Joining a new company is daunting. Not only do you have to learn your new role and hone your skills, but you’re also expected to meet new people, work well with them, and actually get along. Luckily, many companies are investing time and money into strengthening their team building activities.
What is team building?
According to the University of California, San Francisco, “Team building is an ongoing process that helps a work group evolve into a cohesive unit. The team members not only share expectations for accomplishing group tasks, but trust and support one another and respect one another’s individual differences.”
While team building is associated with games and icebreakers, it is also considered an activity comprised of work, leisure, collaboration, problem solving, and projects that can take place at a picnic, an arcade, a sporting event or a restaurant.
Team building closes the isolation gap between coworkers, helping them come together and combine their strongest skills. Building a strong team helps alleviate arguments, low productivity and lack of communication.
Communication becomes more effective
Communication is vital to the success of a company, whether it’s in person or remote. Many tools are available to facilitate communication including Slack, Skype chat, Google chat, etc., to ensure employees have an outlet for interaction so they can manage, report, brainstorm, track, improve and carry out projects.
Even though good communication is a necessity at every company, it becomes much more of an efficient and motivating tool if teams feel more comfortable talking to and relating with each other.
The key to maintaining robust team building is by having company outings and activities on a semi-consistent basis, whether it’s once per month or once per quarter. Having something to look forward to in the way of an outing every so often will build morale and keep the bonds between coworkers strong. If employees feel their connections between one another start to dwindle, they may still feel like strangers to one another when it comes time to collaborate.
Start with onboarding
Create a fun first impression of your company during employee onboarding, which is the optimum time to gather new employees and introduce them to each other and seasoned employees in the way of a warm welcome. This is also a fun opportunity to do some icebreaker games to open communication and let employees gauge each other’s personalities.
Team building activities to break the ice
Two truths and a lie
Each person states two truths and one lie about themselves and it’s up to the rest of the group to figure out which one is false.
The name game
Write the name of a public figure on a Post-it Note and either stick it to a person’s forehead or back and then they have to guess who they are by deducing hints from their coworkers. These people can be:
Sit in a circle and try counting to 10 without talking over each other. Any time someone says two or more numbers in a row, or interrupts someone, the group must start over from one.
Would you rather…?
Take turns asking each other scenarios starting with the words “would you rather…?” Check out this page for a full list.
What’s the best/worst …?
This activity gives team members insight into their coworkers’ likes and dislikes, and encourages everyone to share funny stories.
Have employees pair up and give them half of a picture, it could be a shape, an animal, a food, etc. Have them sit back to back with one of them describing the drawing to the other who has to draw it. See if the original looks anything like what the illustrator comes up with.
Have some fun with your first team meeting by setting a rule that no one can smile for the first five minutes and see how long it lasts. You’ll be surprised by how many people fail this challenge knowing there’s a stipulation involved.
Creative team building activities
Sell an item on your desk
This would be ideal for the sales team. Invite everyone to pick an item from their desk then gather in the conference room. Next, they must improvise a sales pitch for that particular item that makes the rest of the room want to buy it.
Create randomly selected teams of three or four and assign them a movie genre. The teams will have to create a script, characters, setting, and story for a five-minute film they will then act out to the other groups. And if you happen to have an advanced multimedia department on site, take it a step further and actually film the movie.
Grab bag skits
Fill a paper bag full of random items from around the office. Assign teams of three or four and have them act out short skits with said objects.
Problem-solving team building activities
Idea building blocks
Separate into small groups and present each team with a problem. The first team member writes down an idea on how to solve the problem on a piece of paper and passes it to the next person. The next person improves on the solution by building on the first person’s idea, strengthening creative problem solving.
Build the tallest tower
Take 30 minutes, break into teams and build the tallest free-standing structure made out of materials from around the office that stands without support for six seconds or longer.
Tell your team it’s about to be stranded on a desert island forever and that they can only take 10 items with them. Have them grab 10 items from around the office and justify why they chose them.
