39 Insanely Fun Team Building Activities For Work (“Trust Falls” Not Included)
The Top Team Building Activities & Games for Work:
- Team Building Kits
- Virtual Reality
- Go-Kart Racing
- Culture Jam Sessions
- Own It Day
- Adventure Club
- Thirsty Thursdays
- Parody Music Video Contest
- Type Fight
- Nerf Battle
Believe it or not, team building activities for work are critically important to the success of your business. In fact, the personal bonds formed between team members actually give your company a competitive edge.
How does this work? It’s all about engagement.
There’s a pretty clear link between the personal bonds between your team members and their engagement level. A recent Gallup study found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%, while people with a self-described best friend at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged at work.
Don’t believe us? Comparably CEO and engagement expert Jason Nazar explains why that is and how he pulls it off in this clip from the Brand Builder podcast.
Another Gallup study reported that engaged companies consistently outperform the competition when it comes to things like profits, productivity, and turnover. (Pretty important stuff if you ask us.)
And it stands to reason – the closer you are to your co-workers, the happier you’ll be at work, and the more likely you’ll be to sacrifice your discretionary time to help them succeed.
Here’s the best part – team building doesn’t have to be boring and lame!
We asked some of the most engaged, tightly knit companies out there to show us how to do team building right. We’ve broken them down into categories to help you decide which ideas might work for your company.
Here’s what these awesome companies had to say.
39 Team Building Activities for Work
From the creators of popular true-crime inspired subscription box Hunt A Killer comes Team Building Kits, an all-in-one, immersive team building activity that boasts unique storylines (think solving a murder mystery, escaping ancient aliens on Mars, and cracking a code to rescue a hostage). Teams will flex their creative muscles, learn how their fellow teammates communicate and combine brain power to complete their Team Building Kit.
“My time in the Navy taught me everything I needed to know about team building, so when I launched Hunt a Killer and learned that companies were using the mystery boxes for team building purposes, I knew that Team Building Kits, with boxes written specifically for team building activities, would advance company culture, encourage creativity, and create deep bonds between team members.
We understand the impact that an efficient, productive team can make in a fast-moving company, so our goal is to write and build fully automated Team Building Kits for businesses everywhere.”
-Ryan Hogan, CEO
Why we love it: The Team Building Kits help employees flex their creative muscle while at the same time build a deep bond between team members.
2. Virtual Reality
Send your team to another dimension! Services like Team Building VR curate virtual reality experiences that test your team’s communication and problem-solving skills. SnackNation‘s own CMO took the Marketing team to Team Building VR for their most recent team outing. Here’s what he had to say:
“I always want our team’s offsite activity to be fun, unique and challenging. Virtual reality was no exception!
We split into teams and played a variety of different simulations led by Team Building VR. People faced their fears on virtual plank walks and showed off their creativity with 3D painting.
Our personal favorite was the ‘Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes’ game. One team member wears the VR headset and is stuck in a virtual room with a ticking time bomb. Each team acts as the ‘Experts’ who have to quickly give instructions from the Bomb Defusal Manual. The catch is that the Experts can’t see the bomb! Working together and communicating effectively was a must.
Stepping into the virtual world was a new experience for many of our team members – and they’re still raving about it!”
Why we love it: This elevated and immersive gaming experience creates a WOW moment that teammates will remember for years to come.
3. Go Kart Racing
Experiential rewards platform Blueboard isn’t afraid to eat its own dogfood.
Although, given that their “dogfood” is actually life-altering team building adventures like urban scavenger hunts and guided mountain biking tours, it’s really no surprise.
Their most recent team outing was an epic bout of go-karting. Marketing lead Morgan Chaney explains:
“Typically we’re testing out our own (and favorite) experience providers.
Last week we went go-karting at KI Speedway here in the Bay Area. It was super fun because you’re competing against your coworkers for top finisher positions, top speeds, and getting to do something none of us had done for years. And we got some pretty sweet trophies at the end.”
-Morgan Chaney, Head of Marketing
A video posted by Blueboard (@blueboardinc) on
Why we love it: Morgan points out a major theme in this section – friendly competition has a fantastic way of enabling team members to let their guards down and build relationships outside of work.
4. Board Game Marathon
Thailand-based task management software Taskworld kicks it old school with this throwback activity.
Head of Content Shiv Sharma explains:
“Video games are great but still nothing brings people together like a good old board game.
Once a week, everyone gathers around for a game of Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, or Magic. We have a collection of 10 board games to choose from.”
-Shiv Sharma, Head of Content
Why we love it: This one rocks because it’s cheap, and combines face to face interaction with nostalgia for the classic board games from our childhood.
5. Type Fight
Nothing embodies the spirit of competition like head-to-head competition.
And while a Blood Sport style tournament is probably out of the question, Smith Brothers gives us a more creative (and much safer) take on the good old fashioned fight club:
“Type Fight is a semi-monthly typography design contest, where two coworkers face off on the same letter, and the rest of the agency votes for their favorite!”
