Blog » Team Building Activities
The planning process for team building activities can sometimes feel burdensome: the stakes are high, participants want to have fun, and teams are sometimes left with a task that checks a box, rather than one which delivers a truly meaningful opportunity for a team to strengthen its bonds.
But, never fear: we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and created a list of the top team building activities that won’t make your employees or college students or any other participant say ‘ew.’ Quite the opposite, in fact! They’ll be too busy having fun to realize how well the team building process is going.
The team building activities below are a great starting point for you when you’re thinking about launching something similar for your team. Most aren’t seasonal or dependent on location, but don’t hesitate to tailor any of them to your local scene!
Everyone loves to get competitive with a list of challenges as part of a team building scavenger hunt! Mobile apps (like Scavify) make the planning and deployment process a cake walk, and your participants can submit their responses via their smartphone in a variety of different, fun mediums (like photos, videos, and GPS check-ins). You can set the time parameters for the scavenger hunt in advance, and watch in real-time as all your teams progress!
Time Needed: Varies. As short as 30 min, as long as a month.
Number of People: 2-unlimited
How: Organize with Scavify app
Escape rooms have exploded in popularity over the last few years, in large part to their value as a fun team building activity - there’s nothing like being locked in a room with colleagues or other students to bond a team together as you try to solve the clues and make your way out! Many escape rooms have their own unique themes, and most cities have a variety of options from which you can choose (for location, time availability, etc.).
Kids of all ages (including adults) will get fired up at the prospect of a laser tag competition! Most venues offer packages designed specifically for corporate or other team building events, and alterations can be made to accommodate different levels of physical ability. It’s a great way to provide a tangible analogy for tactics and strategy, too, if that’s a focus for your team.
Everybody eats, and most people also like to cook. Even if they don’t, there’s something for everyone to learn in a cooking class. Most culinary schools or retail locations offer a variety of cooking classes at different times and price points, and without fail all attendees will get to eat the food at the end of the session (and leave with new recipes and cooking tricks in addition to the memories made throughout the process).
The ______ + wine/beer model is one that’s been adopted by quite a few industries, none quite so successfully as the art world. Studios (or restaurants) are available in almost every city which offer afternoon or evening activities for corporate or campus groups to come, paint a portrait, and drink some wine (or beer). Participants get to flex their creative muscles, while loosening up with colleagues and acquaintances. Plus - as an added bonus - they get to leave with an original masterpiece to help them commemorate the evening.
Speed demons in any office or campus environment will be first in line for a go-kart event in the name of a team building activity. All go-kart facilities obviously offer a racetrack, but a growing majority offer other secondary events as well to help groups make the most of an afternoon spent at the track. Races and relays can help get people to focus on one another and a common goal, and it’s a great photo op for groups as well.
Upstart local breweries have been a favored trend nationwide, and teams everywhere are reaping the benefits in the form of casual, inexpensive (or free) brewery tours and tastings. A tour is typically a shorter engagement, with plenty of time to taste and discuss the beer varietals. This type of team building activity is great for all groups, but those in particularly high-stress or highly-regulated industries will find this low-key activity to be a breath of fresh air!
Not only does volunteering serve to give back to those in need in your local community, it’s also a great way to enhance the relationships among your corporate or campus team. Doing good things has a way of making people feel good, and many volunteering opportunities are structured in a way that facilitates a high degree of social interaction (e.g., serving food at a soup kitchen, filling boxes at a meal delivery charity, etc.).
For those looking for a little zen, a yoga class is a perfect option for small- to midsize teams of all activity and experience levels. Yoga is a great way to center the mind while stretching the body, and yoga studios are always excited to welcome in new groups for a balanced and relaxing team building yoga experience!
For those seeking something a bit more in the gaming realm, the options below double-down on the fun factor.
This fun team building activity requires only a few sets of building blocks, and the creativity and communication acumen of your participants. Divide your group up into smaller teams (4-8 people) and give each their own set of blocks. These groups will then need to assign one team member per turn to sneak a peek at a pre-built block structure (kept hidden from the rest). They then need to return to their groups and describe what they saw. First group to build a twinning structure is the winner!