Buy a 100-150-piece jigsaw puzzle for each team. The first team to complete the puzzle after 30 minutes wins.
Fun with Mad Libs
Find a document around the office such as your most current newsletter or your company’s mission statement and use a mad lib generator like Wordblanks to make a fun mad lib out of it. Gather in teams and fill in the blanks using the parts of speech provided and see who can come up with the most hilarious re-creation.
Take a team field trip to a local escape room or better yet, re-create one in the office. Teams are given a time limit to find the clues they need that lead them to the key that helps them escape. Check out this guide on how to make your own escape room.
Ongoing team building activities
Awful movie recommendation
Take turns nominating a terrible film to the team and then gather for a movie night and watch it.
Guilty pleasure song recommendation
Team members take turns playing their guilty pleasure songs in and around the office maybe during a team lunch or a while taking a break.
Gather a collection of books in the lunch room or breakroom and take turns reading the different titles that each team member recommends, leaving a fun review inside for the next person to read. This will encourage stimulating conversations around the office and get the team talking about a common interest other than what they’re binge watching.
Leave a blank notebook in a common area for team members to express themselves with silly drawings, song lyrics, riddles, grievances, etc., and see how the book evolves.
Competitive team building activities
Split everyone into teams of four or five. Hide objects either inside or outside the office and present a set of clues or just let everyone go off and hunt on a time limit.
Camera phone scavenger hunt
Split into teams and have everyone use their phones’ cameras to take pictures of certain items around the office.
As long as nobody gets too competitive, bowling is fun for everyone.
Learn everyone’s personalities, strengths, and deal-making abilities with a fun game of Monopoly. As a bonus, have everyone bring in their favorite snack to share.
Go to an arcade
Take a fun excursion to an arcade complete with Skee-Ball, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, etc., and make an outing out of a little harmless competition.
There are so many different editions of this game now including Disney, Star Wars, old movies, sports, etc. Or, you could just stick to the original version with general knowledge questions most people may have a shot at answering.
Pictionary involves creative communication, problem-solving and teamwork, perfect for team bonding.
Start by writing your department’s name on as many Jenga bricks as there are people on the team. Do this for everyone in every department and then start building a tower. The losing department is the one that knocks it down.
Water balloon toss
Fill a bunch of balloons with water and find a park or grassy area where the team can gather. Partner up and start by standing five feet apart and throw the balloons back and forth, moving farther apart by one step after each catch. The last pair standing without getting drenched wins.
Lip syncing or karaoke contest
Find some props including inflatable guitars, wigs, costume jewelry, fake microphones, etc., and perform the most convincing lip sync of your life, whether you’re a lone pop artist or in a band with your teammates.
Longer, more involved team building activities
Coming together as a team for a worthy cause can be very rewarding. It strengthens the group’s connection, as they’re working toward something that matters. Some fun team volunteering ideas include:
Team fun run
There are always fun runs happening all over the world. It’s a great opportunity to encourage your team to get some exercise, stay in shape and even get together for some training leading up to the event. You can put a team costume or theme together and take fun group pictures. For a list of fun runs, click here.
Do a charity event
You can come up with your own event that can raise proceeds toward a worthy cause. This would also be a fun opportunity to get coworkers’ families and friends involved to attract even more funding. Some charity ideas include:
Host a team game show
Have you ever wanted to express your inner Alex Trebek, Bob Barker or Pat Sajak? Gather your employees into teams and host your own company game show where contestants compete against each other for valuable or even hilariously cheap prizes.
Present a product and marketing strategy to a group of team members who will act as the iconic judges and decide how much they think it’s worth investing. It’s not only a great team building activity, but it’s a great way to stimulate creative juices when it comes time to generate a legitimate marketing tactic.
There you have it! So many fun ideas to choose from to help your team improve its communication skills, get to know each other a little better and bond, not just on a professional level, but a human one as well.