What are team building activities?
Picture your team as a clock. There are many functioning parts within this clock that are required to work together flawlessly in order for the clock to be accurate. Much like a well-oiled and finely tuned clock, your team has to be in-tune with each other in order to get the best results. One of the best ways to achieve an organized and functioning team is to do some team building activities.
Team building activities are more than just your average office game. These team building games are designed in such a way to not just be fun, but to get your team more familiar with one another.
In a way, they’re like ice breaker games for adults.
Technically speaking, there are no rules when it comes to team building exercises. As long as you can get your team working and having fun together, then you’re on the right path.
But, we all need a little jump start sometimes, right? Here is an example of a fun game that is widely used by teams across the world:
Tied up is a fun game that you can play at your office or on a company retreat. You start by dividing the team in groups up to 4 people. Ask each group to form a circle and tie their hands together. Ask the group to perform a task that they must complete together while their hands are tied up.
Some examples would be:
Tie a knot
Skip a rock (Requires being close to water)
Complete an obstacle course
The constraints can increase their creativity and push them to think outside-of-the-box.
As you can see, the goal of group games is to get your team to work and have fun together.
Do team building games work?
Do these team building activities actually work? In short, yes. But let’s explain this a little further. Why do they work?
Team building exercises work because they’re usually fun. But more importantly, they work because they teach us collaboration, networking, communication, how to encourage one another, and how to celebrate success as a team. These are just a few of the many things that can be lost as we sit behind our computer screens.
Team building and group games work especially well for people who work remotely. In fact, it’s vital to the success of the team to get to know each other in this case. What better way to get to know everyone than through fun and engaging group activities?
Of course, because these teams are remote, the style of team building activities for work changes a little bit. Instead of meeting face-to-face, you’ll most likely have to settle for a face-to-screen interaction, but that’s okay. Here is one of the best ways to include fun group games in your workplace if you work remotely:
Have everyone on your team give a brief tour of their office space. Have them go into detail about their favorite parts about their office space, and even give a little insight into why they work remotely.
The virtual tour isn’t an activity you need with an in-person office, but it’s a great way for remote team members to connect.
Team building games and activities work. They help team members learn and evolve.
In fact, if you take a look at this recent study called “An Analysis on the Effectiveness of Team Building: The Impact on Human Resources”, you’ll see the positive effects of team building. According to the study authors:
Who are team building games for?
“Team building is an important catalyst in the organizational relations between organizations; in fact, it is the main stimulus/vehicle in fostering closer ties between the top and bottom management teams or in other words, between the employers and their employees.”
You’ve most likely heard the phrase, “There’s always room for improvement.” These team bonding activities are more than just games, they are ways for any and every team to work better together.
Whether it’s once a week, once a month, or once a year, any team can benefit from team building exercises. After all, it’s in the name.
There is no specific time or place for team bonding activities. Anytime you feel like you want to get to know your team better, or hone in on your collective skills as a workforce, try to include some of the activities mentioned below. You can even create your own. There are no limitations to what you can do, and there is no team that won’t benefit from it.
Online Team Building Games
Jackbox Party Pack | 3–12 people
If you like Balderdash, you will absolutely love Fibbage. Fibbage is just one of the games that you will get when you download the Jackbox Party Pack.
In addition to Fibbage you will also get some amazing team games like Quiplash, Guesspionage, and my personal favorite; Fakin’ it.
If you’re part of a creative team, Jackbox offers some really good team building games for creatives. Tee K.O is an awesome game where you battle your custom t-shirt designs and there can be only one winner. Pro tip, you might not want to play against your team’s designer.
Worms Armageddon | 2 – 6 people
Worms Armageddon is an incredibly fun game for small teams. The premise of the game is simple. There are two teams of worms that take turns destroying each other. You can use weapons like a banana bomb, a holy grenade, or my all-time favorite, the iron donkey, which to be frank, is super overpowered.
This is an awesome team building game for improving your team’s dynamics and for seeing how your team cooperates and strategizes in order to be the ultimate worm army.
