The happiest and most productive teams work as a cohesive whole, understand each other’s quirks and performance styles, and find it easy and natural to communicate and collaborate. However, team-building takes time and effort. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be boring.
Don’t be the Michael Scott of your workplace, relying upon clichéd team-building exercises that accomplish nothing. We at Brief have assembled the following list of super awesome games that even Stanley Hudson would enjoy.
Team Building Activities & Games
Supplies Needed: rope, puzzles or riddles
Instructions: Choose one person to play the zombie — ideally, someone who can commit to the part. Have everyone “lock” themselves into a conference room or multi-purpose room and devise a puzzle or riddle that the team members must complete to “unlock” the door. Tie the zombie to something in the corner of the room with 1 foot of reach. Once the game starts, the zombie should be let out another foot every five minutes, while the team scrambles to solve the puzzle or riddle.
This game encourages collaboration and creative problem-solving.
Battle of the Airbands
Supplies Needed: Bluetooth speaker and something to play music on
Instructions: Divide your team into “bands” and have them decide who will perform which role in the band. Have them choose and rehearse a song to lip-sync and “air guitar”/”air drum”/”air whatever” to. Then, let the Battle of the Airbands begin! If you’re doing this is at a retreat or otherwise have a longer timeframe for teams to prepare, consider having them bring costumes and props (no instruments, though).
This game encourages bonding, helps break up work cliques, and builds communication skills.
A Shrinking Vessel
Supplies Needed: something to mark a space on the floor
Instructions: Define an area on the floor with rope, a blanket, whatever, then have your team gather in the space. Gradually “shrink” space by moving the rope or blanket and have your team work together to figure out how to keep everyone in the space.
This game boosts creative problem-solving skills and busts personal bubbles.
Supplies Needed: paper, pens/markers, printouts of simple line drawings or basic shapes
Instructions: Divide everyone into pairs and have the pairs sit back-to-back. One partner holds a picture of a shape or simple image, and the other has the blank paper and pen. The first partner instructs the other on how to reproduce the image on the blank page, without giving explicit direction. For example, instead of saying “draw a square,” say, “Draw a horizontal line taking up half the page, then draw a perpendicular line from the end of that line.” Increase the challenge by giving simple drawings of animals or buildings to the first partner. The pair with the most accurate new picture wins.
This game supports communication skills.
Supplies Needed: a couple of dozen trivia questions focusing on your workplace
Instructions: Break out your people in trivia teams and have them answer questions about the workplace. The best questions tap into things that people see every day but might not think about, such as “How many paintings are on the walls in our office space?” or “What color are the tiles in the break room?” as well as things that only a few people may know, such historical facts about the company.
This game promotes bonding as well as an appreciation of your awesome workplace.
Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower
Supplies Needed: For each team: 20 strands of spaghetti (uncooked, please), a roll of masking tape, a yard of string, and one marshmallow
Instructions: Each team must build a tower with the marshmallow at the apex, using only their supplies. The tower must stand on its own for at least five seconds.
This game encourages collaboration and innovation.
Supplies Needed: varies
Instructions: Find a community service project, such as a cleanup effort or painting job, and have your team take a workday to complete it. Aim for something that matches your company’s values.
This activity supports collaboration and bonding.
Salt and Pepper
Supplies Needed: tape, pen and paper, and a list of famous pairs (think Holmes and Watson, Ben and Jerry, peanut butter and jelly, etc)
Instructions: Write down one of each pair onto a piece of paper and tape each piece of paper to someone’s back. Have the group mingle and ask yes-or-no questions of each other to figure out who they are. Once they learn their identity, they should seek out their other half — but not immediately reveal to them who they are! Once the pairs are all matched up, have them sit down and learn three things about each other.
This game is a great icebreaker that also promotes communication skills.
Supplies Needed: canvasses, painting supplies, dropcloth or covered work area
Instructions: Have your team paint whatever they’d like on their canvasses, telling them that you’ll hang them all together. To that end, team members might want to work together on pieces that complement each other or form part of a larger image.
This activity promotes creativity, collaboration, and bonding.
Afternoon at the Races
Supplies Needed: pinewood derby car kits
Instructions: Each team builds a car, then all teams race. For longer activities, have the teams paint, decorate, or otherwise enhance their car.
This activity promotes creativity, collaboration, and bonding.
