The amount of time we spend in the workplace with our co-workers is just one reason why fun team building exercises make the days brighter.
But for the business, team building exercises can reap a tonne of benefits. Chosen carefully, amazing team building exercises needn’t involve away days or convoluted plans and painful expenses.
Check out our great selection of 30 team building exercises for work.
Before we dive on in with team building exercises you can whip out in just a few minutes in the workplace, let’s remind you why they matter. Team building exercises bring you:
- A motivated workforce skilled in collaboration.
- Skilled problem solvers and decision makers.
- Effective communication grown through real life practice.
- Creative thinkers who become naturally more productive.
- Refreshed workers bolstered by variety and enjoyment at work.
- Excellent workplace morale and cohesive culture.
- Insights into individual talents and transferable skills.
When to use team building exercises for work
The beauty of team building exercises is that the vast majority can be scooted out in mere moments. Therefore, they can be used for a range of different reasons and at different times. Try some of our amazing team building exercises in these scenarios:
- A new team member has arrived – welcome them on board and help them quickly become part of an established team.
- A meeting needs productive and innovative thinking – warm up attendees and break the ice.
- Everyone’s afflicted with sluggishness – shake them up with a change in what they’re doing.
- There’s bubbling conflict and the team needs help finding its common ground.
- Morale has taken a nosedive – pep it back up with some cohesive focus.
- Remote workers are all in the office together – use the time to build that team.
- Some team members are overly quiet or lacking in confidence – build their self-belief away from their desk.
30 fun team building exercises
What are these fun team building exercises that carry all these benefits? Put your team to the task with these ideas (and we promise there’s no marshmallow spaghetti tower in sight):
Got a workplace problem or project that requires some brain power? Why not approach it TV game style?! Each team works to create their solution and then has to pitch it to the team of ‘dragons’. Whilst fun is had in the process, you might just find that elements of different pitches become excellent parts of the real deal in the end.
Of course, make sure there’s a prize up for grabs for the winning team. We all love an incentive.
Did you know that our team building Detective Days can be entirely tailored around your workplace and your location? No need to go to a different place - have the challenge and fun come to you. Teammates work together to solve clues and mysteries to uncover the truth.
This is a memorable way of doing fun team building in and around the workplace.
Make a shape
Organise the team into a circle with a length of string/rope tied at the ends (to make a circle) spanning between them. Task them with making different shapes from the rope. Start easy, with shapes like a square, before levelling up by asking for more complex shapes like a star or figure of eight.
Team getting cocky? It’s time to do it blindfolded. It’s a great task for bringing out skilled verbal communication.
Create a team playlist
Does the team listen to music as they work? If so, why not let them loose making the equivalent of a mix tape of old by creating their own unique playlist. This encourages collaboration and negotiation and helps everyone learn more about each other in the process.
You’ll need a decent open area, like the car park, to enjoy this exercise. Mark the start and end point of the game zone with tape. Then, between the two points, haphazardly place some random handheld objects (it’s a perfect time to pull out all those conference freebies and stress balls).
Additionally, randomly put down some sheets of A4 paper.
Now, split your group into teams of 2 or 4 players and blindfold a member of each team. Only the blindfolded players are allowed in the game zone, everyone else must stand on the side lines offering verbal instructions to sweep the area. Pieces of paper are mines to be avoided and random objects are treasure to be gathered.
It’s a brilliant way to practice active listening, build trust and develop communication.
Escape game in a…
There are so many different companies out there now offering escape games in a box, envelope, frying pan (maybe not)… just choose one that suits your team size and let them crack on with solving the puzzle in an hour or so.
These games work brilliantly for team building because they rely on each team member pulling together and looking at things in different ways.
A classic team building game that is loads of fun and gets everyone innovating and collaborating. The task is simple: provide teams with a bunch of materials (try things like sticky tape, scrap paper, paper straws, balloons, elastic bands and newspapers) and an egg.
Tell them their job is to enable a drop from a 2-3 storey height without breaking the egg (yes, it could get messy in the fall zone!).
Two truths, one lie
Break off from a tricky workplace moment with a quick fire round of Two Truths One Lie. Team members take turns to reveal three things about themselves with two things being true and one being false.