Mario Kart | 2 – 4 People
While Worms Armageddon and Jackbox Party Pack are not extraordinary popular games, the same can not be said about this one. Mario Kart brings everyone a bit of nostalgia and the game can be enjoyed by all kinds of people regardless of their age, which makes it an awesome team building game and an even better group activity.
For those of you who don’t know what Mario Kart is, it’s a series of go-kart-style racing games developed by Nintendo. The first in the series, Super Mario Kart, was launched in 1992 on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to critical and commercial success. Nowadays you can play Mario Kart with your team on a Nintendo Switch.
Overcooked 2 | 2 – 4 People
Overcooked 2 is the sequel to one of my favorite indie games. The amount of fun you have when playing this game is contagious. Like the original, Overcooked 2 is a fun, non-violent co-op game that’s simple enough for the whole team to enjoy which makes it an awesome team building activity that doesn’t take too long to set up.
Rocket League | 2 – 8 People
Rocket League is by far, my personal all-time favorite. We’ve played this game as a team during team meetups but also remotely. Rocket League is like Mario Kart but on steroids. The game is incredibly fun to play and it really brings out the competitive nature of your team. Eight people can play this game divided into two teams. Rocket League is a high-powered hybrid of arcade-style soccer and vehicular mayhem with easy-to-understand controls and fluid, physics-driven competition. The game can be played on almost any platform and it’s cross-platform functionality makes it an accessible team building activity.
Remote Team Building Games
Send one of your team members a picture of a simple object. Without saying what it is, the person must depict the image while everyone else tries their best to draw it. She/he can’t use words that will give it away.
After five minutes, compare the original with what the team produced, and talk about the importance of precision and clarity in communication.
Variations: Try it without allowing other team members to speak except for the person who is presenting. After the picture has been described you can allow people to ask questions.
The leader starts with a simple sentence that presents a scenario. Each group member takes a turn to add to the story. The kicker is that players alternate starting their sentence with either “Fortunately…” or “Unfortunately.” Works best with an odd number of players so members can play both good and bad. It might sound like this:
Leader: The company had a “Bring your pet to work” day.
Player 1: Unfortunately, Sally’s pet is a giant, 6 meter-long bull python.
Player 2: Fortunately, the snake was a vegan so no-one was hurt.
Tell a Joke.
Each member comes prepared to share a joke or short story. You can open the meeting with all of them, or cue the next jokester between agenda items. Save the best one for last.
Watch a movie together, while apart. Agree to watch the same movie or TV episode during the week, then challenge members to share and compare something about what they saw. It could be suggested alternate endings, favorite character, an early plot twist that would negate the whole point of the show or anything else your imagination suggests.
Most Useless Gadget.
Challenge members to surf the internet to find the most useless gadget. Take turns showing a picture of the item while giving a one-minute pitch about why your teammates should buy this thing immediately.
An idea from Matt Krumrie at Remote Management is to choose a few words or phrases that are banned for the duration of the meeting. When someone uses the word, they get a point. Fewest points at the end of the meeting win. This can help keep people remain attentive while reinforcing the need to speak clearly and simply for the best effect.
Encourage each person to share a non-work related goal that they want to achieve, why it’s important to them, and the date they want to accomplish it by. Post it to the team’s shared calendar on Toggl Plan. As the date approaches, ask for updates and encourage them. This can be a good way to help build in some accountability as team members strive to reach their goals.
Icebreaker Games and Questions
- Related to culture:
- What is your favorite quote or expression in your language?
- What is the city/town you’re located in known for?
- What is something people never seem to know (or always get wrong) about your country?
- If people landed in your city’s airport, what would they receive upon landing?
- If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do?
- If you could add any activity to the Olympics, what would it be?
- If you could buy any .com domain, what would you buy and what would you use it for?
- How would you change your life today if the average life expectancy was 400 years?
- A genie grants you three wishes but none of them can directly benefit you. What would those wishes be?
- If you could go back to your younger self, which age would it be, and what would you say?