-Nora DiNuzzo, Business Development Manager
Why we love it: This one has it all – friendly competition, creativity, and best of all, it’s directly related to the work that Smith Brothers does. So much win.
6. Kickball League
Typography is great and all, but here at SnackNation, we prefer to compete in the life or death stakes world of… adult kickball.
SnackNation Member Success Executive Manager and kickball enthusiast Yuliya Malamud explains her love of the boot and run sport:
“I joined our kickball league because it’s a great way to get to know my coworkers better and a phenomenal way to meet new people who don’t work at SnackNation.
Plus, it’s fun, gives me something to look forward to halfway through the week, and helps me let my inner child come out.”
-Yuliya Malamud, Member Success Executive Manager
Why we love it: Kickball is great because it’s all inclusive. Anyone can play (regardless of their level of athleticism), and it brings together people who don’t necessarily enjoy happy hours or other party-oriented activities.
7. Nerf Battle
Imagine your office turned into a battleground where you and your team must work together to avoid impending doom. That’s exactly how the team at YouEarnedIt “plays” together:
“It might not seem like the most traditional team building exercise, but here at YouEarnedIt we believe in celebrating our accomplishments in whatever way makes our employees the happiest.
The same day we learned that YouEarnedIt won the title of Best Place to Work in Austin, we held our first ever Nerf Battle Royale. Our employees pooled together their YouEarnedIt points to fund and launch what turned out to be a powerful team-building exercise.
For 30 minutes, the entire office became a battleground where strategy, collaboration, and out-of-the-box thinking meant the difference between life and (virtual) death.”
-Tim Ryan, VP of Marketing
Why we love it: Not only is it a great time, it’s also great exercise and you get to flex on competitive muscles too.
8. Culture Jam Sessions
Team building isn’t just about socializing, it’s also about bonding over shared values and reinforcing a shared company culture.
Employee recognition software company WorkStride came up with a creative way to celebrate their culture while simultaneously creating a forum where their employees can connect on a personal level. They call it the “Culture Jam.” Director of Marketing Meredith Mejia explains:
“Company culture is incredibly important to us at WorkStride, and we know we can’t just leave it to chance, especially as we continue to grow.
Our CEO Jim Hemmer has implemented annual ‘culture jam sessions’ where employees get together in small groups to talk about what the culture is today, where we’d like it to be, and how we get there.
The most important thing we do is to record all the groups’ feedback and incorporate it into a culture guidebook, which is a living document that we refer to throughout the year.
Recent ideas that were implemented included holding hackathons to encourage innovation, hosting healthy cooking classes, and scheduling brown bag lunches with leaders of departments other than your own to learn more about what they do.
As a company who helps other organizations build better cultures through employee recognition and engagement, we take this process seriously because we preach the importance of culture to business results every day!”
– Meredith Mejia, Director of Marketing
Why we love it: Culture jams not only encourage employees to think critically about what kind of culture they want to create, but these ideas are ingeniously captured in the company’s cultural guidebook. Too often, the results of these brainstorms aren’t recorded, and no progress is made – despite the best intentions of everyone involved.
9. Cultural Celebration
Sometimes celebrating our differences is just as effective as coming together over shared values.
Taskworld has an amazing idea for those of you who work in particularity diverse cultural settings:
“With over 15 nationalities in one office, we are never short of stories. At Taskworld we really celebrate this diversity.
At least once a week, every team member takes part in a cultural experience involving another member of the team.
This has created a situation in the company where the French watch Bollywood movies, Germans understand cricket, Indians eat Hungarian food … and everyone loves Thailand.”
-Shiv Sharma, Head of Content
Why we love it: This idea combines one-on-one dialogue (a great way to engender trust and empathy) with a celebration of diversity.
10. The Buddy System
The team building starts well before a new SnackNation hire enters the office. It all starts with a new SnackNational’s SnackNation Buddy.
Yes, much like a fourth grade field trip, SnackNation operates on the buddy system.
Director of Talent Acquisition Ray Marks elaborates:
“Culture is incredibly important to us, and we know it doesn’t happen by accident. That’s why we created the Buddy System, to ensure that our new hires feel welcomed, comfortable, and cared for.
“Our Buddies are team members who fully understand SnackNation’s culture and environment, have proven success at the company, and most importantly want to be a Buddy for a new hire at SnackNation.
The Buddy’s job is to serve as a resource, a trusted confidant, and help them become acclimated with the culture.”
-Ray Marks, Director of Talent Acquisition and Rock Stardom
Why we love it: The value of the Buddy System is two fold – first, it ensures that the new hire is welcomed and has someone they can trust on day one, and who can help them with all the little questions that come with a new job (how to print, where the bathrooms are, who can fix their broken keyboard, etc.). Additionally, it gives aspiring leaders a chance to develop management skills.
