Team building activities, however, are not that easy to work with. As a concept, it means gathering your employees and having them play some game or another. What could be simpler than that, you might ask. Well, the first time you try to organize a team building, you’ll realize that…
- No one cares
- Eye rolls all around
- Questions such as “Are we, like, done yet? Can we go home? When’s lunch?” are heard very often.
To help you conduct team buildings that work, we created the complete (about 30+!) list of team building activities that your team will love & divided them in the appropriate categories.
All team building activities have a specific purpose. Not every team building, for example, will help you know your coworkers better. Depending on what you want to accomplish, there are different types of team building activities:
- Icebreakers – If you have a new team (or are in the process of onboarding new employees), you’ll want to get to know them as people. You could barrage them with personal questions – “what hobbies do you have? do you read? what’s your favorite color?” – but that tends to get a bit creepy or awkward. And that’s where icebreakers come in, helping you get to know your new team or employee.
- Team Bonding – It’s hard to trust someone you just met. They might turn out to be the new office serial killer, for all you know! Bonding exercises help to establish a sense of trust and comradeship in employees.
- Creative Excercise – “Ok guys, let’s brainstorm!” “So, umm, well, uh, I’ve got nothing.” You’ve probably heard that exchange before. Setting plays a very important part in the creative process – and at work, your team is your “setting.” Creative exercises are meant to get you used to be creative in a specific work setting.
- Cooperation – If your workspace involves a lot of yelling and missed deadlines, it might mean that your team isn’t really cooperating too well. Cooperation exercises help establish a
If you’re looking for a specific type of exercise, just jump ahead!
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Team Building Activities & Games: The FULL List
Icebreaker team building activities
Sell Your Partner
You’ll Need: About 20 minutes and employees divided into pairs.
How-to: Divide all the employees into pairs. Then, each person asks the other questions about themselves. The questions can be both personal or professional. The one asking the questions then has to make a sales pitch about their partner, talking about their best selling points. The best sales pitch wins!
Two Truths and A Lie
You’ll Need: Time, however long the team finds the game entertaining.
How-to: Two truths and a lie is a very popular ice-breaker. Everyone takes turns saying 2 truths about themselves and one lie. For example, “I’ve always loved horror movies, I hate video games, I’ve worked 3 jobs while in college.” Then, everyone else has to guess which one’s a lie. The game always gets a good conversation going, and everyone gets to see what they have in common with their co-workers.
Company Night Out
You’ll Need: 3-4 hours after work on a Friday and possibly some budget
How-to: Everyone loves 2 things: free drinks and a night out. Take your employees on a night out, and if you even happen to have a budget, treat them to (some) free drinks. Since nights out are usually reserved for friends, it can be a very good bonding experience for your employees.
Pass the Bottle
You’ll need: One small empty water bottle (0.5l)
How-To: Make your employees form a circle and give one of them the empty water bottle. He must hold it below his armpit and pass it on the next employee. They are not allowed to use their hands. If the bottle falls to the ground, they must start over until they complete a full circle.
Once completed, you can increase the difficulty by making them hold the bottle between their knees. After mastering that, they can hold the bottle between their neck and shoulder and continue passing it on. Good luck!
Salt and Pepper
You’ll need: ~20 minutes, a pen, scotch tape, a piece of paper per employee and a list of word pairs (salt & pepper, Tom & Jerry, yin & yang and so on…)
How-to: Separate the word pairs and write one word on each piece of paper. Stick one piece of paper on each employee’s back. Make them walk around the room and ask “yes or no” questions to find out the word behind their back. Once they figure out their word they need to find their matching pair, sit down with them and find out 3 similarities and 3 differences between each other. Maybe Mario ends up finding his Princess Peach after all.
