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30 team building exercises for the 2023 workplace

January 25, 2023 - 24 min read
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    Team building activities are a common way to build camaraderie between workers and to develop personal relationships between team members. Though they aren’t always loved by all, team building activities do benefit employees and organizations as whole. So finding and organizing activities your team members will actually enjoy is an important step in cultivating and fostering a thriving company culture.

    A team-building event can form the foundation of improved morale among colleagues. Management can identify leadership strengths among employees. Co-workers will learn the value of co-operation. They are also able to display abilities outside of work skills. Who knew your account executives were such enthusiastic singers?

    Despite their benefits, team-building activities aren’t always welcome. 

    This guide will share activities that can boost employee engagement and participation. To keep participants interested, try the following exercises at your next team meeting or offsite for colleagues to try together.

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    Why are team-building exercises important?

    Team building activities are a core component of work life. Any company invested in developing effective workers should engage in these activities. These opportunities for team bonding foster friendship and community within the workplace. In turn, this helps to improve worker satisfaction and happiness. Around 13% of employees assert that they are more productive when happy

    Team building events are a continuous process. They are necessary to form stronger ties between workers and the company. When team building is a workplace staple, these are common benefits:

    1. Streamlines your onboarding system

    Fun team-building events are a great way to introduce new hires to colleagues and company culture. New employees enjoy a first-hand look at how co-workers interact. In record time, they learn the ease with which superiors and their reports communicate. 

    These events show that a company prioritizes seamless integration into work teams. By breaking the ice in a fun way, new recruits learn the ropes in a quicker, more laidback environment.

    2. Improves communication 

    Proper communication skills are a valuable tool in the workplace. The work environment thrives when employees are equipped with the right information. When communication channels suffer, it can reduce efficiency and collaboration.

    Team building exercises can target communication between team members. When colleagues co-operate on tasks, this can teach the basics of communication.

    3. Boosts morale

    Employees feel appreciated when their affairs outside work are put into consideration. When a company organizes a team-building event, it passes a message. It shows that management considers workers’ interests, strengths, and experience.

    Workers are likely to show enthusiasm in a workplace that champions their welfare. These exercises also increase individual confidence in executing tasks. Colleagues learn to rely on the rest of the team based on how well they handle team-building exercises. After all, if someone shows an uncanny knack for escape rooms, they’re probably the first one you’ll think of for in-office problem-solving.

    4. Increases trust

    Team building is often carried out with a common goal in mind. Watching how colleagues handle wins and challenges builds trust. 

    Colleagues become aware of character. They recognize colleagues that can be trusted to work without constant check-ins. They may also identify co-workers that can grow from regular check-ins and support. Team building exercises form building blocks for a great team anchored in trust.

    5. Encourages creativity

    Team building exercises encourage workers to use different measures to fulfill tasks. Colleagues think outside the box during tasks together. Workers deviating from strict rules can encourage creativity in work projects.


    30 team-building exercises employees will actually enjoy

    Team building activities to break the ice

    Icebreakers are ideal team-building exercises for new hires in the workplace. They help recruits adjust to the workplace and new recruits.

    These events are a fun way to welcome new hires into an unfamiliar environment. They include activities such as:

    1. Two truths and a lie

    Group size: 5-8

    Purpose of activity: to build familiarity between colleagues 

    Time commitment: 30 minutes

    New recruits may struggle to navigate different personalities in the office. To ease into these interactions, companies can organize a game of two truths and a lie. 

    This game requires participants to share two honest events, and one lie. This can take place over an arranged break or during lunchtime. 

    While gathered, each person presents the truths and lies. It is then up to the listeners to guess what may be true or false.

    Two truths and a lie is an easy game to break the ice between workers and a new colleague. They push colleagues to get personal, forming an easy bond.

    2. The one-word icebreaker game

    Group size: 4-5 people per group

    Purpose of activity: to understand feelings towards a work affair

    Time commitment: 20 minutes

    This game provides an informal avenue to learn employee thoughts on an aspect of work. This could be a new policy, company culture, or even the methods of a supervisor.

    The one-word icebreaker game requires a group or groups made of 4-5 people. Within that group, each member is asked to give a one-word descriptor of a work event. 