11. Peer Recognition
TemboSocial makes employee recognition, polls and communications solutions for the social enterprise, so it’s no surprise that the company uses their own awesome products to keep their team connected and engaged.
Justina Dukelow, a Digital Marketing Coordinator at TemboSocial, explains:
“We use our own peer recognition program to share daily successes and achievements that we each experience in the work day.
Some examples are to thank your colleague for all their support in a successful project launch, to recognize the hard work your colleague put in to prepare for a recent client meeting, or to say congratulations on your feature idea being implemented and receiving such positive client feedback already.”
-Justina Dukelow, Digital Marketing Coordinator
Why we love it: This tactic is great for so many reasons – it’s inclusive, interactive, quirky, and fun – but what we love the most is that it demonstrates the value of the company’s own product, and gives everyone within the organization a tangible sense of the company’s mission and the value their product provides.
12. Question Friday
Team building can be especially challenging when you have a remote workforce.
Employee engagement platform 15five has come up with a way to keep team members engaged and feeling part of the same mission. It’s called Question Friday.
15five VP of Customer Success Shane Metcalf had this to say:
“Every Friday morning our team from around the world hops into a virtual meeting that lasts about 30 minutes.
An appointed Question Master kicks off the call by asking a thought-provoking question aimed to create camaraderie, break down walls, and allow our distributed team to feel closer.
People reveal themselves in fascinating ways that greatly enhances the collective level of vulnerable trust, which leads to better collaboration and greater organizational health.
Here are a few of our favorite questions that we’ve asked:
- If you were to go back to school and get an advanced degree, what would you get and why?
- What was a really difficult time in your childhood, in what ways did that change how you view the world?”
-Shane Metcalf, VP Customer Success and unofficial VP People & Culture of 15Five
Why we love it: This tactic does double duty – it’s a way to express 15five’s core values of transparency and authenticity while creating a conversation that enables team members to learn about and feel empathy towards one another.
13. Education Day
“Hack days” are pretty ubiquitous in the tech world – development teams are given a day to come up with a product new idea and built a prototype in 24 hours.
Hack days do have tons of upside, but the problem is that they are geared towards developers, and don’t lend themselves to wider participation by the rest of the organization.
Enthusiast marketplace Panjo came up with a great alternative that’s much more inclusive, and therefore more valuable. Panjo Chief Chad Billmyer breaks it down:
“Panjo associates participate in something we call ‘Education Day’ every quarter. All associates take the day to participate in any kind of educational activity that interests them.
Some associates take an online course, some associates read research papers, some associate try programming in a new language.
All team members are required to give a 60 second presentation on what they learned. We previously had a ‘hack day.’ Many companies notoriously host hack days.
However we found that a ‘hack day’ was too developer-centric and that the projects that came out of a ‘hack day’ left much to be desired.”
– Chad Billmyer, Panjo CEO
Why we love it: Inclusivity is the key here. The best part about education day is that the knowledge and insights gained aren’t siloed, they’re shared with the rest of the organization.
14. Sensei Sessions
We do something similar here at SnackNation. Every Monday we gather our entire 90+ member team for a personal or professional development session. We call the Sensei Session.
Here’s a recent Sensei Session we did with bestselling author Ryan Holiday:
Why we love it: Sensei not only helps us come in hot on Mondays, but also reinforces our commitment to growth and learning. The topics covered become points of discussion throughout the week and aid in further bonding between team members.
15. Own It Day
Corporate wellness tech company Limeade values ownership of the product. So much so, that they encourage product ideas to come from anywhere in the organization.
But rather than pay lip service to this ideal, the company put their money where their mouth is by launching Own It Day, a chance for everyone in the organization to pitch their product ideas, regardless of where that person happens to sit in the org chart.
“Own It Day is our bi-annual internal event where employees across the company pitch, build and launch their own product improvements.
It’s a week-long process, where we get to build our enhancements end to end. It’s just one way we bring our culture to life.”
-Dr. Laura Hamill, Chief People Officer
Why we love it: Own It Day allows literally anyone inside the company to do just that – own the path of innovation for Limeade’s product.
16. Circle of Appreciation
Engagement firm E Group recently kicked off their Culture Week with a “Circle of Appreciation,” a simple activity with enormous impact. E Group’s Employee Engagement Specialist, Rachel Niebeling, is part of the committee that plans team building events.
In her Culture Week blog series, Rachel explains how the company executed this simple but powerful team building activity:
“The entire E Group staff formed a large circle, and each associate was asked to share something they appreciated about the person on their right.
Once the circle was completed, the process reversed and we all shared something we appreciated about the person on the left.
Sounds simple, and it was. But it was also quite powerful. You could actually feel the energy shift as we moved around the circle. This activity really spotlighted the power of appreciation.
