Team Building Activities to Improve Company Culture
Whether it’s planning ice breaker events for newly formed teams or freshening up engagement for groups who have worked together for years, team building can certainly be a challenge. Companies have a lot to think about, and sources of employee motivation can tend to get blurred by certain external rewards. If you’re an employee tasked with team building efforts at your company or someone who just wants to motivate your group, check out our list of 159 relationship-focused ideas to promote team bonding and engagement.
- In-Office Team Building Games
- Office Parties and Team Building Events
- Off-site Team Building Activities
- Virtual Team Building Activities
In-Person Team Building Games
Connect with your inner child and push past initial awkwardness, because these 38 office games are a great way to loosen up new teams and make team building a breeze.
- Desk Chair Races – Desk chair races are not only fun, but they teach an invaluable lesson. Divide up into teams and put half the team on one side of the room and half the team on the other side of the room. First, run the race with people having to go forward and then have them run the race when they are facing backward. What do you learn? It’s a lot easier to push back than it is to go forward – quite the analogy for life and business. The bonus lesson is the fastest way is when you get a group to push the person in the chair. So ultimately, the fastest way to go forward is to work together as a team.
- Pointillism with Post-It Notes – Have your team use a wall to create a picture using Post-it notes.
- Fitness Challenge – If the company has the budget, issue step-counters to everyone (or just to those who may not have a sport watch). Divide into teams and see who can hit the 10,000 steps per day mark as a group for a period of 6 weeks. It’s amazing what can happen to even your most sedentary people. They may start walking at lunch as a group – and then just keep going.
- Baking Contest – What was your favorite desert growing up? Something of this nature works well if you spread it out over several weeks. For instance, every Friday, two people can bring “treats” and the company gets to vote on their favorite. Nothing brings people together quite like food, and sugar is usually a guaranteed win.
- Cook-Off – A variation on the potluck, a true cook-off can be a lot of fun. Not everyone must cook but usually there are at least a few foodies in the crowd. Let them battle it out and everyone else enjoy the good eats!
- Fortnight Competition – Leverage what kids across the entire planet already know – video games can bring people together, and Fortnight is free. This can work well with a remote workforce, and you’d be surprised how much the senior executives can get into it and how valuable it is to have your youngest crowd teaching strategy to your oldest crowd.
- Ping Pong – Not everyone has the space in their office for a ping pong table, but don’t forget, most of them can be folded away. Tournaments can go on for weeks and be pretty hilarious.
- Foosball – Or “table soccer” has a much smaller footprint and requires less true skill to participate. Plus, you aren’t quite as concerned that when you play doubles, there will be a trip to urgent care. The tables are pretty inexpensive and games can even be played in high heels. These are great to get everyone involved.
- Minute-to-Win-it Challenges – This game show from the United Kingdom is an import almost as good as Paddington Bear. Google it and you’ll find all sorts of fun challenges to be completed within 60 seconds.
- Two Truths and a Lie – A favorite of morning talk shows, each person tells two truths and one lie about themselves, and the group must guess which is which. This deceptively simple game allows people to reveal subtle things about themselves – often extraordinary ones that are locked away and fun to know.
- Blind Retriever – Break up into teams and one person from each team is blindfolded. The other members of the team must tell the blindfolded member what to do and where to go to retrieve a hidden item.
- Charades – The great thing about this activity is that it can be done in the office or at a retreat, and you can make up the words that require acting out based on the theme of the day’s event. Sometimes the simplest work the best.
- Group Juggle – Everyone stands in a circle and one person throws a ball to another person, calling the receiver’s name out. The receiver then announces another person as they throw to them. Add a second ball and a third to the mix. See how far your group can take it. This is great for helping a newly formed team learn names!
- Group Jigsaw Puzzle – Give each team several pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and have them assemble the puzzle. Then, make them go around and work with the other teams to put the entire puzzle together.
- Jeopardy – You can buy the board game and use your own “Alex Trebek” or you can try to make it up with company trivia (but there is a reason this has been on the air for so long!)
- Family Feud – Again, Richard Dawson may be long gone but this game show endures for a reason. It’s a lot easier than Jeopardy and is conducive to teams playing against each other. For a whopping 15 bucks you can get a deluxe set of cards and have the group in stitches.
- Office Trivial Pursuit – You can include dull questions like “In what year was the company founded” but this game can be elevated to relive funny memories or better yet, highlight the work of the unsung heroes in the company. It may take a little while to put together, but it can be incredibly educational about the company and the effort required to hit the milestones it has hit. Our suggestion would be to have each department come up with a series of questions.
- Office Pictionary – This is the same idea as above. To ensure that the game feels fair, be sure that you have several people from various departments and levels who contribute to the questions.
- No-Shave November Contest – Have the willing gentlemen in your office grow their facial hair for the month of November, and on the last day compare beards or mustaches. Better yet, allow them to shave their beards into hysterical mustaches and have the whole company vote on the winner. We suggest making each vote cost $2 and then the company matches what is collected. The winner of the contest gets to choose the charity where the money is donated.