The remaining players have to guess the lie. It’s a great way to learn more about each other whilst shaking up a boring or difficult moment.
Create a custom team greeting
The Masons have their secret handshake, Joey and Chandler had their “lame cool guy” thing, and Annie and Martin of Parent Trap fame had the most awesome greeting ever, but does your team have its ‘thing’? Why not have some fun creating your own?
Want some inspiration? Remind yourself of what Annie and Martin got up to or follow a tutorial.
Dog, Rice, Chicken
It’s time to put your heads together. One to spur on lateral thinking and encourage planning is Dog, Rice, Chicken. One team member is the farmer and everyone else takes on the role of the villagers. The farmer has a mission: to return home with his shopping: dog, rice and chicken.
But he has to do this by crossing a river in a boat.
But theirs is a catch – he can only carry one item with him at a time. So, facing the conundrum of the dog eating the chicken or the chicken eating the rice, what does the team do?
Everyone gets excited for a scavenger hunt. It gets people moving, creates a competitive challenge, and can be adapted to your particular workplace. But rather than heading off as individuals to collect items, work together as a team to complete the list.
You could have a list of things to scavenge that’s about as exciting as a desk stapler, or you could task the teams with collecting things like: 3 items of office stationery starting with C, a photo of the most cheerful individual in the office, the computer mouse from another team, or other such impishly delightful ideas.
White elephant exchange
This is a fun exercise which can be timed with seasonal festivities, birthdays, or just for fun. Everyone brings in a wrapped gift (the idea is it’s something unwanted – it’s up to your rules if you’re genuinely aiming for something truly hideous). Taking turns and swapping and stealing are the order of the day. Check out the rules.
Birthday Line Up
One rule: no talking! Grab the team and tell them they have to line up chronologically according to their birth date (day/month). You’ll see some creative sign language and excellent use of non-verbal communication.
You’ll need a reasonably big team for it to be most effective, with 8+ members. If your team knows each other too well for this game, it’s time to bring out some blindfolds for a few members.
Equip your team with two short pieces of pipe of around 1 metre each (guttering works well). Then introduce them to the game area. This might be laid out with obstacles such as steps or hurdles.
The aim of the challenge is for the team to run a marble along the pipes, from one end of the game area to the other. They will need to keep moving the unused section of pipe and work together to navigate obstacles and keep the ball in a pipe at all times.
It’s harder than it sounds and great for team planning and strategizing. Introduce a time limit to spice things up.
Fancy dress for charity
When it comes to workplace life, things can get a bit staid. And staidness is bad news for well-functioning teams. Inject some fun into the day and foster team spirit through collective giving, by organising fancy dress days for charity.
There are plenty of opportunities throughout the year from Show Racism the Red Card and World Book Day through to Children in Need and Christmas Jumper Day.
Change it up
This is one of the most fun team building exercises for work and doesn’t require anything more than the people themselves. It works well with teams of 10+ or add a few teams together.
Create two human lines opposite each other. Then set a timer whereby the teams simply look at each other for 30-40 seconds. At the buzzer, one team turns their backs and the other team can switch things around, like their position, hair style, or even items of clothing!
The other team then turns around and tries to identify the changes. Swap turns!
Split the team into groups of two who sit back to back. One person has paper and a pencil. Give the other player an image which they must describe to their co-player so that they can draw it, without saying explicitly what it is and using shape descriptors only.
For example, if the aim is to draw a teddy bear, you can’t use words like eyes, fur or paws, but you could use words like circles or lines. It’s a great exercise for practicing listening and verbal communication.
You’ll need a team of 4-6 people to play this game. The back story is that the team is lost in the Arctic and must build a shelter to survive. One teammate is injured and must lie, stuck (and tries not to use this as an opportunity for forty winks) meaning the shelter must be built around them.
One team mate is the leader but his hands are riddled with frostbite, so can only talk. The remaining team members are unfortunately afflicted with snow blindness (AKA a blindfold).
Yes, it’s been a tough day at the office. The shelter must be erected if the perils challenging this team won’t lead to them all dying a most horrible death. Set a time limit and get cracking.
Who Am I?
