49 Best Team Building Activities Ranked (with Instructions)

49 Best Team Building Activities Ranked (with Instructions)

Heather Harper

You’re going to love this mega guide of the best team building activities guaranteed to bring everyone together. Improve your organisational culture, foster better communication, and strengthen cooperation with this ultimate guide to team building activities.

We’ve done all the hard work so you don’t have to. With this guide, you’ll never be at a loss as to what team building activity you should be held next.


If your team is working remotely at the moment then you should check out our guide on remote team building games and activities for virtual teams. In there you'll find 37 great ideas with instructions that you can try with your newly remote team.


Whether you’re a small business or a multinational conglomerate, the most important resource and asset any business has are the people that work for them.

But, more important than hiring rockstars and A-players, is making sure that you have a team that can work well together.

After all... “if you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.

As is already fairly obvious from the name, team building exercises are designed to help teams form those bonds of trust, co-operation and communication that are essential building blocks in every high-performing team.

Team building activities promote teamwork and coordination. Almost universally, business leaders and managers alike have identified how improving the teamwork amongst their employees leads to direct improvements in business results and profitability.

Research has found time and time again that groups and/or remote teams who boast effective teamwork and communication have better productivity, organisational culture, showed more goal attainment and demonstrate positive attitudes and satisfaction with the job.

Furthermore, research has specifically found that team building activities have a positive impact on team performance, especially when team building exercises are used for developmental purposes, are integrated into real work goals, are properly designed and are followed up with other activities afterwards.

Similarly, other research has found that focusing on team building improves process and affective outcomes (i.e., improves team trust, team potency, team coordination and team communication).

Based on this scientific support, we cannot recommend highly enough using team building activities whether it be a scavenger hunt, ice breaker questions, or customer / team member role-playing!

The team building activities we have selected throughout this guide are designed to aid with:

  • Building new teams and helping teams with new members
  • Dealing with change and its effects
  • Recognising individual efforts and team accomplishments
  • Finding creative ways to work together and solve problems
  • Increasing and improving communication
  • Leveraging diversity and individual differences to meet team goals
  • Keeping competition healthy and productive within the team

Before your team building activity

We will provide you with a long list of activities - but, first it is important to select an activity that is good for your team.

It is important to have a clear objective with each activity - what is the point of spending time, effort and money on an activity if you can’t identify the benefit of conducting it?

So, before picking activities from our guide that are best for you - (with over 100 ideas, we don’t recommend trying to plough through them all!).

Set a goal that is: attainable by your team, relevant and applicable, and something that can be reinforced long after you conduct your team building activities.

Before conducting our activities with your team, you also need to prepare for the activity to ensure that every team member has a great learning experience.

Before you conduct an activity, ensure that you:

  • Read through the entire activity several times to make sure you are clear on what is to happen.
  • Obtain all necessary materials - we aim to pick activities that are inexpensive and don’t require a large amount of additional costs. However, some of our activities require materials that you will need to source in advance.
  • Practice what you are going to say when you start the activity with the team and practice what you are going to say during that activity.
  • Set up the room.

During the team building activity

We recommend giving a small introduction to your team so that they are more engaged and willing to participate. During this introduction, set the mood - ensure that the atmosphere is filled with enthusiasm, optimism and fun. This is also a great way to boost moral and bring more awareness to your company culture because it is very important for your team to come together and feel more like community.

You should also explain to your work team what the activity is, its rules and most importantly… why you are doing this particular activity. This gets everyone involved, removes confusion and sets a clear goal/target for your team.

During the activity, it is also important to encourage and support your team members at all times. Make sure you are there to clarify and redirect the team.

After the activity

A debrief is a critical part of the team-building activity - it guides team members to link what they experienced in the activity to their job.

During debriefing sessions, ask participants what they learnt, how they feel it applies and how they are going to apply their new knowledge regarding to their job.

Our top tip is to make debriefing light-hearted and quick, you don’t want your team to get bored after they have had such a fun team building experience.

In the following days and weeks after team building activities, it is important to reinforce the learning back on the job. One way to do this is to display anything the team created during the activity in the workplace (e.g., some activities require teams to create a flipchart or a sculpture). Also, ask your team members for new ideas they may have towards team building and also regarding the company.

Doing this reminds teams of what they did, how it made them feel and what it taught them.

Refer to the activity and the lessons learned in meetings and one-on-ones over the next few weeks - this reminds participants of what they did and how it helped.

You can also plan follow up activities; team building exercises that reinforce the same goals and objectives - this will emphasise what was learnt and how important it is.

1) Social Painting

Objective: Team bonding

Participants: 5 to 20 people

Duration: 3 to 4 hours

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: Some art supplies (e.g., paint, paper/canvases, pens) and some wine

social painting

We love this fun team building activity because it is a stress-free alternative to many other high-energy team building activities.

And, with research finding that stress impedes performance, we think it's critical to ensure team building activities are stress free and fun.

This team building activity pushes everyone out of their comfort zone and brings teams closer together.

Instructions

The instructions of this team building activity are simple. Arrange an evening after work and get everyone on your team to join for some wine and food with one another.

Pick a theme (we recommend something work related), and get everyone to unleash their creative demons by painting something related to that theme.

2) Hackathons

Objective: Team bonding and improving collaboration

Participants: 10 to 50 people

Duration: 6 to 24 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: None

hackathons

This team building activity is by far the lengthiest and most complex in our guide.

In recent years, tech companies have been absolutely obsessed with hackathons as a way to turn a group of strangers into a high-performing team in less than 24 hours. The great news is that you don’t necessarily have to be a tech-based startup in Silicon Valley to hold your own hackathon.

