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25 Best Team-Building Activities in the Workplace in 2024

April 18, 2024

Team building might seem like a non-essential business exercise, but it's a valuable investment in employee loyalty, retention, performance, and satisfaction. That's not just hyperbole, either—team-building drives results, and study after study shows it.

However, effective team building is an investment, and it's up to you to maximize your return. Fortunately, you won't need an accounting degree to make that happen.

Below, we'll explain everything you need to know about effective team building activities to help you choose the most productive activities and exercises to deepen trust, encourage team collaboration, and drive collective success.


What Is Team Building?

Team building is a strategic process designed to improve interpersonal relations, define roles within teams, and enhance social interactions in a professional setting.

It's about bringing people together with a purpose, intentionally creating experiences to foster understanding, empathy, and improved collaboration, and cooperation among team members.

The team-building process often gets stereotyped as awkward get-to-know-you games, but that's a disservice to the practice. Team building should include:

Your team-building activities should range from problem-solving tasks and physical challenges to creative workshops and retreats. You should carefully choose each activity to address specific objectives, such as breaking down barriers, building trust, resolving conflicts, or boosting morale.

While the ultimate goal of a team-building exercise is to improve overall team performance, the benefits extend far beyond productivity. Team building (done right) leads to a more engaged, motivated, and satisfied workforce, contributing to a positive company culture where every member feels valued and connected.

Why Is Team Building Important for Your Company?

Cohesive teams aren't just nice-to-haves—they're essential company assets. Even the most successful companies and business models can't stand up if they don't have well-functioning teams and positive office culture. Just ask WeWork.

Here are a few reasons why team building should be an integral part of your company's strategy:

  • Enhances Communication: Team building breaks down barriers between employees, encouraging open and effective communication. Improved communication leads to clearer understanding, fewer misunderstandings, and more efficient collaboration - leading to an all-over more successful team.
  • Boosts Morale and Reduces Stress: Engaging in fun and relaxing activities can significantly boost morale, reduce stress levels, and increase overall job satisfaction. A happy team is more productive and less prone to burnout.
  • Promotes Creativity and Problem-Solving: Employees can think more freely and innovate by stepping out of the regular office environment and engaging in creative challenges. Team building activities that encourage creative thinking can lead to novel solutions to business challenges.
  • Fosters Trust and Collaboration: Participating in trust-building activities enhances the sense of reliability and dependability among team members.
  • Identifies Leadership Qualities: Team building exercises can reveal natural team leaders and highlight diverse leadership styles. Understanding these dynamics can aid in talent development and succession planning.
  • Encourages Adaptability and Flexibility: Facing new and unexpected challenges together helps teams learn to adapt and be flexible. These qualities are essential for navigating the fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape.
  • Improves Employee Retention: Companies that invest in team building show their commitment to providing a supportive and engaging work environment. This attracts top talent and plays a significant role in retaining them.


25 Best Team-Building Activities in the Workplace

The right mix of team-building strategies and activities can transform individual employees into a unified force. However, it's all about quality—not quantity.

Below, we've highlighted plenty of diverse team-building ideas, but don't feel obligated to use them all. Each will work better for different team dynamics, industries, ages, and personalities.

For example, one activity might work better for a marketing team, while another might be suited for a virtual team.

Choose the ones you think will resonate best with your team, and don't be afraid to repeat one that performs above expectations.


1. Escape Room Challenge

Escape rooms require a group to work together under pressure, solve puzzles, and decipher clues to achieve a common goal: escaping the room. This activity tests and strengthens problem-solving skills, encourages communication, and fosters teamwork in a fun, high-stakes environment.

Employees must rely on other team members' strengths and collaborate closely, mirroring the dynamics of collaborative tasks needed in workplace projects.


2. Office Olympics

Office Olympics (inspired by Jim from The Office) is a series of competitive events tailored to the office environment. These activities get everyone involved and laughing, from chair races and paper plane contests to trivia challenges. It's a great way to introduce new team members to the whole company culture.

Here is a list of fun ideas:

  • Chair Relay Race:Teams compete to push their office chairs across a designated course, passing a baton or office supplies between teammates.
  • Paper Plane Contest: Participants craft paper airplanes and compete to see whose plane can fly the farthest or perform the best tricks.
  • Office Trivia Challenge: Teams answer questions about company history, colleagues' quirks, and industry knowledge to earn points.
  • Desk Decorating Contest: Employees decorate their desks or cubicles according to a theme, and judges select the most creative or themed setup.
  • Rubber Band Archery: Using rubber bands and makeshift bows, participants aim to hit targets placed around the office.
  • Keyboard Typing Speed Challenge: Participants compete to see who can type a passage or set of words the fastest with minimal errors.

