15 teamwork activities for any group
Many people look at teamwork challenges as a chore. They are either seen as uncomfortable situations that force team mates together or just another chance for someone to shine brighter than everyone else. But, that doesn't have to be the case. Many team-building activities provide the building blocks for developing relationships and encouraging employees to open up and bond with team leaders and the entire team.
Team building activities
Here are 15 teamwork activities for any group that allows everyone to take part. They range from the creative to the athletic, the empathetic to brainy, and much more. The one thing these fun team-building exercises do have in common is the potential to ignite interpersonal connections in your workplace. They can also serve as a fun way to create positive memories your team can have for many years to come. You can try them with established teams or create new groups for each activity.
1. The PB & J challenge
The purpose of a quick team-building game like the Peanut Butter and Jelly Challenge is to promote critical thinking and communication skills within your group in a short period of time. Start by having everyone find a partner, then give each participant a sheet of paper and a pencil.
Instruct each team mate to take a few minutes and write the most detailed instructions they can for making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Encourage them to think about every single step involved. Once done, have everyone swap instructions with their partner.
Now the fun can begin. Give each person everything they need to make their sandwich, but let them know they can only use the instructions provided by their partner as their guide. They cannot pick up, move, open, or use any supplies or ingredients that were not written as so, nor can they add or take away any steps.
Hilarity will ensue if someone has forgotten, "open the bread bag," "pick up the knife," or "open the can of peanut butter." See if anyone successfully makes it to the end. This challenge is a wake-up call to remind group mates to be clear with words and directions.
2. Lego matching
Lego matching is one of many icebreaker team-building activities because it allows people to get to know each other one-on-one. For this fun team-building activity, direct your group to organize into pairs. One partner will be the "builder," and the other the "speaker." Put a divider between them so they can no longer see one another and give each person the same Legos. Their color, shape, size, style, and number must be identical.
The activity will begin with the speaking partner creating a Lego structure on the side of the divider. The “builder” should not see any of the activity taking place. Once complete, the “speaker” will then try to guide the “builder” in replicating the structure on their side, without seeing the “builder’s" progress. However, there is a catch. The "builder" cannot ask questions. They must go off of the instructions of the "speaker" as best as they can. If you want, you can set a time limit to ensure the activity proceeds at a good pace.
Once complete, both structures should be the same in color, shape, and orientation. When the "builder" is finished, remove the divider so both parties can see how closely their structures match. It is unlikely they will be exact replicas, but the pair that gets the closest can officially be crowned the winners. This is another exercise that helps team mates learn the importance of clear, detailed communication.
3. Relay races
Relay races are a tried-and-true method for encouraging teamwork. You can stick with a traditional approach like a burlap sack race or make up your own variation, like a pool inflatable race or three-legged race. Team-building games like this one boost team morale by getting people moving and encouraging both team collaboration and healthy competition. First, divide your group into two equal teams. Depending on who is participating, this may be done by department (for example, the “marketing team” and the “accounting team”.) Next, set up your course. Arrange it so the first participant only races to the first milestone, at which point they can hand off their place in the race to a second runner, and so on. The first team to cross the finish line wins. Make the race as simple or as complex as you like.
4. Scavenger hunts
Everyone enjoys a scavenger hunt, and they are perfect opportunities to encourage teamwork and communication at a team-building event. Simply divide everyone into multiple teams, choose a theme, and get started.
For scavenger hunts involving kids, it is wise to keep the search area small. Stick to a home, classroom, or park to hide your clues. Use quotes from books movies, or riddles to guide your group to the "treasures."
Scavenger hunts for adults can get more complicated. They can cover a space as small as a conference room, or stretch across an entire building, neighborhood, or even city. You can keep it low-tech and use post-it notes, or use technology to incorporate information from Google, QR codes, or social media. Time it or add physical challenges to create even more incentive to work together. You can even organize the scavenger hunt to end at a location where all groups can celebrate their team effort and further bond, now that any remaining ice is (hopefully) broken.
Food brings people together within and across many cultures, and it is no different for small work groups. Host a dinner for your team to give them some downtime to get to know one another better. This can be especially effective in smaller teams or groups. Dinners are especially good ways to welcome new team participants, who might not yet feel comfortable enough to do the other team-building activities that are more unusual.