While Hackathons might be stressful, and it can be at times, it’s also incredibly fun. Hackathons give people a chance to work on something completely different, to stretch their skills and all without the stress of having to answer to upper management.

For organizations, hackathons also give them a chance to field test new ideas, encourage a company culture of innovation and even come up with entirely new products by the end of it.

We recommend using this on new recruits/teams who don’t know each other very well.

Instructions

  1. Separate your participants into teams - we recommend having 5 people per team.
  2. Pick projects for the teams to create - this can be anything from creating a new app (if you’re a tech savvy company), coming up with a marketing campaign or creating a short story/film.
  3. Set a time limit (e.g., a working day, 24 hours or a week).
  4. The team that has the best idea after the time limit wins - we recommend giving prizes as incentives.

3) Make-Your-Own Music Video

Objective: Team bonding

Participants: 10 to 50 people

Duration: 1 to 3 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: Camera and relevant editing software

make your own music video

We love this activity because it gets everyone involved and tapping into their inner rockstar!

Yes, the end product can be a little corny and lame, but that’s kind of the point.

Nothing brings people together more than the entire team being able to have a fun game and have a good laugh at themselves.

Instructions

  1. Split your team into groups of around 5 to 10 (dependent on the number of people you’re playing with).
  2. Pick out some catchy top 40 pop song that everyone knows the words to (even if they won’t admit to it).
  3. Let teams have 2 hours to create their own music video (provide camera equipment and the relevant software).
  4. Get everyone back together to watch the videos and have a laugh.
  5. To introduce friendly competition, we recommend offering prizes for the winning team and a smaller prize or incentive for every team and their efforts. Either you can decide this, or you can cast a vote.

4) Escape Room

Objective: Creative problem solving and team bonding

Participants: 5 to 20 people (depends on where you go!)

Duration: 1 to 2 hours

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: None

escape room

Perhaps the most expensive team building activity on the list, we like escape rooms because they mean everyone can get involved, including you.

As well as being a really good time, escape rooms also test a group's ability to work together, their communication skills and their problem solving. Think of them as a kind of physical jigsaw puzzle that the entire group might enjoy.

Instructions

There aren’t really any instructions for this team building activity.

All you have to do is find a local escape room, book it (and pay for it) and take your team there for the time of their lives!

In case you don’t know, escape rooms is a kind of game where one team or both teams are locked in a room together and are tasked with finding a way out similar to a scavenger hunt in a way.

The catch is that in order to do so, they have to solve no small amount of puzzles and challenges to get “free.” Escape rooms are a great way to work together as team while teaching necessary problem solving skills.

5) Magazine Cover

Objective: Improving collaboration and confidence building

Participants: 4 to 20 people

Duration: 1 to 2 hours

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: Pens, paper or editing software

magazine cover

The purpose of this activity is to help team members get into the mindset of what it would be like to be featured in a magazine, how they’d like their achievements to be portrayed and what it takes to get them there.

We love it so much because it promotes creativity and encourages everyone to use their imagination!

Instructions

  1. Separate participants into teams.
  2. Pick a theme and ask each team to create an imaginary magazine cover that corresponds with the theme. We recommend the theme being an upcoming announcement or achievement of the company.
  3. Pick the best cover and give the winners a prize (perhaps a nice bottle of wine!).

Objective: To enhance creative thinking, breaking away from work and team work

Participants: 4 or more (two or more teams)

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Sandwich style cookies, like these ones

cookie towers

We love the cookie towers game because it incorporates fun and creativity in the workplace.

Personally, we find this team building activity so important because research has found that creativity in teams increases knowledge sharing - an attribute that all successful teams possess.

Instructions

  1. Divide participants into groups of four to six.
  2. Give each group the same number of sandwich style cookies (i.e., give them 20 each).
  3. The teams then must compete to create the tallest tower of cookies that stands by itself for a specific time period.

7) The Plastic Cup Pyramid

Objective: To enhance teamwork and communication

Participants: Groups of six

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: One rubber band per group. Six 3-foot pieces of string per group, six plastic drink cups per group, and a table for each group

the plastic cup pyramid

This activity is one of our favourites because it promotes effective teamwork.

It might be blatantly obvious, but research found time and time again that teams who boast effective teamwork and communication have a better productivity, organisational culture, showed more goal attainment and demonstrate positive attitudes and satisfaction with the job.

So, based on the science, this team building activity is a must!

Instructions

  1. Tie one end of the six strings to each rubber band so that you have a circle (rubber band) with six spokes coming from it.
  2. Place a plastic drinking cup face down on the table.
  3. Each team is given a rubber band with strings on it and each team members holds one string.
  4. The challenge is to use the rubber band to pick up the cups and build a pyramid.
  5. Teams cannot use their hands to touch the cup at any point - even if it falls on the floor.
  6. The team to build a pyramid first wins.

8) The Great Hunt Purpose

Objective: Enhancing teamwork in newly formed teams

Participants: 4 or more (works better with a larger group)

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Bags

the great hunt purpose

We like this activity because it is active and gets everyone up and walking about.

We recommend using this team building activity on teams that are new to the company. This activity is great for both small groups and large groups.

Our favourite thing about this team building activity is that it energises people; a unique advantage as research has found that when employees are highly energised, the climate in the organisation is of high energy; which leads to higher organisational performance!

Instructions

  1. Split your group into pairs.
  2. Give each pair a bag and instruct them to go around the office and gather items that begin with different letters of the company name.
  3. For example, if the company was called “The Best Company” teams would have to find items that begin with the following letters: A = 1 item; B = 1 item; C = 1 item; E = 2 items; H = 1 item; M = 1 item; N = 1 item; O= 1 item; P = 1 item; R = 1 item; S = 1 item; T = 1 item; Y = 1 item. That’s a total of 14 items to collect. For “E” team members might collect an envelope or an eraser.
  4. Set the clock for 10 minutes (or longer or shorter, depending on the length of your company name!).
  5. The winning team is the one who collects the most items in the time given.