It's an excellent opportunity for employees to bond over shared fun, celebrate victories, and learn to support one another in losses, boosting morale and fostering team cohesion. Plus, it requires little to no recognition budget.


3. Cooking Challenges

Whether it's a potluck where everyone brings a dish to share or a cooking competition where teams create culinary delights, food has a unique way of bringing people together. Here are some cooking challenges to consider:

  • Mystery Ingredient Challenge: Contestants are given a mystery ingredient and tasked with creating a dish using it as the star ingredient.
  • Budget Battle: Contestants are given a strict budget and must create a gourmet meal within that limit.
  • Cultural Fusion Challenge:Contestants must combine two or more cuisines into one cohesive dish.
  • One-Pot Wonder: Contestants must create a delicious meal using only one pot or pan.
  • Speed Cooking Challenge: Contestants have limited time to prepare and cook a dish.
  • Vegan/Vegetarian Challenge: Contestants must create a flavorful dish without using any animal products.

These activities allow team members to connect on a personal level, share stories, and discover common interests, all of which contribute to a stronger, more cohesive team atmosphere.


4. Volunteer Day

Organize a day for the team to volunteer at a local charity or community project to strengthen team bonds through shared values and altruism. This will allow employees to see one another in a different light, fostering empathy and understanding.< Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Habitat for Humanity: Spend the day volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, assisting in building affordable housing for families in need. Tasks may include painting, landscaping, or construction work.
  • Community Clean-Up: Organize a team for a local park clean-up or neighborhood beautification project. This could involve picking up litter, planting trees or flowers, or painting benches or fences.
  • Food Bank Volunteer Day: Spend time volunteering at a local food bank, sorting donations, packing food boxes, or assisting with distribution to families in need.
  • Animal Shelter Assistance: Volunteer as a team at an animal shelter, helping to care for animals, clean kennels or cages, walk dogs, or assist with adoption events.
  • Senior Center Visits:Plan a visit to a local senior center to spend time with elderly residents. Activities could include playing games, reading to residents, or simply engaging in conversation and companionship.
  • Homeless Shelter Support: Volunteer at a homeless shelter, assisting with meal preparation and service, organizing donations, or participating in outreach efforts to support individuals experiencing homelessness.

5. Workshops

Host workshops to help your team focus on professional development or creative skills. Whether you bring in an expert for a leadership seminar, a creative writing workshop, or a coding boot camp, these team development activities challenge employees to learn and grow together.

Here are some ideas for team identity-building workshops:

  • Leadership and Management Training: Invite a professional leadership coach or consultant to conduct a workshop on leadership skills, effective communication, conflict resolution, and team management techniques.
  • Creative Writing Workshop: Bring in a published author or experienced writer to lead a workshop on storytelling, creative writing techniques, and effectively communicating ideas through written expression.
  • Coding Boot Camp: Organize a coding boot camp led by experienced developers to teach team members coding fundamentals, programming languages, and web development skills.
  • Design Thinking Workshop: Host a design thinking workshop facilitated by a design expert to teach employees problem-solving methodologies, empathy-driven design, and innovative approaches to product development.
  • Public Speaking and Presentation Skills: Offer a workshop focused on improving public speaking and presentation skills, including techniques for overcoming stage fright, delivering engaging presentations, and crafting compelling messages.


6. "Shark Tank" Pitch Session

Inspired by the popular TV show, a "Shark Tank" pitch session encourages teams to develop innovative ideas for new products, services, or solutions that could benefit the company. Teams work together to flesh out their ideas and then present them to a panel of "sharks" (who could include company leaders or external experts).

This activity fosters creativity, team cohesion, strategic thinking, and persuasive communication skills while also giving employees a platform to influence the company's direction. It's an engaging way to cultivate an entrepreneurial spirit and highlight the value of diverse ideas within the team.


7. Team Lunch or Dinner

A team lunch or dinner is a classic yet practical team-building activity that brings everyone together in a relaxed, social setting. Whether it's at a favorite local restaurant, a scenic outdoor picnic, or a catered meal in the office, sharing a meal provides a unique opportunity for team members to bond over food and conversation.

Keep it informal and relaxing.

This setting allows individuals to connect on a personal level, discover common interests, and share stories beyond the scope of work tasks. It's a simple yet powerful way to foster camaraderie, boost morale, and create a sense of belonging within the entire group or team.


8. Scavenger Hunt

You can do this in the office or even outside. Hide objects or clues, and task different teams together to find them based on riddles or hints. It's an excellent exercise for breaking down hierarchical barriers and encouraging cross-departmental collaboration.


9. Sporting Event

Attending a sporting event together as a team offers a thrilling and unifying experience outside the office. Whether it's cheering for a local sports team, participating in a charity run, or even competing in a friendly match against another department, the spirit of friendly competition and teamwork at sporting events is contagious.