Take the team bonding to the next level by having your group prepare the meal together. Urge them to introduce their teammates to their traditions and culture through food, so they learn something new about each other. Another idea is to stipulate that they can only prepare food that starts with the same letter as the first letter of their first name. For example, Javier might bring jalapeño cornbread.
6. Escape rooms
They will need to solve clues, puzzles, and codes together that might be in any area of the room, and they only have a set amount of time to do so.
Some escape rooms are designed for thrills, putting your team in situations that are scary or "dangerous." Others are more of a mental challenge, relying on complex clues instead of fright. Anyone can participate in an escape room challenge, and it is likely you will need a range of skills and knowledge to be successful. Going through the unique experience together can help a team bond.
Get your team to connect through creativity. Purchase a large canvas, paints, and brushes, and let them create a mural together for their work, practice, or lounge space. It can be beneficial to have a plan for the overarching theme of the mural beforehand. Develop a theme for the piece that reflects the goals, attitudes, or defining attributes of the team. Display it proudly where they can see it often to remind them of the beauty and cohesiveness of their working relationships and dynamics.
8. Egg races
There are many variations of an egg race, which is a classic game, but few are as thrilling as the original. For this activity, have your group work in pairs. One partner will be blindfolded and hold a spoon in front of them. The other partner will act as their eyes, guiding them to the finish line with detailed instructions of where to walk, when to stop, and what to avoid. Then, the person with the egg will have to pass it to the next person, who will then be blindfolded and try to go through the same activity without letting the egg drop. This game relies heavily on trust and communication.
Place an egg in the spoon of the blindfolded participant. On the count of three, let the race begin. To make it even more interesting, add obstacles to the course, like cones or tires that the blindfolded racer must navigate past or around. Of course, this type of team-building session won't work with a remote team.
9. Charity runs
Inspire your team to come together for a charitable cause. Host a charity run, where all the money raised by each participant goes to a mutually agreed upon recipient. Give your team even more incentive to work toward their common goal by offering a prize if they can raise a set amount of money. This encourages participants to get their family and friends involved, as well.
10. Community service opportunities
Sometimes when a team struggles with working together, a little perspective can go a long way. Volunteering together can be an effective team-building exercise. Organize an opportunity for your group to serve those in need. Schedule some time in a soup kitchen, visit the elderly in a senior living facility, or volunteer in a children's hospital. Not only can your caring presence make someone else's day a little bit brighter, but it can also renew their appreciation for how important it is to have one another.
11. Contests, competitions, or face-offs
There's no shortage of team-building skills when it comes to board games, contests, or sports. Pick a fun game people want to play and have your team challenge one another to test their ability to work together, whether it be a mental competition (like office trivia) or a physical competition. If you decide to go with a sport, try to choose one that is easy for everyone involved to play. Bowling, volleyball, kickball, and dodgeball are all good corporate team-building activities. To promote even more unity and team spirit, come up with a team name, a "uniform," and a cheer. If you’re playing sports involving bases, let each person designate their own “walk-up song.” If a team or person wins, reward them as you see fit.
You probably haven't participated in a show-and-tell session since elementary school, but it can be a great strategy for teamwork. Teamwork is not only about communication, efficiency, or accountability -- it also requires a desire for people to work with and care for one another.
Ask the people in your group to bring in one of their most treasured possessions. Have one person at a time describe what they brought, while the other team mates listen and ask questions. By the end of the activity, your team will likely find common interests they did not know they had and know a few new interesting facts about one another. This can even work with remote teams, as they can show their possessions through video chat or messaging services. A bonus of show-and-tell is that it helps build public speaking skills, too.
13. Human knots
The Human Knot is another well-known team-building exercise, and it is one of the most entertaining. For this exercise, have teams stand close together in a circle.
At the same time, each of the groups will reach with their right hand and grab the hand of someone else that is across from them. Then, they will do the same with the left. Make sure no one is holding the hand of either person directly next to them.
Now, it is up to your team to decide how to untangle themselves from one another. No one can let go of each other's hands at any point, but it is okay to readjust the grip if a position becomes too uncomfortable. This exercise will force your teammates to work together, hear one another out, refrain from dominating a conversation, and come up with creative ideas. Encourage everyone to get involved, so it is not up to one person to solve the puzzle.
The theater is another creative outlet for your team, and it is versatile enough to use in any group or setting. For children, have them reenact their favorite stories, or create one of their own. For adults, ask them to do a comedy sketch, facilitate a fake sales pitch, or teach one another a skill while on stage.