9) Mummy Wrap

Objective: To build rapport and promote creativity and collaboration

Participants: 6 or more, broken into two teams or more

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Toilet paper

mummy wrap

We’ve all played this game as kids at our friends birthday parties - it was fun then, and it's just as fun now!

We personally love this team building activity because it gets everyone laughing, joining in and feeling energised.

Instructions

  1. Chose one person to be the mummy (and by this we mean the scary egypetian thing… not your mother!).
  2. Set the timer and then the teams must wrap their colleague in toilet paper.
  3. The teams should decorate their mummy in any way they seem fit - once the clock is done, get the teams to show each other their creations.

10) Mummy Wrap v2

Objective: To build rapport and collaboration

Participants: 6 or more, broken into two teams or more

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Toilet paper

mummy wrap v2

A slightly different variation of the mummy game outlined above. We love this variation because it promotes creativity and teamwork...

Instructions

  1. Choose an object or character for the teams - we recommend picking something related to a project, the team or the company.
  2. The team then has to create a mummy to resemble your chosen character or object.
  3. You then judge the winning team - we recommend offering a small prize to the team that wins!

11) Spaghetti and Gummy Bears

Objective: To promote collaboration and team competition

Participants: 16 to 28 people

Duration: 15 people

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Dried spaghetti and bags of gummy bears

spaghetti and gummy bears

This is on our list of team building activities because it promotes teamwork, which we all know leads to better teams. This activity also encourages everyone to think outside the box, communicate with each other and produces a little bit of creativity.

Instructions

  1. Separate your team into four groups.
  2. Give each group a pack of dried spaghetti and a pack of gummy bears.
  3. The teams then have 5 minutes to build a tower using only the gummy bears and the spaghetti.
  4. After the clock finishes, set a new timer for three minutes - the team whose tower can stand up the longest during this three minutes wins.

12) Build Your Team's House

Objective: To promote team building and creative thinking

Participants: 4 or more (tip: if your group is large, break it into smaller groups)

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes

Difficulty: Advanced

Materials: A gingerbread house kit, a food colouring pen and a coloured frosting tube

build your team's house

We suggest playing this game around christmas time, to get everyone in the festive spirit and creating a warm and friendly atmosphere in the office.

We love this activity because it highlights natural born leaders, team players and problem solvers, so it is great to use on new recruits.

Instructions

  1. Have each team build a house from the gingerbread house kit, frosting tube and colouring pens.
  2. Ensure that as they are building, they are including each member’s name in the house and this should be with reference to how they contribute to the team.
  3. For example, if they are on the wall, it is because they are good support.
  4. Once finished… Everyone can eat their houses!

13) Mouse in a Pipe

Objective: To promote collaborative communication

Participants: 4 or more

Duration: 20 to 30 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: A marble, a small length of pipe for each team member and a cup

mouse in a pipe

This team building activity requires a little bit of mental power and cooperation.

But, it is an important activity to try out with your team as it promotes collaboration and cooperation; a quality shown in strong and effective teams.

Instructions

  1. Place the cup on the opposite side of the room from the team.
  2. The team is to get the marble to the cup by only using the pipe - they can use the pipes any way they like but that cannot touch the marble and if the marble falls they have to start over again.
  3. Before starting the activity, give the team a few minutes to plan what they think will work best.

14) Colors of the Rainbow

Objective: Getting to know your team

Participants: 4 to 15 people

Duration: 20 or 30 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: Coloured candies (e.g., skittles or M&M’s)

colors of the rainbow

We personally like this team building activity because it allows team members to get to know each other on a deeper and more personal level.

It promotes relationship building and gives conversation starters that can be used at a later date.

Instructions

  1. Team members pick a piece of candy.
  2. Tell them to wait and reveal to them that each of these candies has a story.
  3. They must tell the story in order to eat the candy - you can give each colour a different theme.
  4. Red: the most embarrassing moment.
  5. Blue:a bad day at work.
  6. Orange: your proudest moment.
  7. Yellow: The time someone helped you when you were most in need.
  8. Continue until everyone has eaten the candy - they may pick another piece if they wish.
  9. At the end, ask team members what new information they found about their team members.

15) Office Trivia

Objective: Getting to know your teammates, the company and the department

Participants: 8 to 100 people

Duration: 30 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: Preprepared questions and prizes for the winner

office trivia

We recommend using this activity to introduce new people to their coworkers and to the company.

As first impressions have been found to count, it is important that you keep this team building activity fun and engaging to leave a lasting impression of your organisation.

Instructions

  1. Prepare multiple trivia questions before the activity. For example, ask questions on policies, department locations or questions about team members.
  2. Call out the questions, the first person to get the correct answer wins a point.
  3. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

16) Global Warming

Objective: Teamwork and problem solving

Participants: 6 or more (at least two teams)

Duration: 10 minutes (plus overnight prep!)

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: Two large bowls (they must be the same size) and water

global warming

This activity promotes everything you want your team to possess to be successful: creativity, problem solving and the ability to think outside the box.

Instructions

  1. Freeze water into the bowls the night before you intend to conduct this activity.
  2. The teams then have to melt their ice before the other team melts there. They can do this any way they see fit and by using anything they can find in the office.
  3. The winning team is the one who melt their ice first.