Jenga is the old stand-by classic, and nearly everyone knows how to play (but fewer know how to win). The basic premise is to remove blocks from a Jenga tower and place them on top, and whoever is the one whose block tips the tower is the loser. However, new improvements and variations of the game (e.g., big Jenga blocks) make it a classic for teams of any type.
For the more intellectually inclined, a chess tournament is a great way to get people interacting in a new and thoughtful manner. Divide up your participants into a bracket, and let them loose in a timed competition. Checkers can also be substituted if there aren’t many chess gurus in your group.
There’s a card shark in every office or campus organization, and this is a great way to feature them and build out strategic skills within your group. It’s easy and inexpensive to set-up a poker tournament with a number of tables, but be sure that the betting is either non-existent or done in a way that doesn’t violate any applicable rules or regulations (e.g., betting with poker chips only, or candy).
Some may remember Heads Up as an elementary school game, but the modern-day equivalent is an app that can be downloaded for free on any mobile device. It’s best played in smaller groups, and it requires that the group give hints about the name or song or movie displayed on the phone (which is held by the guesser on his or her forehead). The entire process is timed to see how many items the guesser can correctly identify, and the shenanigans are recorded by the phone’s camera for highly entertaining playback after each round.
Everyone has one or two board games lying around in their closets and basements, and a board game tournament is a great way to incorporate discussion and strategy into a typical afternoon in the office or residence hall (or wherever, truly!). Not only do board games give people a sense of nostalgia for days gone by, they also bring out new communication and strategic skills, which can be great for the corporate environment.
This game is fabulous for ferreting out the devious ones in an office! It’s great for groups of any size: simply have everyone assemble in a circle, and then each person provides three ‘facts’ about themselves (two of which are true, and one of which is a flagrant lie). They do not specify which is which, and the rest of the team is left to guess. It’s a great way to learn fun things about team members, and it’s a guaranteed laugh time and time again.
This is a great way to bring out the ingenuity hidden in any group. The task is simple: design a structure to prevent an egg from cracking when dropped from a specified height (typically 10 feet). You can provide the basic materials, and watch as your participants unleash their creative design skills!
Depending on how formal you want to be, there are a few ways to play Pictionary. In its most basic form, Pictionary just requires one person to draw something on a flipchart or whiteboard while the rest of the group tries to guess what it is (the drawer cannot speak to give any clues). The game is hilariously fun as different drawing habits are unveiled, and as people start to get competitive about their guesses.
This is similar to Pictionary, but in reverse, where groups of 4-6 people designate an artist who will be instructed by the rest of the group to draw an item unknown to him or her. The artist needs to rely entirely on what the group is sharing, which leads to some pretty memorable artwork for the teams. Great for building trust and communication skills among new teams, it’s a valuable yet easy game for a corporate team building activity.
Even if you don’t want to take your employees offsite, your office offers plenty of opportunity for fun and engaging corporate team building events.
Everyone in an office likes a good, old-fashioned cook-off! Especially because everyone gets to enjoy the spoils at the end of the event. Task your employees with preparing a specific dish, and outline the criteria for determining the winner. Everyone will enjoy watching your employees jockey for first place, but not as much as they’ll enjoy eating everyone’s submissions at the end of judging.
In-office trivia is a fabulous way to give your team an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge in whatever area you’d like! Pop culture is an easy starting point, but you can get specific in the arts, history, corporate culture or organizational information. You can hire a trivia company, or create your own questions and answers, depending on your budget and scale.
Catch Phrase is a guessing game that typically uses a handheld device (although you can create your own phrase options, if you like) and tasks your teams (divided up into two groups) to guess a phrase or item based on a number of clues. The team with the most points at the end of gameplay is the winner, but everyone will enjoy the fun as people make off-the-wall guesses in an attempt to win.
Jeopardy is the classic game that turns the trivia format on its head by requiring the answer be stated in the form of a question (among a few other minor differences, like the category grid). There are a number of computer programs that will create a Jeopardy-style structure for your teams to use in competition with one another, and you can dictate the categories to serve whatever purposes you’d like (e.g., corporate information, campus specialties, etc.).