- Ugly Sweater Contest – It’s cliche, but it’s pretty darn funny. Extra credit goes to the homemade versions; you’ll be amazed by the creativity that comes out of it.
- Guess the Pet Owner – Have people submit a photo of their pet and then create a survey for everyone to match up owners to pets. Those who do not have pets can always come up with a clever replacement such as a picture of a cartoon character or what they would like to have as a pet.
- Guess the Baby – Not everyone has a pet, but nearly everyone has a baby picture. Have everyone submit a baby photo and post them in the kitchen or on a company web page and see how well people do matching them to their grown-up counterpart.
- Third Grader or Professional Artist? – This may take a little time to Google and put together, but your entire team will be dying trying to figure out which art came from professionals and which from third graders. If nothing else, you may be humbled by how great some of the kids really are! Break into teams and see who can guess best.
- Twister – This can technically be done in the office, but business attire may not be conducive for the odd body positions. Depending on your dress code, give people the chance to pack a change of clothes, and you should be good to go!
- Pie Throwing Contests – Definitely the most fun if your executives are game! You can combine this with a fund raiser for the company’s favorite charity. To avoid destroying the surroundings, we suggest lots of tarps. To avoid destroying employees’ clothes, we suggest ponchos and shower caps.
- Guess the Employee – Gather some general and some specific data on your employees; you might need to get the information from their teammates. Start describing the individual first with the most generic of terms then becoming more and more specific. “This employee lives in the United States, this employee likes the local sports team, this employee has brown hair, this employee is the first person in their family to graduate from college, this employee always waters the plants and thinks people don’t know, this person beat cancer five years ago, this employee has a dog named Mavis…” It’s a great way to highlight people’s quiet accomplishments to elevate them to their peers.
- Scavenger Hunt – This does take some time to set up, but everyone likes a good scavenger hunt. You’ll be surprised how often the “quiet ones” speak up with clever ideas when you solicit ideas from various teams and departments. One option is to have one department create a scavenger hunt for another one or for the rest of the company. Remember, the items no longer need to be physical – they can be digital too!
- Riddles – There are all sorts of great sites online that have riddles, brain teasers, and puzzles. Putting them into a PowerPoint is very easy to do and a great way to test your team’s ability to work together.
- Nice String – Sit in a circle and hold on to the end of a ball of string or yarn. Throw the ball across the room to another individual and say something nice about that person. That person will then hold on to the string as well and throw the ball to yet another person. Keep going until the string is all used and everyone has been told something kind. Finally,
check out the “web” of kindness that holds you all together.
- Active Listener – Have a routine meeting and drop in some totally random facts, buzz words, and pieces of information. Have a little quiz at the end to see who may have been listening.
- Who Am I? – Choose famous people and put their names on pieces of paper. Safety-pin a page to the back of each employee without letting them know who it is. The employee must go around the room and talk to someone who they don’t know to figure out who is pinned to the back of them. Bonus if you choose “dynamic duos” such as Thelma and Louise, Batman and Robin, the President and Vice President, etc. and people have to find their dynamic duo once they have figured out who they are.
- Do You Know Your Teammates? Bingo – Create bingo cards by creating a grid on a piece of paper and then entering random facts in each square such as “Plays an instrument,” “Went to college out of state,” and “Played collegiate level sports.” Have people go around and find someone to sign their name in a square that applies to them. Only one signature per person per sheet!
- Memory Cartoons – Hand out paper and have people try to draw their favorite memory at the company. Display the pages for a few weeks and allow everyone to get a good laugh.
- Tinfoil Trophies – Take your group and pair people up. Give each person a large piece of tinfoil and tell them they’ll be designing an award for their partner and then presenting the award to the group and explaining why the person is receiving the reward and why the reward is specific to their partner. We were dubious about it too, but by adding the fact that someone has to present the award to their partner to the group, people will strive to be clever and find the best in people.
- Lower the Pole Together – Get PVC pipes or light dowels cut into 6 feet lengths at your local hardware store. Put three people on either side of the pipe and allow each person to only put the finger tip of their index finger flat underneath the pipe. It will now be held up by only 6 fingers. The group must now lower the pipe to the ground at the same time without letting it droop to one end or the other. If you don’t cheat, this is REALLY hard to do.
- Toss the Ping Pong Ball into the Cup – Get a stack of solo cups (remember those from college?) and a slew of ping pong balls. Break up into teams and have each team choose one thrower and the rest must be “catchers”. Give the team 45 seconds to 1 minute to get as many balls into as many cups as possible. Once your cup is full, you can’t help your team any further. Count which team has the most number of balls caught in their cups. Talk about the strategy used and what made the difference. Did people look at each other? Did they communicate?
- Minefield – Set an obstacle course up either outside or in a large room. Use cones or other items to create the course and add basic activities for people to do – like hopscotch, pour water into a glass, etc. Split into teams and then blindfold one person on the team. The rest of the team has to find a way to guide the blind-folded person through the obstacle course and the various activities.
