When it comes to generating ideas that make a difference, successfully completing projects, and achieving sustainable growth, having an effective team is key – and team-building activities are how to build them.
After all, what’s better than a talented individual working towards company goals? A team of talented individuals working towards company goals.
Continue reading to learn more about the importance of team building, or jump straight to our list of team building activities that you can implement right away.
What is Team Building?
Team building is a continuous procedure focused on the development of team chemistry and synergy for better communication, cohesion, and collaboration.
Team building activities are games or activities that are designed to help people working together grow more efficient as a group. Along with employee appreciation, employee feedback, and employee incentive programs, it helps improve the overall employee experience in an organization.
These activities require individuals to use creative thinking, consider the opinions of others for a better, overall approach, and work together to solve problems.
As a result, the group builds better communication and problem-solving skills, as well as, improved team chemistry.
Moreover, members of the team gain an understanding of one another’s skills, which, in turn, helps define roles and delegate tasks.
Why is Team Building Important?
Let’s have a look at a few statistics to understand the significance of team building:
- In 2014 alone, companies worldwide invested more than $130 billion training and team-building activities.
- A survey by CIPD found that almost 95% of companies send their employees to different events, seminars, etc. for team building activities.
- A University of Stanford study found that employees that worked together were able to do so for 48% longer, and solved more problems at hand.
In addition to these stats, here is a table that simplifies the differences between companies that utilize free team building activities, and those that don’t.
|Use Team Building Activities||Don't Use Team Building Activities|
|Develop a cohesive team that shares a common goal, trust, respect, and understanding.||Develop a team that is fueled by toxic competitiveness and miscommunication.|
|Eliminate any bottlenecking in the company process.||Have a lot of bottlenecking in company processes due to a lack of communication and collaboration.|
|Experience increased efficiency and growth due to greater productivity and motivated employees.||Experience low to medium efficiency and stunted growth due to unmotivated employees.|
|Actively improve employee development.||Face severely stunted employee development.|
|Have engaged employees which leads to happy employees.||Have disengaged employees that can lead to unhappy and stressed out employees.|
When it comes to team building games for work, the chosen exercises and tasks need to, first and foremost, engage employees in order to fulfill their purpose.
A simple company survey on interests, preferences, and passions will provide you with personal insights into your employees. Such information can help you develop, or shortlist, more targeted team building activities – generating better results in the long run.
27 Free Team Building Activities to Engage Employees in 2022
Whether you’re looking to improve team communication, increase productivity, or boost employee engagement – team building activities are your best bet.
From creative methods to old school ideas, here are 27 team building activities for better team chemistry, efficiency, and results.
1. Life Highlights Game
First on our list is one of our many 5-minute team building activities. This game helps you get employees together, and break the ice.
To initiate this activity:
- Have all participating team members gather and sit down in one area.
- Allow 2 to 5 minutes for each participant to think about the best times in their lives.
- Entire team members then has to describe the 30 seconds they would always choose to relive, if they only have 30 seconds to live.
- They also need to explain why they chose those specific 30 seconds.
This activity provides team members a deeper look into one another’s mind, and will help them relate to each other in one way or another.
2. The Zombie Escape
This activity involves working together to solve puzzles and escape the ‘zombie.’ It’s a test of, both, problem-solving skills, team bonding and the ability to work together.
For this activity, you need to:
- Gather your team in a small room and make one team member the zombie.
- There are, in general, 3 to 5 boundaries – each boundary is crossed by the zombie after 5 minutes.
- The rest of the team has to solve 5 or more puzzles and riddles together before the zombie reaches them.
- If any member is ‘touched’ by the zombie, they’re done for.
- If the team solves all the puzzles before the zombie reaches them, they will have ‘escaped.’
The Zombie Escape is a fun activity where employees understand how to work together in times of high pressure or stress.
3. Two Truths and a Lie
Next on our list of free team building activities for work is a game of bluffs and poker faces. In Two Truths and a Lie, each team member has to tell, well, two truths and one lie.
Each participant should try and make their statements as similar as possible. The other team members then try to figure out which is the lie.
To carry out this activity:
- Gather at least 5 team members and have each of them take turns telling two truths and one lie.
- Each time someone has their turn, the other members will vote on which statement is the lie.
- Whoever recognizes the lie gets one point.
- Every member that gets the lie wrong provides one point to the liar.
The game is a great way to not just get to know one another, but also understand each other’s thought processes.
4. The Classification Game
The classification game aims to create a sense of commonality among team members, by dividing them into subgroups based on their likes and dislikes.
