12 Best Team Building Activities for Your Work
Team building activities can greatly impact job satisfaction, employee engagement, and the overall success of an organization. It's one of the most valuable investments you can make for your employees. But it's important to understand that just getting people together, even with good intentions, isn't enough.
Team building activities act like a missing piece of the puzzle, helping your group feel more connected, work together better, and be more productive.
If you are thinking of holding a team building event, you may be wondering which team building activities you should include. To help you decide, we have created a list of the top 12 team building games and activities for your workplace.
- Find out about 12 fun activities that can make your team work and communicate better.
- Learn why team building is important for making people happy at work and forming strong bonds between employees.
- Choose activities that match the size of your group, whether it's a small team or a big company gathering.
- Improve your ability to solve problems, lead, and think creatively while having a good time with your colleagues.
- Discover how to be a good leader when planning these activities and how to deal with common issues to make your team work well together.
What Are Team Building Activities?
Team building means activities that help your team become closer, build stronger bonds, and work together more effectively. These activities can include enjoyable games, group discussions, outings, or simply spending time together as a team. The goal is to strengthen the sense of connection within your team, leading to improved teamwork and increased productivity in the workplace.
Why Are Team Building Events Beneficial?
Have you ever seen someone roll their eyes when talking about team building activities? They may think that team building exercises are a waste of time. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. When planned and executed properly, team building activities can have an infinite number of benefits, such as:
- Improved communication in the workplace.
- Creating strong bonds and connections built on teamwork and increased trust.
- Increased employee collaboration.
- Increased motivation in the workplace.
- Improved problem-solving and conflict resolution.
- Enhanced company culture.
- A better understanding of people's strengths and weaknesses.
- Helping to prevent or manage workplace conflict in the future.
- Improved creative thinking.
- Improved leadership skills.
Team building games can also be fun, and sharing enjoyable experiences helps your employees bond in a more organic way.
12 Top Recommended Team Building Activities
To help you organize the best team building event, we have compiled a list of the most fun team building activities with the highest number of benefits.
Whether for smaller teams, large groups, remote teams, or established teams, below is a list of the best team building exercises for every workplace.
1. Human Knot
- Group size: 8-12 per group
- Suggested time: 15–30 minutes (depending on the size of the group)
- Purpose: Communication, problem solving, leadership, time management
The Human Knot game is a popular icebreaker game and a great activity for teaching people how to work together.
The group forms a circle, and each person must hold hands with two other people in the group (not the people standing next to them) to create a human knot. The timer is set, and the group must try to untie the knot by untangling themselves WITHOUT breaking the chain of hands. If the chain of hands is broken, the group must start again.
This activity is popular as it requires no equipment, very little preparation, and can be done even in small spaces. For large groups of people (i.e., more than 16 people), you can create multiple groups. Each team has to then untangle the knot faster than the other teams.
2. Scavenger Hunt
- Group size: 4-8 per group.
- Suggested time: 30–60 minutes
- Purpose: Team collaboration, problem-solving, communication, team spirit, critical thinking
A scavenger hunt is usually done outdoors, although you can also do a scavenger hunt in a large indoor area, such as a large office. There are many different ways to set up a scavenger hunt, including following a series of clues, solving a series of puzzles or riddles, or searching for a large number of items (similar to an Easter Egg Hunt). The teams could collect the items or take photos of themselves holding them.
Your employees will work in teams, and depending on the number of people, you may have different teams competing against each other. A scavenger hunt is a particularly popular team building activity as they are fun and interactive and encourage employees to work together.
3. Celebrity Heads
- Group size: 4-20
- Suggested time: 10–20 minutes.
- Purpose: Communication, problem solving, critical thinking, listening skills
For this classic game, you will write a list of names of celebrities or well-known people on slips of paper or sticky notes (i.e., Post-it notes). Each name should be attached to a hat, a headband, a sticky label, or sticky tape (sticky notes already have their own adhesive). Each person must attach a name to their head without looking at it. They then go around the circle asking yes or no questions to try and determine who their character is.
If the answer to their question is yes, they can ask another question, if the answer is no, you move on to the next person. The individual aim is to be the quickest to solve your celebrity. The group aim is for the entire group to solve their celebrities within the time limit. This is a great team building activity as it motivates team members to think about individual and collective goals.
4. Two Truths, One Lie
- Group size: 4-10
- Suggested time: 10–30 minutes
- Purpose: Creative thinking, presenting skills (public speaking), building relationships, problem solving
This is a great team building game to do with new team members as a way to get to know each other.
In this game, the group should sit in a circle. Each person thinks of two true statements about themselves and one false statement. The rest of the group must decide which statement is the lie.
The game is popular as team members learn new things about each other in a fun way. It ensures everyone has a chance to speak in front of the group and can test how well the group really knows each other while also teaching them not to make assumptions.
5. Murder Mystery
- Group size: 12+
- Suggested time: 2–3 hours
- Purpose: Strategic thinking, problem solving, teamwork, collaboration, team bonding
Although murder mysteries require more planning, they are definitely worth the extra effort. This is an effective team building exercise for the entire team. Murder mysteries are great at an office event (e.g., a team evening) or as the main activity in a team building day.