If your company is large, you could break the circles into departments or work groups and achieve a similar impact. Just be sure to include management and staff in every circle.
At the close of the activity, we presented each associate with their own set of E Group thank you cards so they could continue to share positive sentiments with colleagues, vendors, or clients.”
-Rachel Niebling, Employee Engagement Specialist
Why we love this: So simple, yet so effective. It can be hard to find ways to express your gratitude for the people around you, but it’s so important to do so – your culture depends on it. This team building exercise for work makes it easy.
17. Epic Company Intros
Complete with bullhorn, smoke machine, and Chicago Bulls intro music (circa 1990), new hire intros have become a thing of legend here at SnackNation. Spearheaded by our Director of Talent Acquisition and Rock Stardom Ray Marks, this beloved tradition keeps getting bigger and bigger. Check it out:
Why we love it: Ray’s pageantry and over the top energy is, of course, hilarious, but the real value comes in the warm reception and feeling of inclusion that new hires have when they arrive at the company.
18. Bond Over Ice Cream
The good people behind recruiting software company Lever has a knack for impromptu team building moments:
“Our CS team recently, completely out of nowhere, started giving out ice cream during the middle of a work day. They had a cart with different flavors and toppings, were playing music, and were dressed up in USA colors (this was during the Olympics).
Each person’s ice cream came with a little toothpick flag that had a Lever value written on it. I think it’s organic moments like that that bring the team closer together and reinforce values.
We all stopped work for a little bit and just chatted and bonded over ice cream. Now, we’re all excited to see what other teams will do.”
-Kiran Dhillon, Content Marketing Manager
Why we love it: It’s a clear sign of an awesome culture when individuals step out of their roles and head up their own fun team bonding activities. Give people the freedom to be creative in bonding with each other and amazing things can happen.
19. Team Hike
Recognition software company Bonusly has a cure for those dog days of summer, when sales cycles seem to slow down, and it’s hard to stay indoors when the sun is shining: go exploring in your own backyard.
George Dickson, a designer and marketer at the company, explains:
“The Bonusly crew loves a good team lunch or happy hour as much as the next bunch, but we also try to get extra creative with our offsite activities when we can.
We get our NYC and Boulder teams together for a coworking week about once every quarter. We take that time as an opportunity to work face-to-face on special projects, but also to bring us closer as a team.
During our last coworking week, we all took a hike together through the Flatirons in the Colorado Rockies. We’re all pretty active, and this was a great way for us all to get out together and do something outside of the office.
The view wasn’t too bad either!”
-George Dickson, Marketing
Why we love it: No matter where you live, odds are there are unique and fun outdoor activities waiting for you to discover – you just have to look. This strategy forces team members to get outside, change their point of view, and explore the amazing things their area has to offer. (It doesn’t hurt if you live near the Rockies either.)
20. Adventure Club
Looking for something a little more epic?
Pittsburgh-based Smith Brothers Agency has the answer for you. Adventure Club.
“Adventure Club gets together for new activities every other week after work (hiking, biking, kayaking have been a few we’ve done so far… and we are doing one of those ‘Panic Room’ events in a week or so).”
-Nora DiNuzzo, Business Development Manager
Why we love it: Besides having the best name on the list, Adventure Club rules because it breaks your team out of the grind of the work week, and puts team members in unfamiliar settings, which can spur both creativity and bonding. The employee engagement activities function as stress relief, team bonding agent, and idea generator.
21. Beach Getaways
Taskworld also makes sure to take advantage of the natural resources that their unique location has to offer. Here’s Shiv again:
“Another luxury of being based in Thailand is having access to some of the best beaches in the world. At least once a month, we pack our bags and rush to a nearby beach for a weekend.
At the beach, we play team sports like football, have a barbecue and share ideas with each other. Some of our strategic decisions were made on a getaway like this.”
-Shiv Sharma, Head of Content
Why we love it: You don’t have to live in Thailand – or near a beach – to make this idea work. Just about everywhere has some natural beauty or unique outdoor activity: Washington has the Cascades, Kentucky has its limestone caves, Florida its everglades. Challenge your team to explore your own backyard and see what it has to offer.
22. Karaoke Madness
Good discomfort is a requirement for growth – like a muscle, you need to push yourself outside your comfort zone in order to grow.
Smith Brothers has a great team building activity that they enact during their annual holiday parties that helps team members do just that.
The agency goes big for these parties, which typically include a Christmas sweater/costume contest, photo booth, lunch provided by the agency, fun group activities like bowling, and an open bar.
But the piece de resistance – epic karaoke.
Nora DiNuzzo is back again to elaborate:
“All new members of the agency that joined in the past year are required to perform [at this epic Karaoke session], and senior staffers vote on the best performances – yes, it’s sort of hazing…but we give out quality prizes like Beats headphones and iPads!”
-Nora DiNuzzo, Business Development Manager
Why we love it: This karaoke session is a rite of passage, and becomes a shared experience that can help people all across your organization relate to one another.
