Recently, my boss was talking to me about team building exercises that we could do to bring our remote team closer together.
Suddenly, I had visions of our team playing tug of war and having relay races through Skype. I just snickered inside because, well, it sounded corny.
However, team building exercises are an integral part of building a strong, well-functioning business.
So, I present to you, this list of team building exercises that are actually pretty helpful (and even fun). Incorporating these rewarding team building exercises every once in awhile or in a team building day like we had will make your team stronger, more powerful, more dynamic, and so much more successful.
I have included exercises to do with your face-to-face team, and exercises if you are a remote team spread all over the country like us.
Team Building Exercises for Face-to-Face Teams
1. How Much Do I Need?
If you have a bunch of new employees, this one is for your team!
Goal: This team building activity will allow coworkers to get to know each other better.
Materials Needed: Something that you have a lot of (like pennies or M&M’s)
- Have everyone sit in a circle (or at the meeting table)
- Pass around a box/bag of something small (like the pennies). Tell everybody to take as many as they think they will need.
- Once everybody has taken whatever it is that you passed around, ask them to count how many they have.
- Whatever amount they have, is the amount of facts that they must share about themselves.
- Go in the circle and have everybody say their name and their facts, and give everybody about a minute for doing so (especially if your team is large).
2. Show And Tell
Okay, I know that I said that these ideas shouldn’t be super corny, but I can’t help it; this one is a true team building activity.
Goal: This team building exercise will allow everybody to get to know each other better and establish common interests.
Materials: Just tell each of your employees to bring something important to them for show and tell in advance!
- Sit in a circle and establish an order you would like to go in (clockwise, counterclockwise, etc.)
- Have each person show their item and explain why it is important to them.
The goal of show and tell is to spark conversation about what each person brings in and hopefully show that some employees who do not know much about each other actually have something in common to build closer workplace relationships.
3. Two Truths and A Lie
Goal: This team building exercise will allow everybody to learn more about their coworkers.
Materials Needed: None
- Have each person sit in a circle (to maintain focus and eye contact). Determine whether you guys are going counter clockwise, clockwise, etc.
- When it comes to the person’s turn, they need to state two truths about themselves and also a lie.
- Allow everybody to say which one they think is a lie (again, maintain the order), and then allow the person to say which one is the lie. The goal of this is to open up an interesting conversation.
- Repeat until everybody has their turn
Tip: This one will work for remote teams as well!
4. Whose Fact Is It Anyway?
Goal: This team building exercise helps everybody learn more about their fellow coworkers.
Materials Needed: A fact from each employee
- Ask all of your employees for an interesting fact about themselves that isn’t well-known
- Gather all of your employees together and read each fact. Have everyone guess who it is.
- Then, you guys can talk about the fact if it is super interesting.
5. Which Baby Is That?
Goal: This team building exercise allows everybody to get to know each other on a more personal level.
Materials Needed: Have all of your employees bring in one of their baby pictures.
Tip: This is a fun activity to start or end a meeting.
- Put everybody’s baby picture down in a pile.
- Have somebody hold up each picture while everybody guesses who they are (Make sure you still keep the file in the same order)
- At the end, go back through the pile, and allow each person to point out their baby picture
6. The Web Of Connection
Goal: This team building exercise will show that you guys are all connected and have a common goal along with getting to know everybody better.
- Enough space for everybody to sit in a circle
- A ball of yarn
- Start with your entire team sitting in a big circle
- Name an icebreaker question that everybody would feel comfortable answering (Examples: What is your spirit animal? What is the most embarrassing situation you have ever encountered?)
- Have somebody start and answer the question. They then grab onto the yarn and throw the ball at somebody else to answer. After they answer, they hold the yarn and then throw it at somebody else to answer the icebreaker and so on.
- At the end, you should have a web. This shows that while you guys might not always agree with each other, understand what each other do, or know each other well, you are all connected and share the same goals to help your company succeed.
1. Trivia: Office Style
You spend so much time in your office building, but how much do you really know about it?
- What color are the cabinets in the cafeteria?
- How many people are in each department?
- What brand is the printer?
- What does Brad bring for lunch every day?
Goal: This team building exercise will unify your team.
Materials Needed: 15 to 30 pretty specific questions about your workplace.