17) Show Me Your Signs

Objective: To get good first impressions

Participants: 4 to 20 people

Duration: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: Sticky labels

show me yours signs

The final activity on our list is perhaps to weirdest - or at least it would be to passers by who have no idea what is doing on in the room!

We love this activity because its low cost, pushes people to be a little bit weird with each other and gets everyone interacting… What more could you want from a team building activity?

Instructions

  1. Create labels with activities written on them (such as running, skiing, swimming etc) and stick them on the back of each team member without the person knowing what it says (only the other team members can see the sign).
  2. The team members should interact with other members according to their signs.
  3. Once the time is up, ask each team member what they thought their activity might be.

18) Star Power

Objective: Encourages cooperation and reinforces communication skills

Participants: 5 to 15 people

Duration: 12 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: 40-to 50-foot of rope

star power

We suggest using this ice breaker when individuals are not cooperating well as part of a team.

Research has found that teamwork is one of the driving factors to successful teams because it promotes better organisational culture, goal attainment, positive attitudes and satisfaction.

Based on this, if your team is not working as well together as they could, there could be catastrophic consequences.

So, this game is our top favourite because it improves team outcomes by encouraging teams to work effectively and cooperatively again.

Instructions

  1. Have all participants pick up the rope from the floor.
  2. Instruct participants that they can move their hands along the rope, but that they cannot let go of the rope at any point. Even to change places with each other.
  3. Set the timer for 10 minutes and within this time, participants must form a balanced five-pointed start with the rope.
  4. As a debrief, ask questions about how disagreements were solved, did anyone emerge as the leader and how this relates back to the job.

19) Bridges and Towers

Objective: To get team members to understand how to react to changing goals or resources

Participants: 10 to 30 people

Duration: 12 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: An identical set of building materials for each team and a set of identical items to act as weights

bridges and towers

We recommend using this when a group is experiencing a lot of change at work. Evidence has suggested that optimism and positive emotions are positively related to increased acceptance of organisational change.

We love this team building game because it enhances optimism and positive emotions surrounding change, which means your team is more likely to accept organisational change.

Instructions

  1. Divide the group into teams of three to six and give each team the same materials.
  2. Assign each team a different goal (e.g., one team bust build the tallest free-standing structure, another should build a bridge and another should build a structure that will hold as much weight above the table as possible).
  3. Give them 3 minutes to plan.
  4. Then, tell the teams they have 7 minutes to complete their structures.
  5. However, whenever you please, you are allowed the have the teams move away from their places, leave everything behind and take over another team’s project.
  6. Whichever project they end up on, they must work to meet the structure goal.
  7. Once the 7 minutes is up, the teams stop and you should encourage everyone to discuss how they felt about having to switch structures

20) Change Time Line

Objective: To get team members to see that, even when changes seem to create problems, they can find ways to overcome and be successful

Participants: 4 to 40 people

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Pen and paper for each participant

change time line

We recommend using this team building game when your team is experiencing a lot of change at work.

This game is one of our favourites because it improves the confidence of team members, and research has found that increased confidence (self-efficacy) predicts individual performance and satisfaction within teams.

We all know that highly satisfied employee’s work better together and produce better organisational outcomes.

Instructions

  1. Give a pen and a piece of paper to each participant and get them to remember five major changes they have experiences in their lifetimes.
  2. Get team members to draw timelines of their lives, and mark when each of the major changes occurred with an ‘X’
  3. Have participants pair up and ask them to share the major changes and answers these questions:
  4. What made the change so difficult?
  5. What was the key to your success in dealing with the change?
  6. How did you feel before, during and after the change?
  7. How were other changes going on around at the same time affecting your ability to deal with this one?

21) Index towers

Objective: To help teams find creative ways to overcome adversity and be successful

Participants: 15 to 30 people

Duration: 15 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: a tape measure, 50 index cards for each team, a roll of tape for each team

index towers

We love this game not only because it is fun, but also because it adds a shot of competitiveness. Which we can all admit, is good for us from time to time.

This game is also fantastic because it encourages creativity; and with research finding that creativity in teams increases knowledge sharing - an attribute that all successful teams possess, we cannot recommend this game enough!

Instructions

  1. Divide the group into teams of three to five participants.
  2. Give each team 25 index cards and a roll of tape.
  3. Set a timer for 5 minutes, during this time, teams must build the tallest freestanding structure possible, using only the materials provided.
  4. Explain that the structure must stand long enough for it to be measured.
  5. Once measured, the team must destroy their structures.
  6. After this, tell them they have another 5 minutes, and another 25 index cards, to create the tallest structure without the tape.
  7. Award prizes to the team who created the best structure without the tape - as always, we recommend the prize being something edible or alcoholic!

22) Machines

Objective: To get participants to learn that change can create opportunities for improvement

Participants: 12 to 30 people

Duration: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

machines

We love this game because it is a simple, yet effective, way to help participants understand change and the opportunities it has to offer.

Instructions

  1. Divide the group into teams of 6 to 10 participants.
  2. Give each team 5 minutes to plan how they can make themselves into a human machine, which must include everyone in their team.
  3. Watch each team demonstrate their human machine.
  4. Then, select a participant from each machine and announce that these 'machine pieces’ are no longer needed.
  5. Give each team 3 additional minutes to adjust of reinvent their machine using their selected participant in a new way.
  6. Award a prize to the team that was the most inventive with their new human machine model.

23) Makeovers

Objective: To rearrange pictures into new images to see how new things come from change

Participants: 5 to 10 people

Duration: 12 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: At least one picture from a magazine for each participant, scissors and glue stick for each participants and a piece of flipchart paper

makeovers

We suggest using this game with teams who know each other really well, but are experiencing some negative outcomes.