23. Parody Music Video
Nothing brings a team together like leaders who don’t take themselves too seriously and aren’t afraid to look silly.
Case in point, MyEmployees COO Adam Tarrt.
Rather than present a typical summary of Paul Akers’ 2 Second Lean for the company’s book club, Tartt took a decidedly different tack.
Matthew Coleman, Marketing Director at MyEmployees, breaks it down:
“We do a weekly book club at work, and when we were rolling out a new book recently we wanted to do something special for it. So we spoofed ‘Watch Me’ by Silento.”
The results… speak for themselves.”
-Matthew Coleman, Director of Marketing
Why we love it: This one worked because everyone got in on the action (even though a few of them didn’t quite know what they were signing up for). It’s the definition of “exclusive-inclusivity” – a hilarious experience that the entire team can share and bond over.
24. Brazilian Capoeira Lessons
For most of us, dancing is a bit beyond our comfort zones… especially a dance like Brazilian capoeira, which combines elements of martial arts and acrobatics.
Blueboard’s Morgan Chaney describes how Capoeira helped bring their team closer together:
“We’ve also done group dance lessons, specifically learning Brazilian Capoeira, followed by dinner at a Brazilian restaurant. Great way to bond through mutual embarrassment in front of coworkers!”
-Morgan Chaney, Head of Marketing
Why we love it: Team bonding requires a bit of shared vulnerability – and nothing achieves that faster than forcing team members out of their comfort zones. For most of us, group dance lessons practically obliterate that comfort zone, making this activity a fun, effective way to bring people together.
25. Enigma Escape Room
Another great activity from Bonusly – the Engima Escape Room:
“We also took a trip to the Enigma Escape Room, where our team was locked in a room full of puzzles we had to solve within one hour in order to escape.
We already really enjoy working together to solve problems and find creative solutions on a daily basis, so the escape room was a natural extension.
It was a lot of fun running frantically around the room, each member of the team trying to piece together their individual clues to solve the big puzzle.”
-George Dickson, Marketing
Why we love it: This activity rocks because it engages problem solving skills and promotes teamwork in the workplace all while creating an amazing shared memory.
26. Proven – Eye of the Tiger Alarm and Push-Up Break
Countless studies have shown that we need to take breaks in order to be productive. Our brains can only focus with maximum efficiency for 25-50 minute periods. The takeaway? You need to take breaks.
But if the Pomodoro technique is too bland for your liking, we think you’ll like what small business hiring platform Proven has come up with:
“Twice a day (11:40am and 4:40pm) everyone in the company drops down and does 20 push-ups together to the music of Eye of the Tiger.
The tradition started with just one sales person, but eventually other people on his team followed. Myself and my co-founder loved the energy it created in the office so much, we started joining.
Eventually we created an alarm system that would play Eye of the Tiger automatically twice a day to the animation of a guy doing push-ups.
It became so ingrained in our culture that we even stop in the middle of meetings to get our push-ups in when the time comes.
As new people join the company, we don’t even tell them about the push-ups, but they see everyone drop down at 11:40am and rather than question it, they just join in.
It has been a great team building tradition that helps inject energy into the office, helps break up the day, and gives everyone a little exercise.”
-Sean Falconer, CTO and Co-Founder
Why we love it: Besides the obvious benefit of combining a mental break and brain-stimulating exercise, we love that Proven doesn’t tell new hires about this practice.
27. Printmaking class at WorkshopSF
Team building masters Blueboard shared another ingenious team building activity – one that got the creative juices flowing.
“For the arts and crafty, we took a block-print making class at WorkshopSF where we learned to cut stamps and print on canvas bags. Super fun way to get creative and see who on the team is secretly amazing at art and design.”
– Morgan Chaney, Head of Marketing
A photo posted by Blueboard (@blueboardinc) on
Why we love it: The coolest part about this creative team building activity is that employees get to walk away with something tangible – a shirt or a canvas bag – that will remind them of their experience and reinforce the bonds they formed every time they use it.
28 The Amazing Race + America’s Got Talent + Trivial Pursuit
The Go Game, producers of unique interactive events and scavenger hunts for groups of 3 to 10,000 players anywhere in the world, knows how to take corporate events to the next level.
“The Classic sent our group on a high-tech urban adventure with live actors that was like The Amazing Race, combined with a dash of America’s Got Talent and a sprinkling of Trivial Pursuit.
The creative photo and video missions got everyone involved and it had a hilarious ending presentation starring my coworkers! We loved it!”
-Carrie Staller, Sales Director
Why we love it: Really, what’s not to love? An outside the box activity like this can be just what your teams needs to open themselves up to bonding with their teammates.
29. Get Radical on Mt. Kilimanjaro
As Delivering Happiness CEO and former Zappos foundational employee told The Awesome Office Show, she and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh didn’t exactly start off on the right foot. She met the entrepreneur and visionary business leader in a club in San Francisco, and thought he was a typical Web.0 party boy.
