Are you wanting to do some team building activities but stuck for ideas? Here are 30 different activities that will encourage your team to socialize, build relationships, and collaborate.
For your convenience, I’ve split the team building activities into four categories:
- Drinking – get boozed up and have some drunken fun.
- Non-alcohol – fun alternatives if your team isn’t into drinking.
- In the office – no need to travel far, bring the fun into the office.
- Outdoors – make the most of the shining sun and get some fresh air.
You’ll see that my team building suggestions are biased towards social activities. Especially those that include food. That’s because they’re easy for anyone to organize. And it’s effective in helping the team to get to know each other better.
Why is Team Building Important?
Team building activities shouldn’t be a one-off or an annual event either. They should happen regularly. My team and I consciously organize team activities at least once a month. Why? There are so many benefits in team bonding:
- Create trust among team members. When team members trust and feel comfortable with each other, they’re more likely to support and cooperate with each other back at work.
- Get to know each other better. To build trust, it helps for the team to know each other on a personal level. Through team building activities, they learn each other’s personalities, life stories, background, and interests. Team members can use that as a foundation to build stronger relationships with each other.
- Improve communication skills. Effective team building exercises push team members to communicate with each other. This helps the team to build more effective communication and interpersonal skills.
- Get everyone outside their comfort zone. Coming in every day into the same office and doing the same job can kill creativity and motivation. But when the team is thrown into unexpected activities and changing environments, it can inspire creative thinking and fresh perspectives.
I don’t know about your country, but in New Zealand, we like to drink. So, it’s only natural that a lot of teams in workplaces tend to bond over a glass or two (or three or more). Here are some of my favorite team building activities if you and your team are not shy from getting a little tipsy.
Pro tip: Just make sure that you don’t drink too much and do anything that you’d regret! Remember, you still have to see your team again on the following Monday. Let this ad from alcohol.org.nz serve you as a firm reminder:
1. BYO Dinner
I’m sure this is everyone else’s favorite too. A cheap and cheerful dinner at a local restaurant that allows BYO (bring your own alcohol) is a fool-proof team building activity. It’s non-threatening, easy, and you get a feed at the same time! Everyone needs to eat, right?
Wait! Before you skip this one, let me assure you that karaoke is not as daunting as it sounds! I’ve done this so many times with my team, and I work with introverted web developers and testers. So your team has no excuse.
And don’t worry if you can’t sing. In fact, the less you can sing, the better!
But when I say karaoke, I don’t mean a public karaoke bar where you have to sing in front of everyone. No, you need to head to a Korean karaoke establishment where they offer private karaoke rooms to hire.
Why karaoke? Singing in front of each other instantly breaks down any barriers. Laughing at each other’s terrible singing brings each other closer as friends. And huddling altogether and screaming/singing ‘Living on a Prayer’ as a group will instantly boost team spirit.
Your team members might be shy at first. But I guarantee that after a few drinks and songs, everyone will soon be fighting over the microphone. This happens every time I go to karaoke!
3. Drinking Games
Speaking of Korean karaoke, I can’t leave out the drinking games. Playing drinking games = great team building games. This is how my team and I usually pass the time during our BYO dinner before we start screaming into the microphones at karaoke.
Pro tip: You need to make sure you’re in a casual restaurant where you won’t get kicked out for being a bit rowdy.
Koreans seem to have the best drinking games. They’re social, fast-paced, and guaranteed to immediately boost team bonding. If you need some drinking game ideas that you can easily do while eating out, here some great ones from Western Girl Eastern Boy or Kiss My Kimchi.
My personal favorite is the number guessing game.
- The ‘master’ thinks of a number between 1-100.
- Everyone else in the team takes a turn at guessing the number.
- If the guessed number is higher than the target number, the master says “lower”, as in ‘go lower’. Or they say “higher” if the guessed number is too high.
- The person who guesses the number right has to drink!
4. Winery / Brewery Tour
If you want to drink but want to walk around during day time too, why not try a winery or brewery tour? I haven’t tried this myself with the team yet, mainly because it tends to cost a bit. But it would be a relaxing way to get out, socialize, and learn a thing or two about our local winery or brewery.
5. Pub Quiz
I’m not sure how popular pub quizzes are in other countries, but they’re everywhere in New Zealand. Pub quizzes are when a pub/bar hosts a trivia quiz game. You usually get into small teams of 3-6, and there are prizes for teams that answers the most questions correctly.
This is another great, easy, non-threatening team building activity. Trying to beat the other quiz teams instantly boosts your team spirit. You learn to collaborate and problem-solve as a team. And it’s your team members’ chance to show off their most useless knowledge that would never become handy in any other parts of their lives.
Not everyone’s into drinking alcohol, and that’s OK. Or maybe your team likes drinking a bit too much that you need a break. Here are some fun team building activities you can do that don’t require a drop of alcohol.
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way. This team building activity is a great choice for new teams especially. Bowling encourages team bonding by acknowledging great players and supporting the terrible ones (that’s usually me). Team members can also socialize while waiting for their turn to bowl.