To do this activity:
- Gather your team members and have them state 5 things they like, and 5 things they dislike.
- Write down everyone’s responses.
- Ask them to divide themselves into subgroups of people with common likes and/or dislikes.
Note that a subgroup is not negative in any sense.
The purpose of this fun game is to provide team members with talking points that will help them develop a better relationship with one another.
Interested in learning more about team building? Take a look at our HR Certification Courses.
5. Back-to-Back Drawing
The next activity on our list is meant for teams of two. Back-to-Back Drawing requires one person to describe what they see, while their team member tries to draw out what they’re describing.
To perform this activity, follow these steps:
- Break your team into pairs and have them sit back-to-back.
- Give one teammate a pen and a sheet of paper.
- Give the other member an image and ask him/her to describe what the image is without revealing it.
- Ask the teammate with a pen and paper to draw the image based on the descriptions being provided.
- Once the drawing is complete, it is compared with the real image and each pair can share whether or not they had difficulty communicating.
The aim of this activity is to find and eliminate any hurdles in team communication employees may have.
6. Company Coat of Arms
This old school, yet engaging, method has employees design and create a coat of arms that either reflects their team, or their vision for the company.
Here’s how you can go about doing this:
- Provide your team with the necessary art supplies.
- Ask them to share different ideas, concepts, designs, etc. that reflect their characteristics as a team, symbols that represent their roles in the company, etc.
- Have them search for existing, creative coats of arms or symbols for inspiration.
- Ask team members to work together to paint, draw, sketch, or 3D print a company coat of arms.
- Hang the coat of arms in a prominent location in the office upon completion.
This activity is one of many accomplishments your employees experience as a team, while also allowing them to form a stronger understanding of one another’s creative thinking or abilities.
7. Office Trivia
In Office Trivia, employees take part in work-based trivia where they answer questions designed around the work they do.
To carry out this activity:
- You will need to develop questions based on your company, office, past company accomplishments, etc.
- The questions are simple based on observation or future milestones, such as ‘how many doormats do we have?’. However, all questions should be designed so each participant has a fair chance of answering correctly.
- Divide your team members into pairs, or small groups, and check to see which group answers the most trivia questions correctly.
This is healthy mental exercise that will help increase observational skills and foster relationships among team members.
8. Memory Wall
The idea behind this activity is to enable team members to share a positive memory from work. Employees can draw, share a picture, or write about their favorite memory.
To create a Memory Wall:
- Designate a location in the office for a Memory Wall.
- Write several topics on a board and have each employee choose one.
- Allow them to share a memory and then put it up on the Wall.
- The Memory Wall will then showcase each member’s most memorable times in the workplace.
Such an activity will help build bonds and solidify relationships by providing talking points and revealing common memories.
Next up on our list of team building exercises for work is another one for pairs. One member is blindfolded, while their teammate has to guide them through a ‘minefield’.
To play Minefield:
- Choose a large enough space and build an obstacle course using chairs, boxes, desks, etc.
- Divide the participants into pairs and blindfold one person in each pair.
- Have the teammate, who can see, guide their blindfolded partner through the minefield via verbal instructions.
- If you wish to challenge them, allow more than one pair on the minefield at the same time – and make it a race.
Minefield will test employees’ communication skills, their patience, and their ability to thrive (and work together) under pressure.
10. Paper Plane Challenge
This next activity may sound simple and out of place but it has a very specific purpose. The activity requires teams to build the longest flying paper airplane.
To start the challenge:
- Choose an open place that’s big enough to fly paper planes.
- Divide all participants into groups of 3 or 4.
- Give each team a sheet of paper and a time limit (let them use their phones or computers).
- The winning team is the one that creates the longest flying airplane.
The idea behind the Paper Plane Challenge is to see how teams utilize their time.
Do they choose to fold the paper plane in a complex design? Or do they to develop a simple one to complete it within the time limit?
By the end of the activity, you can find out how thorough your team members are in their process.
11. Sneak a Peek Game
Sneak a Peek requires teams to build a replica of what the activity leader has built, after taking only a single glance at the structure. This game tests leadership skills of the team leader as well as group members.
Here’s a step-by-step process of the activity:
- Provide your team with some blocks of Lego.
- Build a structure yourself and hide it from all teams.
- Choose one team member from each team to come and look at your structure for 10 seconds.
- They will then go back and try to build a replica with their teams.
- Each replica will then be compared to the original structure, as well as, other replicas.
The idea is to see whether one person can guide the rest of their teams on a specific task – when that person is the one who has been briefed on it.
This tests the team’s communication skills, memory, and their ability to follow the instructions of fellow team members.