Managers are often hesitant to ask employees to create videos, but you’d be surprised what they’ll come up with when given the opportunity! Create a simple outline for what you want to see in each short film, divide them into groups, and you’ll soon capture the joint benefits of a more collaborative team and a collection of fun videos.
This game serves as both a fun team building event as well as a valuable employee appreciation activity. Ask each employee to write or draw a positive memory they have of working on the team and/or with their colleagues. Once everyone has their memory, tape them up around the room and start chatting about each item. Best when followed up with a happy hour, this event will foster a sense of belonging and gratitude in your teams.
If you really want to get your team out of their natural habitat, try one of the many options below (ranging from the easy to more time- and location-dependent).
What could be better for team building than dinner plus a murder mystery? The mystery dinner theater offering in your local area could be the perfect venue for your employees to try their hands at detective work, while having fun with one another in a new, dynamic setting.
This option is so easy that it should be a part of any team’s regular rotation of team building events! Identify a restaurant that’s either a team favorite or a close and convenient venue, and schedule a lunch outing for your team! It’s great for facilitating engaging conversation (work-related or not) and it’s a great way to break up the workday.
Virtual reality is changing many a corporate process, and team building is no exception. It offers a robust and low-stakes way of putting your employees into a new and intriguing situation to see how they’ll interact with one another and any additional challenges you want to incorporate. Don’t be afraid to explore virtual reality (or augmented reality) as it offers an unmatched level of flexibility and options for instruction, team building, and employee training. Checkout teambuildingvr.com to see what this is all about.
Thursday is a great day of the workweek, as most people are getting ready for the final day before the weekend, and it’s also a great day for happy hour. The Thirsty Thursday moniker probably came from a college campus somewhere, but it doesn’t mean that gainfully employed adults won’t also appreciate a work-sponsored Thirsty Thursday happy hour outing.
This is a great option for those with the desire to go skydiving but who lack the nerve to jump out of a perfectly-functional airplane. Most major cities have an indoor skydiving silo, giving employees the opportunity to face their fears and experience the exhilaration of free falling without changing altitude.
A winery offers both an idyllic setting and delicious wines, and the combination of these two things provide the perfect backdrop for a team outing. Your team can learn a bit about wine and the local terroir (the flavor of the land which is imbued into the wine) and enjoy pleasant conversation with the other attendees.
Everyone loves a theme park! Whether a roller coaster junkie or a ferris wheel fan, setting your team loose on a theme park is a great way to provide a change of scenery and cultivate a positive attitude within the team.
With the rising popularity of places which offer golf in smaller chunks (like TopGolf), golfing is enjoying a comeback in populations that previously had minimal interest. With mini golf, driving ranges, and these new, gamified golfing options, there’s something for everyone on or near the greens.
If you’ve got a large athletic contingent in your office, a 5K or other organized run is a great way to inspire the group to collaborate (and compete) with training and day-of competition. It takes team building to a new level of organization and planning!
A walkathon serves a dual purpose: you can get your employees out into a new venue to interact with one another, and you can raise money for a great cause! Most cities have walkathons occurring on a regular basis, so do a little research and plan a walkathon outing for your team.
This is a great way to learn more about your local area (for both you and your team!). Challenge your people to find the best new places in the city, and then debrief everyone’s experience in a group setting (in a Top Chef-esque review process). It’s a fun way of seeing everyone’s taste while also fostering communication in a new way.
The ‘thwock’ of a bowling ball hitting a pin (or pins, if you’re lucky) is utterly satisfying, no matter who you are. A bowling alley is a phenomenal venue for a team outing, as it’s easy to chat in the downtime between turns, and it’s a locale that brings out the best and most relaxed version of every employee.
A museum is a great cultural experience, and it’s often something that likely isn’t visited often (even by those who have been locals their entire lives). Everyone likes having a reason to go to a museum, and a corporate team build outing is a perfect excuse to get your group out and into a new realm of art, science, history, or whatever else your local area’s museum scene has to offer.
A zoo provides a great mix of exotic animals and the great outdoors - both of which are great elements to include in a team build outing! Regardless of the size of the zoo, it’ll undoubtedly contain animals that are new to at least a subset of your group. As an added bonus, you can create a scavenger hunt for your team to complete while visiting the animals.