Supplies Needed: two buckets, one large and one small, rope, bungee cord loop, 8 bungee cords, 8 balls
Instructions: Mark out a “toxic waste contamination zone” of at least 8 feet in diameter with the rope. The “toxic waste” is the balls in the small bucket. The large bucket should be 30 feet away from this. Each team must work together to use the bungees to transfer the balls to the large bucket. Anyone who crosses the rope or drops the ball will be contaminated, which they can represent by being blindfolded or holding one hand behind their back. If you have a lot of people, you can have the contaminated sit out the rest of the game. Dropping toxic waste balls will similarly result in injury, and spilling the entire bucket means everyone on the team is dead. Moderators: the key is to use the bungee loop to pick up the small bucket and dip the balls into the large bucket. The bungee cords are there to help control the tension on the floor.
This game encourages creative problem-solving.
Company Coat of Arms
Supplies Needed: paper and pens/markers
Instructions: Have each team create a coat of arms for your company. Each quadrant should represent recent achievements, company values, and aspiration.
This activity encourages creativity and gets people pumped about your workplace.
Supplies Needed: sticky notes or whiteboard
Instructions: Write workplace topics or themes on the board, e.g., “First day at work,” “Projects,” “Technology,” etc. Have everyone choose a theme or topic and tell a positive story related to it. You can also have them privately write down stories or memories on stickies and post them on the whiteboard.
This activity encourages bonding and appreciation of each other.
Supplies Needed: cardstock or construction paper, toothpicks, rubber bands, sticky notes, fan
Instructions: Divide your people into teams and select a leader for each group. The team leader has “frostbite” and cannot help build a shelter against a “winter storm,” and the rest of the team has “snow blindness” and cannot see. It’s up to the leader to instruct the “blind” team on how to build a shelter with the materials. Set a timer or increase the fan speed (or both!) to increase the challenge.
Supplies Needed: a large room and a bunch of random objects (staplers, tape dispensers, binders, etc.)
Instructions: Scatter random objects across the room to represent “mines,” and divide your people into pairs with one partner blindfolded. The seeing partner must use verbal instructions only to get their partner through the minefield.
This game teaches excellent communication skills.
Supplies Needed: eggs (uncooked), random “construction materials,” e.g., construction paper, rubber bands, sponges, etc., tarp or dropcloth
Instructions: Have your people form teams and design a carrier or contraption that will protect the egg if dropped from a certain height, using only the materials provided. Don’t forget to put down the tarp before you drop!
This game supports innovative thinking and problem-solving.
Supplies Needed: pen and paper
Instructions: Each group lists fun things to do inside or outside your workspace, then takes photos of those activities. Post the final photos on a board.
This activity encourages creativity and bonding.
Supplies Needed: random office objects
Instructions: Your team imagines that they have crashed on a desert island, then works together to choose 12 objects from around the office, then rank them according to their usefulness to their survival.
This game supports communication and creative problem-solving skills.
Supplies needed: string and tape
Instructions: Stretch two or more strings across a doorway at varying heights and secure with tape. Have team members work together to help get everyone through the “spider web” without touching it.
This game encourages excellent communication and a teamwork approach.
Paper Plane Contest
Supplies Needed: tape, cardstock or poster paper
Instructions: Have each team build a paper airplane, then launch them across a room or down a hallway and measure how far each one flew. The longest-flying plane wins!
This game encourages innovation and teamwork.
Supplies Needed: Jenga game
Instructions: Modify your Jenga game by writing activity on each block, e.g., “Do 10 pushups” or “Jump on one foot 15 times.” As each team member pulls a block from the Jenga tour, they have to perform that activity.
This game is a great icebreaker.
Is Your Team Remote? No Problem
Whose Office Is It, Anyway?
Supplies Needed: screen sharing tool
Instructions: Before starting the game, have each team member send a photo of their workspace to the moderator. Then, the moderator shares each photo as the rest of the team guess whose workspace it is via Brief.
Conference Call Trivia
Supplies Needed: trivia questions
Instructions: Play Trivial Pursuit or another trivia game via your conference call video chat via Brief.
Online Multiplayer Games
Supplies Needed: online multiplayer game
Instructions: Choose a game that emphasizes strategy and problem-solving, then let them duke it out.
Charades or Catchphrase via Video Hangout or Skype
Supplies Needed: none
Instructions: Use Brief’s Zoom integration to play Charades, Catchphrase, or other guessing games.
Online Karaoke Party
Supplies Needed: a source of karaoke music, e.g., YouTube
Instructions: Who says you have to be on stage to do karaoke? Play your track and sing into a Zoom call via Brief!
We hope you enjoy these super awesome team building activities. Don’t forget, taking time out at the start of a staff meeting or as a way to onboard new people is a great way to make your team a strong one who feels integrated into the workplace and armed with great communication and problem-solving skills.