You may want to pick a theme for your murder mystery, such as Sherlock Holmes, the 1920s, Christmas, or Old Hollywood. You can even find pre-designed Murder Mysteries online. To add to the fun, you can ask group members to dress up or include props.
Each participant will be given a character and their part in the storyline. During the course of the event, the murder occurs (cue the dramatics), and the group must work together to solve the clues and figure out who the murderer is. Different characters will have to speak in front of the group (e.g., the inspector presenting evidence) before the group chooses the murderer.
A team-building Murder Mystery encourages the entire group to socialize and can help to build relationships within the group.
- Group size: 4-6 per group
- Suggested time: 45 minutes
- Purpose: Leadership skills, communication, trust, collaboration, listening skills, critical thinking, team bonding, problem solving
This is one of the most popular situation-based team building games. The storyline is that the team are explorers lost in the Antarctic, and they need to build a shelter to survive. You will need to provide materials, such as cardboard, sticky tape, newspaper, plastic bags, and tablecloths.
However, the team leader is experiencing frostbite and cannot move at all. The other team members can move normally but are experiencing snow blindness, so they cannot see (every team member except the leader should be blindfolded).
The team leader must provide instructions to help the blindfolded team members build the shelter. The first team to successfully build their shelter wins. This is a fun team building activity that can be done with large and small groups.
7. Blind Drawing
- Group size: 2-6 per group
- Suggested time: 10–20 minutes
- Purpose: Communication, listening skills, collaboration, creative thinking
This is a quick icebreaker game that can be used at the start or end of the team building event or as a time filler. It is also great if you are looking for indoor team building activities.
Team members sit back to back, with one team member as the drawer and one team member as the describer. The describer has a picture that they must describe to the drawer without saying what it is. The drawer must draw based only on the instructions they receive. They have a few minutes to complete each picture.
You can do it with one or two teams, and if you have a large group, you can split them into multiple groups with the teams competing against each other. If you have several teams, the winning team is the team with the most correct drawings.
Because this is a quick team-building activity, it can even be played in the conference room as a fun way to start a team meeting. The game can also be adapted for a remote team building session.
8. Egg Drop
- Group size: 4-6 per group
- Suggested time: 20–40 minutes
- Purpose: Strategic thinking, problem-solving skills, team morale, communication, collaboration
Egg drop is a fun exercise that is perfect for a large group of people (as you can have multiple teams). Each team is given materials to use as building blocks to make a structure. The teams must create a structure with internal padding and external protection using materials such as cardboard boxes and tubes, packing materials, straws, paper, tape, pencils, and balloons.
The aim is to design a landing structure that protects an egg when it is dropped from up high (e.g., from 2 meters). The teams will be given a time limit to create their landing device. The entire team must work together to create a successful egg drop within the time limit. The winning team is the one that successfully drops the egg onto the structure without the egg breaking.
9. Office Escape Room
- Group size: 5-15
- Suggested time: 60–90 minutes
- Purpose: Teamwork skills, problem solving, critical thinking, communication skills, leadership skills
This is a fun team building activity that can be done time and time again with a different narrative every time. To run the escape room, you will need to create a storyline with an objective and an array of challenges.
The escape room will be your office, and you will create a unique storyline that fits your workplace. For example, you could create different puzzles and challenges with the final objective of escaping from the conference room and gaining entry to the boss' office to access the Christmas bonuses.
If you have a remote team, you can adapt this activity to run an online team building event where your remote team engages in an online escape room.
10. Corporate Castaways
- Group size: 10+
- Suggested time: 2–4 hours
- Purpose: Building relationships, creative problem solving, creative thinking, leadership, communication, initiative
If you are looking for team building activities with a difference, Corporate Castaways is the perfect choice. Based on the TV show 'Survivor', it is an outdoor team building activity that is perfect for large groups.
Participants will be split into teams to compete in a competition with a variety of physical and mental challenges. Each team will come up with a team name and flag and must strategize to complete as many challenges as possible within the time limit. The team can choose to elect a team leader or work collaboratively.
Each challenge earns a certain number of points, and the team with the most points wins. A Castaways team building event is a fun way to increase confidence and communication skills within your team, increase team camaraderie and the team bond, and improve company culture.
- Group size: 2-6
- Suggested time: 20–30 minutes
- Purpose: Communication skills, trust, leadership, planning, strategic thinking
To set up this team building activity, you will need to place a series of obstacles (or minefields) around the room. To prevent any injuries, ensure the minefields are soft objects. One member of the team will need to be blindfolded. The other team members will need to provide detailed instructions to guide their blindfolded team member across the room without hitting a minefield. For every object they hit, the team loses a point.
For an extra twist, you can have one team leader who must direct the entire team through the minefield. To do this team building exercise with large groups of people, you can split the group into two teams, with the opposing team trying to get their team members across the room faster than the first team.
12. Office Trivia
- Group size: 5-8 per team (several teams required)
- Suggested time: 30 minutes
- Purpose: Team collaboration, communication skills, team bonding
Office Trivia is a great team building activity for building relationships and encouraging employees from different departments to work together. Participants should be split into small groups (8 or less), and multiple teams compete against each other.