- If you could wake up on someone else’s body and live in it for a day/month/year, who would it be?
- If you could know the absolute and total truth to one question, what question would you ask?
- If you could breed a hybrid animal from two different species, what two would you pick?
- What is the story behind your name?
- What was your first job?
- What is something you’re glad you’ll never have to do again?
- What skills come naturally to you?
- What skills do you wish you had?
- Who are your role models (in life and at work)?
- Name three of your favorite holidays and how you celebrate them.
- What is the most meaningful part of your job?
- Say one fact about someone on your team, and have other people guess who it is about
- What do you miss the most when you’re traveling?
- If computers did not exist, what would you want your job to be?
If you don’t want to think of your own, you can also try an interactive video meeting platform like Toasty. They have a lot of pre-populated icebreaker cards and templates for you to grab and use.
Team Building Activities And Games
This game is great because it really helps your team use their creativity and also encourages them to exercise their communication skills with each other. Here’s how you play:
Get a pen and some string. You’ll want to cut as many strings as there are people playing. The pen will be in the middle and the strings will all be tied to the middle of the pen, in such a way that when you pull the strings, it forms a star-like shape.
Each person will grab a string and pull simultaneously. Under the pen, you will have a paper. Now, the team agrees on drawing a certain picture or writing a phrase, and they must communicate and work together perfectly in order to accomplish the task.
If you want, you can play this in two different teams and compare the drawings at the end to see which drawing or phrase was written/drawn more accurately.
After a few turns of the game, you can even try it blindfolded if you’re feeling up to the task! Here’s a video for further explanation.
Time for a game that focuses more on coordination. It’s kinda fragile, so be extra careful when playing this one!
What you’ll need: Paper plates, tape, a pot, and spaghetti noodles.
This is a timed game and it’s played in teams. Here’s what’s about to go down:
Each pair will have a paper plate taped to the palm of their hand. Between the plate, they will place a spaghetti noodle. The object of the game is for the pair to work together and get as many noodles as possible from one side of the room to another without breaking the noodle.
You have one minute, and the team with the most unbroken noodles on the other side of the room wins. Easy and fun! As I said, this game needs communication and each player has to work towards a common goal with his teammate. After the game, you can discuss ways that this game can be applied to your team.
This is definitely a crowd favorite in our office. We’re always laughing when we play this game and it creates such a fun atmosphere, while also developing great teamwork. Here’s how you play!
What you’ll need is some A4 paper and some open space.
For this game the floor isn’t lava, it’s actually a river. Set down some paper on the ground and tell your team that each paper is a stepping stone to get across the river. Each member of the team has to get across the river, and no man can be left behind.
But here’s the catch: after stepping on a stone, it sinks to the bottom of the river.
Another thing to mention is that only one person can be on one stepping stone at any given time. So, you need to strategically get across the river with all teammates without falling into the river. Good luck!
For more info on this game, check out the video below! Make sure you discuss teamwork and the importance of communication after the game and apply it to work life!
That’s how we roll
If you can’t tell, the game trends are all about teamwork and communication, so here’s another one for ya! The task may seem simple to the untrained eye, but just wait until you play. It’s very fun and funny. Here’s what you need to do.
Either split your team into two competing teams or have one big team playing against the clock.
What you’ll need is a roll of tape for each team. The teams will lay on their backs and they’ll have to pass the tape from the first to last person by using only their feet. You might want to take off your shoes before playing this game to avoid any office injuries.
The team who gets the tape from the first to last person first wins, or just play against the clock and see if you can get the tape to the back before running out of time. Surely you’ll have a lot of fun times and laughs with this one.
This game is a classic. You may remember this one from summer camp back during the golden days. You’ll need some balloons for this one and some energy!
This game is a race. You’ll split the group into pairs and begin racing each other. How do you race? Glad you asked. The pairs will place the balloons between their abdomens and chests and have to get from point A to B before anyone else does.
The team who gets to the finish line first wins. There’s a catch though: if you drop your balloon, you have to start over from the beginning. Remember, you may not use your hands at any point in time.
