Did you know that team building activities have the power to boost your bottom line through better performance?
It’s like some kind of wizardry. There’s some nifty stuff that makes it happen. For example, socialising between team members improves communication by 50%. Then there’s the fact that team building increases motivation and those motivated employees outperform those with low engagement by 202%.
Indeed, MIT’s Human Dynamics Lab says that “conversations outside of formal meetings are the most important factor that contributes to team success”.
Check out more of our good reasons for planning team building activities. But once you’re convinced, how do you know what team building ideas for work will actually, well, work?
Corporate team building ideas can be tricky.
This isn’t a bunch of mates who are naturally attracted to each other.
This could well be, and likely is, a disparate bunch who share their workspace but not necessarily much else. While this is all the more reason to build them as a team, it can make it difficult to know where to start. It can send chills down the spine of even the most daring manager.
So, here we give you a plethora of team building ideas ranging from quick fire things you can do in the office to more structured activities that require a bit more planning. Implement a selection over time and you’ll develop a team culture that is built on engagement, communication, support, innovation and productivity.
To make it easier for you to navigate, we’ve broken it down into:
- Corporate team building ideas for in the office.
- Incidental opportunities to foster team building.
- Offsite team building activities and ideas.
Team building ideas to do in the office
It’s all very well planning away days and incidental opportunities for team building, like meals out, but you also need the steady flow of regular and frequent team building. 20 minutes here, or 5 minutes there, can add up to create a powerfully strong and cohesive team.
Here are our top team building ideas to do at work:
Human Knot is a quick activity to get your people thinking together and communicating effectively.
Everyone stands in a circle with their right hand in the air. Next, they reach out and grab someone else’s hand. Then the process is repeated with everyone’s left hand. The goal is to untangle the human knot without anyone letting go of anyone’s hand.
The aim of this game is to direct a blindfolded teammate to a hidden object in a set amount of time. It relies on exceptional communication under pressure. It involves learning how to listen to and follow instruction. It’s also a good exercise for discovering natural leadership.
One for the more relaxed office, but NERF gun battles, where a couple of teams are pitted against each other, can be a fun and intense way to get the team on each other’s side! Get out the angst, help comrades to pull together, and expend some energy in a light-hearted battle using the photocopier as a barricade.
This fab party game from when you were a kid is a great exercise to get a team talking and communicating. Select some pairs e.g. Mario & Luigi, bacon & eggs, Batman & Robin, salt & pepper.
Stick a piece of paper with the name of one half of a pair on each person’s back. Everyone must go around asking questions to establish who they are. Then they have to find their pair! If your team is new to each other, this game helps to break the ice.
Get a really long piece of rope and a huge big space (car park, anyone?). Tie the ends of the rope together and then dump it in the middle of the blindfolded team. The team is then instructed to turn the rope into a perfect square with no peeking! This exercise requires collaboration and patience!
Two Truths, One Lie
Another party game that makes for a good team building experience, this time from your teen years, is Two Truths, One Lie. Individuals take turns telling the group two truths about themselves and one thing which is false.
The team then need to guess which the lie is. It’s a great game for learning new things about your colleagues and is sure to spark interesting conversation. It’s a great way of discovering titbits of information about each other that wouldn’t normally come out in everyday conversation.
Circle of appreciation
Choose whether to do this exercise with your team depending on how awkward you think it will make them feel. This is possibly one for the creative types rather than the back-office introverts.
Get everyone around a table and each person has to say one thing they appreciate about the person to their right, then their left, and then opposite. This helps give insight into the real strengths of the team, and makes everyone feel valued for their contribution.
Turn a conference room into an escape room
With a little planning, or by getting in an outside team of pros, you can create an onsite team building activity that involves turning a conference or meeting room into an escape room.
With just an hour out of their day, this can be a valuable team building experience with the gang coming together to solve problems and draw out each other’s strengths to get everyone out.
Board games are great for logical thinking and strategy – skills which make for productive teams. Choose games which involve the players working together as a whole against the game for the greatest team building opportunities, such as Forbidden Desert. Or bring out the spite against one another in card games like UNO for a light-hearted bonding experience.
Show and Tell
Who says Show and Tell is just for little kids?
There’s immense team-building value from doing an office-based grown-up version. Once a week, get a different team member to bring in something to share and chat about.
It might be a medal from a race, a picture of a place they’ve travelled to, or a book they love. This helps colleagues get to really know someone beyond their work persona.
Office yoga or mindfulness
Whether your team has a touch of stress about them, or you simply want to prevent burnout, bringing everyone together for yoga or mindfulness can provide a shared experience that builds teams. Don’t force it, but if you think your team will be open to it, then it can be an excellent way of creating a shared experience.
Incidental team building ideas
Structured team building absolutely has its place. It’s the bedrock of team success.
But don’t underestimate the power of incidental team building chances. These are harder to manufacture, but with the right conditions, you can help to foster these incidental opportunities to develop the team.
Here are some ideas to almost accidentally cultivate teamwork:
Go out for a meal
Overlooked and underrated, there’s a lot to be said for simply enabling your team to go and share a meal together. With good nosh as the distraction, conversation can flow naturally and everyone develops some common ground. Make it really work by setting the rule that all work-related topics must be left in the office. This forces colleagues to actually learn more about each other which can in turn help productivity when back on task.