    For honest conversation, each group has a few minutes to discuss the reasons behind their chosen word. After discussions, each group will settle on a chosen word to be shared with other groups.

    When these words are shared, they will prompt open discussion between the groups.

    3. Office trivia

    Group size: 5-20 people

    Purpose of activity: to understand feelings towards a work affair

    Time commitment: 30-45 minutes

    An unfamiliar environment can feel alienating to a new recruit. A trivia session where players answer lighthearted questions can be a warm welcome.

    These questions can quiz on the office’s preferred brand of coffee beans. Likewise, queries on colleagues that add cereal before milk, etc, are fun additions.

    Office trivia is breezy, with more serious inquiries reserved for appropriate scenarios. The aim is to open up the office as a friendly environment for new recruits.

    4. A penny for your thoughts

    Group size: 5-7 people

    Purpose of activity: to build personal relationships between workers

    Time commitment: 35 minutes

    This game provides an interesting spin on icebreakers. It requires pennies or coins with listed years and a container to place them in.

    With the coins in the container, members of the group will reach in, and identify the year inscribed. The colleague will then share a personal event from that time.

    This activity can create a bond between teammates. ​​Colleagues build relationships when they learn personal facts about team members. 

    4. What do we have in common?

    Group size: 20-50 people

    Purpose of activity: to encourage interactions between large organizations

    Time commitment: 40-60 minutes

    Personal employee engagement in large organizations can be challenging. When departments and personnel rarely interact, a simple exercise can improve relations.

    The common game can be carried out in-person or as virtual team building. Over the course of a company lunch, or zoom call, members from different groups are placed in units.

    Within these units, members are to find out between 5-10 things they share in common.

    It could be a favorite pizza flavor or a shared love for classical music. Considerable probing takes place to learn about shared experiences. This will push colleagues to learn a large amount of information in a short period.

    5. Whodunit

    Group size: 5-10 people

    Purpose of activity: to improve the knowledge colleagues have of team members

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    This game offers great insight into the extracurricular activities teammates engage in. Whodunit requires a small group of people to write on a note, one interesting thing they’ve done. These include activities like the past winner of a food-eating competition, skydiving, etc.

    This note is then placed into a container that other members of the group pick from.

    Teammates are required to guess which colleague fits the bill of the note selected. They will give reasons why opening discussions as to why this may be correct or wrong. 

    6. Lost on a desert island

    Group size: 5-20 people

    Purpose of activity: to get teammates excited for upcoming goals

    Time commitment: 45-50 minutes

    Team members of any age can enjoy learning more about their colleagues. The premise of this game centers on players lost and stuck on a deserted island. 

    They share with each other, one item they would bring along with them and why. 

    This gives co-workers an intimate look at objects and feelings held dear by group members.


    Team building activities for teamwork

    Activities that encourage teamwork boost elements that ensure a team is healthy. With the right exercises, team members learn the value of communication and partnership. Colleagues can build trust when executing tasks. 

    7. The marshmallow challenge

    Group size: groups of 4 members

    Purpose of activity: to test how creatively teams work together

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    Team members are given 20 sticks of spaghetti, one marshmallow, plus one yard of string and tape.

    Using these materials, each team is to create the tallest freestanding structure possible.

    Colleagues are pushed to work together on a creative, lighthearted task. But while this activity is laid back, members learn the strong effects of collaboration.

    When the structures are built, players determine the winner using a measuring tape.

    8. Frostbite

    Group size: groups of five or six people

    Purpose of activity: to encourage co-operation between team members

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    This game will require a team leader and subordinates. Also necessary are sticky notes or post-its, toothpicks, thick cardboard boxes, and a fan.

    Ignoring the office or other environment, participants pretend to be in the arctic. They are being guided on an arctic exhibition which they need to survive. Team members are to build the shelter for their survival. In a democratic setting, teammates elect a leader to guide them through this activity.

    The team lead will give instructions on how this structure should be erected. He is unable to take part due to frostbite suffered during the journey. While blindfolded, team members build the structure using the leader's verbal instructions.

    This task will teach supervisory abilities and instruction-taking skills. Members also learn the value of time management during tasks.

    9. Human knot

    Group size: 8-16 people

    Purpose of activity: to build collaboration between team members

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    This game is ideal for large teams and can really push people outside of their comfort zones. While gathered in a circle, team members join right and left hands with a person opposite them. Teammates cannot hold hands with the person next to them.

