At the risk of sounding overly cliché, teamwork does make the dream work.
Indeed, a team that shares a common goal and is actively working towards achieving it is bound to succeed. But for this to happen, members of your team must first establish a strong bond that will allow them to work effectively as a collective. There are many other benefits of teamwork, such as developing employees’ skills and increasing productivity, too.
By investing time into team building, employees can improve communication, collaboration and problem-solving skills, but can also form more meaningful connections with one another. Ultimately, team building is an integral process for every organization and can play a key role in its overall success, with HR departments and managers often organizing such events.
A study conducted by MIT’s Human Dynamics Laboratory found that how a team communicates and interacts within itself plays a detrimental role in its success: “With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we’ve found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team’s success.”
If you need some ideas, take a look at our list of the best team-building activities suited to every team.
If you are looking for team-building activities that you can try at work, then the following suggestions are a great way to help people bond within the office:
1. Host an office bake-off
Baked goods are always a smart way to bring people together and get team members to interact with each other. To host a successful bake-off, invite people to sign up as contestants and have them bring in tasty homemade treats to the office. The rest of your team could vote for their favorite contestants and the winner could win a prize!
2. Create a memory wall
Putting up a memory wall at the office will help your staff bond and relive shared memories with each other. You can have everyone write down their favorite memories at work on post-it notes and then pin everything up on a designated wall. You could also include pictures and drawings. This activity is a great way to strengthen camaraderie and relationships between colleagues.
3. Try team-building exercises
While there are numerous ways to build team spirit, these exercises are specifically designed to develop trust, communication, collaboration and decision-making skills within a group of people.
You could organize a team building afternoon at the office and have people split into teams. Each team can be assigned to one of these exercises to begin with and will continue to rotate until every team has completed all activities. It’s also important to have one person overseeing each activity, giving instructions and making sure that the teams are working together correctly. For this, you could assign senior staff members and managers as leaders to each exercise. Here are some great team-building exercises you could try:
- Plane crash: In a make-believe scenario, the team’s plane has crashed on a deserted island, and they have a few minutes to decide what they will salvage from the wreckage to survive. The team must work together to reach a unanimous decision before the time is up. This is ideal for creative problem-solving and collaboration.
- Back-to-back drawing: Split people into pairs and have them sit with their back to each other. Each person is given pictures of different items which they need to describe to their partner without naming the object. The person drawing needs to attempt to draw it through their teammate’s instructions. At the end, the pairs reflect on their teamwork and try to locate where there were communication difficulties and identify how they could overcome them in the future.
- Human knot: Have people stand in a circle and interlock hands with people who are not standing next to them. The goal here is for the group to untangle itself without breaking the chain. This exercise does require participants to be in physical proximity to each other, so make sure everyone is comfortable to take part.
- Two truths and one lie: This icebreaker can help people to open up and learn more about each other. Essentially, everyone gathers in a circle and each person, in turn, has to share two true facts about themselves and one lie. The rest of the group must take a guess at which is the lie.
- Silent line-up: For this exercise, have people stand in a line. Then, instruct them to rearrange themselves based on factors such as height, age or experience within the company. The catch? They cannot use verbal communication while they’re doing it.
- Things in common: Have people divided into groups of three to five and have them ask to find three things they all share in common, be it their favorite childhood cartoon, coffee shop or music band.
4. Host an office bingo night
Another fun way to get everyone involved is by hosting bingo night at the office. All you’ll need is a bingo spinner, some bingo sheets and an energetic host who will lead the game.
This can also be a great option for remote teams, as you can easily set up an online bingo game for your virtual team.
5. Put on a Shark Tank audition
If you want to combine idea brainstorming with team building, then this is a brilliant opportunity to get people involved. Inspired by the television series Shark Tank, this activity will encourage your team to think outside the box and work together to come up with innovative project ideas. You can modify the guidelines based on your organization and encourage everyone who is participating to use materials such as presentations, skits and graphs.
6. Have a board game day
Board games are a great way to foster collaboration and improve team dynamics. Unlike some other team-building activities, board games are a common pastime that most people will be familiar with.
Some great options include Jenga, Pictionary, charades, Pandemic, Wits & Wagers, Clue and Monopoly.
7. Organize skillshare workshops
Skillshare workshops are the perfect way to get your team together and help them bond over each other’s interests. Essentially, everyone in your team must pick a skill, subject of interest or hobby, put together a brief workshop and teach others about it. From crochet to European world history to beer brewing to pottery making, every member of staff will have the opportunity to talk about something they are interested in and teach others about it too!
8. Have a hack day
Hack days, or hackathons, have become all the rage in recent years and are a brilliant way to get everyone working towards a common goal. While they were originally intended for engineering and tech teams, more and more companies are finding ways to make hack days part of their team activities.
So, what is a hack day? Basically, they are an all-day event where everyone must collaborate to come up with and complete a project that is related to the company. This is a great way to introduce new team traditions and encourage internal innovation whilst everyone works in unison.
9. Have a desk decorating contest
If you want to build rapport in the office and also set a festive tone, then consider hosting a desk decorating contest. You could give people a budget and have them decorate their desks, cubicles or departments for Halloween, Christmas, or any other holidays.
It’s important to take into consideration all of your staff members, and which holidays they celebrate, to try to make the contest inclusive. As such, you could go for themes like summertime, spring bloom, carnival and so on.
10. Arrange a bring-your-pet-to-work day
Nothing helps people bond like their love for their pets — so why not have everyone bring pets into the office for a field day?
This one might be a tricky one to arrange if you don’t work in a small organization, as too many paws in an office could result in total chaos. What’s more, it’s important to take people’s allergies into account and also ensure that the pets that will be brought in are well-trained and get along with other animals.