You can include office trivia questions about your workplace or general trivia questions. You can even include some fun rounds, such as workplace impressions, a dance-off, or guess who did it. The winning team is the team with the most points at the end.
Office Trivia is a great team building activity to do with remote teams as well as at an in-person team building event.
Which Team Building Activities Should You Choose?
When planning your team building events, the most difficult task can be choosing which team building activities to include, especially because there are so many great team building games and activities to choose from.
To help you decide, consider what the aim of your team building event is. What do you want to achieve? What skills do you want to work on? Why are you organizing this team building event? For example, your main aim may be to encourage team members to trust each other more, to improve their team collaboration and communication skills, or to develop their leadership.
Once you know your objective, you can then plan your team building event. You can choose the best team building activities from the list above to create the most successful team building event possible.
Helpful Tips for Leading Team Building Event
Leading team building event effectively is important for their success. When you're in charge, your role is to guide everyone, create a friendly atmosphere, and make sure everyone gets involved.
Here Are Some Useful Tips for Doing This Well:
- Plan Ahead: Before the team building session, plan what you want to do, why, and what you hope to achieve. Make sure you have everything you need.
- Set Goals: Tell everyone what you want to achieve with the activities. Make sure everyone knows what you're working towards.
- Make a Safe Place: Create an environment where everyone feels safe and comfortable. Make sure people know they should respect each other and listen to each other.
- Get Everyone Involved: Make sure everyone participates and encourage them to join in. Don't focus on just one person or make anyone feel uncomfortable.
- Stay Flexible: Be ready to change plans if something isn't working. You can try something else if an activity doesn't go as planned.
- Watch the Clock: Keep track of time. Make sure activities aren't too slow or too fast, and save time to talk about what you learned.
- Talk About It: After each activity, talk about what you did, what you learned, and how it can help at work.
- Learn Something: Remember that team building is about learning. Think about how what you learned can help you at work.
- Stay Neutral: Don't take sides. Your job is to guide, not pick favorites.
- Discuss Things: After each activity, talk about what happened and what you learned. Connect it to your job and how you work with others.
- Listen to Others: Let everyone talk and share their thoughts. Don't force anyone to talk.
- Improve Together: Make sure everyone knows they can help make things better. Ask for ideas to improve team building.
- Celebrate Success: If you see things getting better at work, celebrate it. Say how team building helped.
- Keep Trying: Remember, team building isn't just one time. It's something you do again and again.
Common Problems in Team Building Activity
Team building activities are fun and helpful, but sometimes things don't go perfectly.
Here Are Some Common Problems You Might Run Into And How to Deal With Them:
- Shyness: Some people might be shy and not want to join in. You can encourage them to participate by making them feel comfortable and not forcing them to talk or do things they're not comfortable with.
- Conflict: Sometimes, team building activities can lead to disagreements. It's important to handle conflicts calmly and try to find a solution that works for everyone.
- Not Enough Time: Team building activities can take longer than you expect. Make sure you plan enough time for them and don't rush through the activities.
- Lack of Interest: Some team members might not be interested in the activities. Try to choose activities that everyone can enjoy and relate to.
- Uneven Participation: In some activities, one person might take over, and others might not get a chance to join in. As a leader, you can make sure everyone has a chance to participate.
- Not Seeing the Point: Some team members might wonder why they're doing these activities. Be sure to explain the goals and benefits of team building to keep everyone motivated.
- Resistance to Change: People can be resistant to trying new things. Be patient and explain the importance of team building in a way that makes sense to them.
- Too Much Competition: In team activities, competition can get out of hand. Make sure the focus is on collaboration and working together, not just winning.
- Communication Barriers: Team building can highlight communication problems within a team. Use these activities as an opportunity to address and improve communication.
- Lack of Follow-Up: After the activities, it's important to discuss what was learned and how it should be applied at work. Not doing this can make team building seem pointless.
- Unrealistic Expectations: Sometimes, people expect team building to solve all their problems. It's essential to manage expectations and make it clear that team building is just one part of improving teamwork.
- Resistance to Feedback: People might not want to hear feedback from their teammates. Encourage an open and constructive feedback environment.
Whether you're planning a team-building day, a team workshop, or just adding some team activities to your meetings, remember that picking the right ones helps your team grow and enjoy work more. This leads to a happier and more successful workplace. Also, knowing about common challenges and dealing with them early can make your team activities work better for everyone.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Team Building Activities for Work?
Team building activities for work are structured exercises or events designed to improve teamwork, communication, and collaboration among employees. These activities can include icebreakers, problem-solving challenges, outdoor adventures, games, and simulations.
Why Are Team Building Activities for Work Important?
Team building activities for work are important because they improve communication, strengthen relationships, boost productivity, enhance morale, and help resolve conflicts, ultimately leading to an effective work environment.
How Do I Choose the Right Team Building Activities for My Team?
To choose the best activities, think about what your team wants to achieve, what they like to do, and how they work together. Make sure the activities match your goals, like making communication better, building trust, or encouraging creativity.