7. Dining Out
Yes, I’ve already mentioned BYO dinner. But if your team’s not in the mood for a boozy night out, there are alternative options. How about a team breakfast? If all or most of you are early birds, you could check out your local cafes or restaurants that do a particularly delicious breakfast menu.
Or what about a yum cha lunch? Pigging out in shared dumplings, dim sims, roast duck, and rice rolls are amazing for your taste bud. And it’s also a great opportunity for team members to catch up with each other outside of work.
If your team is wanting a dinner, why not try a restaurant that offers tapas? Sharing food brings out the communal spirit within a team and another great way for the team to bond over food.
8. Team Sports
Team sports is naturally a fantastic way to boost team spirit and turn everyone into team players. If your team is active and sporty, you could play a casual game of soccer, basketball, or any other sports you like.
Our office is fortunate enough to have an indoor sports center nearby that offers bubble soccer. If you have this in your area, you need to try it! It’s super fun, requires team coordination, and a great way to get some exercise in. If you’ve never heard of bubble soccer before, check out this video to see what I mean:
9. Escape Rooms
Escape rooms have become a popular team building game recently. Never heard of it? It’s where you’re placed in a room, and the only way to escape is to solve a number of physical puzzles within the room as a team. I’ve never tried this myself, because of the cost again, but have always wanted to!
10. Grab a Snack
This one’s a super simple activity that my team often does. Go for a walk to grab a quick snack! During summer, we often walk across the road to grab some yummy gelato. During winter, we travel a little further for some freshly baked cookies. We all get sugar cravings now and then. Why not satisfy it and bond with your team at the same time?
11. Gallery / Museum Exhibitions
You don’t even have to be the ‘cultured type’ to enjoy your local gallery or museum’s exhibitions. Where I work, I’m lucky to have an amazing art gallery and museum that often hosts amazing exhibitions that you can interact with.
For example, our local art gallery once built an area with a long table filled with Lego. Anyone could come along and build anything that they wanted with the Lego pieces. So our manager decided to turn it into a team building activity and we all went out to play with Lego.
12. Team Workout
Here’s another idea for an active team building activity. If you’re not keen on team sports, why not try a fitness boot camp, local gym classes, or maybe even boxing classes? The whole team might not be into it, but even if there are a few members who are interested, you should give it a go!
Attending classes together, checking on each other’s progress, and cheering for each other is a solid way to build relationships.
13. Cooking Classes
If your team is tired of eating out all the time, try cooking your own food! Hunt down a local cooking or baking class, and get ready to laugh at each other’s terrible cooking skills. If you manage to get a decent meal out of it – bonus!
14, Dancing Classes
Yes, this will definitely be pushing your team out of their comfort zones. But how could synchronized footwork not bring your team members closer together? If your team has a relatively even split of females to males, then you could try partner dancing like salsa (one of my favorites) or ceroc. Or you could try group dancing like Zumba or hip-hop.
15. Build a Bicycle for Kids (Or Other Charitable Work)
What could be more rewarding than bonding with your team members and doing charitable work at the same time? In Wellington, New Zealand, there’s an organization that provides a charitable team building activity. Team members are instructed to build a bicycle together and then the bicycle is donated to a child in need.
If you don’t have access to this specific charitable activity, that’s OK. There’s always plenty of other teamwork you could do to help the community, like bake a bunch of muffins for a fundraiser bake sale.
Staying in the Office
Whether it’s a budget or time restriction, sometimes you need to keep it in the office. Here are some of my ideas if you need to bring the fun in-house.
16. Improv Acting Workshop
Don’t let the word “acting” put you off. Improv acting is actually just playing a bunch of team building games. These games build communication, trust, and quick problem-solving skills.
I once ran an improv workshop with my team (of introverted developers and test analysts, to remind you again) and we were in fits of laughter by the end of it! Yes, there is an Encyclopedia of Improv Games if you’re stuck for ideas.
17. Personality / Strengths Test
This is another popular activity that a lot of teams already do. But it’s also an easy, fool-proof activity that will help the team bond. The goal of this is to learn more about how each individual in the team thinks and reacts, what motivates them, and what their strengths are.
The last test I took for a team building exercise was the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment. And it was one of the best things that have happened to me!
18. Retrospective Workshop
Has it been awhile since you and your team reflected on how you work as a team? While a retrospective workshop sounds serious, it doesn’t have to be. There are plenty of fun, creative way to run a retro meeting.
19. Card Games
Let’s go back to basics. Simple card games could go a long way for team building and good laughs. Early this year, our team was introduced to the Werewolf card game. There are a few variations of this game, but Wiki explains nicely the gist of how you play.
20. Daily Quiz
This is another very simple team building exercise you could introduce to your daily routine. I used to love doing the daily quiz with one of my old teams. We’d always unofficially meet around 2-3pm to do the daily trivia quiz from the newspaper. We’d each take turns to read the questions every day, and pretty much give away the answer with our hints if we got stuck.