- Water Balloon Toss – There is a reason this was done at so many birthday parties growing up. It’s really fun and pretty funny at the same time. Have people fill their own water balloons, and pair people up with partners. They must toss the balloon back and forth and each time move back 6 inches – 1 foot. The team that can throw it the farthest without having it break wins. If you have groups that tie, try using two balloons at once, so each person has a balloon and throws it to their partner while their partner does the same.
Office Parties and Team Building Events
Need some inspiration for your next event or holiday party? Check out these 20 team building ideas to get your team optimally engaged.
- Potluck – Don’t underestimate the value of everyone contributing their favorite dish to an event. Allow people to showcase their creativity and culinary talents – not to mention their cultural pride – through food. You can easily turn this into a game by having people guess who made which dish and employees voting for their favorite dish. This can be done by departments hosting on a quarterly basis with the company subsidizing for drinks or essentials like paper plates and cutlery.
- “Just Because” Party – Steal a page from the Mad Hatter and have a “very merry unbirthday” party or copy those sappy cards that say “I don’t need a reason to tell you I love you.” Everyone likes to blow off a little steam and have something to look forward to. You can even have a contest to pick themes for the party such as the Academy Awards/Mardi Gras/Tailgating etc. so that food choice and ambiance can naturally follow.
- Halloween – Don’t we all wish we were still kids sometimes? Some of the best photos of the year come from the most buttoned-up person in the office coming in dressed in a gorilla costume. Don’t let Halloween pass you by without allowing your teammates to be silly. We suggest breaking departments up and having them choose a theme. Then have a contest for best costume and best department costume, etc.
- Winter Party – The “Christmas Party” of old has given way to something more inclusive. At times it might even have been cancelled because it formerly became a little too over the top. It’s amazing how little one really needs to do to create a winter or year-end event, and it doesn’t even need to be before the holidays. After works well, too.
- Food Drive – A favorite of the Preciate team as it is focuses on giving to others. This can also be combined with Halloween or any other themed event. Take the bringing of dry goods to a whole new level by having teams create a sculpture out of their cans and dry goods and the team dressing up to match their sculpture.
- Ice Cream Social – Have a local store bring in ice cream. You can do this with multiple office locations all at the same time. Let people create their own concoction!
- Show & Tell – There’s a reason we loved this as kids. It was inherently fun to do and cool to learn about our peers. Set aside part of a meeting or a company retreat to allow a few employees to showcase things they have done, whether it be inside or outside of the company. The items can be brought in physically, or with a smart phone and a PowerPoint it can be done virtually.
- White Elephant Gift Exchange – Another “oldie but goodie,” the white elephant gift exchange does NOT have to be reserved for year-end and can be one of the best ways to break the ice at a party. Why not break it out in April when everyone is doing “spring cleaning” anyway? Everyone brings a new item from home they do not want or spends no more than $20 on a generic gift and wraps it but does not label it. All gifts are placed in a pile. People draw numbers out of a hat and the person with #1 chooses a gift and unwraps it. The person with #2 can steal the #1’s gift or unwrap a new gift. The person with #3 can steal from #1 or #2 or unwrap a new gift. If your gift is stolen, you must choose a new unwrapped gift or steal from another person. Each gift can only be “stolen” 3 times and then it stays with the lucky person.
- Order-In-Potluck – For the office that doesn’t like to cook, but rather prides itself on knowing the best places for take out, this can be a lot of fun. Allow people to bring in their favorite dish from their restaurant of choice. The same competition can happen as with a regular potluck.
- Hawaiian Shirt Day – What better way to feel relaxed than to adopt island life for the day? If the company can afford to issue Hawaiian shirts, this is a lot of fun. If not, just allow people to wear what they have at home or their most outrageous shirt (within reason).
- Flip-Flop Art – If it’s summer, or even better, if it’s the dead of winter and you want it to feel like summer, flip flops can put you in the mood. Allow employees to bring their creativity to the table. Create categories for prizes such as “Most Original,” “Most Patriotic,” “Most Corporate,” etc. At a whopping $5 for a basic pair of flip flops, the company can spring for the base material, and people can build from there.
- Lunch and Learns – People love a free lunch, and learning something new is always good. We suggest doing these when the weather is known to be bad and people are less-likely to want to leave the building to go and get food anyway. The trick is to have good food and good content to get people excited. To ensure people come and listen, a prize could be awarded to those who correctly answer questions from the presentation.
- Casino Night – Another “oldie-but-goodie,” casino nights tend to get people involved – especially if you have games that are particularly easy to do – like roulette and if you take the time ahead of time to do lunch and learns for the more interactive games like craps. You can use education about the various games as a way to market the event and get unlikely friendships forged.
- On-campus Happy Hours – Have difficulty getting people to come to offsite events? Bring the bubbly to the building and allow your employees to just kick off an hour early on a Friday and start the weekend early.
