The Ultimate List of Team-Building Activities
Team building activities are a great way to get your team to connect and can strengthen camaraderie. Finding the right exercise can be difficult as not every person is comfortable with certain team bonding activities – they may believe games are ineffective, boring, or even childish. It is essential to choose an exercise that everyone feels comfortable doing and allows your team to learn how each person thinks, works, and solves problems.
Here is the ultimate list of team-buiding games to help your team unite, grow, and most importantly, have fun
Game #1: Geocache Adventure
A geocaching adventure is a high-tech treasure hunting game. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, and have your employees search for them together. Each team will need to have a GPS device that will help them find the geocaches. If you’d like your employees to return at a specific time, be sure to let them know! The geocaches you hide in particular locations could be a part of a riddle or message that you’d like for your teams to uncover once they are back together.
Purpose: This fun game helps team members work together towards a specific goal. The geocache adventure also promotes problem-solving skills if you decide to include riddles and puzzles.
Game #2: Scavenger Hunt
For the scavenger hunt, you’ll want to divide your teams equally into small or large groups and send them out to find specific items from a list. You can decide where they will need to go to find the items – whether in the office or at a specific location. As with any scavenger hunt, the goal is to get back first with the most items from the list. It would probably be a good idea to set a time limit so that your teams don’t spend countless hours trying to find everything.
If you’d prefer your employees to stay in the office, you could make a digital scavenger hunt in which smaller teams are required to find examples or specific information online.
Purpose: The scavenger hunt is a fun activity that promotes team-working and can encourage creativity.
Game #3: Common Book
The Common Book exercise takes place not in one sitting, but over a few weeks. You will want to start by making a blank journal or scrapbook and place it in a break room or another common area. The journal or scrapbook should have prompts on each page asking specific questions or suggesting things to draw or write.
Alternatively, you may print guidelines and display them next to the journal or scrapbook.
Be sure to leave writing utensils so that your team members can write and draw in the book. Encourage them to write quotes from things they are reading or to write about an event that happened at work. When the book is finally full, put it on a shelf where your team can look at it whenever they want and start a new one!
Purpose: This game creates a living history for your team members. It encourages collaboration, creativity, and recollection in a fun way. It also gives you, as a leader, something to look at in the future to see how far your team has come.
Game #4: Created Economy
You will need to get your team members together and decide if you want to create an economy or an aspect of a larger society. Determine the rules you will abide by, leaving some wiggle room in the event you experience problems that requires group agreement to solve.
Purpose: By creating an economy or mini-society, your team will naturally build trust and challenge problems using teamwork. There can be rewards and penalties. Some team members will quickly reveal themselves to be creative rule-breakers and others as rule-followers. Your team will learn how one another solve, work, and think.
Game #5: Use What You Have
For Use What You Have, you will need to divide your team members into equal groups. You will need to come up with a specific project for them that has a goal and clear restrictions. As an example, you might have your team members create something that moves an object from point A to point B without the use of any electricity. You can come up with any challenge you’d like – maybe consider a project that relates to the kind of work you do!
Once you’ve decided on the project, you will need to give each time the same supplies to use along with supplies that you will want to place in the middle of the room. Give your teams a specific time frame to complete the project and don’t forget to emphasize they can only use the supplies provided and need to abide by the restrictions. Once completed, teams will be able to show off their project and have a little fun competition to see who came up with the best design.
Purpose: This great team game promotes decision making and encourages creative problem solving, forcing participants to leave their comfort zone. It brings an element of entertainment and maker-ism into the mix, with an added twist of learning how to solve a problem with limited materials.
Game #6: The Barter Puzzle
For The Barter Puzzle activity, you will need to break your team into equal groups. Provide each team a different jigsaw puzzle, but of equal difficulty. Inform your teams that they have a set amount of time to complete their puzzle and that some pieces of their puzzle belong to another teams puzzle.
The ultimate goal is to be the first team to complete the puzzle, but they’ll have to convince the different teams to give up the pieces the need – whether through barter, exchange, donating, or even a merger. Whatever each team chooses, they must do it as a group.
Purpose: While this exercise can be a bit time-consuming, it allows for creative cohesion. Not only must the team build their puzzle, but they must also find a way to convince the other teams to give up their needed pieces. So they have to solve their puzzle along with the problem of getting their pieces to complete the puzzle.
Game #7: Penny For Your Thoughts
For this game, you will need to get pennies, or any other coin you’d like, as long as you have one for each member of a small team. You will also want to make sure that the year on the coin is within your team’s lifespan. For example, you don’t want to have a coin dated older than the youngest person on your team.
You will then want to place all the coins in a container and have each team member draw out a coin. Have each person share something of significance that happened to them in that particular year.
Purpose: This activity is simple and a great way for your team to get to know one another. It’s also a quick ice-breaker if you’re looking to loosen up your team members before a meeting or any other gathering.