I’m terrible at trivia quizzes. But I always looked forward to taking a break, catching up with the team, and having a good laugh at all the questions that we got wrong.
21. Potluck Lunch
Show off your cooking skills and enjoy a social meal with a potluck lunch in the office. The great thing about potluck lunch is that you don’t need to leave the office, and can enjoy a variety of dishes while socializing with your team. If you’re stuck for recipe ideas, Google and Pinterest offers plenty of recipes for shared lunch dishes. Otherwise, here are some ideas to start you off:
- Spring rolls
- Pasta bake
Or here’s a fabulous recipe for a Chicken and Pot Pie that my partner always makes:
22. Breakfast Buffet
Similar to the potluck lunch, your team can host your very own breakfast buffet. This idea came about when my team and I were trying to brainstorm a new cafe to try for our next team breakfast. I was craving for breakfast buffet, like how hotels serve it, but we didn’t know of any cafes or restaurants that offered it to casual customers. So, one team member suggested that we cook up our own!
Fortunately, our office kitchen has its own stove top and oven. So it was easy to cook everything up in the office. But not every team is lucky enough to have these types of office whiteware. In that case, try and cook something that can be eaten cold or be easily heated in a microwave.
Here are some basic staples for your breakfast buffet:
- (Plenty of) Scrambled eggs
- Orange juice
23. Team FedEx Day
A team FedEx day not only serves as a great team building activity but will possibly solve your biggest work headache as well. A FedEx day is an event where teams form to solve a particular business problem in a creative, efficient way in 24 hours. After 24 hours, teams present back to everyone else what they’ve found and built. There may be a voting system for people to choose the team with the best idea.
You can read more about how to run a FedEx day on Scrum.org’s documentation.
Still not convinced that a FedEx day would be valuable for your team? Read The Enterprise Architect’s article on the many benefits of organizing a FedEx day.
Take it Outdoors
The sun is shining and your team doesn’t want to be stuck inside. Here are more ideas for team building exercises while getting some fresh air.
If you happen to work nearby a park, why not make the most of it with a picnic? You could go for a picnic lunch and ask each person to bring a piece of food or some drinks. If it’s summer, you could go out straight after work for an early dinner picnic. Don’t forget to bring a frisbee or some card games to keep the team entertained!
25. Volunteer at the Zoo or Reserve Park
Does your local zoo or a reserve park need any volunteers for physical work? You can help the team to collaborate, contribute to the community, and get some fresh air all at the same time! Our zoo in Wellington is always looking for volunteers to help with gardening or cleaning up around the bush. Maybe yours is the same? Or does your local park need volunteers to plant some trees?
After some hard and honest work, your team could treat yourselves to a little relaxing visit around the zoo or park afterward.
26. Take the Ferry
If you have a nearby access to a ferry trip, go on a little adventure with your team. Is there a little island on the other side that you could go for a stroll on? A small town with a cafe to have lunch in? Not only does this help your team discover places that they’ve never been to, but also helps the team socialize and bond in a casual environment.
A BBQ meal in someone’s backyard is a popular social activity in New Zealand over summer. Grab some sausages, kebabs, drumsticks, and steaks, and get ready to feast! This provides a casual and open environment for the team to socialize. It also requires a bit of teamwork to delegate a person or two in charge of the BBQ, and others to ensure the food are being served.
If hosting a big BBQ feast is not feasible in your country or city, you could try using a small camping gas stove for a mini-BBQ! You could take it to a nearby park, an outside balcony (if your office has one), or find a team member who’s willing to host it in their backyard.
If a mini-BBQ is not feasible either, you can cheat by just heading to a restaurant that offers BBQ meals where you can cook it on the spot!
28. Food Tour
I once did a dessert food tour with my partner in Melbourne, Australia. As a tourist who knew nothing of what Melbourne has to offer, it was an amazing experience to discover the hidden gems in the city. Not only was it enjoyable to taste all the sweets from different shops and cafes, but it was interesting to meet other people who were on the tour with us.
Even if your team thinks that they know every restaurant in the city, I’d still recommend a food tour. That will keep you on your feet, found new hidden gems, and you’ll be able to socialize in an interesting and fun way.
If you’re lucky enough to work nearby a beach, why not head out there and make the most of the sun. You could bring along some food for a little picnic, and some frisbees or volleyballs to keep each other entertained. And most importantly – don’t forget your sunscreen!
30. Team Day Out
You could go all out and turn your team building activity into an overnight road trip. Some teams I’ve worked with in the past had annual team off-sites. We picked a random location each year and we’d all travel there to stay the night.
It wasn’t all fun though during these off-site trips. We’d fill the first day with business talk. Some team members presented to share their expertise. Some reported on team performance results for the past year. But after the presentations, we’d get into various team building games and have a big feast party at dinner time.
What did you think of my 30 ideas for team building activities?
Would you try any of them?
Let me know by leaving a comment below!