- Murder Mystery Party – The cool thing about these is that they can be found online, so the prep can be done by someone else. You can use them with groups from about 8 people to 100, and people get to dress up!
- Massage Therapy – Bring in a group of massage therapists who have massage chairs and allow employees to take turns getting 10 minutes of relaxation. Do this once a quarter and watch what happens to attendance on the days when the therapists are there! It’s easier than you think and can be very inexpensive. Google the massage therapy schools in the area or look for newer places that might need the marketing. If you are still having difficulty, look for new physical therapy clinics; they often have massage therapists who need additional gigs.
- Yoga – One of the neatest perks and definitely a team-building experience was bringing in a yoga instructor and turning the lunch room into a yoga studio once a week. The company can spring for mats or people can bring their own, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Sometimes you’ll have a “yogi” in your midst who can lead the class or Google to see if there is a new studio in your local area that’s looking for publicity. Namaste.
- Decorate Gingerbread Houses – Don’t be put off if it’s not December; you can order these cheaply online year round. See what people come up with in July. Serve some adult beverages or keep it G rated if you prefer. Just buy a boat load of candy, pull up Pinterest, and let people go to town with their creativity. This can be done at the office or offsite – whichever works best for your team!
- Annual Slide Show – Why do you see these so often? Because they bring people together like few things. Take advantage of the fact that we all have cell phones and tend to take silly photos throughout the year. You can have a viewing party and pop popcorn or simply distribute the link to a central spot on the network, but everyone likes to relive fun memories.
- Recognition – At the beginning of your staff meeting or company retreat, have each person think of someone who performed well in the last week and have them send that person a recognition. Encourage them to add validators to highlight the performance to others. Watch what happens to the atmosphere of the meeting from there.
Off-site Team Building Activities
We all remember building strong relationships on field trips and at summer camp. Here are 48 team building activities you can do away from the office setting.
- Segway Tour – Most cities have them now, and this is a great way to get out of the office and get some fresh air together. They take minimal getting used to, but you might just learn something about your area or the area where you are staying.
- Zip Lining – Not just relegated for the forested areas anymore, this activity can be done by people from 8 to 80+ and it’s a thrill for everyone. Creating a safe environment where people can overcome their fears is definitely a bonding experience.
- Sky Diving – And if you don’t want to actually drop out of the sky, they now have places where you can go indoor sky-diving. Though we hear that it actually takes skill to do the former, where as jumping from a plane is relatively easy. Who knew?
- Shoot the Company’s Next Commercial – With the advent of digital photography and each of us having a movie camera in our phones, this can actually be done. Challenge each department or team to come up with a story-board and then shoot a commercial highlighting what they feel should be highlighted about the company. The good ones can even be posted on social media. Best of all, you’ll really learn what people like about your organization.
- Bowling – There is a bowling alley in almost every town across the country still and with the advent of bumpers, even the least coordinated can participate and have a good time. Besides, most places serve food and beverages, and it provides an organic opportunity to hang out and chat in between an activity. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that combines bowling with other activities (Louisiana boasts Rock and Bowl for instance) by all means take advantage!
- County Fair – Remember when it was the coolest thing to go to the county fair? Take an afternoon off and take your team to the county fair, and make a point of doing something for everyone on the team.
- Amusement Park – Are you fortunate enough to live near a year-round place? Well, when was the last time you went? You probably haven’t even thought about it unless you have kids. Leave the kids behind and go with your co-workers and be kids again yourselves. Double check online for coupons or through your payroll companies for discounts.
- Water Park – Really want to be kids? Why not go to the local water park, or have your company retreat at one of the dozens of hotels that now include water parks as part of the package. There really is something for just about everyone – from the lazy river to the steepest of slides.
- Put Together Packs for Schools – There are dozens of charitable organizations in your community that could use some manual labor, and not all of it has to be difficult to do. Sometimes they just need a group to stuff envelopes or put together gift packs for kids. A quick phone call to one of the local charities and you could have something that the group could go and do, and then you provide the beverages and snacks.
- Walk Dogs for the Local Animal Shelter – Have a bunch of animal lovers? Why not take your volunteering spirit and bring it to the four legged friends in the community. Combine it with lunch or happy hour afterwards, and you’ll see people in a far more relaxed state.
- Miniature Golf – A fabulous way to spend an afternoon or evening where minimal skill is required, but you get to cheer each other on and are grouped together so invariably interact. It’s not terribly expensive and pretty ubiquitous around the country.
- Driving Range – For the group that definitely wants to be able to add alcohol and some skill to their their golfing outing but don’t have the skill to actually golf, a driving range – and especially the ones that now cater to parties – are a total blast. They keep score much like bowling, but the benefits are you don’t have to be inside and you don’t have to wear weird shoes!
- Go-Kart Racing – Just about everyone can drive, and even if they can’t, go-karts are for anyone who is 48” and taller. Everyone seems to start the event rolling their eyes, but ends the race flushed and thrilled.