But a Zappos mountain climbing expedition in Africa to scale Mt. Kilimanjaro changed everything.
It was this experience that helped her overcome this initial bad first impression and cement a bond between the two that helped her partner with Tony for his book and eventually, the Delivering Happiness company.
Listen to the episode here (skip to around 24 minutes for the story in question):
Why we love it: Of course, you don’t necessarily have to trek to Africa to realize the benefits of pushing your comfort zones, but this story illustrates the extent to which taking on massive challenges – especially with leadership – can unite your team.
30. Sprint Week
Want an awesome team building activity that will have an immediate impact on your business?
Check out what Kristin Hoppe over at Justworks shared with us:
“Justworks’ marketing team took a week off our usual duties to focus on overhauling an important part of our website. One of the team members led the process, but everyone had an equal share in bringing ideas and coming up with solutions.
By the end of the week, we had working prototypes and brought people in for user testing.
Although it took extra effort to prepare for the week off beforehand, it felt well worth it. The sprint process helped us solve a problem creatively as a group – plus it was a great excuse to eat snacks and draw pictures together.”
-Kristin Hoppe, Content Producer
Why we love it: The bigger company-wide problems you are facing may be weighing on your team. Giving them an opportunity to speak up and seek out solutions. It’s empowering and a great learning experience.
31. Throwback Movie Nights
Blueboard has a few lower-budget ideas as well:
“For low-budget options, we’ve done Throwback Movie Nights where we gather at the office for takeout and 80s/90s throwback movies, and regularly take turns cooking (we have the benefit of a full kitchen at the office).
We’ll do group breakfasts, or more swanky lunches.
We also had an awesome time doing a thrift shop bar crawl during our March team retreat in Tahoe this year. We all picked names out of a hat, and got to shop for a very special outfit for the person we drew.
You’d be surprised how far $20 will go! And it definitely made for conversation starters at our pub crawl later that night.”
-Morgan Chaney, Head of Marketing
A video posted by Blueboard (@blueboardinc) on
A photo posted by Blueboard (@blueboardinc) on
Why we love it: These ideas just go to show that you don’t need to spend a lot to create memorable experiences.
32. Classic Night Out
Taskworld reminds us that sometimes old standbys are just as effective as epic adventures.
Here’s Shiv Sharma again:
“Sometimes the most amazing team building activities happen when people don’t even realize that they are doing something special. That’s why it’s also important to sometimes keep things simple.
Our office is right in the heart of Bangkok’s nightlife district and we make the most of it every Friday.”
-Shiv Sharma, Head of Content
Why we love it: It’s amazing how a few happy hour cocktails and hors d’oeuvres can bring people together. Don’t underestimate the power of the “classic night out” – it’s a classic for a reason.
33. Bi-Weekly Lunch Drawings
“Show me someone who doesn’t like a free lunch, and I’ll show you a liar.”
Those famous words, first uttered by Abraham Lincoln during the Gettysburg Address [editor’s note: Abraham Lincoln never said this], illustrate the timeless appeal of free food.
Breaking bread with your teammates is a fantastic way to forge bonds between team members. (Heck, it’s one of the reasons we think healthy office snacks are so important!)
TINYpulse’s Sabrina Son shares how they do it:
“A fun way we foster team-building is during our bi-weekly all-hands meeting, we do lunch drawings.
One employee (who was previously selected for exemplifying our company values) draws a name out of a bowl and the pair gets to go to lunch on the company.
This helps develop and nurture cross-departmental relationships because people get paired up with coworkers who they maybe haven’t had a chance to talk to.”
-Sabrina Son, Sr. Marketing Manager
(Skip to #6 at the 0:57 mark)
Why we love it: This tactic not only rewards top performers and helps reaffirm company values, but also creates opportunities for people from different sides of the house to interact. You never know what new ideas will result.
34. Thirsty Thursday
Smith Brothers Agency brings the night out into the office:
“Thirsty Thursday is our weekly happy hour on our rooftop deck (kegs, ping pong and snacks provided!)”
-Nora DiNuzzo, Business Development Manager
Why we love it: A happy hour on the premises and just after work (or during work hours) is a great to signal that team building and fun are a priority at your company.
35. Lunch Games
BambooHR takes a more social approach to their team’s board game obsession.
“We have a large group of people from every department that meet in a conference room every day during lunch to play board and party games. A couple popular team building games are Resistance and Coup.
While there are quite a few regulars, everyone in the office is invited to play games, blow off some steam, and show their competitive side.”
-Bryson Kearl, Creative Copywriter
Why we love it: BambooHR shows the more laid back side of gaming. You don’t necessarily need a marathon super-session to reap the benefits. A lot of times, a few games over lunch can be just as effective.