- If your team is generally small, then it might be a good idea to go through the questions together. If not, break into teams and make it into a little competition.
- Answer the questions and have fun
Besides learning extremely important tedious facts about their workplace, this activity will create a sense of unity amongst your coworkers as they work together to answer these questions.
2. The Minefield
Goal: This team building exercise will help build trust.
- A large and safe space (for example, outdoors or an empty, but wide hallway)
- Office equipment (Like boxes, cones, chairs, balls)
- Blind Folds
- Take the office equipment and scatter it throughout the entire space (make sure you also have something to signal the start and end space of the relay)
- Divide into pairs (for this exercise, try to get coworkers who do not know each other well together as this exercise probably incorporates the most trust on this entire list)
- One partner will put the blindfold on and the other must only use verbal instructions (no guiding) to get their partner to the other side and back without hitting into anything. Next, you both must switch. Now, the person who was originally explaining how the other person could get across the minefield is the one who is actually going to go through the mindfield.
- To add some competition, you can time each team and whichever team who took the least amount of time is the winner. Or, you can have a couple teams go at once in a round, and then the winners of each round will face up against the winners of the other rounds.
3. The Penny Search
This is a very quick activity, but it will also give your adrenaline a run for the money (get it?!).
Goal: This team building exercise will help spread some history about your company.
Materials Needed: A ton of pennies and hand sanitizer
- Have somebody (or yourself) sort through a ton of pennies. Make sure that one or two of them were made the year that your business began
- Scatter all of the pennies on your meeting table (You want to have enough pennies to fill up at least the edges of the table)
- Have your employees search through the pennies until somebody finds the one that has the year your company started
- As your employees are searching or after they are done, make sure you take the time to talk a little about company history/fun facts about the company.
- Use the hand sanitizer. Pennies have germs!!
Tip: Incorporate this at the beginning of a meeting. The winner(s) should get some sort of prize like a gift card, office supplies, or lunch on the manager.
4. New Team Logo
Goal: This team building activity will get everybody pumped up about the company that they work for.
- Coins (Empty your pockets/purses)
- Small Office Supplies like staplers, notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, etc.
- Either work as an entire group, or break up into groups of about 3-5 people
- Have everybody gather any loose change and small office supplies, using it to create a new company logo
Who knows, maybe you just found your new and improved logo?
5. Mad Libs
Each company probably has a mission statement or document that describes their company. Who says you can’t have a little fun with it?
Goal: This team building exercise brings your team together and reminds everybody about company values all while having fun.
- Company mission statement/document
- Microsoft Word or Google Docs to add the Mad Libs to it (so everyone can do one), or white out if you just want to do the Mad Lib as a group
- Add the blanks to parts of your mission statement/company policy and in those blanks, write Noun, Adjective, Verb, etc. (either online or with white out)
- Either fill them out as an entire group or have everybody fill them out separately and then share
- After a couple good laughs, this is a good time to talk about the mission statement and company policy and make sure everyone is aware of standards to be followed
PRIORITY MATRIX FOR (noun), MAC, & MOBILE – THE (adjective) TO DO LIST (noun) FOR (verb) PROJECTS. Written with clean, (adjective) code, Priority Matrix (verb) in speed, (adjective), and security.
Tip: This one will work for remote teams as well!
Team Building Games
1. Phone Or Email Blitz
This is an exercise that is best suited for companies that work in sales or marketing.
Goal: This team building exercise will help generate more sales and leads with motivation from other team members.
- Phone (for phone calls)
- Computer (for emails)
- Get in groups of 3-5 people (try to mix old and new employees so that old employees can act as mentors)
- Have everybody work as a team to market your product, sell something, get your name out, etc.
- Decide what your measure of success is. For example, with an email blitz, is a success based on a sale, or a response?
- Set a time limit, whether it is a couple of hours or an entire day
- See which team has the highest number of successes
Not only should your team generate more business, but they will push each other to do the best that they can all while increasing knowledge and relationships.
2. The Height Line
Goal: This is one of a few team building exercises that increases communication skills.
Materials Needed: None
- Have your entire team standing up. You guys are all going to have to arrange yourselves in a straight line, but you are not going to be able to use your voices or gestures.