You’ll need: Around 45-60 minutes
How-to: The beauty of this team building activity rests in the employees themselves; the more people participate, the harder and entertaining the game gets. Instruct your group to sit either in a straight line or in a circle. The first person should think of a word or a phrase and whisper it to the person sitting next to him. The second person does the same with his neighbor and so on until it is the last person’s turn. The fun part of the game is when the last person has to say the word out loud. In most cases, everybody will have heard a completely different word. Aside from requiring effective communication, this game helps employees realize how important it is to listen carefully in order to not create misconceptions.
Stranded on an Island
You’ll need: 30-60 minutes depending on group size
How-to: Inform the group that they have been stranded on an island and that unfortunately they are allowed to bring only one item with them. Induce a bit of creativity here so they can share more about each other. Help them choose an item that may represent them or that they are closely attached to. Ask them to describe why they chose the item and how it can help them in such a dire situation. After all, they need to survive on a deserted island. Hopefully, you will not end up learning that your team is a bunch of alcoholics. Once everybody has described their item, split the group into teams of 3-5 people and ask them to work together and combine their items to increase their chances of survival. Otherwise, how will they come to work the next day?
Bonding team building activities
You’ll Need: Teams of 2, several hard-to-break office supplies
How-to: Minefield is a very office-friendly game. All you need is some random supplies! You’ll have to create a “minefield” with all the supplies around the office, with the goal being to navigate through. The employees divide into teams of 2, one being a guide and the other a navigator. The navigator wears a blindfold and can’t talk (optional), while the guide can talk but can’t enter the minefield. Whichever guide manages to get their navigator through the minefield first, wins!
Volunteering & Community Service
You’ll Need: A few hours off work & an arrangement with an NGO
How-to: Everyone loves giving – and sometimes, it can even be a great bonding experience for a team. There are a lot of different ways to do this, to boot! You could partner with a local NGO and organize an event, or even create your own company charity event.
You’ll Need: About 10 minutes of preparation and ~1 hour off work
How-to: You’ve probably heard of this one – but there’s a reason it’s so popular. All you need is to write each employee’s name on a piece of paper and fold them. Place the folded papers in a hat or a box and allow each employee to pick one of the papers. Their duty is to buy a Christmas gift for the person whose name they picked up and label it with the respective name. It goes without saying that they must not reveal the name. Place the gifts together and on gift-giving day, each employee opens his gift and should guess his/her Secret Santa.
You’ll Need: ~5 min, a big enough carpet to host 3-4 people on top of it
How-to: Most people have watched Aladdin, but not many have flown on a magic carpet (unless they went to Disneyland). For some, this is the best chance they will ever have to fly over the desert on a flying carpet. Place the carpet in the middle of the room and tell your team members to step on it. Once they are all standing completely inside the carpet, let them know that they are on top of a magic carpet which is flying 100 meters above the ground. Unfortunately, the instructions for steering and halting the carpet are written on the back of the carpet. Sit back, have a nice laugh and relax while they try to flip the carpet over without letting any of the members fall.
You’ll need: Around 1-2 hours
How-to: You have probably heard of Charades either from the Ellen DeGeneres tv show or from some mobile app, but you have probably never thought of turning this into a group activity. Split the group into two teams. One of the teams must think of a word, whereas the other team chooses a person to enact the word using gestures and body movements. The team whose player is enacting the word has to guess what the word is within a time limit (usually 3 minutes). Alternate the team roles when the time is up or if the team guesses the word. Try not to go for basic words like the sun, Tom Cruise or Voldemort. Instead, try going for more abstract words like solidarity, despotism or even team building.
The Blindfolded Square
You’ll need: Around 45-60 minutes, 8-10 meters long rope, blindfolds
How-to: This team building activity requires a group of around 10-12 people. Make everybody sit or stand in a circle and place a part of the rope on each employee’s hands. Blindfold all your employees and instruct them that they must work together to form a perfect square with the rope. They can’t remove the blindfold until they believe they have completed the square. Make the game more interesting by going around in circles and patting an employee’s back to mute him.