    When all members have their hands in a knot, the game requires this knot to be untangled without releasing their hands. It requires communication and careful instruction to be successful.

    The first team to stand in a perfect circle with hands joined wins.

    10. Gutterball

    Group size: 8-20 people

    Purpose of activity: to build collaboration between team members

    Time commitment: 30-60 minutes

    In this game, team members are tasked with moving a ball from one end of the room to another. This game can be made more challenging by including obstacles throughout the game. 

    11. The egg drop

    Group size: groups of 5-8 people

    Purpose of activity: to promote teamwork between team members

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    The egg drop is a fun activity to determine how well team members work together. Using different materials, teammates build a structure to support a falling egg.

    The team that builds a surface to withstand the fragile egg drop wins. It’s however important for each participant to feel like a winner. Team members can discuss collaborative skills learned from the task.

    12. Scavenger hunt

    Group size: 8-16 people

    Purpose of activity: to work together to find an object

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    A scavenger hunt is a great opportunity for seasoned and new workers to explore the company (or conference room). The physical and factual parts of the office can be understood when hunts are well executed.

    For team-building, colleagues go in search of hidden facts and questions around the office.

    This can be achieved with a single team of co-workers. In larger organizations, groups or departments can compete against each other.

    13. Birthday lineup

    Group size: 8-15 people

    Purpose of activity: to show how well team workers can co-operate

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    This game will begin with groups of 8-15 people standing side-by-side. Once in a file, they will re-shuffle in line with their birthdates. Team members are filed according to months and days.

    However, this should be communicated without speaking. The game is played by using signs and symbols to interact. Ideally, the entire group will be standing in order of their birthdays by the end of the exercise.

    This exercise reveals how well teammates can coordinate on tasks.

    14. Perfect square

    Group size: groups of 6

    Purpose of activity: to apply another form co-operation 

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    In groups of six, team members form a circle around a rope. They are blindfolded to begin the game.

    The members will then form a square by communicating in different ways.

    This will offer practice on effective interaction among partners.

    15. Play board games or puzzles

    Group size: 8-20 people

    Purpose of activity: to collaborate with members

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    Office-friendly board games and jigsaw puzzles are a fun spin on collaboration. There are many work puzzles, strategy, or icebreaker games for colleagues to attempt. Board games are usually designed for smaller teams. If you have a large group, you might have to play multiple games, split the entire team into smaller teams, or get creative with the rules.

    Team building activities to boost creativity

    Creativity comes in many forms. Most any activity that encourages individuals to think outside of the box will ignite their creative minds. These games call upon communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills.

    16. Classify this

    Group size: 8-16 people

    Purpose of activity: to build collaboration between team members

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    This is a chance for team members to express creative thinking for tasks. Different objects are grouped together. These can be items around the office. Coffee supplies, paperweights, water bottles, etc will do. Around 20 objects are used when playing.

    In groups of twos or fours, team members will classify the objects into a group that links them all. The groups find common denominators in each item. 

    Each group elects a speaker to explain the reasoning behind each cluster.

    17. Salt and Pepper

    Group size: Pairs of 2

    Purpose of activity: to build collaboration between team members

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    This game is played in pairs. Each group is labeled as a pair e.g macaroni and cheese, water and oil, peanut butter and jelly. Every group member will have one name taped to his back.

    To find out what is written, each player will ask five yes or no questions. The pairs will then find each other.

    18. Sales pitch

    Group size: 8 people

    Purpose of activity: to build collaboration between team members

    Time commitment: 45 minutes

    Team members can engage in quick reasoning through a sales pitch. This exercise follows each person as they select one item from the office. For the next 15 minutes, they'll craft a sales pitch promoting it.

    Each object will be given a name, logo, and motto. They’ll also give a whiteboard presentation explaining why their fountain pen, sheets of paper, or office pin should be patronized.

    19. A compliment circle

    Group size: 8-16 people

    Purpose of activity: to share different ways team members appreciate each other

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    A team can be built and strengthened from regular recognition. While gathered in a circle, team members acknowledge the effort made by colleagues. It can be anything from thanks for being a listening ear, to efficiency in deliverables.


