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What are the best team-building activities for work?

In any workplace, success depends on not just individual results but how well people can work in teams. Good team-building activities help coworkers get to know one another, but there aren't many strict rules for which ones work best. By choosing activities that allow everyone to have a good time while also learning to work cohesively, you can ensure your team gets the most from every activity. Here are a few ideas for effective team-building activities and why they're so likely to succeed.

9 team-building activities for work

Offices have a few go-to team-building activities that have caught on, like escape rooms. There's nothing wrong with these options if everybody involved likes the activity. However, to get a diverse team working in harmony, it may help if you stick to activities that fit all comfort zones. In the same way, not everyone drinks alcohol or enjoys intense activities like paintball. Even trivia games, which seem harmless, can have big disparities in who knows the answers.

Rest assured, there are tons of ways to strengthen an office's morale. The best team-building tasks are fun, help to develop teamwork, and are accessible to nearly any type of person. With that in mind, here are nine team-building activities worth trying, many of which also work for virtual office meetings.

Marshmallow spaghetti tower

This quirky arts and crafts game can be played with two or more groups. Each group gets 20 sticks of raw spaghetti, a yard of string, one roll of masking tape, and one marshmallow. Each group must try to create the tallest tower out of their supplies. The marshmallow must be at the very top, and the structure must be able to stand up on its own for five seconds. This game costs little, makes basically no mess, and encourages people to execute a strategy together. The engineering side of the game can also awaken creativity.

Bucket lists

Everyone has dreams and aspirations outside of their daily work. Talking about one's "bucket list" basically means sharing what you hope to do or accomplish one day. If your team would rather do a verbal activity than a game, comparing bucket lists is a fast way to get to know people. The discussion will eventually dive into people's passions and motivations, which is good for a team that needs a little ice-breaking.

Egg drop

This classic competitive game from grade school makes for a solid team activity. Groups can use basic construction materials, like straw, newspaper, cardboard, plastic wrap, and string, to create a parachute and carrier for an egg. Pick a two-story drop to somewhere safe and then see if anyone's egg survives the landing. If there's a tie, you can try higher drops. Alternatively, a smaller team can work together to protect a single egg, crafting the ultimate carrier and parachute together.

"Would You Rather"

Most people remember "Would You Rather" from childhood, and you could theme the questions around the industry or whatever people feel like talking about. To keep things fun for everybody, it's best to steer the questions away from personal aspects or traits. Each person can come up with a question that gets a little focus, or the team can spend some time choosing and discussing one question.

Here are a few examples of where you can take a game of "Would You Rather:"

  • Would you rather be able to always avoid traffic or always cut through lines?
  • Would you rather watch your favorite movie once but never again or make that the only movie you can watch forever?
  • Would you rather be able to travel to the future or the past?

Guess the drawing

This game works nicely for remote teams doing virtual meetings as well. Someone gets a word and tries to draw a picture while everyone else tries to guess the word. There are apps like Drawasaurus that let you play this game online in seconds.

The handshake game

This game is active, office-friendly, and casual. You'll need an even number of people, four or more. Everyone splits into pairs and gets a few minutes to create and practice the most creative handshake possible. Then each pair performs their choreographed handshake. You could have pairs compete or simply play for fun.

Dad jokes

Sometimes a dad joke is so corny it shouldn't make you laugh, but it just does. Sharing your most eye-roll-worthy dad jokes can turn into an impromptu office "try not to laugh" challenge. Here are a few to help jog people's memories:

  • I've been looking at my calendar, and it seems my days are numbered.
  • How does the moon cut his hair? Eclipse it.
  • What do you call someone with no body and just a nose? Nobody knows.

Backward name game

For this game, each player writes their name backward (last letter to first) on a slip of paper, folds it, and puts it in a container. Someone randomly draws a slip and reads it. Whoever guesses the right name first gets a point. Like a lot of games in this style, there doesn't have to be a competition. It's okay to forgo the score and play as long as the team feels like it.

Icebreaker bingo

When a large group is forming into a team for the first time, it can be easy to get everyone talking. There are online icebreaker bingo card makers and other types of handy bingo games. Each person gets their own card and tries to fill a row by marking the randomly drawn terms that match. Playing for a few light prizes can help spice up the game.

Bonus activity: creating a casual team project

Another classic team-building exercise you could try is to pick something the whole team could work on and enjoy in the office, from a motivation board to a company coat of arms or office song. The finished product becomes a point of pride and history among everyone who worked on it. Done right, the experience also helps demonstrate the amazing project a team can produce when they all work together. A company might even be able to show off the creation in social posts or advertising.

The whole team gets involved as a group, so you may have to use some managing skills to ensure everyone gets to contribute. It might help if the task is broken down into major tasks with their own groups working on them. This way, each person can pick the contribution they want to make.

If you're in a position to guide a team, it might be on your shoulders to keep up morale. These team-building activities give everyone a chance to contribute. Even with a new group, these tasks help people relax and develop a team dynamic. Suggesting a team activity that everyone appreciates might even help show leadership potential.

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