You’ll need: Around 2-3 hours,a screen projector or TV, snacks & drinks, couches or inflatable bed
How-to: Sometimes you just have to go for the more common activities for team bonding. Play some games, prepare some snacks and watch some comedy movie. If you really can’t come up with a movie to watch just go for Rick and Morty. Who doesn’t love watching a mad genius scientist turn himself into a pickle?
You’ll Need: Around 1-2 hours, some empty sheets of paper, pens, and pencils
How-to: This is a thought-intensive team building activity that can help your team better understand how each other thinks and get more acquainted with their ideologies. Start by imagining a completely new civilization. Make them come up with a completely new setting for this civilization. Include resources, characteristics of the population, religion, beliefs, norms, resource distribution. Moreover, they can discuss economic principles, political ideologies, and affiliations. The next step could be world dominion and or dictatorship, but that’s on a case-by-case basis.
Creative team building activities
You’ll Need: Teams with even numbers, uncooked spaghetti (20 sticks per team), masking tape per team (to stick the spaghettis sticks together), a string (1 yard per team), a single marshmallow for each team, and a lunch bag for each team (to store all the ingredients).
How-to: Marshmallow Challenge has been go-to for any team-building. The idea is simple – the team who builds the biggest structure with spaghetti and puts a single marshmallow on top wins. The catch is, however, that the tower has to stand on its own without the team members holding it. For a step-by-step, check out Tom Wujec’s guide.
Dungeons and Dragons
You’ll Need: A D&D Starter Kit and a Dungeon Master (the guy running the game) who knows what they’re doing.
How-to: Dungeons and Dragons is a common sight for any sort of board game gathering. It has, however, surprising benefits when it comes to conducting team buildings. The rules & set-up, however, is a bit complicated, so if you have someone familiar with the game at the office, get them to do the prepping. Or, get yourself the starter kit and get going from there.
You’ll need: Around 15 minutes, 20 drinking straws per team and scotch tape
How-to: Split the employees into teams of 3-4 people. Give each team 20 straws and a roll of scotch tape. They will have 15 minutes to create the tallest standing tower. They are not allowed to keep the tower standing with their hands and the top part of the tower cannot be taped to the ceiling, table or desk. Additionally, you can give them scissors and a pencil to allow for more intricate structures or challenge them to balance a small weight object on top of the tower. Originally, the Straw Tower Challenge has been part of the Science Olympiads for the grades 5 to 12 in America. For a more detailed explanation, you can read Chicago’s Public School publication.
Egg Drop Challenge
You’ll need: Eggs, paper towels and any tool you can find in the office
How-to: The egg drop challenge is a very common high school project. However, it involves deep critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. Apart from that, it can give you and your co-workers a good laugh as well. All you need to do is create a container for the egg using any kind of office supply and then drop the egg from a high height. The eggs that remain uncracked win. Try dropping it from different heights to determine the ultimate “Egg Protector”.
You’ll Need: 15-20 minutes, pencils, empty sheets and some printed pictures or images
How-to: Split your employees into pairs and make them sit with their back to the other. Give one person a pencil and an empty sheet of paper to draw on and give the other one printed picture. The person with the printed picture must describe the image to the other person. He, in turn, must draw the picture. However, the describer can’t say things such as: “draw a dog playing the piano”. Instead, he must give more general directions or adjectives. When the time finishes, compare the original picture and the drawing. This team building activity focuses on language and effective communication.
You’ll Need: Around 20 minutes, a deck of poker cards for each group, scissors
How-to: Distribute a pack of poker cards and a pair of scissors to each group of 3 to 4 people. Within 20 minutes they have to build the tallest standing tower possible. Aside from stimulating creativity, this activity boosts team bonding and cooperation.