12. This is Better Than That
This next activity is all about rating and organizing tools and techniques according to a given situation.
It requires teams to organize random objects, according to their usefulness, for a hypothetical scenario created by the activity leader.
To carry out this team building activity:
- Divide your team into groups and give them an imaginary survival scenario (stuck in a jungle, cast away on an island, etc.).
- Provide them with five random objects that would have no use in the scenario.
- Ask them to rate the usefulness of the tools, and give them a time limit to do so.
- After they’re done, ask them why they chose that specific order, and whether or not they think the tools might help them.
This will allow members to work together towards a common issue and become creative with their solutions.
It will also develop improvisational skills in individual team members – employees can learn how to get out of unwanted or unknown situations, and conquer them.
13. Classify This
Classify This requires team members to classify random objects into similar categories.
For example, if you have a pencil, a keyboard, and a fridge, you might classify the first two as ‘writing instruments’.
To start classifying:
- Choose 20 to 30 random objects from around the office, unrelated.
- Make small groups of your team and ask each entire group to classify the given objects into four different categories – set a time limit to do so.
- After they’re done, ask the groups why and how they came up with a particular grouping.
This tests the members’ ability to find similar patterns in unrelated situations with the help of fellow members. It can help employees find hidden trends, patterns, and agendas during work.
14. What’s on Your Desk
What’s on Your Desk is our next engaging team building activity. It has teams turn a random object on their desk into a product.
For a correct approach to this activity:
- Have each team member grab an item from their desk.
- Divide all participants into groups and ask each one to choose one item as their ‘product’ – make them do so in under a few minutes.
- They will then have to give it a creative name, make a logo, and develop a rudimentary marketing plan for it.
- Each group will then present their products, discuss the pros and cons, and discuss ideas to improve.
This activity bolsters a team’s ability to improvise while working together, while challenging them to develop quality work in a limited amount of time.
15. Team Timeline
In Team Timeline, each employee helps create a visual timeline that displays important moments for the company, as well as, their own lives.
To create the perfect team timeline:
- Have the team build a timeline; from the company’s inception to present day. Also, have them note down one another’s date of birth and joining.
- Each participant will then write down a few important moments from their lives on the timeline.
- Compile the timeline, and put it up in a prominent location in the workplace.
This activity provides employees with a look into one another’s lives, while relating them to the company. It also allows employees to feel connected with the company, as well as, fellow team members.
16. The Perfect Square
The Perfect Square tests each individuals ability to work together with limited utility and communication.
This activity sees team members convert a circle-shaped rope into a square, while they’re blindfolded.
To make the perfect square, or at least try to do so:
- Have each member sit in a circle while they’re blindfolded.
- Put a rope in front of them, and form it into a circle.
- Hand each member a part of the rope.
- Ask them to make a square out of the rope.
This team building activity explores whether employees can work together to accomplish a common goal.
17. What’s My Name?
This next activity requires employees to deduce which character they’ve been given by questioning fellow team members.
Each participant has a specific character assigned to them without their knowledge. Their job is to figure out their character through cross-questioning, analyzing answers, and similar tactics.
To carry out this activity:
- Write down the names of famous people on pieces of paper and attach them to the backs of each participant.
- Each participant can now see the names of all characters, except their own.
- Employees can talk and ask each other questions to figure out who they are.
- Any participant that figures out who they are can exit the activity.
The purpose of this activity is to increase dialogue among team members and test their deduction abilities.
It can also serve as an icebreaker between employees who don’t interact as much during work hours.
18. Show & Tell
Everyone is familiar with Show & Tell from back in the day – but what did we have to show back then?
As adults, we’ve traveled the world, experienced different cultures, and have been around the block. In the modern day workplace, Show & Tell can make for a fascinating time.
The rules, however, remain the same:
- Have each employee bring something of importance from home.
- Allow them to share what it is and why it is important to them.
This activity is a great way to have team members relate to one another, understand each other better, and learn about one another’s lives.
19. Scavenger Hunt
Yet another activity, scavenger hunts, allow employees to form bonds, work together, and have fun.
To set up your very own office scavenger hunt:
- Divide your team into smaller teams or groups.
- Place random objects around the office, work with existing ones, or plan it in advance with custom/themed items just for the hunt.
- Give the teams a list of the items and provide them with well-written clues or hints.
- Set a time limit, and start hunting.
Fun activities such as scavenger hunts build better teams by creating memorable moments in the workplace.
20. The Barter Puzzle
The Barter Puzzle requires employees to make sense of jumbled up jigsaw puzzles, and work as a team to put them back together.