- Make sure that you have set some common benchmarks. For example, we are going to organize ourselves by shortest to tallest and shortest is near the desk and longest is near the door.
- Sometimes it is good to time yourselves to see how long it took you.
3. Who Knew Counting Until Twenty Was So Difficult?
Goal: This team building exercise helps everyone work together to accomplish a task as a team.
Materials Needed: None
- Have everybody in a circle, for example around the meeting table. NOTE: This works best with groups of 5-10 people!
- Your team’s goal is to count to twenty as a group, but if only it was that easy.
- One person must say a number at once. If more than one person goes (or if somebody starts to say the number)you must go back to the beginning. Once somebody says one number without anybody interrupting, another person must say the next number without anybody interrupting, and so on.
- Keep going until your team reaches twenty.
- NO USING GESTURES!!
4. A Team Building Workshop Or Retreat
If you have enough funding in your budget, why not take your company to a place that specializes in team building activities?
For example, a lot of companies have taken advantage of high ropes courses. Many places that offer services like these have special programs for businesses to bring teams together. Adventure Associates has a ton of company activities (high and low ropes, rock climbing, and more) and company retreats that are held all over the world that are worth checking out.
Fun Group Games
1. Pitch Perfect A-capella Sing-Off
Have you seen Pitch Perfect? If not, you definitely should because it is a modern classic. Throughout the movie, there are constant battles between acapella teams. Acapella is the art of music without any instruments playing in the background because you are the instruments.
Goal: Through this team building exercise, your team will bond and work together.
Materials Needed: All you really need are your amazing voices, but feel free to bring some fun props like air guitars to bring out your inner rock stars.
- Divide into teams (You probably want about 5 to 10 people on each team)
- Write some common songs down on small pieces of paper that everyone should know, and put them in a hat or a box. Have each team pick a song.
- Give each team about 30 minutes to prep so that they can unleash their inner musicians. Keep in mind, while there are no instruments allowed, you can still snap, clap, beat box, etc.
- Come together and perform your masterpieces
This will allow your teams to bond over music, work together to create a performance with a tight deadline, and gain lots of laughs and memories.
Who said you can’t bring Pitch Perfect to the work scene?
2. Your Inner Artist
This is one of our favorite team building exercises, principally because we’re all terrible artists, so it makes for good fun!
Goal: This team building exercise will increase trust and patience among team members.
- Find some simple pictures online (Look Below For Example)
- Markers, Colored Pencils, or Crayons
- Paper (Preferably Recycled)
- Pair up- this exercise works best with two people per group. One will be the describer and the other will be the artist.
- Make sure that the artist is facing away from the describer. The describer is allowed to look at the artist, but the artist cannot look at the describer.
- Have one person take the picture (the describer) and the other person (the artist) will have the blank paper and “art supplies.” The describer will explain which color to use and how to draw it. You must only use adjectives and directions. Do not simply say, draw a desk.
- Set a timer (or watch the clock) for a certain time period depending on how difficult the picture is to draw.
- The goal of the describer is to tell the artist how to replicate the exact same picture in a calm, specific, quick, yet patient manner. The goal of the artist is to create a “mirror-image” of the picture without actually seeing it.
- When time is called, see how similar the two pictures were. This is not really a competition — there is no winner. The satisfaction comes from working together.
Tip: Add some work-related images. If images are too difficult, find pictures of multiple shapes (like the one below) in one image to make it easier.
3. The Who Am I? Charade
Goal: This team building exercise will add humor and create a stronger company bond.
Materials Needed: Blank Self-Adhesive Labels
- You (or the person in charge) needs to think of a theme. Some examples of themes might be adjectives describing emotions or names of careers. Make sure there are enough written down so that there is one word for each of your employees.
- Either have team members volunteer or consider creating an order in which they will go.
- When the team member comes up, write their word down on their label and stick it on them (make sure that they do not look down at their label for the entire duration of the exercise).
- The group will create a charade for the word that is on the label and the person must guess what it is.
Yes, it is just charades, but you will have the entire group trying to helping everybody figure out what their label is.
4. Find Your Opposite With Only Yes/No Questions
Goal: Team building exercises like this help everyone work together as a team and increase communication.