- Axe Throwing – Never heard of it? Neither had we until we heard about a team that said it was a total blast. Apparently the guy on the team who usually wins everything came in dead last, and the women in the group found it entirely empowering!
- Paintball or Nerf Gun Wars – We aren’t into violence, but we are into fun, and playing cops and robbers is as fun now as it was when we were kids using sticks for “guns.”
- Archery – Want to add a little skill to the event? Look up your local archery range and see if you can get an instructor to teach you and your team on the correct form and have a healthy competition.
- Cooking Classes – Take a cooking class together and find out about people’s hidden talents. You can create your own version of a cooking channel and have competitions or just make something as a group and even bring some good wine to share at the end of the day.
- Ceramic Painting – Studios where you can paint ceramics to be put into a kiln now often serve adult beverages and can create a very relaxed environment for people to do something while getting to know one another.
- Create Signs and Other Crafts – Look online for places that will allow you to do other crafts such as creating signs, holiday wreaths, or even learning how to decorate cakes. There are a whole host of classes your group can take.
- Spa Day – Let’s face it ladies, if the guys in your group have never had a good pedicure they probably need it. Why not take a few hours, go as a group, and educate those who may have not been indoctrinated? Not every team building activity has to include a competition.
- Museum Tour – Every community has a totally random museum that people have either never been to or haven’t been to since their were 11 years old. Look online to find yours, and see if you can book it out in advance or if they have guided tours. Go to happy hour afterwards and see what you learned.
- Live Music – Sometimes it’s tricky to find the right genre of music, but being somewhere with live music is usually a pretty lively event and most people can relax and just hang out.
- See “A Show” – Many Broadway shows go on the road and come through big and small towns alike. Support your local theater or a traveling theater by taking your team for a bit of culture.
- Wine Tasting – Be sensitive to those who don’t drink, but if you have a group that is curious, there are often places that do classes to learn more about wines. Don’t have that at your disposal? Have each person bring a bottle of vino and create your own event. Just don’t forget to include food and a way for everyone to get home safely.
- Canoeing – Even in the most metropolitan of areas, there are often outfitters that cater to groups and tourists. Canoeing doesn’t require a great deal of skill for the participants as long as you have some good leaders. It will be outside the comfort zone for some, but nothing dangerous.
- Behind the Scenes Tour – Most communities have a stadium or some large organization that offers tours, and we rarely take the tours that are in our backyard. Be a tourist in your hometown, and go see how they make the inner workings of your local ballpark work!
- Laser Tag – This takes zero skill or athletic ability but yields lots of fun. If you can, go with another department and have a competition between the two.
- White Water River Rafting – This may be out of the comfort zone for some but it’s also a good “on the edge” activity for others. There are few places where you can do it where the scenery is spectacular.
- Skiing – Whether water or snow, if you have an athletic group, don’t miss an opportunity to turn a local favorite sport into an event that you can all share. Those who know how to will be able to teach those who don’t and everyone can encourage each other.
- Drive Heavy Equipment – For those of you who grew up loving toy trucks, cars, and the like. There are only two in the country that we know about – one in Oklahoma and one in Las Vegas – but we highly recommend it.
- Ride of a Lifetime – In various places around the country, there are race tracks you can ride along with a professional driver. There is nothing quite like going 160 miles an hour around a race track. Adrenaline rush for sure and something your team will talk about for years to come!
- Horseback Riding – If we did it at summer camp as kids, we have to be able to do it as adults right? Take some time to connect with animals and team members alike. Most communities have places where a small group can go and ride.
- Escape Rooms – These have become relatively cliche, but there’s a reason for it. A group of people have to find a way to work together to get out of the room and get to freedom! If you haven’t done it with your team just yet, give it a whirl. They are available in most major cities.
- Car Rally – Another one that does take some time to put together but when you couple good clues to get you from place to place with great trivia questions along the way and mileage that needs to be exact (you didn’t drive around the block 50 times or cheat and go straight to the end), you’ll be impressed by the amount of fun you and the whole team have. Car rallies work well at offsite events where there are golf carts for transportation on the property.
- Ultimate Air-Band Challenge – Going to happy hour? Ask the venue to allow you and your team to use the stage. Allow employees to create groups, get dressed up, and do their best air-band imitation.
- Pool Tournament – Not everyone can play pool, but people can support their players. There are always clever ways to get everyone involved.
- Arcade – Why have your holiday party at a hotel when you can have it at an arcade, or one of the new places that have arcade games and bowling for “grown-ups.” Even if you don’t have one of those places in your area, you will find people discover the kid in them when they can play miniature golf, ride go-carts or duel each other in a video game. Cocktail parties don’t all have to be about business attire and little black dresses.
- Ball Game/Sporting Event – Most professional and semi-pro teams have facilities to have an event for your company or team and they become quite reasonable based on the numbers you bring to the table. Some people may not be into baseball, but they are into being outside and eating great ball-park food! A souvenir is always fun so try to choose the date based on a promotional giveaway the ball park is already having.
