13 Top Team Building Activities

by Wendy Soon on March 18, 2014

iStock_000006191773Small_gamesbanner2We have mentioned multiple times in our blog posts, that team building activities are essential in creating a closely-knit, happy and productive A-team. But what activities EXACTLY are team building activities? Which are the most effective (and low cost, low time-consuming) ones? We believe the best team building activities not only serve to increase communication amongst your team members, but also help to form some great memories they can share. Here are our top picks:

  1. A Truth and A Lie (0.5-1hour) – Have each member introduce themselves by stating their name plus one truth about themselves and one lie. After each person makes their statements, allow for a quick open conversation where everyone questions each other on their two statements. The idea is to convince the other members that your lie is actually a truth, while guessing the truths/lies of the others. After the questioning period, vote as a group on each member’s statements. Points are awarded for each lie guessed right or for stumping other members on your own lie. This exercise helps to get to know your coworkers better and encourages group interaction and communication. (Optional: Increase the difficulty by having 2 truths and 1 lie, or 2 lies and 1 truth. Remove the open conversation segment if time is constrained)

  2. Poker Tower (15-30minutes) — Distribute a pack of poker cards and a pair of scissors to each group of 2-5 members. Instruct them to build the tallest poker tower using ONLY the cards and scissors given to them. This will stimulate creativity and team bonding, as the team figures out how to build the tower with the limited material available. (Optional: Spice up the game with 1 A4 size piece of paper)

  3. Egg Drop (1-2hours) — This is a messy yet classic engaging problem. Split the team into 2-3 teams of reasonable size. The task is to build an egg package that can keep the egg intact from a 2-4 storey drop. Tools that can be provided include newspapers, straws, tape, plastic, balloons, rubber bands. Give the teams 30min-1hour to create the package. After which, each team will take turns to drop the egg package from the 2nd storey while everyone else stays at the bottom level to observe. (Optional: increase the height of the egg drop until a single winner is found!)

  4. Legoman (0.5-1hour) — This problem solving activity requires little more than a couple of sets of children’s building blocks. The instructor will build a small sculpture with some of the building blocks and hide it from the group. The participants should then be divided into small teams of 3-6. Each team should be given enough building material so that they can duplicate the structure the instructor has created (specific size and color included). The instructor should then place their sculpture in an area that is an equal distance from all the groups. One member from each team can come up at any point of time to look at the sculpture for as long as they want and try to memorize it before returning to their team. No paper, pen no camera are allowed to be brought to the sculpture. After they return to their teams, they instruct their teams about how to build an exact replica of the instructor’s sculpture. Meanwhile, another member from each team can come up for another sneak peek before returning to their team and trying to recreate the sculpture. The game should be continued in this pattern until one of the team’s successfully duplicates the original sculpture. This game will teach participants how to strategize, communicate effectively and problem solve in a group.

  5. The Mine Field (15-30 minutes) – The idea behind this exercise is to improve team members’ trust, their relationship, and to communicate in a more effective way. You will need an open space such as an empty room or hallway in which you will distribute ‘mines’ that are placed haphazardly around the area. The ‘mine’s can be cones, balls, bottles etc. Team members are paired into teams of two. One team member will be blindfolded and the other can see and talk, but is not allowed to enter the field or touch their partner. The challenge is for the blind-folded person to walk from one side of the field to the other, avoiding the mines by listening to the verbal instructions of their partners. (Optional: Have more than 1 pair walking through the mine simultaneously, so the difficulty of focusing and listening to the right instructions increases)

  6. Win, lose or draw (15-30 minutes) — This is another classical team game, which can be very easily executed. You need paper, pen, and a flipchart/whiteboard. Think of items that fit into certain categories. These can be generic or specific to the team. For example, generic categories include food items, places of interest, idioms. Team-specific categories include computer technologies for computer scientists, business ideas for startups, school and students for teachers. Split the group into 2 teams. Each team takes turns to play. The team that is playing will nominate an artist, who will draw a “list” of items to draw. The only hint to his teammates will be the category name. They then have 1-3 minutes to draw the items on that list, without writing nor speaking. Switch around to another team after the time limit. Swap artists with each round, and repeat for 4-5 rounds. Collate the final results to find the winning team.

  7. Zoom. (30 minutes) — This is an activity designed for smaller teams. It requires the wordless, picture book entitled, “Zoom” by Istvan Banyai. This book features 30 sequential pictures that work together to form a narrative. The book should be fairly easy to find, as it’s been published in over 18 countries. The pictures can even be laminated to prolong their usage. Hand out one picture to each participant, making sure a continuous sequence is being used. Explain to the participants that they can only look at their own pictures and must keep their picture hidden from other participants. Time should be given for the participants to study their pictures because each picture will contain important information that will help the participants solve the problem of putting them into order. The ultimate goal is for the group to place the pictures in sequential order without looking at one another’s pictures. The participants can talk to each other and discuss what is featured in their picture. This activity brings coworkers together and gets them communicating with the common goal of solving a problem, but it also allows for leaders to emerge and take control of the task. (Optional: Draw up your own pictures to accommodate the team size and difficulty level)

  8. Dragon-boating (2-4 hours) — Who said all team building activities need to be indoors? Head out with your team for some sun! Try dragon-boating or double-kayaking, which requires good teamwork. Include a race if possible.