Perhaps they are struggling with change in their team, or aren’t thinking in a positive and optimistic way.

Instructions

  1. Give each participant a picture from the magazine.
  2. The participants should cut the picture into small pieces - they should be small enough that the original picture is no longer evident.
  3. Each participant should use their pieces to create a new picture (they should glue the picture pieces into a collage on the piece of paper given to them).
  4. After 10 minutes, each participant should share their collage and tell them what it was before they changed it.
  5. As a small incentive and to spice up the game, we recommend selecting a winner based on who’s collage was the most creative or imaginative.

24) My ABC's

Objective: To get participants thinking quickly and working as a team

Participants: 6 to 14 people

Duration: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

My ABC's

We love this team building game because it is short and effective.

We’re not sure if you know, but humans can only concentrate for around 15 minutes, so sometimes short and sweet games will reap the greatest benefits!

Instructions

  1. Have the participants sit in a circle.
  2. Start with one participant saying ‘A’, the person to their right says.‘B’, the next says ‘C’ and so on and so forth until the whole alphabet has been said.
  3. Repeat the alphabet, while timing how long it takes.
  4. Do it again to see if they can improve their time (we love competition!).
  5. Then, challenge the team to do it backwards.
  6. Do that twice too, to see if the team can improve their time

25) Numbers

Objective: To get participants to learn to cope with rapid-paced changes Participants: 15 to 100 people

Duration: 5 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

numbers

We love this team building activity because it is fast-paced and fun.

It gets people thinking on their toes and encourages them to work as a team, which we know leads to many positive outcomes.

Instructions

  1. Arrange participants into a “U” formation and give everyone a number.
  2. The first participant begins by calling anyone else's number in the group.
  3. Immediately, that person must call someone else’s number.
  4. Play continues until someone hesitates or calls an incorrect number (either their own number, or a number that is not in the group).
  5. That participant goes to the end of the line. They, and everyone who was behind them, now has a new number.
  6. Resume play.

26) Puzzled Thumbs

Objective: To change the rules of the puzzle assembly halfway through to realise the value of information sharing

Participants: 8 to 20 people

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: One children's puzzle for each group (around 15 to 25 pieces)

puzzled thumbs

We love this activity because it is quick and engaging.

We all love puzzles as they fill us with fond childhood memories, so this game is guaranteed to be enjoyed by everyone.

We also love this game because it’ll help you to notice the natural leaders and problem solvers in your team.

Instructions

  1. Divide the group into smaller teams of two to four participants.
  2. Give each team a puzzle and have them separate all pieces and place them face up on the table.
  3. The teams should start assembling their puzzles, and you should time this.
  4. Now, inform everyone that hat thumbs may no longer be used. Each time a thumb touches a puzzle piece, 1 minute is added to the teams final time.
  5. Time the team assembling the puzzle with no thumbs, and repeat a few more times with the aim of improving their assembly times.
  6. After a few rounds, compare times and discuss what worked for which team.

27) Squares

Objective: Encouraging participants to think outside the box

Participants: 10 to 20 people

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: Large (12” by 12” or so) squares

squares

We love it because it encourages teams to think in a less ‘black and white’ way.

In organisations, we often fall into a pattern of thinking in the same pattern and not using our imagination.

This game reminds team members that it is crucial to think outside the box and break assumptions in order to solve problems.

Instructions

  1. Place all squares on the floor, randomly spaced.
  2. Ask participants to stand on a square (note: participants must have both feet in the square).
  3. Everytime you say SWITCH, participants must immediately move to a new square - they cannot continue until everyone has both feet on a square.
  4. Call out SWITCH again, and everyone must move to a new square. Repeat this step one or two more times.
  5. Start pulling away a square after each round - eventually, there will be fewer squares than there are participants.
  6. Remind participants of the rule that they cannot continue unless everyone has both feet on a square.
  7. Wait for participants to address the situation. It is likely (we hope), that someone will allow them to share their square.
  8. Keep continuing to remove the squares. Eventually, there won't be enough room to share the squares. Keep reminding them of the rules and then wait for them to address the situation and ask them to figure out how to carry on with the game.
  9. If they get stuck, point out that you will continue to remove the paper squares and ask how the activity will end if they keep acting on the same assumptions. Remind your team that the first assumption they abandoned was that only one participant could stand on each square - ask them what other assumptions they can alter to keep the game going?.
  10. Eventually, one participant should (hopefully) realise that “square” doesn't have to be one of the paper squares on the floor.

28) Who am I?

Objective: To improve communication and team bonding

Participants: 6 to 12 people

Duration: 30 minutes to 1 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Pen and paper per participant

who am i

Chances are, you’ve most definitely heard of this team building activity before.

Most of your team will have played it at family or social events, so it’s a great exercise to bring into the office… just without the same amount of alcohol or family drama!

We love this exercise so much because it's simple, yet fun, and encourages everyone to think outside the box.

Instructions

  1. Get everyone to write down the name of a well-known figure onto a piece of paper.
  2. Without looking at the name, another participant sticks the paper onto their forehead.
  3. Once everyone has a well-known figure on their forehead, they must try to figure out who they are by asking the group various questions.
  4. Go around the players in a circle, each time the player can ask one question to the rest of the group.
  5. Go around the circle as many times as it takes until someone guesses who they are - that person is the winner.

29) “What if…” scenarios

Objective: To promote creative problem solving

Participants: 4 to 12 people

Duration: 20 to 40 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None (except your imagination!)

what if scenarios

“What if” scenarios have long been a favourite team building activity for many business leaders and managers because they’re great at getting everyone talking and applying their creative thinking skills at the same time - which is exactly why we love this exercise!

