The benefits of team-building activities at work are numerous. Not only do they help employees develop better communication skills, but they also increase productivity, boost motivation, foster creative thinking, and ultimately lead to more efficient and successful collaboration — especially for remote teams or new teams who haven’t been working together for a while.
And while activities at work may have a bad rap for being, well, awkward, that doesn’t have to be the case. With a little planning, you can transform otherwise uncomfortable icebreaker games into fun activities that boost camaraderie and employee engagement while encouraging everyone to step outside of their comfort zone. Here’s what we recommend.
Company offsite team-building activities
As you’ll notice, the activities below range from active/outdoorsy to more laid-back in order to accommodate people’s preferences and comfort levels. Remember, while some may be more extroverted, there are likely some quieter introverts on the team as well. The goal is to host fun games that foster teamwork and a collaborative spirit for everyone.
1. Life stories
Have everyone on the team talk for ~5-8 minutes about one influential person in their life and how s/he has left an impact.
2. Top Golf
Top Golf has games for all skill levels — no golf experience required. Plus, there’s no shortage of food and drink options to keep your entire team entertained AND well-fed. Search here to find a location near you.
3. Scavenger hunt
If you have a large group, it’s best to consider activities that you can split off into smaller teams to do, such as scavenger hunts, which have the added bonus of encouraging your team to explore the surrounding neighborhood or city. There are a variety of companies and apps that plan customizable scavenger hunts (CityHUNT, Actionbound, Scavify, scavengerhunt.com), but it can also be fun (and rewarding!) to give it a go yourself.
4. Cooking class/Iron Chef competition
Another small group activity that we recommend is a cooking class, especially if you’re in a different city or country for your retreat. To spice things up with a little competition, consider hosting an Iron Chef-type activity where you challenge groups of 2-3 to come up with a meal using one or several featured ingredients.
For even more fun competition, consider paintball, which can take place in outdoor or indoor venues. Never tried it before? The crux of the game is simple: players are split into teams and tasked with eliminating opponents by hitting them with dye-filled capsules that splatter paint upon impact.
6. Relay races
Relay races are the ultimate way to get your team up and out. It requires collaboration, strategic decision-making, and occasionally problem-solving, but you wouldn’t know it from how much fun you’re having. Here are recommendations for specific games to play:
- Pass the ball: Each team gets a ball (or any other random object) that they have to pass down the line. The last person in line then runs to the front, after which the passing begins again.
- Egg drop: Each player gets a hard boiled egg, which they must carefully carry on a spoon from one point to another and back again. From there, the egg is passed to the next person on the team.
- Blindfold: One player from each team runs to a pole where they are blindfolded. Then, they have to hold onto the pole and circle it 10 times before making their way back, with the rest of the group guiding them by voice alone.
7. Escape room
Escape room is a game in which a team has to collaborate to decipher clues, solve puzzles, and tackle certain tasks within a specific time limit in order to progress from one room to the next and reach a common goal. There are companies nationwide — and around the world — that host these experiences. Depending on the size of your team and what type of escape room you’re looking for, Flok can make a recommendation for which would be best.
8. Un-conference “masterclass”
Team members volunteer to give chats about specific interests or areas of expertise. Sometimes, it’s work related — but it doesn’t always have to be. The team at Ophelia had success with this activity during their corporate retreat in Jamaica.
Short team-building activities for work meetings
Sometimes, you don't even have to leave the conference room to get your team bonding. Here are quick activities you can do with a group of people that won't disrupt the workday.
9. Five minutes of fame
For recurring weekly or monthly meetings, have one person end the meeting with a short, five-minute presentation about their life outside of work — where they grew up, how many siblings they have, what they were like in high school/college, what they do in their free time, whether they have any pets, etc. We recommend having the employee put together a few slides with photos to accompany the short presentation.
10. Two truths and one lie
At the end of a meeting, have each team member write their name down on a post-it note along with three facts: two of which are true and one of which is a lie. Instruct each employee to swap their post-it with someone they don’t know. Depending on how big your team is, you can have each employee guess which is the lie in front of the entire group or just have the pair discuss between themselves.
Need help planning your team-building event? Turn to Flok for expert guidance and end-to-end support.
Printable team-building activities (that are also cost-effective!)
Investing in company culture and work environment doesn’t have to come with a steep price tag. Here are some cost-effective team-building games:
11. 50 states challenge
Each team gets a print-out with a blank map of the United States. The team that can correctly locate all 50 states first wins! To take it up a notch, try a world map challenge and see who can name the most countries.
Create your own bingo board (here’s a great resource) with fun, out-of-the-box items for each square. Examples include… has more than one pet, is double jointed, knows all the words to a Backstreet Boys song, is celebrating a birthday this month, has binged the latest TV show on Netflix, loves jigsaw puzzles… you get the idea.
Divide into at least two teams. Each will nominate one team leader per round to draw the item either on large sheets of paper or a whiteboard while the rest of the team has to guess what’s being depicted. There’s usually a time limit of 60 seconds, with the team that guesses first coming out on top. We recommend this pictionary word generator tool, which allows you to sort by difficulty.
Virtual team-building activities
During the pandemic, teams at large corporations and smaller startups alike got creative with virtual activities that are effective in engaging group members on Zoom.
14. Book discussion
Send out a poll with a few book options for the team to weigh in (this way, there’s buy-in and you know the book is something your employees will want to read). After about a month or so, schedule a time to chat over Zoom about the book. We recommend nominating a facilitator to come prepared with a few questions that guide the discussion, but don’t be afraid to go with the flow depending on where the conversation veers — that’s the making of a great team book club. Here are some of our go-to picks:
- Fiction: The Immortalists (Chloe Benjamin), The Vanishing Half (Brit Bennett), Where The Crawdads Sing (Delia Owens), Imposter Syndrome (Kathy Wang)
- Non-Fiction/Self-help: Three Women (Lisa Taddeo), Untamed (Glennon Doyle), Range (David Epstein), Shoe Dog (Phil Knight)
Trivia can of course be played in person, but there are also options to host it virtually using platforms like triviamaker.com. Choose from hundreds of pre-made games, with trivia questions ranging in difficulty level. Plus, your employees won't even need to sign in or download anything!
Bingo, two truths and a lie, and five minutes of fame can also be conducted virtually.
For more on how to plan not just your team-building exercises but the ENTIRE retreat, turn to our step-by-step guide.