15 teamwork activities for any group

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Updated January 4, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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Teamwork makes the dream work

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.

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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.

5. Dinners

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

Escape rooms are becoming increasingly popular. This form of live-action entertainment immerses an entire group in a mock real-world experience they have to get out of. Escape rooms are easy-to-coordinate indoor team-building activities since they don't require the team leader to do any planning or preparation beyond making a reservation.

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.

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Teamwork makes the dream work

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.

7. Murals

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.

12. Show-and-tell

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.

14. Roleplay

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.

Takeaway

As you can see, there are many activities to try when it comes to teamwork. Some team-building exercises are funny, some are serious, and some will break down certain barriers that may have previously hindered group synergy. Use team-building strategies like these often to sustain meaningful and interconnected professional relationships.

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