We love these conversation-starters rounded up by MuseumHack!

Other favourites?

“From the Bucket List.” Ask attendees to share a picture representing something from their bucket list. (It’s great if you can anonymise this and turn it into a guessing game.) Discovering new things that are meaningful to colleagues helps us to see them more completely as people, rather than business titles like “engineer” or “customer success manager.”

“5 Common Things.” Ask attendees to come up with a list of 5 things they have in common. These can be as simple as “We all work at Impala,” increasing in complexity to something like, “We all live in a different country to where we were born.” The benefit of this approach is you are giving teams an opportunity to tackle a shared challenge together — however small. And this can translate to improved dynamics for smashing work goals and overcoming obstacles as a team!

Games & Activities

The internet is your friend. A quick Google search will land you loads of free browser-based games and activities that meet the diverse tastes of your team. But here’s what’s trending at Impala:

🐦 FlappyBird (Good Luck!) 🐸 Frogger (Arcade Classic) 👩‍🎨 Skribbl.io (Digital Pictionary)

If competitive gaming isn’t your team’s thing, there’s always TedTalks, Podcasts, personality tests, and virtual home tours! (Think: MTV Cribs.)

Get creative with it! Your team will appreciate energising and novel breaks.

Capturing & Sharing Our Good Times

If you’re using Gmail, you’ve got access to a sweet bit of kit called JamBoard; it’s a simple, digital whiteboard that allows real-time collaboration.

Being a fully remote team, we especially love it because: “Everybody can collaborate on the Jam anytime, anywhere.”

Capturing and sharing our good times on JamBoard provides a nice reflective experience. What’s more, anyone can check out what happened in different ‘Pop-Up Parties’ — thus creating even more opportunities for connections to be made outside of them.

Check out some happy scenes from our very own digital scrapbook: the ‘Pop-Up Party Diaries!’

Creating space for colleagues to become friends

To build meaningful connections between team members, to align people to a common purpose, and to create the kind of working conditions that nurture employee loyalty — you need to do more than boil the kettle.

You need to create more opportunities for your people to see each other as just that — people.

People with complex personalities, hopes, dreams, interests, backgrounds, and ongoing lives outside of the working world.

Once teams are able to look beyond labels like “engineer” and “customer success manager” opportunities for colleagues to become friends blossom.

And these strong social ties translate to fearless innovation in the workplace and a willingness to go the extra mile for one’s teammates.

But investing time and resources in employee engagement and social initiatives is about much more than strengthening team bonds in the name of performance — it’s simply the right thing to do.