Birthdays are an ideal opportunity to foster some team building. Create your own unique team traditions which help the team to come together. Whether that’s sharing a cake, pitching in for a joke present, or decorating their desk, birthday plans can bring your team together by focusing on one individual.
TED Talk Together
TED talks are inspirational and they can be enjoyed together or created together for a unique opportunity for some incidental team-building.
Having a regular showing of interesting talks, when the team can come together to discuss things, is surprisingly engaging. Alternatively, encourage the team to make their own mini TED talk.
Employees often find their co-workers are excellent co-fundraisers for charity events. You can help encourage this by offering corporate matching or adding a donation. Through the training and planning, an excellent by-product of the worthy endeavour is greater teamwork.
The Christmas Party
Why do you have a Christmas party? Chances are it is to thank the team for a year done well, and to reward them with an opportunity to let their hair down. But did you know that you’re also creating an opportunity for team building? Don’t overlook the importance of key events like Christmas and summer parties for the incidental team building chances.
Why not try cultural celebration parties too?
Cook off challenges
The way to a team’s heart is through their stomach! Bring in a cake to share, or have some fun getting everyone to take a turn. You can have potluck lunches, where everyone brings something to contribute, or go all out with complex challenges if you’ve got some keen bakers in the group. What’s more, cake gives you all an opportunity to stop together with your morning coffee.
Conferences and trade shows
When it comes to conferences and trade shows, do you cherry pick one or two to go and everyone else languishes meekly back in the office? If so, you may be missing a trick for team building. Hotel stays, train journeys, and simply attending an event together, can help to gel a team and encourage their unity.
The team jigsaw
Have you got a team jigsaw on the go? If not, why not? Having a jigsaw in a communal area is surprisingly effective for sparking creative ideas and innovative chats amongst colleagues.
Working well as a break out zone, the jigsaw can give a common focus to down time and build the team in the process. It’s even a good place to have tricky conversations.
Did you know that even having a fire drill can turn into an incidental opportunity for team building? Use simulations of a more relevant nature to work together on how to tackle a business related problem.
Create an imaginary scenario and let your team loose with a set of rules and a goal. The main aim is probably strategic planning, but an excellent by-product is team building away from the stress of a real-life situation. The actual skills developed are handy in the future too.
Team building ideas away from the office
Team building opportunities away from the office are like rocket fuel for teamwork. There’s only so much you can do in the confines of the daily grind. Getting out of the office with the core purpose of building the team will ensure that engagement, cohesion and productivity improve back in the office. Here are our top team building ideas for activities and events away from the office:
A team building event with a difference is a Detective Day. Gather your team and work together to problem-solve, taking on a walking adventure in a location of your choice.
Bond over shared fun and adventure, and develop communication and team work with ease. Unlike many out-of-the-office team building experiences, our team building days are largely accessible and enjoyed by everyone.
Who says any team building activity has to be active? Sometimes the best building happens when we allow things to unwind and break down a bit. Organising for the team to enjoy a retreat together can promote trust and communication. It’s simple and will help to recharge a stressed out team and build them back up again.
Capture the flag and other battle games
Pit your team against another to use their strategy and wits to capture the other team’s flag. These games can be professionally organised and range from complex to short. Capture the Flag and other battle games, like you get with paintball, help to draw the team together and unite them against a common enemy.
Let your colleagues discover their inner Bear Grylls and join together on an organised survival or wilderness experience. Making fire together, sheltering from the elements, and coming up with plans to cross a river are sure to make figuring out how to improve sales in the office a doddle.
Attend a sporting event
Build camaraderie by organising for your team to attend a sporting event together. National games are excellent opportunities for team bonding as you celebrate together or commiserate together.
The Apprentice Days
Loads of corporate team building events companies around the world organise The Apprentice style days. There may be a cantankerous and belligerent boss to contend with but the team must work together to utilise their business attributes to greatest effect.
They will become a better team through lots of challenging elements all while having a good time. And no one gets fired for real at the end of it.
Seriously. The newbie on the block of team building ideas is duck herding and it’s not quite as mad as it sounds. Your band of brothers will work together (with a spot of help from a trained ‘sheep’ dog) to herd the ducks around various obstacles and challenges before finally getting them snug in their pen.
Expect lots of laughter and a crazy amount of team building. You’ll discover skills you never knew you had.
LEGO workshops make for brilliant team building adventures. LEGO isn’t just for children as an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) will tell you. It’s a chance to build (ha ha) strategic thinking and game plans, develop creativity and work as a group. Workshops are varied and will include different team members taking on roles such as architect and builder.
Let the professionals take charge of your team building by organising a Segway experience for everyone. They will bond over fun together and spending time with each other outside of the work environment. Team building ideas for work which take people out of the office can be particularly helpful.
Remember sports days when you would bond with your school house in a way that never usually happened, even if it was over mutually not wanting to be there?! Channel the same theory with a corporate mini Olympics. With a mixture of fun and athletic challenges, ensure there are ways for everyone to take part.
Human table football
Imagine table football made life size with your team members as the players. Velcro’ed to the bars, the team has to communicate effectively to have any hope of scoring a goal or defending from attacks. It’s good fun and helps to develop teamwork through competitive spirit.
The best team building ideas for work and colleagues are carefully thought through to be tailored to the individual team.
But use time wisely. Include fully structured activities that take several hours but don’t forget that some of the best team building ideas include opportunities that arise in the everyday, and in small activities injected when needed.