Indoor rock wall climbing might not have as much of a danger factor as the outdoor kind, but it’s much better suited to a corporate or other team building event. It forces people out of their physical comfort zone, while relying on teamwork and communication to get everyone to the top (which is quite an exciting accomplishment).
Got an itch for the great outdoors? For those who are wilderness-inclined, the activities below are a great way to engage in an exciting, natural, outdoor setting.
A kayak trip is a low-key way of getting your employees into the great outdoors (and on the water to boot). Kayaking is a relatively simple water sport, which makes it great for groups and those who may not have extensive experience on the water. As long as the weather cooperates, you and your team will have a nice, leisurely afternoon!
Kickball isn’t just for children anymore! The rise of adult leagues makes kickball a popular choice for an outdoor team building event (especially because it’s so easy to organize and run).
For those lucky enough to be in a coastal area (or at least by a very large lake), the beach front is a great place for your team to spend a few hours. There is a tremendous amount of beach activities (swimming, sand volleyball, football, etc.) but the waves of the water bring out a chattiness in people that helps foster a sense of community.
For outdoor enthusiasts, a camping trip is the epitome of a great getaway. It’s also great for smaller teams, because it provides a change of scenery, some fresh air, and a new set of challenges (if people don’t work together on an outdoor camping outing, it means they can’t do important things like eat and sleep).
Although skiing sometimes requires a bit of experience (and willingness), for teams where the skiing affection is high, it’s a great outdoor outing for team building and some fun on the side. The seasonal component requires a bit of planning, but the outcome is more than worth it when you hit the slopes with your group.
A bonfire is a prerequisite for a s’more, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who isn’t a fan of the delicious treat. However, a bonfire on its own is still a great facet of an outdoor team build outing, as it brings out an instinctive drive to create flame and sit and talk around the fire.
A mountain bike tour brings two great things together - beautiful scenery, and a group of people on mountain bikes. For highly active teams, a mountain bike outing will be a great release of pent-up stress, while soaking in the sights of the local scenery.
Regardless of the season, there’s some sort of sporting event that your team can attend. Be it baseball, basketball, soccer, or football, it’s a fun and rowdy way to bond your team together in a different location.
Similar to kickball, softball is a sport enjoyed by people of all ages, and it doesn’t take a lot to get a game organized. Find a diamond near your office (or near a favorite watering hole for post-game snacks and beverages), divide up your teams, and have at it!
If you want to focus more on a purely fun evening, rather than one which incorporates more formal business- and collaborative- elements, look no further than the suggestion list below.
Stories from karaoke night are always legendary, because the setting elicits a feeling of fearlessness from all attendees (who definitely have at least one favorite karaoke song that will be named with only minor encouragement). Coupled with the drinks that are usually present, it’s a way to get your team together without having to focus on specific and tactical ‘team building’ elements.
Trampolines represent the freedom of childhood for many, and that feeling doesn’t easily go away. Visiting a trampoline park with your team is a fast way to bring out their childhood exuberance for an afternoon of laughs and bounces. You can integrate intentional team building or collaborative exercises if you’d like, or you can let things be - either way, people will enjoy themselves.
Everyone knows the movie classics that always draw a crowd, so use that in your favor with some snacks and beverages and watch the RSVPs come in. Movies are a really low-stakes way of getting a team together (especially a new team), so it’s great as a more introductory, yet fun, team build activity.
Yes, oddly enough, axe throwing has worked its way back into mainstream as a socially acceptable and celebrated activity! Many venues in your local area likely offer axe throwing in a safe and fun environment, and there’s usually at least a beer or two involved. Get the brave, wannabe-lumberjacks from your team and head out for some good old fashioned Viking fun in the name of team bonding.
A great way to combine physical activity with a mental challenge is to facilitate a bike rally scavenger hunt, where participants need to bike around a specific area and either find hidden objects or meet specific challenges.
If you’re in the mood for something a bit more focused on traditional business concepts, the following list contains some tried-and-true ideas for engaging activities to help drive home your intended business philosophies.