- Race Track – Have one of these in your area? Make good use of it. Almost all of them have a party room and they provide an activity for the young and old alike.
- Take a Spin Class – Stationary bike classes (aka spin classes) are a great way to spend some quality time together, get active, and pretty much everyone can participate. Plan on hanging out and having a smoothie or something healthy afterwards. It’s easy enough to rent out a studio for a single class.
- Movies – One of the best off-site office events we’ve heard of was a local tech company that rented out a movie theater for the afternoon so that everyone could be part of the first crowd to see the latest Star Wars release. They had a happy hour ahead of time and then free popcorn and candy. Even employees with teenage kids had a blast! Not only that, but they also invited some of their top clients – who actually showed up! May the force be with you.
- Amazing Race – We saw this done once with a credit union that got one of the local hotels to help them facilitate a whole series of tasks from reciting “The Pledge of Allegiance” to knocking over a group of little green army men by shooting rubber bands at them from 4+ feet away. It takes a while to set up, but the creation of the game can be a team builder in and of itself.
- Aquarium – Believe it or not, one of the most elegant parties we heard of was at an aquarium. The glow of the tanks creates quite the ambiance. Before you dismiss it, give your local aquarium a call and see what they have to offer.
- Pool Party – You don’t have to be in a bathing suit to enjoy the pool. Get some lawn games going like crochet or a bean bag toss and see the group bond.
- Bar-B-Q – There are parks everywhere and they are easily reserved in most communities. You can play traditional games such as 3 legged-races and egg-on-a-spoon race. Spending time with your team in totally different circumstances helps everyone get to know each other better.
- Volunteer at the Local Soup Kitchen – Want the whole team to have a positive attitude adjustment? Find a local soup kitchen, take a few hours, and get the group to focus on helping others. Sometimes all it takes is being reminded of how much we have. Be sure management participates, however, because these things work best when executives are also present.
- Volunteer Anywhere – Allow your team to nominate and vote on their favorite charities. Have the entire team participate in whatever the event might be – from building houses to cleaning up playgrounds. Spending some quality time focused on benefiting others does wonders for a group. Promise to take photos and post them on social media and see if you can get marketing to throw in some dollars to make it happen!
- Happy Hour – We list it only because it’s possibly the most popular. Happy hours can also be held in the office, but it’s really nice to get “off campus” an hour or so early and play a little hooky with your teammates. Remember that at any event where alcohol might be served, you want to ensure that people know they must consume responsibly and the company expects them to use Lyft, Uber, or some alternative transportation if they have had enough to put them over the legal limit.
Virtual Team Building Activities
- Lightning Scavenger Hunt
This one is fun and doesn’t involve a lot of planning or money. The organizer creates a list of random items, and reads them out one at a time. Once an item is read, everyone runs to find one of those things and brings it back to their screen. You can give points to the first person to bring back that item, and the person with the most points at the end wins!
- Elevator Pitch-Off
This one is especially great for sales teams, but it can work for anyone in the company. Have each person record a 30-second video of themselves pitching the company. Then you can watch them all together and vote on the best. These can be fun, because the time limit is pretty tricky for most people to abide by.
- I Spy
Just like the real-life version, but this time you have to look into people’s backgrounds to spy something. No background blurring allowed!
- Split the Room
Now’s the time to ask crazy hypothetical questions and see where everyone stands. Ask any question, and then ask people to move to a particular side of the room based on their answer. Then chat among yourselves until the next question is asked.
- Speed Dating (without the dating)
Take the dating element out of this activity and it’s really great for getting to know your colleagues a little better. Split the team in half and have one half spread out around the Preciate room. This half will stay where they are, and the other half will rotate around the room. Spend 2, 5, or 10 minutes (however much time allows) with each colleague before moving on to the next person. You as the organizer can offer specific conversation starters or just let the conversation flow naturally, and hop into presenter mode or chat with the group when you’re ready for people to switch.
- Name that Baby
This one takes a bit of extra planning but is adorable and fun. Ask each team member to share a baby picture of themselves with the organizer before the event. During this session, the host will share each picture and have your team guess who it is. You can also add these as Room Items inside a Preciate room and have your team move around from one picture to another and write down their guesses before sending them to the organizer.
- Guess Who
One person chooses a random coworker, and has the team guess who they are thinking of by asking yes or no questions. When eliminated, each person can turn off their screen until only 1 person is remaining.
- “Most likely to….”
If your team knows each other pretty well, superlatives can be a fun way to recognize each other. Come up with a list of “most likely to’s”, and then have everyone vote on who that sounds most like. These can be serious or silly, depending on what type of party you are planning.
- Name Your Superpower
If you could have any super power, what would it be? Take turns going around the group and sharing what you would choose.
- Blind PowerPoint
Send your lucky presenter a powerpoint presentation with 5 random slides in it (or you can choose to present it on their behalf). They have to talk through the slides without having seen the presentation in advance. This can be work related, or you can just make it silly. Either way, you’re in for a laugh.