36. Take Me Out to the Ballgame
Sporting events are a great diversion from the daily stressors of work. Once again, E Group provides some context:
“If there’s one thing most E Groupers can agree on, it’s D.C. sports!
Every year, as the summer months come to an end, E Group’s offices close early one afternoon and our associates head to downtown D.C. for an outing at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals baseball team.
Together, we spend the evening eating, chatting, laughing, and cheering on our beloved ‘Nats.’ even E Groupers who aren’t native to D.C. join in on the fun. It’s a countdown-worthy event that we all look forward to every year.
Relaxing with our coworkers in a fun environment, far removed from the office, is one of the best ways to bond and grow stronger as a team.
Special thanks to our Principal and Founder, Colin Eagen, for treating us to this treasured annual team outing.”
-Christina Germano, Content Marketing Coordinator
Why we love it: Not only is baseball America’s past time, its slowed down pace makes it most conducive to conversation and bonding.
37. An Awesome Office Environment
One way to ensure socializing and team building is to design an awesome office space that supports team building in its very layout.
Zephyr has done just that. As Ashley Nguyen explains,
“On any typical day at the office, you’ll often find our team marketing away on our awesome test management software product lines, going over plans in meetings, or yelling profanities while playing table tennis in the game room.
As we have flexible schedules, we value setting aside breaks throughout the day to take walks with each other (by ‘take walks,’ we mean play Pokémon Go) or visit the game room where there are collections of books, board games, and most importantly a ping pong table.”
-Ashley Nguyen, Brand Advocate
Why we love it: In the right environment, team building becomes an automatic, daily occurrence. Don’t miss the biggest opportunity to make teambuilding an ingrained part of your culture.
38. The Impromptu All-Hands
As he described for the Awesome Office show, Menlo Innovations CEO Richard Sheridan is a big fan of all-hands meetings. Unlike most CEOs, he doesn’t feel like all-hands need to be formal or infrequent.
In fact, to call one together, all you have to do is stand up and shout, “Hey, Menlo!”
To learn how they work, check out this episode of the Awesome Office show:
Why we love it: All-hands are amazing tools – but most companies only do them once a year. This practice not only ensures they happen more frequently, but is consistent with Menlo’s quirky company culture.
39. Brainstorm Sessions with Other Departments
While meeting with your own department on a regular basis to brainstorm new ideas is crucial, sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can make all the difference.
Susan Hunt Stevens, founder and CEO of WeSpire, explains:
“Hosting an off-site brainstorm session with different departmental teams is one of Spire’s favorite team building activities.
Not only does it give team members an opportunity to take a break from their normal routine, but it allows for collaboration amongst teams or departments who may not always get the chance to work together.
Recently, our product engineering and customer success teams joined forces in a brainstorm to further discuss our customer needs as well as the technical aspects of what goes in to developing the platform. Team members were able to get to know colleagues they don’t typically work with and gain a new perspective on everyones’ roles and the work that they do.
This type of team building activity has led to some truly innovative ideas that help progress the business forward. It becomes a win-win situation for everyone involved, can take place almost anywhere, and usually costs next to nothing.”
– Susan Hunt Stevens, Founder & CEO
Why we love it: Getting opinions from other departments inspires new ideas and gives people exposure to other areas of the company. It’s also a phenomenal way to allow your team to collaborate with people they normally don’t spend time working with.
Here are a couple bonus ideas from our office here at SnackNation:
Bonus 1. Variety Show
Here at SnackNation, our culture committee hosts a variety show for our office. Similar to a talent show, at the event we invite our colleagues to share their special talents during a Friday evening open mic. Many people perform together which is a great way to bond over shared interests and show off their guitar skills or test new stand-up jokes.
“Our variety show is a unique way to encourage our teams to get out of their comfort zone. We hire people for their expertise in the office, but as a fast-growing company, everyone is pushed to take on projects that challenge them to learn new skills.
By hosting a variety show, we set the tone that it’s okay to bring your whole self to work. Practice makes perfect and standing up in from of your coworkers and performing takes serious guts.
My favorite performances are from coworkers who form a group and combine their talents. It exemplifies our values and translates to a more collaborative and supportive office environment.
There is nothing like watching your company join in a slow clap or all stand-up and shout encore.
People gush about their talented teammates for weeks.”
-Ari Sadwick, VP, Culture Committee
Why we love it: Is there any better way to get to know the person who sits across the office from you than to watch her person the song she just wrote?
Bonus 2. Indoor Sky Diving
Here is a team building activity for the more adventurous offices. Try an indoor skydiving event. At iFly, you can participate in a safe yet heart-pumping adventure in a wind tunnel. You’ll feel like you’re flying without any of the risks.
At SnackNation, we took our marketing team to an iFly in Los Angeles. Here’s how it went:
“Indoor skydiving is sure to get your team pumped up. Not only will it be a new experience, but you will also need each other’s support to brave the leap of faith into the wind tunnel.
