Here are 22 tried and tested team building activities for work that people will enjoy doing!
Icebreakers and Energy Raisers
These activities are ideal for kicking off a meeting or group training session when people don’t necessarily know all the other members in the group – or to raise energy levels when enthusiasm starts to sag.
Everybody tapes a sheet of A4 paper onto their backs and the group mingles, introducing themselves to everybody else one by one and having a short conversation of around 30 seconds.
After the short chat, each person writes a secret compliment on their partner’s sheet before moving on to the next person.
At the end, participants read out some of the compliments and try to guess who wrote them.
2. Speed Dating – Things in Common
Everybody sits on two rows of chairs facing each other and must talk to the person in front of them for one minute to try to find three things they both have in common.
After the minute is up, everyone moves along one chair so that each person has a new partner and the activity is repeated.
At the end, participants give feedback about some of the more unusual things in common they discovered.
3. Line up!
A quick, high-energy game to kick off a meeting or training, especially useful first thing in the morning or just after lunch.
Explain that you will call out an instruction and everyone needs to line up as quickly as possible in the order of what you shout out.
Examples can be height, age, length of hair, birthday month and so on. Good for fast communication and interaction. Can also be done in two teams to make it competitive.
4. Memory Game
Everybody in the room has to mingle and speak to every other person for a set amount of time (a minute each is about right).
When everyone has spoken to everyone else, the group sits in a circle. Going around the circle one person at a time, the group pools all the information they can remember about each person.
5. Guess Facts
Each person takes a sheet of paper and fills it with numbers, words, and drawings representing things that are important to them. Then in groups of about four to six, the other team members should try to guess the significance of each item.
After the group has tried to guess, the person should then reveal what each item means.
6. Three Lies and a Truth
Each person takes turn to tell the group four pieces of information about themselves, three of which are true and one of which is a lie. The rest of the group then asks questions about the four facts to try to guess which one is not true. The person being questioned has to try to lie convincingly.
This is a fun and interactive way to find out some more interesting information about group members than just their names and where they’re from.((Inc.: 10 Surprising Scientific Facts About Teams))
7. What’s My Name?
Put a Post-It note or similar on each person’s forehead (or a sheet of paper on their back) with a famous person’s name on it. Participants should then move around the room asking three yes/no questions to each other person they speak to in order to try to work out which famous person’s name they have.
8. The Penny Drops
Place some coins in a pot, one coin for each person in the group. No coin should be older than the youngest member of the group.
Each participant takes a coin from the pot and tells the group about something important that happened to them in the year of that coin.((When I Work: An Epic List of Great Team Building Games))
Short Team Building Exercises
These are good teamwork exercises that don’t take up too much time and require only a minimum of equipment. They can work well after a break to get everyone focused again or as an introduction to the next segment of the training or meeting.
9. Perfect Square
Divide participants into groups and give each group a length of rope that is tied together at the end. Instruct them to form the rope into a circle.
When they are in position, blindfold them all and tell them they now have to make a perfect square.
This exercise is great for working on communication and teamwork.((Workamajig: 31 Team Building Activities Your Team Will Actually Love))
10. Human Knot
Have everyone stand in a circle shoulder to shoulder and tell them to put out their left hand and grab the hand of someone in front of them. Then do the same with their right hands.
They will now be tangled up, and the aim of the exercise is to untangle themselves within a set time limit without letting go of the hands they are holding.
Again, good for communication and teamwork.((The Balance Careers: 10 Tips for Better Teamwork))
11. Tent Poles
This exercise needs you to bring a set of tent poles or other similar long, flexible poles to the training room.
Teams of about 6-8 line up and each person puts out one hand at chest level, palm down and with the index finger extended.
The pole is then balanced on their fingers. The objective is to lower it to the ground without anybody’s finger losing contact with the pole.
It’s much more difficult than it sounds and requires clear communication and cooperation.
A simple exercise to set up, but one that tests communication skills.