- Pieces of papers with pairs written on them. For example, if we have 30 employees, that means we need fifteen pairs (and thirty pieces of paper). Here are some examples:
-Black and White
-Brad and Angelina
-Positive and Negative
- Use the tape to put one of the pairs on each person’s backs
- Have everyone walk around and ask their coworkers yes or no questions about what is written on their back. Some questions might be, Am I a person? Am I a place? Am I a color? Remember, you can only use yes and no questions.
- Once a person figures out who they are, they can find their other half (AKA their other pair)
*Tip: Each person should go to lunch and bond with their pair.
5. Battle Of The Words
Goal: This team building exercise will utilize teamwork and allow for bonding between members.
- Have common words from songs written down on small pieces of paper like:
- Something to put the words in (like a hat or box)
- Your amazing voice (again)
- Split into a couple teams (ideally 3-5 people on each team)
- Put the common words in a hat and draw one.
- The teams should then start thinking of songs that have that word in it and if they think of one, they need to start singing that part of the song… as a group
- Keep track of which group “sings” the songs with the specific word
- At the end, which ever team comes up with and sings the most songs with the specific word wins
6. Work Family Game Day
Goal: This team building exercise will create relationships among employees and reduce stress.
Materials Needed (Some of the following):
- Traditional Board Games like Scrabble, Monopoly, and Clue
- A couple decks of card for card games
- Apps like Heads Up
- Video Games
- Ask team members to bring in the above types of games in advance and and set them up in the office
Tip: If possible, try to have this a night after work. This way everyone can look forward to it as a way to relax and have fun after the workday. It would also be nice to have some sort of potluck where everybody signs up to bring a special dish.
Goal: This team building exercise increases morale during a deadline or long project.
Materials Needed: None
- Have your team separate into two equal lines facing each other
- Face away from each other and have one line change five things about themselves (ex: taking hair down from a pony tail, switching shoes with another group member, adding a hat to their wardrobe). Set a time limit for this.
- Have the lines face each other again (each person facing the same person they faced before). Have the group that did not make any changes figure out the changes in appearance of the other group.
- Then, switch roles
- Whichever group finds the most appearance changes in the other group is the winner
8. Top Ten Lists – How Much Do You Know?
Goal: This team building exercise helps your employees work with others in a team to accomplish a task.
- Search for Top 10 lists (examples: Top 10 Songs of 2015 or Top Selling Cars of 2015)
- Writing Utensils and Paper
Tip: This team building exercise works best at the end of the year
- Get into groups of 3 to 5
- Give each group a sheet of paper and a writing utensil
- Name the subject of the top ten list
- Have each group write down/guess as many as they can. Give them about two minutes.
- Read the actual list and have each group check off how many they got correct. That is their score for this round.
- Complete this again with a different list.
- At the end, calculate the scores from each round to determine the winner.
Goal: This team building exercise will create company values.
This one is pretty self-explanatory, so I am not going to get all nitty-gritty. However, this one might be the most important on the list.
At one of your next meetings, take the time to look at different organization that you guys can volunteer at. This also gives you guys an opportunity to see what everyone is passionate about. Make sure you call the organizations that your team decides on to see if you guys can come in whenever you’d like or for a list of potential days your group can come in. Set up a day when most of you can make it.
Not only does this increase company unity and bonding, but it allows everyone to put their best foot forward to make a difference in their community.
1. Bring High School Physics Back And Get Messy – The Egg Drop (And no, I am not talking about the soup)
High School Physics was personally the hardest class I have ever taken. The one thing I dreaded so much was the egg drop. No matter what I did, the little egg would always well… you know. Perhaps, if I was working with a team, I would have enjoyed it a bit more, eh?
Goal: This team building exercise will help everybody work together to create a creative solution.
- A carton of eggs
- LOTS of paper towel
Some of or all of the following:
- Popsicle Sticks
- Plastic Wrap
Note: Make sure you are somewhere that is suitable for dropping an egg (try your parking lot!). Make sure you are dropping the egg from somewhere decently high because it is an egg drop.
- Split everyone into teams
- Give each team about a half hour to secure their egg
- Let the egg dropping competition begin
- If more than one team’s egg survives, no worries. Just continue to increase how high you are dropping the egg from. Trust me, the eggs will break at some point (Unless you are Isaac Newton).