This is the ultimate business plan competition! You can divide up your team into different groups, and task them with creating and presenting their very own business plan to a group of judges (who may judge nicely or harshly, depending on how high you want the stakes to be). It’s a great venue for collaboration, and you’ll find that people can be very creative when they know they’ll be in front of the judges explaining their idea.
This challenge is exactly what it sounds like: your team (in small groups) will be given a tent to erect while blindfolded. They’ll need to work together and use a different part of their brain to figure out how to construct the tent without their eyesight. The debrief is an important part of the exercise too, as it gives everyone a chance to reflect on what the experience taught them.
Hackathons are a standard practice in the coding realm, where people spend an entire day on a specific project or projects. A professional development hackathon is this very thing, except the focus is on sharing and learning skills that are vital for professionals in the workplace.
Podcasts are a great medium for conveying information, and what better way to help your team focus on a vital concept or topic than by recording it in a fun and informational format? Many sound recordings can be made without expensive equipment, and the end result is great to keep for future use!
Although all of the activities mentioned thus far are relevant for college students as well as working professionals, there are a few additional activities which cater more exclusively to this audience.
As mentioned earlier, kickball is a fun way of getting people to come together with a common goal of kickball domination.
The benefit of a college campus is that there’s likely to be one (if not more) college sporting events happening each day. Getting a group together to go cheer on one of your college sports teams is a great way to get students to bond in a loud and festive environment. You can also amp up the fun by seeing who can demonstrate the most school spirit based on what they wear to the game!
Board games are finding new life with the college crowd, so capitalize on this trend and host an evening of friendly competition where all are welcome.
Old video games are coming back into the mainstream, so get your hands on an old console (like Sega or Super Nintendo) and invite your students in for an old school gaming tournament!
Faculty members are an important part of the student experience on campus, and providing structured opportunities for students and faculty to interact is an effective way of increasing student retention and academic performance.
There’s a lot of reading that happens as part of the college experience, but students also like to read things which fall outside of what’s being assigned in their various courses. Find a trending book, and get some folks together to talk about it!
This is a great icebreaker for a large group, as it tasks everyone with demonstrating how everyone is connected based on existing relationships and other historical aspects (e.g., where they went to school). It’s a great way to virtually diagram the landscape of people, so ensure you have plenty of paper to cover it all.
College students love digital media, and they get excited at the opportunity to create a short film or video as part of a broader competition. Come up with the video topic and timeframe parameters, and you’ll be amazed at what gets turned in.
If you’re ever in need of additional, specific team building activity ideas, it can be wise to look to other high-profile companies in other industries for inspiration. They often have large teams with a broad reach, and can build out an infrastructure that’s easy to adopt to a different space or employee demographic.
Zappos has taken the escape room concept to a new level with their Live Escape Room, where one employee has been ‘kidnapped’ and is behind a locked door, requiring ingenuity and collaboration from the team trying to rescue him or her. You can adopt this model as your own, imbuing the challenges and clues with your own corporate values and culture.
For teams that are spread across multiple locations, one great way to facilitate team bonding is to set aside time once or twice a year for all employees, from all locations, to meet up in one place (hopefully somewhere tropical or exotic) for a week of in-depth work, team-building, and fun. The cost of such an endeavor is definitely a consideration, but the value proposition cannot be overestimated.
Accenture has formalized a number of ways for employees to bond over common interests that transcend the workplace, like rowing, cooking, and singing. It’s a fantastic way to engage employees as a whole person (both for their work life and social life) and deliver additional value as an employer.
Microsoft has partnered with organizations in various areas to build bicycles which are then given to local charitable organizations. It fosters a sense of purpose and progress, while helping teams have fun and use their skills for the greater good. It’s a great option for large teams with a philanthropic objective, because the teams can bond while they’re doing good work for the community.
Whatever the aim of your team building activity, it should reflect your organization and goals. In addition, and most importantly, it should be fun. Use the list above as a guide, and follow your gut instinct - you’ll be fine.
Virtual Team Building Activities
Holiday Team Building Activities [every item from that post]
From other lists:
Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Virtual Book Club
Track and Field Day
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