- Personal Facts Guessing Game
Similar to the baby picture game above, ask each person to send in one or 2 personal facts about themselves to the leader in advance. The organizer chooses one fact for each person, and lists them on a document without the names. Now open up a networking session in Preciate where people can move around the room freely, with the goal to identify who belongs to each personal fact. Everyone moves around to chat with others, just as you would in real life. The person who can figure out the most of them in the allotted time wins.
- Guess the Movie
Break your group into small teams who spread out around the Preciate room. Show screenshots, quick clips, quotes from, or even the basic plots of 10 movies, and have teams name them and then submit them to the organizer. The team who gets the most right wins.
- Rose, Bud, Thorn
This activity is an opportunity to check in with everyone on the team on a more individual level. Each person takes a minute to share a Rose (something they are happy about), a Bud (something they’re looking forward to), and a Thorn (something they aren’t so happy about). It’s a quick way to check in and see how everyone is doing and what’s on their mind.
- Desktop Show & Tell
Each person in the group takes a turn sharing something on their desk or in their office with the group. This one is pretty simple but a great way to get to know each other and get a glimpse into their life beyond what you see behind them in virtual meetings.
- Name that Song
The host plays part of a song, and the first person to name that song correctly in the chat wins! (Just make sure no one is cheating using Shazam on their phones.)
- Describe Yourself in 3 Words
This is just as simple as it sounds. Go around the room and describe yourself in just 3 words. If you’re looking to get to know each other better, this can help. Great for new teams or welcoming new members during onboarding.
- Company History Trivia
How well does your team know the history of your company? Use a company history trivia game to find out, and offer a prize to the winner or winning team.
- Never Have I Ever
Take turns with one person going into presenter mode, and saying one thing they’ve never done. Anyone who has done this thing before must either turn off their camera or identify themselves. People get really creative with this one, and you’ll learn some interesting things about your colleagues!
- Show Us Around
We know so little of each other’s personal lives, even though we work from home. Name one person every week to give a little tour of whatever part of their personal lives they would like to share.
- Bucket List Challenge
Everyone goes around the room and shares their bucket list, which is a great opportunity to build connections with other coworkers beyond your work lives. Maybe you’ll meet someone else who wants to run a marathon or learn to brew beer at home. This is a great chance to increase team cohesion as you learn more about your team.
- Would You Rather
Would you rather have bionic arms, or bionic legs? Would you rather go into the past and meet your ancestors or go into the future and meet your great-great grandchildren? Would you rather have more time or more money? Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button on your life? Would you rather be able to talk with the animals or speak all foreign languages?
If you’re looking for just plain fun, trivia is always a popular option. You can have seasonal questions or change themes for each round. There are unlimited options. Break teams into groups, have them spread out in the Preciate room so no one else can hear them, and have one person from each team submit the answers to the host at the end of each round.
- 2 Truths & A Lie
Divide the room into small groups of 4-7 people and have each team spread out. Each person takes a turn listing 3 facts about themselves, and the rest of the group has to guess which one is the lie. You will definitely learn something new about your colleagues.
- Team Reflection
We are often moving so quickly that we miss out on opportunities for reflection. Before jumping into your next virtual meeting, spend some time reflecting on the success of the company or the team. What has worked? What hasn’t? Who has been going above and beyond?
- Meet the Pet or Person
Yes, you probably know your coworkers by now. But do you know who else they live with? Ask each person to introduce their pets or another person in their house to the group.
- Fun Fact
Everyone can share a fun fact about themselves that the group may be surprised by.
- Neck-Up Costume Contest
Since we only know many of our remote colleagues from the neck up, we might as well embrace that and add a costume contest into it. Who can get more creative than popping on a hat or mask?
- Product Trivia
This is an alternative to company trivia, and a great option for sales teams specifically. If you’re looking for a way to test your team’s knowledge, product specific trivia can be the way to go. Ask someone from the product team to host or ask the questions, and see who the smartest person is!
- Photo Booth
As with all great photo booths, props are a must. Ask everyone to show up ready for a photo booth. This can be anything from angel wings to an ugly sweater, a Hawaiian shirt, a sombrero, or a hot pink wig. If you want to go the extra mile, send each of your employees something as a gift in advance of your gathering. The sky is the limit but it’s always fun to surprise the team with a random gift for future virtual parties. And of course, don’t forget to take some group photos! Preciate has a photobooth feature that will take 3 photos of your screen and turn them into a gif.
- Spelling Bee
A good old fashioned spelling bee is a quick and easy form of competition to break up the workday and declare a new winner. All you need is a list of words and some willing competitors.
- Real Time Snapshot
Have everyone snap a picture from wherever they are and share it with the group. Upload these as a collage and share with the group to get to know your team a little better.
- Chair Stretching
Nothing ramps up the energy in a meeting like moving your body. And we don’t always have to take exercise to the extreme. Stretching is good any time of day, and helps get the blood flowing.