11. Host a mindfulness workshop
In a world where workplace burnout has become increasingly common across all industries, having the energy to get to know other team members and form meaningful connections with them is nearly impossible.
A mindfulness workshop will not only equip your team with tools to manage their time, tasks and mental health more effectively, but will also prompt people to have conversations with each other, share their personal insights and get a better understanding of one another. All in all, this can be quite a meaningful and helpful team-building activity for your team.
A recent study, conducted by the University of Sydney’s School of Project Management, noted that there is value in “putting people in a difference environment where they can see things from a different perspective. It’s about taking people out of a physical working environment so they can be refreshed through a different style of activity, or giving them a common experience which helps them to form group identity.” If you are looking for ways to bring your team together beyond the office realm, then consider these out-of-office activities:
12. Go paintballing
Some healthy competition will definitely help colleagues break the ice and paintballing happens to be the perfect activity to do just that.
Depending on the size of your team, you can separate everyone into two groups or more, and have teams compete with one another. If you have more than two groups, then winning and losing teams could compete with each other in the final rounds.
This can be a physically demanding activity, so make sure everyone is able and willing to participate before setting it up.
13. Take part in volunteer projects
A brilliant way for people to build trust among themselves is to work together on projects outside of work. We all have causes we are passionate about, so why not have everyone volunteer their time for one of them? Be it a beach cleanup, offering help at an animal shelter or raising funds for an NGO, this could become a weekly, monthly or yearly tradition for your team, which will help them establish stronger connections.
14. Have a go-kart race
You might be thinking that go-karting is for kids, but I’m here to tell you that there are no age restrictions on fun. Not only that, but go-karting can serve as an effective ice breaker for any team. Just like paintballing, you can group people together and have them form a team that will compete in the kart race — this will definitely fire up everyone’s team spirit!
15. Organize a bowling tournament
Nothing builds interpersonal relationships like a bowling tournament.
Again, make sure to separate everyone into teams and have them compete against each other for the highest total score. The positivity, encouragement and team spirit that is formed through this activity are easily transferable to the office and will help them collaborate more effectively in future projects.
16. Attend group cooking classes
It’s true what they say about food bringing people together.
A cooking class is the perfect setting for members of your team to work together and form better connections with each other outside the office. Whether you attend once or sign up your team for weekly classes, this will definitely help everyone break the ice and build rapport with each other.
17. Break out of an escape room
This activity is guaranteed to be a hit with your staff.
Participants work together towards a common goal: escape. This is an activity that requires collaboration, good communication and problem-solving. It also gives individuals the opportunity to leverage their strengths and abilities and combine them with others’ to find and solve clues more effectively.
18. Go on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts require people to use nearly all essential team-building skills: collaboration, problem-solving, delegation, communication and decision-making. Plus, they’re quite fun.
Whether you organize your own scavenger hunt or have your team sign up to a locally organized event, this will be a brilliant opportunity to get everyone together and have them solve a problem that is not directly related to your organization.
19. Arrange an office field day
Field trips were everyone’s favorite day at school. They also gave people the opportunity to mingle with each other and get to know their classmates in new contexts. So, why not reinstate this by organizing an annual office field day?
People could make suggestions about what to do and where to go, but if you want to keep the trip relevant to your company, industry or department, then you could plan activities with those in mind. If you work at a tech company, for example, you could organize a visit to a science and technology museum or a temporary exhibition.
20. Sign up for a team marathon
Marathons are a fun activity to do as a group. It’s also a great way to fundraise for important causes as a team and spend quality time together outside the office.
All you need to do is sign up your team for a corporate race or a business run at your local marathon event. Then, it’s just a case of getting people to sign up.
21. Have a karaoke party
Belting out your all-time-favorite tunes with your team is certainly an effective icebreaker. Of course, if your staff is quite shy with each other, it could take some time to warm up to the idea, but once the musical ball gets rolling, people will hopefully take to the mic.
22. Play workplace trivia
If you want your team to get to know each other a little better, then an office trivia is definitely a good activity choice.
Using online platforms such as Kahoot! you can create a list of trivia questions about your company and get everyone to take part. For example, ‘’How many people work in the HR department?’’. You could also make the quiz a little more personal by having everyone share workplace-related facts about themselves and include questions about them i.e., ‘’How many cups of coffee does John drink before 12pm every day?’’ This won’t only add some humorous elements, but will also help everyone form everyday connections with one another.
23. Have a virtual happy hour
Who doesn’t love a happy hour after a long working week? Indeed, while this may not be an organized team building activity, it does allow members of your team to engage with each other in a more relaxed environment.
Even if you manage a remote team, this after-work social event can easily be turned virtual over a video conferencing platform. Invite everyone to an after-work call and have them bring their drink of choice. You can also include other activities, such as mixology classes and an office trivia quiz to get the spirits up!
24. Have an online game night
There are countless suitable online games which are ideal for team building, from charades to scavenger hunts to multiplayer games. The most important thing about this activity is to have everyone join you on a video call so your team can interact with each other throughout. This will encourage communication whilst breaking barriers across the entire team.
25. Create a virtual book club
Do you often catch your colleagues discussing their latest reads and giving each other book recommendations? Then why not create a space where they can freely engage and bond over their favorite books by setting up a book club? Team building often takes place beyond office hours, and this is the perfect way to encourage people to connect through their common interests.
Your team plays an integral role in your company’s success.
By integrating team building within your company culture, you can foster better communication, trust and collaboration among your staff, but also create a more pleasant work environment for them. These fun and effective team-building activities will help you make this happen!
Share these ideas with your employees! See which activities they’d like to do and take teamwork in your company to the next level. Let us know if you tried any of these in the comments below.
This is an updated version of an article originally published on 12 July 2017.