  9. Paint-balling (2-4 hours) — Because really, there’s no better way to build a healthy rapport with your manager than shooting him in the ass (literally) while your co-workers stand around and cheer on. As an interesting variation, there’s a British firm specializing in corporate “Fatless Fat Fun” for when “the old team-building standards are feeling a bit tired.” Surrey-based Sumo Experience provides not only the sumo fat suits (complete with protective headgear that resembles a sumo hairdo) that will send your “opponent rolling on the ground like a beach ball,” but a Dohyo (sumo arena) and Gyoji (sumo referee) as well. Smoke machine and Japanese soundtrack are optional.

  10. Helium Stick (15 minutes) — This is a quick game that serves well as an ice-breaker or a short coffee break. A long thin stick is required. Be sure to call the pole a “Helium Stick” when you introduce the exercise. Place your group in two lines facing each other. Have each person hold the index finger of their right hand chest high. Place the helium stick on top of the outstretched fingers. The challenge is to lower the stick to the ground while keeping everyone’s fingers touching the stick. If anyone’s finger loses contact with the helium stick, you must start again. At first the stick will seem to rise (hence the name Helium Stick). In fact, it is simply the upwards pressure of everyone’s fingers causing the stick to go up instead of down. Once everyone relaxes they can easily lower the stick to the ground. This usually takes ten minutes of laughter and a leader to complete. (Optional: swap the helium stick for a helium balloon for a smaller team)

  11. Talking in Circles (0.5-1 hour) — This is a highly challenging game that is only recommended for teams who love challenges. Place everyone in a circle around a long piece of string that is tied at its ends to form a circle. Have everyone grasp the string with both hands and hold the string waist high. Without letting go, the team will have to form shapes with the string; a square, a triangle, a figure eight, a rectangle, etc. Repeat the game but with everyone’s eyes shut! This will require everyone to communicate clearly and listen well. Make the shapes progressively harder and periodically have them stop and open their eyes to see their progress…or lack there of

  12. Human Knot (15-30 minutes) — This brain teaser is funny and really works on teambuilding, problem solving and communication. No materials are needed. Recommended group size includes a wide range of 8-20 people. Instruct the participants to stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder. Tell everyone to put their right hand in the air and grab the hand of someone standing across the circle from them. Now tell everyone to put their left hand in the air and grab the hand of a different person. Someone needs to check that everyone is holding the hands of two different people and that no one is holding the hand of someone who’s standing directly next to them. The objective of the game is to untangle everyone without letting go of their hands. If the chain is broken, participants will have to start over. Note: sometimes >1 circle will form. This game requires casual clothing, and is not recommended for team members with physical limitations. This game will rely heavily on teamwork and communication.

  13. Salt and Pepper (15 minutes) — This activity is fun, excellent for energizing your team, and also great as a quick ice-breaker exercise. It is simple to set up and suitable for a wide team size of 10-40 people (ideally even numbered). As a facilitator, think of pairs of things such as, salt and pepper, yin and yang, shadow and light, peanut butter and jelly, Mickey and Minnie mouse, male and female, and so forth. Write each item on a piece of paper (i.e. salt on one piece and pepper on another), and tape one paper on the back of each person, making sure they can’t see it. When the game starts, everyone must walk around asking yes or no questions in order to find out what word they have taped to their backs. Once they figure that out, they need to find their other pair. Learning how to ask the right questions is the key. (Optional: The two will then sit down and learn three to five interesting facts about one another)

Now, head out for some fun with your team! 🙂

Teambuildingsolutions May 2, 2014 at 7:11 am

All of the games above mentioned are quite brilliant and has a out of the box thinking technique that enables <a href="http://www.teambuildingsolutions.co.uk/"teambuilding. I think dumb charades can also be taken into count for increasing the communications among the employees or members.

Ryan May 29, 2014 at 5:50 pm

These are a good start, so to speak. However, in the Bay Area (and the other places we have worked), we find that the key to engagement is embedding cool activities into a themed program. TeamBuilding ROI does Food Truck Challenges, Olympics, GPS Scavenger Hunts, etc. We use these themes as vehicles to showcase some great, new-school mini challenges. Check out TBROI on YouTube…we have a lot more activities on there that are not listed here! Not BETTER, per se…but maybe 🙂

Wendy Soon May 30, 2014 at 6:22 am

very interesting suggestions by TeamBuilding ROI! Definitely worth checking out 🙂 Thanks Ryan for the suggestions!