Team Building Exercises Infographic
Team Building Exercises for Remote Teams
Increasing team leadership across your company when each employee is scattered at different places around the world can be pretty difficult, but it is still possible.
1. Let’s Break The Ice
Goal: Learn more about the people you work with.
- You can either start off your next group video/phone call out by asking a question that everyone needs to answer, or you can do a group email with your entire team once a week and have everybody reply to all.
- Here are some examples of questions to ask:
- If you can travel to any time period, which time period would you choose and why?
- Do you have any pets?
- What are three characteristics that describe yourself?
- If you had a paid plane ticket and a week stay at a 5-Star hotel, where would you travel to?
- What are your hobbies?
2. Welcome To My Office
Goal: This remote team building exercise will help everybody get an idea of where their coworkers do their work all while learning more about each other.
- Use a program like Skype or GoToMeeting to set up a group video conference call.
- If you have a very large group, you might want to do different calls based on departments (the customer success department does a call at one time, the marketing department does a call at another time, etc.)
- Have each person show their office space using the webcam, their pet, a cool part of where they live, etc.
Online Team Builders
1. Office Interactions
You might not be able to have work friends who you can go out with all of the time, but who says you can’t have remote work friends?
Goal: This remote team building exercise helps establish closer relationships between employees who do not know or see each other on a day-to-day basis.
- Assign everybody a phone or video chat buddy
- Set an amount of times that they must call each other (Ex: A one-hour call each month)
- Make sure you set a limit to how long they can talk about work (Ex: Out of the half hour call, you can only spend 10 minutes talking about work-related matters)
Tip: It might be a good idea to throw together a list of icebreakers to help keep the conversation going
2. Virtual Lunch Break
Goal: This remote team building exercise allows coworkers to chat about everyone’s workday and take a break.
- Set up a video chat (you can do this by department if you would like)
- Have everybody eat their lunch with each other through video chat
- Make sure that there is a time limit for work-related conversation (we want this to be a fun lunch break)
3. The Gift Exchange
Goal: This remote team building exercise establishes closer relationships between employees who do not know or see each other on a daily basis.
- Send out an email explaining that your company is planning on doing a gift exchange. If you have a ton of employees, it might be a good idea to ask who wants to be a part of it. If you have a smaller team, everyone should easily be able to participate. Make sure that you determine a budget that everybody should spend to make sure that nobody is spending too much.
- Assign everybody within your group to somebody whom they will be responsible to purchase a gift for. Since it is likely that they do not know each other well, you might want to provide some hints regarding hobbies and interests of their coworker that they are buying the gift for.
- Set a deadline of when the gifts need to be sent out.
- Let everyone enjoy their gifts! This should spark conversation between the remote employees
Fun Group Games
1. Team Movie Night
Goal: This remote team building exercise will allow your team to sit back, relax, loosen up, and bond over a movie.
- Choose a movie that everyone can have access to on their lap tops or by DVD
- Open up a group chat (like on a Google Doc or Facebook Messenger) and have everyone talk about the movie as you watch it!
Tip: You might want to choose a couple movie genres (like comedy, scifi, action, mystery, etc.) so that there is something for everyone!
2. Video Charades
Goal: This remote team building exercise allows everyone to have fun across your virtual team.
- Set up a time for a video chat (once again, you might want to do this by departments if you have a large team)
- Have each person mimic something from a theme you guys choose via their webcam (ex: movie stars, television shows, etc.)
- Have the rest of the group guess what they are imitating
Tip: If you look online, there are a ton of charade idea generators. On this one there are no themes; it simply goes by level of difficulty.
3. Book Club
Goal: This remote team bonding activity allows certain team members to get to know each other better by bonding over a book.
- Every month or so, choose a book from a different genre
Tip: Allow people to choose if they want to participate in this one because not everyone likes to read while others love to.
- Either set up a group message, or a specific time where the participants can talk on a group call or video chat about the book
*While this one might not appeal to everyone, there certainly are people who love books. This should help establish valuable relationships between these people.
Remote Team Building Exercises Infographic
Hopefully you have found some team bonding exercises that are suitable for your face-to-face or remote team. Whether you try one of them, or all of them, these team building exercises will bring your team together on a personal level so that your team can work closely together and accomplish even more.