Have fun with this one! If you need some more explanation, here’s a video for you to follow:
If you’re not a huge dancer, don’t worry. That’s not what this game is about. This game is definitely going to push your patience and test your collaboration skills with your team members. So here’s what you’re gonna do:
Split your team into two lines and have them face each other. Have each team member place their index finger under the stick. You will alternate index fingers with the person in front of you.
For example, you will start with your pointer finger under the stick, then the person in front of you will place their finger, then yours again, then theirs, etc. See the video down below for further explanation!
Place the broomstick on top of everyones idex fingers, and have them lower it to the ground without the stick falling.
This proves to be much harder than it sounds! Remember, you can’t use anything else to touch the broomstick than your pointer finger. If the broomstick falls, start over and try again. Good luck!
Be Square / All Aboard
This is an easy, but effective game to play in your office to encourage communication and teamwork. Here’s what you need to do: create a square on the floor of the office with some masking tape. Don’t make it too big, so that the game remains pretty challenging and fun to play.
Everyone on your team must stand inside the square for thirty seconds without falling or stepping out of the square. Sounds easy, but it’s not!
It’s super fun to play, doesn’t take a lot of brain power and everyone has to get involved in order for it to work. You also need to trust your teammates will help you stay in the square. An all-around get team building game.
Check out this video for more info on how to play:
Another super easy, yet super fun game to play is Caterpiller Traverse. That point of the game is to get across the canyon as a team, while everyone’s legs are tied together. You have to stay inside the stepping stones to make it across safely. You can make this a competitive game where you split the teams into two, or you can play as one big team and race against the clock. The choice is yours!
To mark the sides of the canyon, you can either use broomsticks or masking tape. Then what you’ll do is create the stepping stones within the canyon walls by using tape. Make the stepping stones in all sorts of directions, like zig-zags, for added fun and difficulty.
You can make the stepping stones wider by lining the tape with extra layers, or you can leave it just one layer. Now, get your team in a line, and tie everyone’s legs up to the person’s on either side of them until you’re basically like one big caterpillar.
Now it’s time for you guys to make it to the other side without falling off the stepping stones. Good luck!
Check out the video for more instructions:
You might’ve seen this game on tv because it’s pretty fun and popular.
Create a grid on the floor by using some colored tape. You can make it 5×5 or 10×10. Whatever you’d like!
After you’ve created the grid, draw it on a piece of paper exactly as it is on the floor. You will be on one side of the grid, and the team will be on the other.
You, as the facilitator, will draw on the paper grid a way for the team to get to the other side to you. But this way to get to you remains a secret.
Each team member will start walking on the grid trying to make their way toward you. As they take steps toward you, on different squares, you will tell them if they’re going the right or wrong way.
When they take a wrong step, they must leave the grid and go to the back of the line.
Each person on the team should pay attention to how and where each team member did well or messed up.
The game is over when they find the correct way to get to you.
Understanding this game is much easier if you watch this little snippet of the game. Once you get the hang of it, it’s quite fun and it teases the brain!
Drop the Ball
This game takes a lot of concentration and great communication to complete the task.
Pair up your employees and give each participant a rope, a basket, and some soft foam balls. The task is for them to use the rope to get the balls into the baskets.
Set the clock for 2 minutes and the team with the most balls in their basket wins. You need to understand that the members should stretch out the ropes over the baskets and move the balls along the ropes and place them in the basket.
No hands are allowed to touch the balls except when setting the ball on the rope to get started. If you want to up the ante and get serious about this game, you can have them use two balls at a time.
Another variation is to play in a star, having your teammates be across from one another and the other opposing team’s strings intersecting. See the pic for inspiration.
This is a classic game that is always fun to play. It is super simple! You only need to put a little effort into gathering the supplies and finding a hen to loan you a few of her eggs.
You divide your team members up into teams and give them the supplies and 1 egg. You set a time limit for the teams, say 30 minutes, to create a device that will protect the egg as it is dropped off a high surface.