10. Obstacle Courses

An obstacle course challenge tests teamwork, physical fitness, and problem-solving skills. From climbing walls and crawling through tunnels to balancing beams and rope swings, obstacle courses require participants to support and rely on each other to navigate each challenge successfully.


11. Group Art Project

A group art project invites team members to collaborate on a creative piece, such as a mural, a large canvas painting, or a digital art installation. This activity allows individuals to express themselves creatively while contributing to a collective masterpiece.

The finished artwork can be displayed in the workplace as a lasting reminder of what the team can accomplish together.


12. Cultural Exchange

Cultural exchange days celebrate team members' diversity through sharing and learning about different cultures, traditions, and experiences. Employees can bring in food, music, art, or stories from their cultural heritage to share with the team.


RELATED: Cultural Diversity in The Workplace: What it is, Why it’s Important, and How to Get Started


13. "Two Truths and a Lie" Ice Breaker

"Two Truths and a Lie" is a classic ice breaker that provides insight into the lives and experiences of team members in an engaging and often humorous way. Each person shares two true statements about themselves and one false statement, with the rest of the team guessing which is the lie.

This simple game can reveal surprising facts about colleagues, breaking down barriers and fostering a closer, more personal connection among team members. It's an excellent way to start meetings or team-building sessions on a light-hearted note.


14. Human Knot

Team members stand in a circle, reach across to hold hands with someone across from them, and then work together to untangle the entire team without releasing their hands. The objective is to form a complete circle again, navigating through the twists and turns created by the intertwined participants.

This activity requires patience, strategy, and a lot of laughs, as team members must communicate effectively and collaborate closely to find solutions. It's an excellent metaphor for workplace challenges, highlighting the importance of working together to overcome obstacles.

It's better for an established team that's a bit more comfortable with each other, though.


15. Silent Line-Up

The Silent Line-Up is a thought-provoking activity that challenges team members to arrange themselves in order without speaking. The criteria can vary from birthdays to tenure at the company. This exercise requires participants to find creative, non-verbal ways to communicate and collaborate, highlighting the importance of non-verbal cues in teamwork.

It's one of many fun team building activities that are an inclusive way to break the ice and foster a deeper understanding among team members.


16. Team Book Club

Launching a team book club offers a unique way to stimulate intellectual discussions and personal growth within your group. Choose books related to professional development, industry trends, or compelling fiction.

Don't make it too stuffy. Your book club should focus on fun (not homework). Book clubs can also be perfect for connecting remote teams.


17. Outdoor Adventure Challenge

Activities like hiking, rafting, or obstacle courses offer a healthy dose of adrenaline and opportunities for team members to support and motivate each other in different settings.

It's an effective way to refresh and energize your team.


18. Innovation Hackathon

Organize an innovation hackathon where team members collaborate intensively to solve a company-related challenge or explore new project ideas. This time-boxed event encourages creativity, rapid problem-solving, and cross-functional teamwork.

Hackathons are not only for tech companies—they can be adapted to any industry with challenges that require fresh, innovative solutions.


19. Wellness Challenges

Initiatehealth and wellness challenges to encourage a healthy lifestyle among team members while fostering a sense of camaraderie. Challenges can range from daily step competitions and mindfulness weeks to healthy eating challenges.

Need help getting started? Check out Terryberry's step challenge—a commitment-free step challenge app designed to engage your employees.


20. Charity Fundraising Competitions

Organize charity fundraising competitions where teams compete to raise money for their chosen causes. This can involve creative challenges, sponsored events, or community service projects. These competitions promote both teamwork skills and social responsibility and also create a positive impact beyond the workplace.


21. "Lunch and Learn" Sessions

"Lunch and Learn" training sessions offer a casual, inclusive setting for team members to share knowledge or learn about various topics over lunch. These can range from professional development topics and personal hobbies to insights about different departments within the company.

It's an excellent way to foster an organizational culture of learning and curiosity while providing a platform for team members to showcase their expertise or interests. It's also an easy way to engage a remote team.


22. Cross-Departmental Shadowing

Cross-departmental shadowing programs allow employees to spend time in different parts of the organization, gaining insight into the diverse functions and challenges their colleagues face.

It's a powerful way to break down silos, spark new ideas for efficiency and innovation, and strengthen the organizational network.


23. Talent Showcases

Organize talent showcases where employees can share their non-work-related skills and passions, from music and dance to photography and painting.

It's an uplifting, entertaining and fun way to encourage self-expression and break away from the routine, boosting morale and fostering a culture where people feel valued for who they are beyond their professional roles.