John Willson June 17, 2014 at 7:51 am

Thanks for sharing the most helpful information about team building activities. TIGERS Success Series offer you real improved team building activities right away.

Creative team building June 24, 2014 at 2:19 pm

When it comes to creative team building the more variety the better during meetings and events. This is a great list of activities that can be done easily and without a lot of notice.

Download Odin August 19, 2014 at 11:38 am

Great team activities, thanks

Wendy Soon September 11, 2014 at 1:30 am

you’re most welcome 🙂

Thoughtz September 6, 2014 at 11:36 pm

Power tower looks like a quick fun activity as well. Thank you for sharing this! I
I wonder if anyone would do the paintball activity. I am a Principal at a school and sadly I believe that I have staff members who would love to shoot me with a paintball lol

Wendy Soon September 11, 2014 at 1:29 am

Haha, that’s the fun of it, isn’t it? I personally went with my colleagues and ex-boss before… he was well liked but we still all aimed for him instead of playing the game! As long as everyone knows it’s in the name of fun, it’s all good 😛

Guy Perier September 15, 2014 at 9:40 am

Thank you, this is brilliant and inspiring.
I would suggest you add up Team building thoiugh Music. Singing together (1 to 2 hours) let team members experience the dynamic vibes of solidarity – a team tha that can do much more tha the sum of the individuals – and ties them with the pride of a common achievement.

Wendy Soon September 22, 2014 at 12:04 am

Interesting thought! Indeed Music is another great way to bond!! Thanks for your suggestion 🙂

Dudette October 29, 2014 at 3:51 am

I find dancing around the campfire is the best way to build teamwork. Also making moki-henna-tashi fans around the art class is another one. My personal fav though is throwing bean dip at each other…… A real joy i hope you guys appreciate me some of my colleagues dont like my ideas D:

Wendy Soon November 2, 2014 at 3:11 am

Throwing bean dips! That sounds like some crazy fun, though I might prefer that going into my mouth instead. :p some types of teams might love that idea though, thanks for the contribution!

Rolf February 20, 2015 at 7:19 am

Thank you for this great advise. Some comments:
1) Works absolutely brilliantly. Works also without a lie, use 3 unique statements that are true about a certain person and let the other teams guess who that person is. Hilariously funny. Hand out a small gift to the winning team. Great warm up and ice breaker.
5) The best for studying team behavior. Debrief for at least 30 minutes is recommended. We play this without blindfold and with a maze full of squares The mines are only visible to the referee who blows the whistle when stepping on the wrong square. Step on wrong square and the person is sent back. Four teams can try to cross the maze each from a different direction. The entire team must cross to win the game. But I will try your version for sure.
12) The bigger the group the better. Done it with over 80 people a couple of weeks ago. Should work with 150 as well yet to be tested.
For more information, visit http://www.teambuildinginthailand.wordpress.com

Wendy Soon March 16, 2015 at 3:08 am

Hi Rolf, very interesting suggestions to some variations of what I suggested. I’m eager to try them out the next time I get a chance! I’m sure my team will enjoy the laughter it brings 🙂

Team Building Game March 5, 2015 at 10:56 am

These are great team building activities and ideas! I will definitely consider this for my workplace and suggest them to my co-workers. They sound like awesome, effective exercises and I appreciate you sharing them! Great, great ideas.

Kasper Geeroms May 6, 2015 at 11:33 am

Great ideas for teambuilding activities. Love the Egg Drop idea! I would like to add our location-based game The Target to the list, because it encourages team work and communication. It also requires thorough knowledge of your colleagues’ mindset in order to anticipate their every move. Try it!

corporate team building events July 27, 2015 at 4:25 am

Very interesting suggestions by TeamBuilding ROI! Definitely worth checking out 🙂 Thanks Ryan for the suggestions!.Thanks again

Sean Rodriguez August 20, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Our group did the egg-drop team building and it was great. I know a lot of folks are also doing charity team building events. We did not receive enough funding this year, but another group in our company is planning a holiday team building event with bicycles which are given to charity organizations. I think they are using . –Sean

Wendy Soon September 9, 2015 at 2:43 am

Cool! I love the egg-drop game everytime i play it too. It’s valid across all ages!

David Priestley September 2, 2015 at 3:44 pm

Hi Wendy

Some really good ideas for quick team building exercises here. You have included my 3 favourite activities: human knot, helium stick (also known as magic cane) and minefield. All require limited equipment and can be delivered anywhere by anyone. Great for improving communication skills, problem solving, goal setting and teamwork.

If you’re looking for a few more team building and ice breakers, check out my website: http://www.ventureteambuilding.co.uk

Best wishes, David

Wendy Soon September 9, 2015 at 2:37 am

Thanks David, will check it out

Bing March 17, 2016 at 11:33 am

Awesome article.

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