Game #8: Triangulate Your Place
You want to first start by placing tape on the ground in a triangular shape (sheets of paper are a cheap option). You will then want to have all but one of your team members stand on the shape of a triangle. They should be facing side by side inwards to create the outline of the triangle.
The remaining team member should stand inside the triangle. They can decide which direction they want to face. Instruct the team members who are standing on the outside of the triangle to remember the direction they are in relation to the person in the middle. They should make a note of who they are standing next to. Additionally, they should remember how they fit into the triangle shape based on which direction the person in the middle is facing.
The person in the middle should slowly begin to spin around. Whenever they feel like it, they should stop and stand still. At this point, the team on the outside of the triangle has a set amount of time to rearrange themselves into place so that the triangle is situated correctly according to the direction that the person in the middle chose to face.
Purpose: Triangulate Your Place is a great way to get your team to work together. They need to remember their place in the triangle and as well as others too if they want to finish in time.
Game #9: Problem Family Tree
Give each of your team members a piece of paper and have them write down a problem they have at work at the top of the sheet. Emphasize the problem should be directed at a particular person – rather these should be problems about processes, products, or some other non-human problem.
Right below the problem, leaving a small space, have them write two things that they believe cause the problem. Have them draw a line from the two ideas to the main problem – similar to a family tree structure. Then have your team members break down the two ideas even further, two for each, as far as they can. The main purpose is to determine what small thing things may have led to the problem they initially wrote down.
Once completed, allow your team leaders to share their results and see where there are similarities between each others family tree.
Purpose: To help team members better understand the problems they are dealing with and their cause. It’s a reminder that small issues combined with other small issues can create big problems.
Game #10: Two Truths And A Lie
For Truth And Lie, you must provide each team member with four identical pieces of paper. Have them write down two truths and one lie. Remind them that the lie should be somewhat believable and that neither the truth or lie they write down should be offensive or crude.
One at a time, have each team member read their truths and lie in random order. Once done, your team should discuss what they think were the truths and the lies.
Purpose: This exercise is a great way for your team members to get to know one another. While extroverts typically have no issue talking about themselves, introverts aren’t always able to do the same. This activity gives both extroverts and introverts the opportunity to reveal information about themselves as well as expose assumptions others may have made.
Game #11: Do The Math
For Do The Math, you need to create different tasks and assign them values. For example, you might have a task that is skydive and give it a value of 47 while mow the lawn might have a value of 7.
Provide each of your team members with three cards with the same number on them so that each team member will have a set of numbers that is different from every other person. As an example, one person might have all 3’s while another may have all 14’s. The main goal here is to accomplish the task in a set amount of time. Whoever is left at the end, will get a prize based on the value of the task completed.
However, there is a catch! For them to do a task, they must get people together who’s cards add up to the value of the task. Once someone uses a card, it can’t be used again. Additionally, once a team member has used up all of their cards, they are taken out of the game and also out of the running for the prize.
Because your team members are limited, they must determine which tasks to do along with which cards to use up. Not every task will be completed, and not every person can be a winner.
Purpose: Do The Math, while a slightly painful team building event, helps your entire team work together and get a better understanding of strategy and self-sacrifice.
Game #12: Telephone, On Paper
For Telephone, On Paper you will want to give each of your team members a piece of paper. Have them draw something simple – without talking to anyone else. Once done, have each person pass their piece of paper to the left or the right – everyone must pass the paper in the same direction. Every team member will now look at the drawing, fold the piece of paper in half, and write what they think the picture is. Have your team members pass the paper again. Now, each team member will read what the previous person wrote, fold the paper over to hide the word, and draws a picture of that instead!
You will continue this method, where each pass will alternate between trying to determine what the picture is and drawing what is described. It is important to emphasize that each pass will only either reveal the words or the picture drawn from the previous round.
When the piece of paper makes its way back to its original owner, each group of people will reveal what was written and drawn – hilarity ensues!
Purpose: Telephone, On Paper, generally creates a lot of laughter and is a great ice-breaker if you want your employees to get to know one another and be more comfortable. The drawings themselves and interpretation of those drawings tend to come with a lot of discussion and jokes.
Game #13: Active Listening
Start by bringing your team together for what they think is just another meeting. Put together a long presentation filled with a boring but coherent speech that talks about marketing goals and sales. In the presentation, sprinkle in sentences or points that say something else entirely. This could include instructions on how to get lunch or the fact that they will be quizzed on the presentation once you’re done talking.
Speak in an extremely monotone voice – this main goal of this activity is to get your team members to tune you out. Be sure not to over-emphasize the “real” points or instructions. When you’re done, give a piece of paper to each team member. Have your team write down what they thought you covered during your presentation and quiz them. Discuss who heard what and see which of your team members was actively listening.