    Strategic team building activities

    These exercises demonstrate how each person views the workplace. Strategic exercises target brand identity in the office. Employees swap ideas on what they believe about the company’s goals.

    This opens up an environment to stay on track with company missions. New team members can review details and key learnings from orientation, game show style.

    20. Company Concentration

    Group size: 3-6 people

    Purpose of activity: to get teammates excited for upcoming goals

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    This game is a work-friendly version of Concentration. Cards containing names and images of colleagues may be made. Cards may also have company facts like the logo, mission statement, motto, values, etc. 

    Each player then selects two cards to see if they match. The quickest to match the cards wins.

    21. Minefield

    Group size: 8-16 people

    Purpose of activity: to improve trust and partnership between colleagues

    Time commitment: 45-50 minutes

    To play this game, around 20 small objects are required. This can be anything from lunchboxes to coffee mugs. In pairs of two, one blindfolded person will be led by a seeing partner. They are to navigate the obstacle course using clear communication.

    22. All the news

    Group size: 8-20 people

    Purpose of activity: to get teammates excited for upcoming goals

    Time commitment: 45-50 minutes

    This game encourages team members to get excited about projected goals. In groups of 3-6, team members in a department share headlines of potential feats.

    These headlines are shared as in a newspaper article. As a unit or through a spokesperson, the measures required to reach this are reviewed.

    This may be played by in-office workers and members of remote teams.

    23. Slideshow

    Group size: 8-20 people

    Purpose of activity: to apply team effort when exploring an idea

    Time commitment: 45-50 minutes

    Team members select any topic of their choice. In specified groups, each idea is analyzed and presented. This highlights that team members can work together, even away from usual tasks.

    Slideshow exercises also help to hone presentation skills.

    24. Shrinking vessel

    Group size: 8-10 people

    Purpose of activity: to explore adaptability within the team

    Time commitment: 30 minutes

    The shrinking vessel is ideal for small teams. The idea is that players are on a sinking ship, and are required to huddle close. Members are placed within a boundary marked by a rope. The game requires that the boundary is tightened. This requires creativity and athletic ability for members to stay within confines.

    25. Memory wall

    Group size: 8-20 people

    Purpose of activity: to recall special moments in the office and their effects on the team

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    The memory wall is made up of key points witnessed by team members. Written on a sticky note or across a whiteboard, team members recall 

    26. Guess who

    Group size: groups of three to four people

    Purpose of activity: to build connections between team members

    Time commitment: 45-50 minutes

    Led by a moderator, team members are split into groups. Using clues shared by the coordinator, each group will decide who may be knocking on their door.

    The person knocking may be a member of the company being described. Team members may also take on celebrity personalities to be decoded.

    Problem-solving team building activities

    These exercises permit team members to find unique ways to collaborate. Participants will be able to flex their communication skills and expand their problem-solving capabilities.

    27. Murder-mystery games

    Group size: 8-50 people

    Purpose of activity: to encourage imaginative ways of collaboration

    Time commitment: 45-50 minutes

    Here, team members cooperate to understand clues and rules of the game. Through clear communication, the successful team members uncover the story behind the crime.

    28. Bridge build

    Group size: two teams made of 8-16 people

    Purpose of activity: to promote teamwork through challenges

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    Team members are required to practice effective communication. Either team is required to construct one-half of the bridge using provided materials. However, each team member must participate in either half. Members are also prevented from speaking. They are to co-operate to build their design.

    29. Plot me out

    Group size: groups of 4-6 people

    Purpose of activity: to build a rapport between colleagues

    Time commitment: 20-30 minutes

    Movie and television show buffs will enjoy this game. Here, a moderator narrates the plot of a movie. Players grouped into teams are to guess what movie or television show is described.

    This provides a laid back atmosphere for workers to relax and interact.

    Grow your skills through team building activities

    Team building games can be a fun way to exercise new skills, build camaraderie, and get to know one another. Whether meeting virtually or in-person, find a way to incorporate these team-building activities into your workspace or next retreat. People will benefit from the opportunity to change up their routines. They’ll collaborate in different ways and get to know each other — and themselves — better.

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    Published January 25, 2023

    Allaya Cooks-Campbell

    BetterUp Staff Writer

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