- Recognition Party
Take your peer-to-peer recognition one step higher. At the beginning or end of your next all hands meeting, ask everyone to stay online and send at least 10 peer recognitions to colleagues who deserve it. Or just open the floor and let anyone shout out a recognition to a deserving coworker on the call.
- Data Discovery
Rather than having just your leadership team talking at everyone else, get the rest of the team involved. Ask someone to present some data findings that their team has found insightful to the team, and open up a discussion.
- Meditation Break
If mental health is a priority at your company, this is an excellent option. You can screen share a quick guided meditation video for the team to follow along with. No cameras required, and only a few minutes will bring back the focus for your team.
- Guess the Artist
Ask your team to each draw something that represents them or how they’re feeling, without signing it. Send those drawings to a moderator, who will share them individually during a team meeting. Then you can guess who the artist is. You never know what kind of hidden talent may be in your team!
- Open Mic
Give everyone a heads up that they will have about a minute at the beginning of the meeting to take the virtual stage. Ask them to find or write an icebreaker joke, read a poem, sing a song, play the mandolin—anything they want!
- X or Y
This is a quick and easy one that you can add to any virtual meeting. Change out X or Y to find out how the team splits when choosing a preference for 2 things. Here are a few examples, but the possibilities are endless: Summer or Winter? Pepsi or Coke? Sweet or Salty?
- Company Meme Challenge
Ask everyone to share one meme that they think best describes your company. Then have the team vote on the winner.
- Where Do You See Our Company in a Year?
Go around the team and let everyone share their thoughts for where they and the team will be in a year.
This kids’ classic game still works virtually — and it’s not just for kids! Everyone takes a turn acting something out silently, while the others guess what it is. This can work in teams as a competition or just on an individual basis without a winner.
- “Yes, and!”
This is a classic improv game that helps us practice accepting each other’s ideas and cooperating with each other. Begin by making a simple statement. Then, each person to follow will say, “yes, and” adding to the statement and further developing it. This game can be played in pairs or groups!
- No Smiling
This is a quick stress reliever. Start by telling the group not to smile, and the first person to smile or laugh loses. It won’t take long.
- 10 Things in Common
Have the team break into smaller groups. Each small group has to come up with a list of 10 things they all have in common. This is a great way to identify shared interests and values, and to grow closer as a team.
- International Holiday Celebrations
For global and distributed teams, this should be an easy way to get to know each other’s culture. Ask your team to share their local celebrations and traditions with the group.
- WorldleWe all know Wordle, the game where you guess a 5-letter word. Worldle is a geography version where you see the outline of a country, and have to guess which country that is. This one is tough – and it usually requires a few hints unless you have some real geography whizzes among your team.
- Virtual City Tour
Bring the world to your team with a virtual city tour. Have a local strap on a GoPro camera and lead you around their city.
- Employee of the Month
Recognition is never a bad thing, and celebrating one stand-out employee each month is something that deserves a little extra time and effort. Have the leadership team vote on who is most deserving, and recognize this person in the way that works best for your team – via email, during an All-Hands, or in a company newsletter.
- New Employee Quiz
Ask new employees to create a slide about themselves to share at the next All-Hands meeting. And prior to this meeting, have the new employee send you a few facts about themselves that they will be discussing. Once they are done presenting, quiz the rest of your team on what you learned. The person who remembers the most about your new team member wins!
- Icebreaker Questions
Sometimes, it can be tough to get the social juices flowing during a virtual event. You can’t use the typical body language and other social cues that are present during an in-person event, and there is no bathroom or punch bowl to escape to in moments of awkwardness. In these cases, it can be helpful to come prepared with some icebreaker questions for the group. This is especially useful when it’s a group of people who don’t know each other as well. Examples of icebreaker questions include:
- What sports did you play growing up?
- What are your favorite hobbies?
- What was the last concert you saw?
- If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
- Where is your favorite place you have lived?
- What is the most handy item you bought recently?
- Photo Challenge
At the beginning of each week, come up with a simple challenge to share with the team, and ask everyone to submit their best photo for that theme. This can be anything from “best family photo” or “cutest pet” to “prettiest plant”. These can be shared via Slack or you can wait until a specific time at the end of the week to present the finalists and vote on a winner.
- Ugly Sweater Competition
Bringing holiday traditions to a remote event is a great way to get the group excited to participate. Ugly sweater parties are a mainstay in American culture, so why not do a virtual version with your people this year? Have everyone wear their ugliest sweater and line up in a virtual event space like Preciate. Then, have the designated judge go down the line and view each sweater. Give some time for deliberation, and pick the annual winner! If you want, you can mail the winner a reward such as a gift card to their favorite coffee place.
- Haiku Writing Contest
Haikus are a concise form of poetry that traditionally articulate appreciation for the present moment and a connection to nature. They follow a three line structure with the first being 5 syllables, the second 7 syllables, and the third 5 again. Tap into everyone’s creative side and make sure they are actively present by writing short little poems either together as a team or individually. When you’re done, you can vote on whose you liked best!