20 fun in-person team building activities

20 fun in-person team building activities
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Team building activities and events are becoming standard practice in many companies. They are a great way to assess a team’s strengths, build connections between teams, and facilitate a more collegial work environment. 

We’ve put together a list of 20 of our favorite team building activities for work. From in-office to offsite activities, events that even your introverted team members will love, fun events as well as more targeted events for team building, this list includes activities for everyone. These team building activities will help cultivate a positive company culture, and bring your team closer together. 

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Benefits of office team building activities 

Team activities for work help to shape and promote your company culture by showing your employees that you value them as whole people, not just workers. Team building events are fun and help build camaraderie in the workplace.  

Beyond the company culture benefits of team building activities, there are some more concrete ways that team building activities for work can benefit your team. 

Office team building activities are a great way to improve communication between your team and boost overall morale. It’s also a great opportunity for leadership qualities to emerge in employees, which is something to keep in mind for future promotions. Team building exercises build trust and foster collective responsibility, which are great traits for your team to have. 

Lastly, many team building activities promote creative thinking and boost confidence in employees. Team building events are great opportunities for employees to go out of their comfort zone, flex their creativity muscles, and build their confidence.  

What makes a successful team activity for work? 

There are a lot of work social event ideas and team building activities out there, but not all of them will fit your team’s goals or workplace culture. You want to make sure to organize team building activities that will improve employee engagement. 

Successful team activities for work directly support a team’s objective. For example, if your objective is to create a fun day for the whole office, then focus on activities that aren’t directly related to work. If, on the other hand, your objective is to get a small team acquainted with each other before embarking on a large project, then you might want to go with activities that get everyone working together and communicating. 

Another thing to keep in mind when picking office event ideas is to ensure that your activity is inclusive, and that everyone feels comfortable participating. Try to avoid events that are alcohol-heavy, or at least provide equally fun non-alcoholic options. Not only do some people not drink alcohol — whether for religious, health, or personal reasons — but excessive alcohol can lead to some inappropriate behavior that detracts from the purposes of a team building exercise. 

As much fun as physical activities like field days and office olympics are, some employees might have physical limitations that prevent them from participating. If you choose an event like this, make sure to include non-physical roles that employees can participate in, like score-keeper or judge. 

A successful team building activity is one that directly supports a team’s objectives, and an event that everyone is able to participate equally in. 

When should you schedule a team building activity? 

Getting everyone together in one room is often the biggest challenge in putting together a team building event. There’s also the delicate balance between wanting to contribute to the company’s culture, but not wanting to take too much time away from the workday. 

Fridays are a great time to host fun team building activities, as people tend to be “checked out” on Friday in anticipation of the weekend. You can reserve Friday morning for Focus Time or meetings, and then clear everyone’s schedules in the afternoon for team building events. Depending on your team objectives and the size of your organization, you can set aside one Friday a month or quarter for team building activities. 

Another great time to schedule team building activities is Monday afternoon. While it seems counterintuitive to take away from your team’s focus on projects at the beginning of the week, scheduling team building activities on Monday means your team will be riding the wave of high morale and improved communication throughout the week.

Clockwise automates your team’s schedule, making it easier for you to organize team building activities around everyone’s schedule. With tools like Flexible Meetings and Slack Sync, you can spend more time planning office event ideas, and less time juggling everyone’s schedules. 

20 team building activities for work

We picked these 20 office event ideas because they help to boost morale and improve communication in the workplace. 

1. Office Trivia 

Team objective: Fun and entertainment, getting to know each other.

Where to host: Virtual or in-office. 

Trivia is a fun and flexible team building activity. The idea is similar to pub trivia — split up into teams, and everyone gets a chance to answer the same trivia questions. Whichever team gets the most answers correct, wins. 

You can base the trivia questions on office and work-related topics, like “this employee won a hot dog eating contest…. more than once,” or you can host general trivia. If you do go with general trivia, be sure to include a variety of categories so everyone has a chance to answer. If all the questions are about sports, there will inevitably be some people who feel left out because they don’t know anything about sports. 

You can also choose to structure trivia like your favorite game show. 

2. Board Game Night

Team objective: Fun and entertainment.

Where to host: In-office. 

Board game night is an excellent way for people to mingle and interact with other teams. There are dozens of board games out there, ranging from simple to complex. Set up a few tables, each with a different game, and let people choose what they play. Be sure to include some simple party games like Jenga, and some more complex games for the board game aficionados. Werewolf is a great team bonding game that encourages leadership and communication. 

Board game night is also a great option for introverts, who may find it easier to participate in structured social activities like playing a board game. 

3. Escape Room 

Team objective: Fun and entertainment, team building.

Where to host: In or out of office.

Escape rooms are tons of fun, and they also encourage teamwork, trust, and communication. Escape rooms plant various puzzles that you must solve in order to open keys that eventually allow you to “escape” the room within the time limit. These games encourage critical thinking and creativity. The typical escape room can accommodate up to 12 people, so it’s an activity that’s best for smaller teams. 