You’ll Need: Around 1-2 hours, a theme for the hunt, some prices
How-to: A Scavenger Hunt can take on any possible theme that crosses your mind. The objective of the game is to hide different items, either in the office or outdoors, and give different hints to your employees to help them find the items. The person who finds most items or item combinations wins. During Easter, for example, you can make an “Easter Egg Hunt”. Otherwise, if your employees are into video games, you can print Pokemon figures and hide them according to their nature (i.e: fire, water, earth, etc.).
Cooperation team building activities
You’ll Need: Some budget and 1-2 hours off-work time.
How-to: Nothing can bring a team together as well as the threat of being eaten by a zombie. There are a ton of escape room variations this all over the world, ranging from all sorts of themes: zombie escape, fantasy, and anything in-between. Finding an escape room in your area on Google and give it a go!
Paintball & Airsoft
You’ll Need: Some budget, a local paintball/airsoft club, 2 teams & free day
How-to: Cooperation is a must in the battle-field. While taking your office to war is probably not the best idea, the next best thing is your local paintball or airsoft club. Figure out which day works for everyone and organize a shootout!
Board game night
You’ll Need: Some drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), some board games
How-to: Prepare a table with refreshments and snacks. Additionally, prepare a second table with board games and chairs or couches surrounding it. Some of the most common board games for team building activities are Uno, Risk, Dixit, Cards Against Humanity, etc. If at some point you want to reveal your employees’ hidden dark side (and who’s going to be working hard to overthrow your rule), you can take a big step and play Monopoly.
You’ll Need: 2-3 hours, enough space for all the employees to work on their mural and walk around, paints & brushes, pre-drawn canvases
How-to: Each team members get a separate piece of the big canvas, paint and a brush. They’ll need to cooperate with the rest of their team to color each separate piece in a similar way so that the giant mural (when put together) looks coherent. This encourages a lot of coordination between team members, as well as inspires some creativity.
You’ll Need: Around 15-20 minutes
How-to: “The Leader” is a team-building activity that improves cooperation skills but also reveals leadership skills. Make your employees form a circle and decide on one person that should stay outside of the room for one minute. We’ll call him the “Seeker”. When the designated person has left the room, pick a “Leader”. Consequently, allow the Seeker to enter and stand in the middle of the circle. The leader can make any movement or gesture with his body, arms and legs and everybody must copy the leader’s movements. Hopefully, the chosen Leader won’t try to imitate Hitler or other controversial historical figures. It goes without saying that the Seeker’s duty is to find who the Leader is.
You’ll Need: A long and thin lightweight rod, we’ll call it “The Helium Stick”
How-To: Place everyone in two lines so that they are facing each other. Instruct them to stretch their index finger in front of them and place the Helium Stick on top of their fingers. They must all lower the rod together so until it touches the ground. Sounds easy, eh? The catch is that all fingers must always be touching the rod. Aside from strong cooperation, this team building activity requires substantial communication between all employees.
You’ll need: 15-20 minutes, a rope, tape or blanket
How-to: Define an area on the floor using a rope (or any of the above-mentioned items). Challenge your employees to all fit within the designated area. Whenever they manage to all fit inside, increase the difficulty by making the area smaller. Keep challenging them until they exhaust all possible solutions they can come up with.
Balance it Out
You’ll need: Around 15-20 minutes, training manuals, tape
How-to: Make your employees bring their training manuals with them or give them a random one. Divide the group into 2 equally split teams. Initially, mark on the ground a start line and a finish line 6-8 meters away from each other using the tape. The two teams must cross the finish line while balancing the manual/book on their head. If a person’s manual falls on the ground, he can’t move until a teammate picks up his manual and re-balances it on his head. If you don’t want your teams to start doing chicken fights with each other, tell them beforehand that they can’t throw each other’s manuals on the ground! The most important rule is that teammates that have already crossed the finish line, can’t help their fellow teammates. The team with all members on the finish line wins.
We’re trying to keep this list complete and up-to-date. So, if we missed your favorite team building activity, let us know down in the comments!
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