To make the project even more collaborative, challenge your group to write a story, create costumes, and design the set. This can be one of the best team-building activities because people not only get to know each other, but they actively work together toward a goal that has multiple steps and elements.
15. Guided discussions
It can be helpful to have a frank discussion about what is going right and wrong in the team. When a married couple struggles, they reach out to licensed counselors to find creative problem-solving strategies to overcome their differences. Groups of any size deal with the same issues and benefit from working through their problems just the same.
If the group, as a whole, is not running smoothly, it may be useful to host an open forum where everyone can speak their mind and offer suggestions without fear of negative consequences. Mutual understanding is key for teamwork, and without it, no game or activity will be helpful. If one team mate writes down notes from the discussion, even better. That way, you can review them over time to see if team mate's concerns are being addressed or if the same problems continue to crop up.
How can online therapy help with conflict resolution?
Online therapy through a service like BetterHelp allows people to express their genuine feelings and thoughts without fear of violence or an intimidating response that could occur in an in-person, uncontrolled environment. A mediator can use the appropriate controls to provide volume to a designated speaker in a virtual conversation.
Another benefit of online therapy in conjunction with building teamwork is that co-workers can schedule a time to meet that is convenient for both of them. This flexibility is an advantage that may not be available with nearby in-person therapy settings.
It can sometimes be intimidating to resolve an interpersonal conflict, especially if the company culture or work environment isn’t conducive to conflict resolution. Studies indicate that online therapy and dispute resolution show promise as a pair. In a survey by the Boston Consulting Group, over 200,000 surveyed people indicated that good relationships with colleagues were ranked #2 out of the top ten factors contributing to employee happiness on the job.
What activities show teamwork?
Many activities can show teamwork, especially ones that encourage interpersonal connections, the formation of positive memories, and moments of fun and playfulness. Some possible activities to demonstrate and strengthen your teamwork skills include:
- Problem-solving activities such as puzzles, riddles, escape rooms, and other code- or clue-based games, which offer a mix of mental challenge and healthy competition.
- Working to solve a problem with teammates – especially in a limited amount of time – challenges groups to identify each person’s strengths and skill sets.
- Group art projects like murals or paintings, which encourage creative thinking and challenge the entire team to express themselves in innovative ways – both visually and verbally.
- A team-building event like hosting a dinner or attending a local sports game together.
- Physical challenges such as ropes courses, scavenger hunts, and races, which can be modified to accommodate a wide range of abilities and ages.
What are 5 team building activities?
If you’re looking for 5 team-building activities, consider the following options:
- The human knot: One of the most well-known and entertaining team-building games, the Human Knot challenges a group to “untangle” themselves from a physical knot. Teams form a circle; then, each person holds hands with the person to their left and someone across from them. From there, the group must decide how to reform their circle without letting go of each other’s hands.
- Role play: Role play can take many forms, depending on a group’s goals and creative interests. Teams can reenact a story, perform a skit, or put on another kind of performance to test their communication and creative skills.
- Organized sports: Some teams might enjoy playing an organized sport together to stay active, improve their team cohesion, and have fun outside the workplace or another performance-based environment. Sports like volleyball, bowling, kickball, and dodgeball are great for teams with a wide range of athletic backgrounds and abilities.
- Show-and-tell: This classic game isn’t just for kids! Show-and-tell can be an excellent way to get to know your teammates and facilitate vulnerable, funny, and interesting conversations.
- Egg races: An egg race is another popular team-building game with only a handful of requirements: eggs, spoons, bandannas, or another soft material for blindfolding, and willing participants. Pairs must communicate clearly to guide their blindfolded partner to the finish line.
What is an example of a team-building activity or exercise?
An example of a team-building activity or exercise is a scavenger hunt, which encourages teamwork, communication, and a refreshing spirit of playfulness. Teams can hide fun “treasures” and use creative clues to guide participants to the hidden prizes.
A scavenger hunt can be especially useful if you have new teammates who are unfamiliar with an office space, neighborhood, or another location where teams spend most of their time.
What is the purpose of team activities?
Although the purpose can vary, many team activities address some or all of the following objectives:
- Strengthen bonds between teammates
- Identify and apply each participant's unique skillset
- Improve communication
- Promote critical and creative thinking
- Increase participants’ confidence in themselves and their teammates
By working toward these goals, teams can improve their performances in contexts outside the team-building activity, like in the workplace or an athletic event.