Instructions

  1. Pick a scenario of a hypothetical situation.
  2. A popular version of this game is the “Sinking Boat” scenario, where participants are invited to imagine themselves on a sinking boat with a variety of people (like a doctor, a parent, a teacher and a sports star for example) and are challenged with figuring out who they would save first.
  3. Everyone is then given a couple of minutes to discuss what they’d do and why.
  4. Another great version of this game is the “Stranded Island” scenario, in this case, everyone is (as the name suggests) stranded on an island and they’re all allowed to bring one office item with them to survive.
  5. The group then has to role-play out what they would do and how’d they work together.

30) Pay It Forward

Objective: To increase team bonding and confidence building

Participants: 6 to 12 people

Duration: 10 to 30 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Pen and paper per participant

pay it forward

As human beings, we are naturally wired to crave recognition and appreciation for our accomplishments, especially in the workplace.

According to Work.com, 78% of workers say that being recognized by their peers is one of the primary motivators when it comes to working.

But it can be very hard to find the space to give someone a thoughtful compliment, no matter how much they may deserve it.

This is when this particular team building activity comes in handy, and is highly recommended for anyone looking to increase the level of camaraderie and intimacy amongst their team.

Instructions

  1. Gather everyone in a circle.
  2. Get everyone to look at the person to their right.
  3. Everyone must write three positive things about that person (they can be anything from a good work quality, a joke they once made or how they performed on a task).
  4. Once everyone has written their note, give the whole group a few minutes to read their note and to think about what the other person has said in silence.

31) Minefield

Objective: To improve communication skills and collaboration

Participants: 4 to 10 people

Duration: 30 to 45 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: A blind fold and some random items

minefield

This exercise is fun and gets all team members involved, hence why we love it so much.

We think this exercise works perfectly for teams who aren’t that well acquainted and it focuses on trust, teamwork and collaboration.

Instructions

  1. Skatter some random items on the floor.
  2. Blindfold one person and task them with making it to the other side of the room without touching any the items.
  3. The rest of the team have to verbally guide the player to the objective without setting off any of the “mines.”

32) Spectrum mapping

Objective: Promotes communication skills and confidence building

Participants: 5 to 30 people

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: Several pads of sticky notes, pens and a whiteboard

spectrum mapping

Not only does this activity give people a chance to flex their creativity muscles and give people a space to speak up and share their ideas, but you might even unearth a whole heap of ideas on how to improve your business.

We love this exercise so much because as a team building activity, spectrum mapping is fantastic in giving people the space to speak up and share their ideas without fear of criticism.

For the business, this can be a powerful way to find out what employees are thinking and discover some unconventional ideas you may have never even thought about before.

Instructions

  1. Write on the whiteboard a topic that is related to your business that you want a diverse range of opinions and ideas on. It can be anything from “next product the company should develop” to “what can we do to improve the workplace?”.
  2. Set a two-minute timer and have everyone back to back, drawing or writing down as many ideas as they possibly can.
  3. Once the time is up, go around the room and have each person present their list of ideas and stick it onto the whiteboard.
  4. When everyone has placed their ideas, work together as a group to see if you can group certain ideas together under a single category or arranging all the sticky notes in a horizontal line based on how similar the ideas are to each other.

33) Catch!

Objective: To highlight the importance of teamwork and working together in a fast-paced ball game

Participants: 10 to 25 people

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: A ball or beanbag (or something similar that is safe to toss)

catch!

Catch! Is one of our favourite team building exercises because it focuses mainly on teamwork and communication. Teams that demonstrate good teamwork have been shown over, and over, again to have better productivity, organisational culture and job satisfaction.

Based on this, it is crucial that you ensure your team can work well together, and this exercise is just the way to do it!

Instructions

  1. Arrange your team into a large circle.
  2. Give the ball/beanbag to anyone in the circle and ask that person to throw the ball to any other person in the circle.
  3. Continue this, with each participant always throwing the ball to someone who has not had it yet.
  4. The last person to receive the ball throws the ball back to the participant who first had it - this means the group has established a pattern of ball throwing.
  5. Have your team repeat the same pattern (i.e., throwing the ball to the same person as they did before) and then time them using a stopwatch.
  6. The goal is for the team to pass the ball through the pattern as quickly as possible. If anyone drops the ball, it goes back to the first participant to start again.
  7. Once the pattern is completed, announce the time and ask them how much faster they think they can get.
  8. Get them to do the pattern again, with the aim of beating the time.
  9. After this round, give them 3 minutes to create a strategy to vastly improve their time.
  10. Repeat the pattern, and time them again.

34) Count Off

Objective: To get participants to learn to cooperate with each other and have fun whilst playing a game with numbers

Participants: 6 to 12 people

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: None

count off

This team building exercise is a personal favourite of ours because it teaches the importance of cooperation and communication.

As highlighted countless times throughout our guide, organisational psychological research has continuously found that teams that cooperate well together and demonstrate better team work have better outcomes.

We recommend using this ice breaker on new teams of adults or on teams who are not cooperating as well as they should.

Instructions

  1. Get your team sat in a large circle.
  2. Instruct your team to count to a number that is over twice the number of the people in the group (e.g., if six players, you could pick any number from 13 or above).
  3. Each participant may only say two numbers during the whole activity.
  4. Only one participant may say a number at a time - if two people speak at the same time, the group must start counting again from the beginning.
  5. Each succeeding number must be spoken by a participant who is not sitting next to the one who just spoke.
  6. No one may say anything during the activity other than one of their two numbers.
  7. The game stops when the team have counted up to the number over double the size of the group.