The barter puzzle is time-consuming, but here’s how it goes:
- Divide your team into smaller groups, and assign each group a puzzle.
- Give each team pieces of other puzzles, so that every opposing team has 25% of all the jigsaw puzzles in the activity.
- The teams will have to work together to figure out which pieces belong to which jigsaw puzzle. Set a time limit for this.
- The team that completes their entire jigsaw puzzle first, wins.
The idea is to create a process of communication among people with different pieces/goals.
The activity aims to reduce inter-departmental communication lag to help the business process remain efficient.
21. The Team Journal
The Team Journal is a collection of the thoughts of all team members, in a shared journal that they design.
To create the ideal team journal:
- Get a blank journal and stationery supplies.
- Ask each employee to contribute to the journal in their own way.
- Employees can draw or write anything they want.
- Keep the journal in a specific location and allow employees to jot or draw anything down as they please.
Keeping a team journal builds trust and respect among team members. It also lets each employee showcase themselves and share their thoughts with the team.
22. Dare Jenga
Next up on our list of team building activities for work, is a game of Jenga, except with a dare written on each block.
To play dare Jenga:
- Take any Jenga set and write dares down on each block (dares like ‘tell a joke,’ ‘stand on your hands,’ etc.).
- Stack the Jenga and have participants remove building blocks as if they would normally.
- Each employee must carry out the dare written on the block they remove.
This activity is for fun and a great relationship builder. It also helps employees become more comfortable with their fellow team members.
23. The One Question Icebreaker
The One Question Icebreaker is an effective tool for dispersing any feelings of awkwardness.
The activity requires each member to answer one question of their choosing from a list of questions.
To break the ice:
- Develop a set of questions and give them to your team.
- Each employee will choose one and answer it to their liking.
- There are no wrong answers.
This activity aims to spark a conversation among team members and have them engage with each other.
24. Book Club
The next activity aims to develop a platform where team members can share and discuss their love for books. The Book Club is a weekly activity and should have a predesignated time slot.
To make and grow your office book club:
- Designate a day and a room to the book club every week where team members gather and read, discuss, and share books.
- Give an appropriate name to the book club.
- It’s best to provide some books from the company to get things going.
- Allow any employee to join the book club.
Book clubs are a great way to socialize and develop strong relationships among employees.
It also fosters a healthy learning environment and develops language skills, listening skills, and enhances knowledge.
25. Board Game Tournaments
A great way to pass the time and have fun together is to play board games that everyone is familiar with.
Board game tournaments is held with Scrabble, Chess, Monopoly, etc.
To organize board team building game tournaments:
- Buy different board games and ask employees which board game they’d like a tournament on.
- Choose the one agreed upon by the majority and create a tournament bracket.
- Schedule the matches and determine a winner.
- Tournaments are monthly or bi-annually.
This activity is for laying off steam and developing friendships among employees. It also fosters healthy in-house competition that leads to individual and team growth.
26. Sports Outings
One of the most effective team building event is to take your team out.
It’s also effective to play sports during these outings, and best to choose a sport that everyone can take part in without feeling left out.
For an engaging sports outing:
- Buy sports supplies like footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, etc.
- Take your team to a park, beach, or a familiar open field.
- Set up different matches and let the team have at it.
A team that can play sports together can work together through anything. You may also foster a company culture of physical activity to develop awareness on the importance of physical health.
27. The Meta Simple Team Building Exercise
This activity is a the culmination of all others. The idea is to develop a new team building activity based on previous experiences.
The purpose of this activity is to let the team decide, and create their own activities, so they are involved and willing to participate.
To build the ultimate team building activity:
- Gather your team and discuss the team building activities you have already carried out.
- Ask them to share their opinions on the best and the worst ones.
- Allow them some time to develop their own team-building activities based on one another’s feedback.
The team makes fun activities on their own and participate themselves.
Building a Better Team
All the free team building activities mentioned have a singular goal – to foster inter-team harmony and synergy. This will always result in increased productivity, motivation, and efficiency in the business process.
While any job in the corporate world should be tackled in a professional manner, it doesn’t hurt to lay off some steam and develop better relationships with your team members.
All in all, though team building games are time-consuming and require effort to execute, the results are always worth it.
If you are new to Human Resources and are looking to break into a HR role, we recommend taking our HR Certification Courses, where you will learn how to build your skillset in human resources, build your human resources network, craft a great HR resume, and create a successful job search strategy.
Josh Fechter is the founder of HR.University. He’s a certified HR professional and has managed global teams across 5 different continents including their benefits and payroll. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.