Chapter 3

The Top 17 Team Building Activities

We've put together the ultimate best team building activities list. It's even in ranking order. Also includes instructions and handy links.

Heather Harper

Written by Heather Harper

Last updated: Mar 30, 2020

In this chapter we'll take you through the very best team building activities you can try out with your team.

Trust fall? Boring. Laser tag? Been done before. Adventure courses? Yawn.

Team building activities are meant to be a lot of fun and nothing kills the notion of fun more than the idea of doing the same thing over and over again.

The best part of these is the random conversations that each activity will generate as your people work through them.

Variety is the spice of life and you should definitely look into spicing up your team building events with the following activities.


If your team is working remotely at the moment then you should check out our 7000 word guide on remote team building games and activities for virtual teams. In there you'll find 40 ideas with instructions that you can try with your newly remote team.


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 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.

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 a team together more than everyone being able to have fun 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. Give the teams 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. 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.

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 players are locked in a room together and are tasked with finding a way out.

The catch is that in order to do so, they have to solve no small amount of puzzles and challenges to get “free.”

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.

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.

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!

Try these out and let me know how you go.

Is there one that we've missed that should definitely be in our best of list?

Let me know in the comments below!

Heather Harper

About the author

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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