35) Floor Designs

Objective: Participants learn to cooperate with each other by creating a large image on the floor

Participants: 4 to 10 people

Duration: 10 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: A ream of paper, pens, crayons and marker pens (enough for each participant)

floor designs

We love this exercise because it gets everyone to loosen up, have some fun and have a laugh.

We recommend using this exercise on teams who are not cooperating with each other as they should because the exercise places a strong focus on developing cooperation and teamwork.

Instructions

  1. Have each participant draw a picture on a blank sheet of paper.
  2. Randomly select one drawing.
  3. Have the group mimic the drawing on the floor using only the ream of paper (no pens, markers, etc).

36) Helium Stick

Objective: To reinforce the need for communication and teamwork as participants lower a pole without losing contact with it

Participants: 5 to 15 people

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: Long and light-weight pole

helium stick

This is one of our favourite icebreakers for small groups because it’s active and stimulating.

It's guaranteed to get everyone laughing and feeling like they are bonding together - after all, they do say that laughter is the greatest medicine!

Instructions

  1. Get your team members to stand in two equal lines, facing each other.
  2. Each person needs to place a hand in front of them with their index finger pointed out.
  3. Place a pole on top of all the index fingers to that it is resting evenly.
  4. Get everyone to lower the pole to the ground without anyone losing touch with it at any stage (make sure you’re carefully watching to spot any cheats!)

37) Pass The Card

Objective: To enhance teamwork by playing a card game

Participants: 12 to 32 people

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: A deck of cards, and a prize for the fastest team (optional)

pass the card

This activity is one of our favourites because it focuses on teamwork and adds a tiny bit of competitiveness.

We also love this activity because it energises team members, and research has found that when employees are highly energised, the climate in the organisation is of high energy; which leads to higher organisational performance!

Instructions

  1. Divide your team into teams of four to eight participants.
  2. Each team sits on chairs in a line, side by side.
  3. Place a deck of cards on the floor next to the chair at the far right end of each team’s line.
  4. The participant nearest to the deck of cards picks up a card with the hand closest to the deck.
  5. They should then pass the card from one hand to the other, and then into the nearest hand of the player next to them.
  6. The second player then passes that card to their other hand, and then onto the next player.
  7. Play continues like this down the line until the last participant places the card in a pile on the floor next to them with their second hand.
  8. No one must hold more than one card at a time.
  9. The first team to have all cards stacked at the end of their line wins (and gets a prize, we hope!).

38) Popcorn

Objective: To get participants to cooperate with each other and communicate effectively whilst trying to feed each other pieces of popcorn whilst blindfolded

Participants: 6 to 12 people

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: A blindfold for each participant, a spoon for each participant and some popcorn

popcorn

This exercise is a little different to other team building exercises. It’s a little bit silly, and with that means its a whole lot of fun.

This activity also promotes problem solving within teams, an attribute that we can all agree any successful team should have.

Disclaimer: watch out, popcorn might be a choking hazard if not used properly!

Instructions

  1. Have the participants pair up. Give each pair a blindfold, spoon and popcorn.
  2. While both are blindfolded, one participant feeds 10 pieces of popcorn to his or her partner on the spoon, one piece at a time.
  3. After they are successful, reverse roles and repeat.
  4. To add a bit of friendly competition, we suggest offering prizes to the pair who completes the challenge the fastest!

39) Puzzled

Objective: To promote cooperation as participants assemble a puzzle

Participants: 6 to 18 people

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes

Difficulty: Medium

Materials: One childrens puzzle for each group (preferably with 20 to 50 pieces), an envelope for each group

puzzled

The final exercise on our list, but still in the top 12 of all the ones available out there (and trust us, there’s a lot!).

We love this team building exercise because it emphasises the importance of cooperation for team success.

We recommend using this team building activity on teams who are perhaps a little too competitive with each other, or with other teams.

Or, use it on teams who can’t seem to cooperate to solve problems.

Instructions

  1. Before the exercise, put all the puzzles in envelopes. However, remove two to three pieces from each bag and place those pieces in different bags.
  2. Divide the group into teams of three to six participants.
  3. Give each team a puzzle BUT do not disclose that the puzzles have been tampered with.
  4. Give the participants 5 minutes to complete the puzzle.
  5. Watch how they solve the problem of missing puzzle pieces. At the end, bring everyone together to discuss how they figured out who had what pieces.

40) Two Truths And One Lie

Objective: To promote team bonding and getting everyone to know one another

Participants: 4 to 25 people

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

team slogan

We love two truths and a lie because it is a classic ice breaker game that can be used to get the conversation flowing, and allows everyone to have some fun while you’re at it.

Instructions

  1. Seperate your team into groups of around three to five participants.
  2. Get everyone to introduce themselves by telling two truths, and one lie about themselves.
  3. Everyone else in the team must try to figure out which two are the truths, and which is the lie.

41) First/Worst Job

Objective: To promote team bonding and helping teams to get to know each other

Participants: 5 to 20 people

Duration: 10 to 45 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

can we build it

We love this activity because it allows everyone to get to know each other on a personal level as they get to understand how people grew and developed.

We also love this activity because it works people’s memories, and there is some evidence to suggest that memory training produces short term effects that help with training. So, we recommend using this activity at the beginning of training sessions.

Instructions

  1. Get everyone to remember their very first job, and the worst job they ever had.
  2. They must the present to the group the most important lessons they learnt from that job.

42) 10 Things In Common

Objective: An easy way to find similarities within a group

Participants: 10 to 50 people

Duration: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

10 things in common

Beyond simply working at the same place, there are so many things that people have in common with their colleagues that they simply don’t know about.

Although research has suggested that characteristic diversity in teams enhances team performance, people feel connected when they realise they have things in common with each other - it promotes trust and gives a base for healthy relationship building.