24. Mystery Dinner Nights

Mystery Dinner Nights are a unique team-building activity in which employees sign up and receive details about where and with whom they will have dinner, only a few hours beforehand. These dinners can take place in restaurants, at someone's home, or in unusual locations, and they involve participants from different departments who may not interact daily.

It's designed to mix socializing with networking, encouraging employees to build new team relationships across the company in a relaxed, enjoyable setting.


25. Company Retreats

These retreats mix team-building exercises with strategic planning sessions, creating a conducive environment for reflection, discussion, and alignment.

The goal is to get employees together in a new place to relax and make new connections. It also opens opportunities to align the team's strengths with the company's longer-term goals and strategies.


Best Practices for Pulling Off Great Team-Building Exercises

Successful team-building events don't just happen—they're planned. You'll need to closely evaluate your options, understand your team's dynamics, set clear objectives, and build the activity.

Here are some best practices for pulling off great team-building events:

  • Conduct Surveys: Before planning, gather insights into what your team enjoys, their interests, and any specific areas they feel need improvement within the team dynamics.
  • Diverse Activities: Choose activities that cater to various preferences and abilities, ensuring everyone can participate, feel included, and bring enthusiastic team spirit.
  • Define Goals: Be clear about what you want to achieve with the team-building event, whether it's improving communication, boosting morale, or fostering creativity.
  • Communicate Purpose: Ensure participants understand the purpose of the event and how it relates to their work or personal development.
  • Timing and Location: Select a date and venue that minimizes disruptions to work schedules and is accessible to all team members. Consider remote or hybrid options if necessary.
  • Budget Accordingly: Allocate a budget that allows for a quality event without financial strain. Effective team building doesn't have to be expensive but should provide value.
  • Accessibility: Make sure the activities and location are accessible to everyone, taking into account any physical disabilities or dietary restrictions.
  • Encourage Participation: Create an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable and motivated to participate without pressure.
  • Guidance: Provide clear instructions and support throughout the activities to keep everyone engaged and on track.
  • Feedback: Encourage open dialogue during and after the event to share insights, experiences, and suggestions for future activities.
  • Reflection: Debrief after activities to discuss what was learned and how it can be applied in the workplace.
  • Continuity: Integrate the outcomes of team-building events into everyday work life to maintain momentum and apply the positive changes observed.

How to Team Build Without Activities

Team building extends beyond organized activities and events. It should be part of your daily work, communications, and team culture.

It's about how team members feel valued, supported, and connected in their everyday work lives.

Here's how to team build without relying solely on activities:


Foster a Culture of Recognition

Recognition is a powerful tool for building team spirit and unity. Regularly acknowledging individual and team achievements (big or small) contributes to a positive work environment where employees feel valued and supported.

Terryberry's recognition and rewards platforms offer customizable solutions to celebrate milestones, achievements, and everyday contributions effectively.


Implement Continuous Peer Feedback

Constructive peer feedback provides opportunities for personal and interpersonal relationships and professional development within the team. It encourages open communication and mutual respect.

Terryberry's Recognition Platform facilitates seamless peer-to-peer feedback, allowing your team members to recognize each other's efforts, offer constructive criticism, and celebrate successes together.


Encourage Open Communication

Encourage an open environment where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas, concerns, and feedback. Regular team meetings, open-door policies, and transparent communication channels can help maintain a sense of inclusivity and trust.


Support Work-Life Balance

Respecting work-life boundaries, offering flexible work arrangements, and encouraging time off when needed shows that you value them as individuals, not just as workers.

This approach can increase loyalty, morale, and a stronger sense of belonging to the team and the company.


Build Better Teams with Terryberry

Team building isn't just a series of one-off activities—it's a culture and a mindset focused on creating stronger, more connected teams. However, creating and maintaining this environment requires more than just intention.

You'll need the right mix of tools and support, and that's where we can help.

Terryberry's comprehensive suite of recognition and employee engagement solutions helps you build better teams that are engaged, motivated, and aligned with your company's values and goals:

  • Customizable Recognition Programs: Celebrate achievements, milestones, and everyday efforts with programs tailored to your team's unique culture and objectives.
  • 360 Feedback Platform: Facilitate continuous improvement and open communication with a platform that encourages peer-to-peer feedback and recognition.
  • Rewards and Incentives: Motivate and reward your team with a diverse selection of meaningful rewards, from personalized gifts to experiences that resonate with each team member.
  • Engagement Surveys: Measure and understand your team's engagement levels with surveys that provide actionable insights to help you focus your team-building efforts where they're needed most.

We understand that building and sustaining a dynamic team is an ongoing journey. Our mission is to provide you with the tools and support to help your team feel recognized, valued, and connected every step of the way.

Ready to elevate your team-building strategy and foster a team culture of recognition and engagement? Schedule a demo with Terryberry today and discover how our solutions can help you build better teams.


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