Using a rope or similar, lay down a winding path that the person needs to walk along. On the path, put down squeaky dog toys, balloons or anything similar that will act as “mines”.
Team members will be blindfolded and will have to walk along the path avoiding the mines, guided only by their team members’ voices.
13. Reverse Charades
Rather than having one person act out the charade for the group, the group has to act it out for one person to guess.
This can have hilarious results, but also gets people working together and thinking about how to communicate ideas effectively.
14. Electric Fence
Set up an “electric fence” made of a piece of string tied between two chairs just above waist height. The aim of the activity is to get one member of the team over the electric fence (not under!) without touching it. The rule is they must have one hand in contact with at least one team member at all times.
Expect lots of discussion, experimentation, and creativity.
Another classic that requires minimal equipment.
Give groups a list of items from which they can only choose five to take onto a desert island. They have to discuss the possibilities and then explain their decisions.
This exercise is very easy to extend with lots of scope for follow up activities – like having them act out the situation, changing team members, telling them they need to choose a team member who “won’t make it” etc. Plenty of room for creativity on the trainer’s part as well as of the participants.
Advanced Problem Solving Team Exercises
These exercises require more time to complete but are great ways to encourage teamwork, communication and creativity – and often identify leadership skills too.
16. Sales Pitch – Coffee Shop Game
This exercise is easy to adapt to your business, but the general idea is that each team of around four people should come up with a business plan and try to sell it to the “investors” (trainers).((Daily Cup: Coffee Shop Team Building Game – The Unlimited Guide))
The teams are told they need to come up with a business plan for a new independent coffee shop. They have half an hour to make a plan, prepare a presentation and then make a pitch to the investors.
17. Marketing a Product
Similar to the coffee shop idea but using a product. Each group is given a random object and they need to come up with a whole marketing plan and sales pitch for that object. After a certain amount of time, they must present their plan to the group.
This activity doesn’t need to be related to your company’ business – the emphasis is on creativity and teamwork.
18. Escape Room
If you want to take your team outside for a team building activity, an “escape room” challenge is an excellent way to freshen things up and get them working together in teams.
Escape rooms require team members to cooperate to find clues and solve puzzles – and eventually escape from a room.
This activity has become very popular over the last few years and even most small towns will have a location offering it.
19. Think of a Problem
Instead of coming up with all the ideas yourself, have each group come up with an original team building exercise themselves.((Huddle: 10 Quick and Easy Team Building Activities [Part 1])) They should think of all the details of what needs to be done and what the objectives and desired outcomes should be.
After they have finished, you can have another group try the exercise and report back or you can choose the best ones and have all groups try them out at the same time.
20. Object Improve
Another great activity for creativity, expression, and teamwork.
Take a large bag with a range of random objects inside, the more diverse the better. There should be five objects for each group.
Without looking at what’s in the bag, the team captain takes five objects and returns to his or her group. The team then has ten minutes to prepare a short skit that features all the items. Every team member should have a speaking role.
21. Jumbled Jigsaws
Give each group a jigsaw puzzle and explain that the winner is the team that finishes first.((toggl: 39 Team Building Games That You Will Actually Enjoy)) However, some parts of each puzzle are mixed with the other groups’ pieces.
In order to win, they must also find their missing pieces and somehow persuade the other groups to hand them over. How they do this is up to them and they can be creative as they like.
22. Scavenger Hunt
A classic, but one of the best and most adaptable.
Give each team a list of tasks to complete and a time limit within which to complete them. You can choose anything, but try to include a selection of longer tasks, shorter tasks, and tasks that involve them getting up and moving about – and even leaving the room and going outside. They might need to organize themselves into subgroups to complete as many tasks as possible before the time runs out.
Great for teamwork and communication – and also tends to show who the leaders are.
The best way to use this list is perhaps not to try to apply the exercises exactly as described here but to try to adapt them to your situation.
After all, you will know who you are working with – be creative with these ideas and you’re sure to find activities that are ideal for your team building needs.