How do you bring a team together?
There are many strategies you can employ to bring a team together, including:
- Making a vision statement: By writing down a common vision about their group purpose and goals, teammates may feel more connected and confident about their future.
- Investing in community: When team leaders schedule opportunities for teammates to spend time with each other, teams are more likely to bond and develop a sense of comfort and familiarity. Over time, a “community” can form by having regular meals together, playing on a sports team, or hosting a weekly “check-in” conversation.
- Actively listening: In any team setting, active listening helps teams listen and communicate more effectively. Active listeners ask questions and paraphrase as needed and refrain from judgment, with the goal of understanding and empathizing with the speaker.
- Encouraging feedback: At first, both giving and receiving feedback can feel uncomfortable. However, a healthy feedback culture can inspire teammates to communicate with clarity and compassion. These honest conversations can bring teammates together, strengthen accountability, and ultimately improve a team’s cohesion and performance.
How do you work well together teamwork?
Learning to work well together as a team can be challenging, especially for a remote team or teammates with different communication styles. But with time and patience, teamwork can bring individuals together through a common goal and vision.
There are several ways to embody the spirit of teamwork and work well together as a group, including:
- Scheduling fun team-building activities like scavenger hunts, a fun game night, or a group meal, which encourage teammates to have fun while getting to know each other’s personalities and strengths.
- Building trust through honest feedback, authentic conversations, and constructive criticism
- Starting and ending meetings on time and honoring each teammate's time and availability
- Creating an inclusive workplace: one committed to diversity, respect, and openness to make changes as needed
- Showing appreciation for each other’s contributions to a project
These represent just a handful of actions that can help a group work better together. Depending on their purpose and goals, teammates may identify other strategies to cultivate a stronger, more connected team.
How is teamwork used at work?
At work, teamwork can be used in several ways to ensure the success of a company or employer. Workplace teamwork varies depending on the type of work, but may be used to achieve the following goals:
- Clarify employees’ roles: Each employee should understand their role and how it relates to their skills, perspectives, and experiences. Employees can also make efforts to identify and celebrate the skills of other teammates.
- Reduce stress: By clarifying each teammate's role and the timeline of a given project or task, team leaders can reduce stress that may arise from unclear expectations or too much pressure.
- Strengthen interpersonal relationships: Teams tend to work better when participants genuinely know, care for, and trust one another.
- Improve productivity: Research suggests that companies that invest in team-building are more productive, increase their profits, and improve customer satisfaction.
What is an example of a teamwork story?
Many of us have stories of teamwork from our own personal or professional lives. Some of the better-known teamwork stories come from professional athletes, who are driven to excel as both individuals and teammates.
One story comes from sprinter DeeDeeTrotter, who won an Olympic gold medal at the 2004 Olympics. DeeDee qualified for the 2008 Olympic games but chose to withdraw from the 4x400-M relay just before the event due to a knee injury.
DeeDee knew she would be unable to perform her best and could potentially prevent her team from advancing, so she asked a healthy teammate to run for her. Thanks in part to her selfless decision, DeeDee’s teammates achieved their best time of the season and won the gold medal.
What do team activities teach you?
Team activities can teach you many things, including:
- How to collaborate and communicate with people with different skills, opinions, ideas, and beliefs.
- How to facilitate honest conversations with openness and compassion.
- How to problem-solve in a group setting.
- When to speak up and when to listen.
- Creative and critical thinking skills.
- How to identify, apply, and celebrate other people’s skills.
- How to apply a fun team-building activity to real-world problems in your workplace or another professional setting.
- How to have fun!
To plan the most effective team-building exercise, some teams like to create a short list of “learning objectives” and plan activities accordingly.
What are quick team-building activities?
Some quick team-building activities include:
- A card game with simple rules and few materials required.
- A short round of trivia to flex a team’s knowledge and collaboration skills.
- An icebreaker game like “Two Truths and a Lie” or “Would You Rather?”, which can help teammates open up and get to know one another.
- A one-word exercise, in which the facilitator picks a phrase related to the meeting topic and asks everyone to write down one related word that comes to mind on a sticky note. By putting all the sticky notes on the wall or another visible surface, the team can gauge everyone’s general thoughts, feelings, and opinions about a topic.
- Charades: A short, fun, and often silly way to promote teamwork.
Any of these simple and short activities can be a welcome relief from a longer team-building session.
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