The goal of this team building activity is to remind us of exactly that and to help employees feel more connected with their colleagues.

Instructions

  1. Break your team up into small groups.
  2. Get each team to find 10 things that they have in common that have absolutely nothing to do with work.
  3. Suggest the teams write down these 10 things and discuss them.

43) Trivia ball

Objective: Team Bonding & Confidence Building

Participants: 5 to 15 people

Duration: 10 to 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: A small ball

trivia ball

While simple, this team building game encourages quick-thinking and is a fun way to learn more about each other's interests.

Instructions

  1. Pick a topic that you’re confident that everyone knows like “Action movies” or “Did you know facts”.
  2. From there, gather everyone in a circle, or perfect square, and have them throw a ball at each other.
  3. Whoever has the ball is given a few seconds to name something that nobody else has mentioned before.

44) Potluck

Objective: Team bonding and to get to know one another

Participants: 5 to 15 people

Duration: 1 to 4 hours

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: Food supplies

potluck

You can learn a lot about a person based on what kind of food they like to eat and cook. An office party staple, potluck involves having everyone bring in a dish that they’ve cooked themselves and you end up with a diverse and delicious feast.

We love this activity because it incorporates socialising (who doesn’t love to socialise) with a focus on developing and improving team bonds.

Instructions

The rules for this are too simple to warrant a numerical list of instructions.

Simply arrange a time after work and get everyone to bring a dish.

We recommend providing a theme, such as ‘italian’ or ‘something your mother used to make you when you were sick’.

This work meet up should be fun, relaxed and light-hearted… and for crying out loud, don’t speak about work related topics!

45) Happy hour

Objective: Getting to know each other

Participants: As many, or as little, as you like

Duration: 1 to 3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None (except some cash!)

happy hour

Sometimes you don’t need to host big fancy events or sweat-inducing games to get everyone bonding. Sometimes all you need is to take everyone out to the local watering hole and buy everybody a few rounds.

With modern offices placing a huge emphasis on socialising out of hours, we cannot recommend highly enough that you jump on the bandwagon with this fun team building activity!

Instructions

Sometimes you don’t need to host big fancy events or sweat-inducing games to get everyone bonding. Sometimes all you need is to take everyone out to the local watering hole and buy everybody a few rounds.

Make your office happy hour more unique by holding a wine or whiskey tasting class, or make it a more chill event by setting up something like a ping pong table or a game of foosball so that people have something to do other than stand around and drink.

Heck, combine happy hour with any number of team building activities that we’ve listed in this guide to give it that extra boost.

46) Purpose Mingle

Objective: To get participants to focus on team contribution and communication

Participants: Any

Duration: 5 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Materials: None

purpose mingle

We love this activity because it focuses on collaboration and communication.

It gets people to think about what they will actually contribute in the meeting, and makes them accountable for their behaviour - this promotes engagement and involvement in team meetings.

Instructions

  1. Before a meeting, tell your employees to walk around the room and talk to each other about what they plan to contribute in the meeting.
  2. Have them speak with as many people as possible - we suggest getting them to get everyone they’ve spoken to to sign a piece of paper so that the winner (the person who has spoken to the most people) is awarded a prize.

47) Fortune Teller

Objective: To get to know personal details about your team

Participants: 4 to 10 people

Duration: 20+ minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: A deck of tarot cards (you can buy these at any large bookstore, or on amazon)

fortune teller

We love this activity because it helps you understand what each member of your team values most in the team.

It can also help you plan for future directions of your team and have goals, by figuring out what each member expects and wants

Instructions

  1. Shuffle the deck well and hand out five cards to each team member.
  2. Put the deck in the middle of the team.
  3. Have members pick a card that represents how they feel about the team most.
  4. Have members select a second card - this represents the way they want the team to be in the future.
  5. Each member has the chance to return one card to the bottom of the deck and then select a replacement card.
  6. Once everyone has chosen their two cards, get everyone back together again and have each member share their card selections and explain why they chose the cards.

48) Fortune Teller v2

Objective: To get to know personal details about your team

Participants: 4 to 10 people

Duration: 20+ minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: A deck of tarot cards (you can buy these at any large bookstore, or on amazon)

fortune teller v2

To be honest, there's not much to say about this team building activity.

It's simple, fun, effective… oh, and just a different variation of the one talked about above!

Instructions

  1. Deal out the tarot cards in the same way as before.
  2. Each team member chooses a card that represents how they see themselves as part of a team.
  3. Each team member then also chooses a card the represents how they want to see themselves in the future - there is not wrong or right answer.

49) What Do You Value

Objective: To promote bonding through company values

Participants: 6 or more (enough to form two or more groups)

Duration: 30 to 60 minutes

Difficulty: Hard

Materials: Paper, pen, poster board for each group and markers

what do you value

Last, but most definitely not least, on our list is ‘what do you value’.

We love this activity because it promotes the understanding of each team member's values.

This is critical in teams as research has consistently found that understanding an employee's core organisational values improves their performance and productivity; so we really think its an ice breaker that will get the most out of your team.

Instructions

  1. Have each team member write a list of the most important values of the team or organisation to which they belong.
  2. Have the group narrow this down to the top five values.
  3. Get the teams to list these on the poster board and decorate or colour the poster to emphasise these values.
  4. When complete, get the teams to share their values with the rest of the group.

Conclusion

And there you have it. Those are our favourite team building activities to try out with your team.

We hope you've liked our list!

Heather Harper

Heather Harper

Heather Harper has a Masters in Occupational Psychological from the University of Manchester. She currently works as an editorial writer specialising in organizational psychology - helping teams work better together.

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