Making memories together will bring your team together instantly.
At our event, we were so excited, laughed a ton and still reminisce all the time.
It’s awesome to look back and remember the experience.”
-Emil Shour, Director of Demand Generation
Why we love it: This is a great way to get your team out of their comfort zone. Trying new things creates a bond between people and it will be fun to reflect on the memory.
Bonus 3. Complete a business simulation
Teams grow strong by completing projects similar to those they’ll face on the job, while avoiding the stress that comes with actually completing said projects. Without the standard pressures of day-to-day work, teams find it easier to take risks, open up, explore new ideas, and release any controlling tendencies that might keep them from truly listening to others’ ideas. Plus, even though most of us work every single day, turning the whole concept into a game of pretend can make mundane activities feel fresh and exciting again.
Enhance the team-building aspect of any business simulation by having players keep “communication logs.” Players can jot down notes after simulation team meetings to start building their emotional intelligence muscles. An example log might look something like this:
Meeting Date/Time: 9.14 @10AM
Topic: Slogan for simulation widget
Key Takeaway: The team can’t agree on one slogan, so we’ll survey (anonymously) 25 friends and family members to select our slogan
Bonus 4. Team notes
What ideas and opinions did my teammates share during the meeting?
- Jess: She wanted a minimalist slogan, something like Apple’s “Think Different.” She thought Gretta’s slogan was too long, and she thought my slogan was cheesy.
- Gretta: She shared an idea for a slogan, suggested we may not even need a slogan, and expressed a concern that a minimalist slogan might not resonate with our target demographic in the 50-60 age bracket.
- Nigel: He generally liked everyone’s ideas, but he did not offer any specific ideas or opinions of his own.
What emotions did my teammates feel during the meeting?
- Jess: Excited. She’s a copywriter, so she feels she is the most qualified to guide the slogan discussion.
- Gretta: Irritated. She’s the most senior member of the simulation team, and she doesn’t like the idea of relinquishing control.
- Nigel: Nervous. As an analyst, he doesn’t spend much time in brainstorm sessions, and he’s always been overly polite in the office. My guess is that he’s afraid to make anyone mad.
What emotions did I feel during the meeting?
Sad, because everyone did not immediately applaud my idea.
In the next meeting, I will try to:
- Completely consider others’ ideas instead of dwelling on my own rejection.
- Ask Nigel directly what he thinks, to see if an invitation will open him up to sharing.
A systematic review of teamwork activities found simulation training an effective method of team building and not just a way to boost specific skills.
Why we love it: Business schools, and even medical schools, have used simulations to prepare students to succeed in the real world for years. We love the idea of extending that collegial spirit into the professional world.
Bonus 5. Make an office documentary (The Office style)
Humor is a universal “team bonding agent.” Making a funny office documentary celebrates all the glorious inside jokes only people in your office will understand, and it also provides a golden opportunity to make some new jokes.
Experts say humor has several potent qualities that improve working relationships; it builds trust, releases stress, and makes everyone feel more comfortable around each other. That combination makes collaborative teams.
Plus, making an office documentary, especially a good one, is hard work. It requires tons of logistical planning, shared leadership, initiative, and of course—teamwork—to pull it off.
Why we love it: Making an office documentary provides team building for years. Teams grow stronger as they make the documentary, and they continue to bond as they watch their creation again and again, remembering inside jokes and reliving all that fantastic, priceless laughter.
Bonus 6. Scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts let us live out the fast-paced thrills of a whodunit mystery in our real lives. We loved them as kids, and we still love them now…but many of us probably don’t get to do them enough.
Scavenger hunts are easy to plan, and they’re inexpensive when you consider how much fun you get out of a generally light investment. All you need to plan an unforgettable scavenger hunt is a little imagination. GooseChase Adventures has some incredible ideas for planning scavenger hunts specifically for office teams.
Why we love it: Scavenger hunts get teams working together and communicating without even thinking about it. The shared goal of cracking a mystery brings teams closer, and the nature of curiosity alone pretty much guarantees optimal participation for all team members.
Bonus 7. The silent building challenge
Most of us have heard of the Marshmallow Challenge as a way to build teamwork and leadership skills. Deepen the classic building activity by challenging teams to stay silent throughout the entire building process.
When they can’t speak, people have to make eye contact, seriously consider the intentions of others, and seriously consider how they’re communicating their own intentions. Conducted with patience and consideration, a silent building challenge helps develop a radical kind of sensitivity and respect at the core of many highly successful teams.
Why we love it: This challenge throws out all the usual business activity tropes and invites teams to look at communication in new ways. Plus, the silent building incorporates both skill-building and hilarity as teams work out the kinks of silent communication.
These are just a few ideas to create a happier, more engaged, and higher performing team.
What are some of your favorite corporate team building activities? Let us know in the comments!