Purpose: This game touches briefly on conflict resolution and the idea that conflicts can arise because people don’t really listen. It emphasizes the importance of employee engagement and active communication skills – listening to verbal as well as non-verbal communication
Game #14: This Is Better Than That
For This Is Better Than That you will need to bring in four objects or four sets of objects to the conference room. Write up a scenario for an object or each set that outlines what the perfect item would be in the order of preference. Although none of the objects will be an exact match, each will have qualities that coincide with the perfect list. Read the scenario to your team members and have them order the objects from worst fit to perfect fit. When all objects have been ordered, have your team explain why they placed the objects in the order they did.
Purpose: This Is Better Than That helps your team members break down a problem or scenario to determine which objects are the best thing. This can be used to move onto discussing projects or current challenges that your team is facing.
Game #15: Hello My Name Is…
First, you will want to create a list of adjectives that can describe a persons attitude, such as happy, positive, and joker. Make sure that you have enough adjectives for each person on your team and write them on “Hello My Name Is” stickers. Put the stickers in a container of some sort and have each team member take a name sticker without looking at the adjective written down. Next, have them stick the name tag on their clothing and instruct them that they must act and respond according to the adjective on their name tag.
You can use this activity in a number of different ways. You could have your team wear them during a meeting or simply have them wear them for a typical workday. You could also have them wear the name tag for only the first half the day and have them switch with another team member for the second half of the day.
Purpose: To prove that designating an attitude or telling someone they are “positive” can actually affect how they view themselves and how that it can impact their day.
Game #16: You Get One Question
For You Get One Questions, you will need to come up with several situations that a person would be chosen to do something. For example, they could be going to college, hired for a new job, or be getting married. You will then need to ask each of your team members to come up with only one question that would be asked to determine if that person were the perfect fit for the situation. Have each of your team members write their one question down on a piece of paper. When all situations have been covered, discuss them as a group, and see what each team member thinks would be the perfect question for the situation!
Purpose: You Get One Questions allows team members to quickly learn how each of their counterparts thinks differently even when moving towards common goal. Their perfect questions will reflect their true motives and what they believe matters the most.
Game #17: Ideas As Building Blocks
For the Ideas As Building Blocks game, you will need to create a fake problem that your team members must solve. It could be a brain teaser, puzzle, or design challenge. Gather your team and have them write down an idea on a big piece of paper – they only need to write a few sentences. Have them pass their paper to the person on their left, and instruct them to use the idea to come up with another. Continue this process for a few rounds and then discuss what the results were.
Purpose: This exercise emphasizes the fact that everyone has valuable ideas and perspectives. Brainstorming sessions can often be taken over by more vocal and dominant personalities, but by using this method, you can encourage all members to contribute.
Game #18: What’s On Your Desk
For What’s On Your Desk, you will want to have each of your team members bring an item from their desk. Inform them that this is going to be their “new” product and they must come up with a name, slogan, logo, and marketing plan for their product. Be sure to give them a set amount of time to meet their objectives. Alternatively, this activity could be completed as a team.
Once the time is up, allow each team member to present their item and give a short presentation about their product as if they were selling it. After everyone has presented their product, allow them to discuss which products were sold and why.
Purpose: If you have marketing and design teams participating, this is a great way of seeing old things in a newer light. If you complete the activity in groups, then it brings people together to work as a team and also introduces crunch-time brainstorming. Of course, it also promotes problem-solving and creativity too!
Game #19: Group Timeline
On a whiteboard or thick poster board, create a blank timeline. The timeline should start back as far as the oldest member of your team was born – you could also use when the company was founded. Mark each ear on the blank timeline. Then, using post its or some kind of sticky paper, write down important dates for the company such as when it was founded or when a new product came out and pin it to the corresponding spot on the timeline.
Provide your team members with four post its and ask them to write down four important moments in their life. Have them pin them to the timeline.
Purpose: The Group Timeline game shows your team, visually, their different experiences. It helps them to think and talk about not only generational but also cultural differences as well. It is also a great opportunity for your team members to learn more about one another.
Game #20: Watch Where You Step
Using tape, create a large polygonal shape on the floor that is approximately 12 feet long by 6 feet wide. Be sure to mark the beginning and end points. The shape doesn’t need to be perfect – make it as convoluted as you’d like! Once done, place a few squeaky toys inside the shape along with twice as many pieces of paper with large Xs on them. The paper with the X will be considered mines.
Have at least two team members at a time make their way from the beginning to the end blindfolded. They can’t step outside of the boundary of the shape, nor can they step on a mine. If they do step on a mine, they are frozen. They are only able to be unfrozen if someone else steps on a squeaky toy inside the shape. The trick is that their only guidance around the shape is by voice commands of those outside of the shape who are not blindfolded.