Some supplies examples may be magazines, boxes, bubble wrap, drinking straws, pipe cleaners, tape, rubber bands, etc. Just use your imagination and whatever you find around the office. Be sure to have enough for each team to get the same supplies.
They can use some or all of the materials. After they have made the packages or time is up, you can start your egg drop. The team with the egg that survives the fall, wins.
This game is not as cost-effective, but taking an afternoon out of the workday to relieve stress and build comradery is worth all the trouble and the cash to make it happen.
Rent a paintball field and have a blast shooting your stress away and building a great community of coworkers. Paintball takes planning, teamwork, and communication to be successful. Paintball promotes unity.
This is another great option as well to get out of the office and have some fun. It is like paintball, in the way that you can relieve stress and build collaboration, but without the sting.
Find a laser tag arena near you and call it a day. Enjoy the laughs and team building.
4-way tug of war
You will need two long ropes for this game. Once you have the ropes, divide your team members into four separate groups.
Be sure to keep teams as equal as possible. This is a game for larger groups. The ropes are tied together in the middle so they can be pulled in four different directions.
The winner is the last team standing. It builds creative problem-solving skills and brings about unity. Especially, when the groups realize that it is better to team up than to go at it alone.
Classic Scavenger Hunt
This is a great team bonding activity that helps your staff mingle amongst other departments by encouraging people to work together. Be sure to mix up social circles and separate friends. You can create your own list of things to hunt or do, or, you can google a goofy list of scavenger hunting activities that suits your need.
Divide the group up into two or more teams. Give them the task of going around town and completing the list of tasks as quickly as possible.
Be sure to have one team member document the scavenger hunt. You can give a time limit or say the first team back with all task completed wins. At the end, you can cast the photos to the office tv and enjoy the recap. I’ve attached a Pinterest link of scavenger hunt lists. https://www.pinterest.com/patkacz45/scavenger-hunt-list/
This is a “no supplies” game that can take place in the spur of the moment. You typically need at least 8 people to play this game.
This game is dependant on good communication and teamwork. Everyone stands in a circle facing one another. Instruct the team members to place their arm and hand out in front of them, start with the right hand. Have them then grab another partner’s hand, but be sure the reach across the circle.
Then, repeat that process with the left hand, but it should be with a different person’s arm. Give them a set time to unravel themselves. You’re not allowed to let go of hands during this game, otherwise, you’d be cheating!
This is a great way to get to know one another, especially if you have a newly formed team. Have everyone get in a circle and spread out a bit.
The objective is to see how many balls can be tossed around at the same time among all the confusion. Start with one ball. Give it to a player. They then say the name of another player and toss the ball to them. And around the circle it goes.
After a bit, you can toss in more balls. This helps build focus and determination among your team.
Murder Mystery Outdoor Barbecue
Murder Mystery parties and dinners are loads of fun. You can host an outdoor barbecue and throw in the murder mystery theme. There are countless places online that allow you to purchase the necessary game materials.
Play according to the rules. The reason this is such a great idea is that it allows everyone to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. But more importantly, the murder mystery party helps your employees engage in critical thinking and problem-solving in a fun and engaging way.
Typically, dinners and banquets have a way of growing the community feel of your workplace. Why not add a little classic “whodunnit” to spice your next workplace barbeque.
Embrace your inner James Bond and facilitate this fun and exciting team building game. Before you start, you need to create a maze of strings.
Think “classic spy laser beam heist”. Create different shapes and lines with the strings. After you have created the spider web, instruct your team members to get to the other side of the web without touching the strings.
Here is the catch: you may not go the exact same route or the same way that the member before you did.
This is a game that gets harder as it goes on because your options get limited. This will take some planning, great leadership, and problem-solving skills from your coworkers.
Andrei is a Growth Hacker on Teamweek's marketing team. He is the person behind most of Teamweek's SEO-driven projects, including the budget calculator and the worst productivity tips generator. He enjoys writing about project management, graphic design, and anything tech.