You can always go to your local escape room and book a few rooms for the office, or you can buy an “escape room in a box” experience and transform your conference room into an escape room. If you want the whole office to participate, you can split the office into smaller teams and compete for the fastest time. 

4. Murder Mystery 

Team objective: Fun and entertainment, team building.

Where to host: Virtual, In-office.

Hosting a murder mystery is very similar to an escape room, but the game can span beyond just one room. There are plenty murder mystery boxes that you can get for your team, or you can create your own. You can decide to host a classic dinner or train themed murder mystery, or you can use the office environment as a compelling background for the story of the “murder.” 

Solving a murder mystery encourages teams to work together to solve clues, and share information with each other (or strategically withhold information). 

5. Human Knot 

Team objective: Team building.

Where to host: In or out of office.

Human knot is a great physical team building exercise that’s easy for most people to participate in. You can do it with small groups or large groups. The idea is that everyone stands in a circle and creates a “knot” of arms by clasping hands with two other people not adjacent to themselves. The team must then work together to detangle the mass of limbs without letting go of anyone’s hand. 

This team building exercise is a great way to improve communication and get everyone working together towards a common goal. It’s also a great icebreaker for a new team. Just make sure that everyone in your team is comfortable with physical touch and is able to complete movements like bending down and twisting from side-to-side. 

6. Perfect Square

Team objective: Team building.

Where to host: In or out of office.

Perfect square is a great team building exercise for teams who need to work together to achieve big goals. 

Everyone starts the game blindfolded, and standing in a circle. At their feet is a large rope, also in the shape of a circle. The participants then take five steps backwards, and have to create a perfect square out of the rope while blindfolded. When the group thinks they have achieved their goal, they remove the blindfold and assess their progress. 

Perfect square is easy to play, and really gets teams working together in creative ways. 

7. Scavenger Hunt 

Team objective: Team building, fun and entertainment.

Where to host: In or out of office.

There’s a reason why scavenger hunts are an oldie but goodie at summer camps, schools, and the office. They’re a great way for people to get to know each other better and work together to find items. You can either hide random objects for the hunt or have the items themselves be prizes. 

You can host a scavenger hunt in the office or outside. Foster a little bit of healthy competition by dividing the office into small teams and having them compete against each other to find as many items as possible. 

8. Egg Drop 

Team objective: Team building.

Where to host: In or out of office.

Egg drop is a favorite with engineering teams — and with good reason. The objective of the game is to drop an egg without breaking it. Split your group into smaller teams and have each team engineer a way to drop their egg safely. Teams should then test their plans and go back to the drawing board if necessary. 

They’ll have so much fun, they won’t even realize they’re basically reenacting the product development lifecycle. 

9. Community Service

Team objective: Team building.

Where to host: In or out of office.

Enlisting your team to help the community is a great way to build stronger bonds, both in the office, and with the community that you are a part of. Large non-profits, like Habitat for Humanity, have specific team building opportunities. As a team you can also start brainstorming ways to help local organizations. 

If you’re not able to take everyone out of the office, see what you can do together as a team to help in the office. Perhaps there’s a local organization in need of a simple app that your team can develop?

10. Cooking Classes 

Team objective: Team building, fun and entertainment.

Where to host: Virtual, in or out of office.

A cooking class is a fun way for teams to foster collaboration and improve communication. It’s also a great opportunity to get together and eat great food. 

There are tons of cooking classes by local chefs and catering companies, and the good news is that your team’s actual involvement in the meal is usually minimal, so even if there aren’t any culinary geniuses on your team you’ll still enjoy a great meal together. Just make sure to accommodate any dietary restrictions on your team. 

11. Two Truths and a Lie 

Team objective: Getting to know each other

Where to host: Virtual, in or out of office.

Two Truths and a Lie is a great icebreaker game. With this game, everyone sits around a circle and says three things about themselves. The twist is that one of these fun facts is indeed a lie, and the group has to guess which statement is the one lie. 

This fun game that will have your team well acquainted with each other in no time. It’s also a great way to go beyond asking the same icebreaker questions before every meeting, and you can play it before any of these other longer team building activities. 

12. Blind Drawing

Team objective: Team building.

Where to host: In or out of office.

Blind drawing is another funny game with sneaky team building benefits. For this game, teams pair up. Each pair sits back to back. One person in the pair holds an image, and the other a piece of paper and a pen. The person holding the image tries to explain to their partner what the image is, so that the partner can draw it anew. Then, the pair compares their sheets of paper to see how close the two images are. 

While this pictionary-like game will have the whole office laughing, it will also help assess how your team is communicating with each other, and how they handle breakdowns in communication. 

13. Shark Tank 

Team objective: Team building, fun and entertainment.

Where to host: In-office

This activity is based on the reality TV show in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to wealthy investors. The idea is to host your very own “Shark Tank” at the office. You can have your C-suite act as the judges, and have teams pitch their ideas. 