A golden oldie of party games but one that works superbly for team building is Who Am I? Everyone has the name of a famous character or celebrity stuck to their back. They must then wander around asking yes-no questions of others and answering questions to determine who they are.
If you want to change it up more for the workplace and use it as a way of challenging stereotypes and prejudices then instead of characters and celebrities, use characteristics e.g. ‘authoritative’ or ‘shy’.
Penny for your thoughts
We love this team building game as it encourages team members to share interesting facts about themselves and that’s a really great way of getting your team to work effectively together. If you know your teammates, you’ll care about the team more than your own individual place.
Gather lots of pennies, choosing ones with various dates. Team members take turns pulling a penny out of a jar and sharing something interesting or memorable that happened to them or something they experienced that year.
Few things bond and unite teams like some good nosh. You don’t need to take the team out for an expensive meal to get them bonding over their taste buds.
From having an ice cream break on a boiling day to hiring a chocolate fountain or candy floss machine just for fun, bring the team together over the focus of food!
Grab a blanket, sheet or piece of tarpaulin and lay it out flat. The team must then huddle together on it with the catch that one complete quarter of the blanket must always be people free. Their mission is to turn the blanket over without breaking the rule.
Not only does the close proximity of players help to bond everyone, it’s a challenge to discuss and come up with creative solutions to the problem.
One of the most amazing team building exercises we’ve enjoyed, because it surprised us for just how much fun it was and also how effective it was for building skills like negotiation, is Puzzle Challenge.
Split the group into two teams. Each team is given an equally difficult/sized puzzle and it’s a race to complete the puzzle first. BUT, some urchin has swapped out a sizeable handful of pieces from each puzzle with the other one.
Teams will need to work out what’s missing and how they can negotiate to get their needed puzzle pieces back. Lots of problem solving and even the swapping of team members has been known!
Take language classes together
Sometimes the best team building exercises work precisely because they involve doing something different from the day job. It allows different team members to shine, or allows a more level playing field and bonding over a shared endeavour.
Offering a language course in-house for the team is a great way of doing this. Other options include lunchtime exercise or a book group.
Fish and Chips
We’re back to sticking cards on people’s backs! This time, think of word pairs like ‘fish and chips’, ‘salt and pepper’, ‘Adam and Eve’, ‘life and death’ and ‘sweet and sour’. Only being allowed to ask and answer yes-no questions, the task is to find your partner from within the group.
A brilliant ice breaker for new teams, and a way to improve communication, this is one of those team building exercises which is fun in the process.
Pass the ball
Blow up a beach ball and get to work with a sharpie pen. Write on the ball phrases such as ‘favourite holiday’, ‘proudest moment’ or ‘toughest day at work’. The team then tosses the ball from player to player. When someone catches the ball they look at where their right thumb has landed and state their answer to that category.
It’s a fun way of learning more about different team members and adding a bit of energy and zing to a flagging team.
Get a long stick or lightweight pole. The team lines up next to each other and extends one hand and index finger. The games master places the stick resting across the fingers.
The team must now figure out how to lower their stick to the ground without it falling or rolling off. This messes with the mind as the natural tendency is for the stick to rise as everyone is trying to remain in contact with it.
Fun and challenging, it requires team concentration and collaboration.
Team mood board
Nothing works for team cohesion quite like shared values, missions and experiences. Create a team mood board highlighting things such as your values, or achievements.
Let people contribute with what they love about the team. This creates something nostalgic and positive that will exist long after the team building exercise and help the team to stay gelled at all times. Don’t forget to include a photo from your Detective Day!
Have you noticed how planning a social event or a team building day is always the job of just one person? Oops, that kind of puts the ‘I’ in Team. Why not shake it up by making the planning part of the team building activity itself? That way everyone has to collaborate, discuss, negotiate, plan and strategize.
One thing is for sure, no one can complain about an archery day if they didn’t at least try to convince their teammates to do something else.
With this game, teams are given a completely random (and typically dull) item that they must create a marketing strategy for. They need to create a brand name, slogan, advert, logo and more. At the end of the allotted time they have to give a 5 minute presentation to the other teams. Teams then vote on the winning team.
There you go! A bunch of amazing and fun team building exercises that don’t just increase things like communication and collaboration, but also encourage your teams to love working together as a result of shared good times.