Purpose: The Watch Where You Step game is about communication and trusting other team members.
Game #21: What’s My Name?
One name tags or labels, write down names of famous people or people types such as nerd, doctor, engineer – whatever you’d like! Place the nametags on each team member’s back so that they cannot see what their name tag says, but the rest of the team can.
Allow your team members to chat and ask and answer questions. Your team members should treat one another according to the stereotypical way based on what their name tag says. Each member can deduce from the way they are treated what their name tag says. Once a team member figures out what their label says, they can leave the game and allow the rest to finish.
Purpose: The What’s My Name activity allows people to understand better how people can often be treated based on stereotypes. It can expand your team members minds and help them to think more openly. This is also a great ice-breaker activity if you have team members that don’t know each other very well.
Game #22: Blind Drawing
Split your team into small groups of two each. Have each team member sit back to back with their partner (or use a blindfold). One team member will have a picture, and the other person will have a blank piece of paper and a pen. The team member with the picture can’t show the other person their image. Rather, they should describe the picture without using any words that would give it away. The other team member should try to draw what is being described.
Be sure to set a time limit. Once the time limit is reached, both team members can compare the original picture and the drawing.
Purpose: This game focuses on communication. You can bet the final drawing will probably not look like the picture, but it is interesting to team members to see how differently instructions can be interpreted even when they are presumably talking about the same thing!
Game #23: Organizational Jenga
For Organization Jenga You will need to use wooden blocks or an even better option would be using the actual Jenga game. You will need to mark the blocks according to the structure present in your business. For example, you might have some blocks for your human resources department or your IT department. You might even have blocks that are marked as manager or support staff. The blocks should reflect the structure of your office, so if your human resources department makes up 10% of your organization, then 10% of your blocks should be designated for human resources.
You will now want to divide your teams into groups, providing them an equal number and type of block. You’ll want to specify the type of structure that each team must build. Alternatively, you can provide guidelines and allow them to build any type of structure that they want. Be sure to set a specific time limit and once that time limit is reached each team, taking turns, must remove one block at a time and see who will be the first person to destroy their structure. Tip: Be sure not to let them know ahead of time that you will be asking them to do this.
If you have enough time, you can ask them to do the exercise again. See if your team members can find a way to build a structure that can withstand the removal of blocks.
Purpose: Organizational Jenga is meant to show your team members how important each department and position at your business is necessary and that without everyone in place, things can quickly fall apart.
Game #24: Find The Common Thread
Before a staff meeting or get together, break your team members into groups. Inform the groups that they must find one commonality amongst themselves. It could be a hobby, a favorite book, or a favorite sport. Once they know what they have in common, they should create a list of what might be stereotypical qualities of such people.
Once done, the groups should come together and let the rest of the group know who they are. For example, if an entire group loves Garfield, they may refer to themselves as the “I Hate Mondays” group. For the remainder of the meeting, team members must act out the stereotypes they listed. For the team that loves Garfield, they may exclaim how much they love lasagna to fellow team members. At the end of the meeting, discuss the stereotypes we often assign to others. Discuss how those stereotypes affect how we view other people’s abilities.
Purpose: The idea behind Find The Common Thread is to have your team to confront the nature of stereotypes and how if we treated people based on their actual nature rather than their stereotype the office would be much different.
Game #25: Show And Tell
It’s a shame that show and tell ends when you’re a kid as it’s a great way to learn about others. This team building exercise is pretty straight forward – set time aside and allow your team members to bring in something or show off a project they’re working on. Do the activity all in one day or break it up over a few days. If you do the show and tell activity over lunch, be sure to cater and make it a fun experience. Allow a question and answer session once a team member is done.
Purpose: Most people enjoy talking about themselves, but not everyone gets that chance if they are on the quiet side. By having regular show and tell sessions, you can give all of your team members the opportunity to speak about some important project they’re working on or item they have. It’s a great way to help team members learn about their introverted counterparts.
Virtual Team Building Activities
The pandemic has changed the way we approach bonding – now, remote teams are far more the norm, which makes it harder to build the camaraderie you get with fun team building activities played face-to-face. That said, with a little creativity and ingenuity, you can tweak some of these activities to work even over a zoom call. You can also keep it simpler – put on a mini game show and turn the various zoom windows into the perfect space to play some office trivia, asking trivia questions based on your employees or your workplace.
Alternatively, you can lean into the remote nature of your business. Why not have your team visit an escape room and learn how the people you’re stuck with can facilitate (or impede) each other when working towards a common goal?
All of this to say, whether you’re dealing with in-person or remote employees, engaging in new team building methods could be exactly what your workforce is missing to take productivity and unity to the next level. In a Nulab study, a staggering 96% of respondents said their relationship with colleagues was positively impacted by team bonding. Why wouldn’t you want to be the facilitator of such an impact on your workforce?