You can help foster creativity in the workplace by having the pitches relate to the work your teams do, but for a fun twist, you can have teams pitch outlandish ideas unrelated to work, like “a beer helmet, but for sparkling water.” 

This activity is a great way to inspire some healthy competition among teams, as well as creativity. It’s also a great opportunity for employees who usually aren’t part of decision-making to get a chance and show off their innovative ideas. 

14. GIF Wars 

Team objective: Fun and entertainment.

Where to host: In-office. 

GIF wars are more of an ongoing event than a one-time activity, but it’s a great way to keep the mood light in the office. The idea is to send out a new prompt daily, and have people respond with GIFs. The funniest GIF related to the prompt, wins. Prompts could be from pop culture, or something funny like “NYC pizza rat.” The idea is to get people laughing, and encourage employees to have conversations with each other. A little friendly competition doesn’t hurt, either. 

15. Office Debates 

Team objective: Team building, fun and entertainment.

Where to host: In-office. 

Office debates will take you back to your high school years. In effect, the concept is exactly like mock debates. Two teams go head-to-head to argue opposite sides of an issue. The issue can be something serious and work-related, like arguing the merits of Scrum vs waterfall methods of product development. 

Another idea is to provide silly issues for debate, like arguing between two brands of sparkling water to be available in the common area, or debating between two team building activities for the next event. The winning team can then win the change they argued for. If there isn’t time for everyone to debate, then some members can debate and the rest of the team can act as judges.  

Office debate is a great way to sharpen your team’s critical thinking and persuasive skills. 

16. What’s My Name? 

Team objective: Team building, fun and entertainment.

Where to host: In-office.

What’s my name is a fun icebreaker activity for any team building event or party. The organizers give the entire group Post-its or sticky notes with different names of famous people/historical figures. They place the Post-it on their forehead so they can’t see the name of the person they are representing. Then, they must then go around and ask yes-or-no questions to ascertain whose name is on their forehead. 

This game is a great way to get people in different teams to mingle and talk with each other. 

17. Corporate Castaways

Team objective: Team building, fun and entertainment.

Where to host: Out-of-office.

Corporate Castaways is based on games like Survivor. Different teams must compete with each other to win survival games, like navigating their way using only a compass or building a shelter together. 

This game is a great way for teams to exercise their problem-solving, task delegation, and communication skills. It works best when played with the whole team. Team leaders can lead the team in-game, and everyone will learn a little bit more about their team’s strengths and weaknesses. 

What awaits teams at the finish line? You can decide on the prizes. 

18. Barter Puzzle 

Team objective: Team building.

Where to host: In-office.

Barter puzzle is the ultimate competition team building activity. The game starts off with a simple premise – each team is given a jigsaw puzzle to complete. The twist is that there are a few pieces missing from each team’s puzzles, and the other teams have the missing pieces! Teams must then negotiate with each other to claim their missing puzzle pieces and complete the puzzle. The first team to complete their puzzle, wins. 

This is a great way for team leaders to flex their negotiation skills. Plus, there’s no better way to foster team loyalty than a bit of healthy competition against another team. 

19. Themed Pictionary 

Team objective: Team building, fun and entertainment.

Where to host: In-office.

Sometimes, it’s best to go back to the classics. Pictionary is a well-loved classic in which one person draws something on a whiteboard, while the rest of the group tries to guess what they are drawing. Put a twist on the old classic by organizing themed pictionary. You can have people draw out abstract concepts, like different stages in the product development cycle, or technical terms your team uses often. The more abstract the prompt, the more challenging — and funny — the game can get. 

20. Potlucks 

Team objective: Fun and entertainment, get to know each other.

Where to host: In-office.

If you’re looking for an event in which to try out some of the shorter team building games and icebreaker games, a potluck is the perfect opportunity. For a potluck, each employee is responsible for bringing food or drinks, and everyone eats together. Not everyone likes to cook, so make sure to let your employees know it’s okay to bring takeout. To avoid 20 people bringing chips and dips, put different teams in charge of different parts of the meal: One team can be in charge of drinks, another appetizers, and another main dishes. Potlucks are a great way for employees to share the food they love. 

Virtual team building activities 

Not all workplaces are returning to the office, and some places are permanently adopting a hybrid or remote structure. It’s important to stay in touch with remote employees and regularly organize team building activities, even with remote teams. 

Many of the ideas above can be done virtually, and for more ideas be sure to read our post on Zoom team building ideas

Going forward

Team building activities are a great way to cultivate a positive company culture and boost team morale. We’ve put together 20 of the best team building activities that are great for teams of all sizes, and for any team building objective. 

About the author

Judy Tsuei

Judy Tsuei is a Simon & Schuster author, speaker, and podcast host. She’s been featured in MindBodyGreen, BBC Travel, Fast Company, Hello Giggles, and more. As the founder of Wild Hearted Words, a creative marketing agency for global brands, Judy is also a mentor with the Founder Institute, the world's largest pre-seed accelerator. Judy advocates for mental and emotional health on her popular podcast, F*ck Saving Face. Follow along her journey at WildHeartedWords.com.

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