30 fun and cost efficient team building activities to build a successful organisation
Team building activities are the mainstay of many companies, conducted to bring employees from different divisions together to nurture harmony within the organisation as well as to develop teamwork. However, more often than not, the activities planned either lack the fun factor, or do not provide a platform that brings employees together.
Many employers approach team building activities through very practical considerations; cost and benefit. Here, we take a look at 30 activities that can be conducted with low cost and are beneficial to organisations.
Indoor office games ideas for employees
1. Writing with strings
Tie several strings to a marker pen, from the area closes to the tip to the end of the pen. Every end of a string is held by a team member, and members will spread out in all direction. The objective is to write a word on a piece of paper by having the team to collectively manipulate the pulling / letting go of the strings. However, team members are not allowed to speak to one another. Team with the best writing or the quickest to complete the most legible word wins.
Benefits: Creative problem solving, communication
2. Leading the blind
Each member will take turns to be blindfolded, while another team member verbally guides the blindfolded member towards an objective. The objective can be a place in the office, or to retrieve an item, or to perform a task. Once the objective is completed, it will be the blindfolded member’s turn to verbally guide another. Non-participating members are not allowed to give instructions.
Benefits: Builds trust and leadership
3. Office trivia
Compile questionnaires to test the team’s knowledge about various topics in the office, such as basic personal questions about team members, like number of siblings, transportation mode, favourite past-time, food, item of sentimental value; do avoid topics pertaining specifically to work. Perform this activity on a monthly, quarterly or half-yearly basis. This would encourage team members to get to know each other and at the same time gain knowledge about each other in a less awkward manner.
Benefit: Team bonding, ice breaking
4. In another person’s shoes
Relieve an employee of a day’s (or half a day’s) duty and have him / her sit with another employee from a different division, preferably one that is closely connected in terms of workflow. Explain to the visiting employee the work flow in the division’s daily routine, including the challenges involved. The objective is to allow the visiting employee to get a better understanding of the division’s work.
Benefits: Develops empathy, understanding and appreciation
5. Silent drawing
Each team member will take turns to pick out a card in a jar. He / she will draw out what is on that card. Level of difficulty can be based on whether the drawing member is allowed to use sound or say words that are not straight giveaways to the answer.
Benefits: Develops understanding, camaraderie
6. Classify this
Have team members gather items around the office, preferably between 25 and 30 items. Then, categorise the items into 4 or 5 lists, based on various categories, such as similarities in shapes, colours, utilization, composition etc.
Benefits: Out of the box thinking, cooperation
7. Good riddance
Get team members to agree that to err is human. Everyone has flaws and they can be corrected. Ask every team member to write down on a piece of paper one of their flaws, display it to other members, and get suggestions on how to correct them. This corrective measure will be done throughout working hours with gentle reminders from colleagues, and do set a time within which the flaws must be corrected.
Benefits: Humility, self-improvement, empathy
8. Secret Santa
Write all the names of team members into separate pieces of papers and placed them into a jar. Each team member will pick a name and keep it secret. The member will have to be nice to the other person whose name he / she picked for a set period of time, e.g.; 1 week, a fortnight, a month etc. Set a place that is not frequently accessed for members to place gifts for their destined persons, and a jar for compliments.
Benefits: Feel good factor at the workplace, appreciation
9. Back-to-back drawing
Divide the teams into pairs, with members sitting back-to-back. One member will be shown a picture, which he / she will describe verbally its shape, design and colour except the name of the item. The other member will draw out a picture as described by the partner.
Benefits: Emphasis on verbal communication, listening skill, and comprehension
10. Lights, camera, action
Divide participants into several teams comprising members of different department. They are to write and produce a 5 to 10-minute cinematic sketch and perform during company dinner. Allow teams 4 to 8 weeks to prepare.
Benefits: Bonding, teamwork, planning, leadership
Each member takes turn at being the actor; the actor will be shown a word / sentence, and act it out to other members, who will guess. Once a member makes an accurate guess, another member will be the actor.
12. Liar’s poker
Use a deck of playing cards and distribute one card to each team member. Members will reveal the cards to everybody but themselves, and stick the card at the top of their foreheads. One member will ask 3 other colleagues what his / her card is. 2 colleagues will give wrong answers, 1 will give the correct answer. The member will choose who to believe. If he / she is correct, remove the card and pick a new one. If the member chose the wrong person to believe, he / she will skip a turn. The game finishes when all 52 cards are used. The winner is the one with the most cards.
13. What’s my name?
Write names of professions on papers and place them in a jar. Members are required to pick one paper without looking into the contents, and have another team member pin / stick the paper behind their backs. Allow the groups to mingle, free to ask and answer questions to identify the names of professions on their backs.
Benefits: Bonding, ice-breaking
14. Sneak a peek
Make a random structure out of Lego blocks and have the team construct an exact copy of that structure. Each team member will take turns to look at the original structure but for only 5 seconds each time, at intervals of 5 minutes. Once all team members have viewed the original structure, no more viewings are allowed.
Benefits: Communication, memory-strengthening, out-of-the-box thinking
15. Paper planes
Prepare big pieces of paper, size A1 or A0, and instruct the teams to folder them into paper planes of any design. Throw the paper plane from an elevated level. The paper plane that glides the furthest wins.
Benefits: Teamwork, communication
Outdoor / out-of-office team building games ideas
16. Team sports
Organise team sports events, such as basketball, football, or even paintball, with teams assembled either from members of the same division or comprising members from different divisions. In order to encourage participation, organisations can award a half-day leave to participants and the divisions involved, or if done on weekdays, provide lunch and transport. Organisations can even sponsor training activities in the build-up to the competition.
Benefits: Encourages organisational collaborating, bonding
17. Zombie escape
Lock the team into a room and select a member to play the “zombie”, who will be tied to a rope in the corner of the room. Every 5 minutes or so, release a specific length of the rope that ties the “zombie” to the corner, and as time passes, the amount of length let out will enable the “zombie” to reach the team members. The team needs to solve a series of puzzles to get clues that will ultimately lead to a hidden key that will unlock the door before the “zombie” reaches them.
Benefits: Creative problem solving, collaboration
18. Cat, rice, chicken
Assign 3 team members to the roles of Cat, Rice and Chicken respectively. Have the team devise a plan to bring them across an imaginary river using a boat. The Cat and the Chicken cannot be placed to together, because the Cat will bite the Chicken; the Chicken and the Rice cannot be placed together, because the Chicken will eat the Rice. Only one item can be placed onto the boat to be carried over the river.
Benefits: Problem solving skills, bonding
19. Pencil drop
Tie strings at the end tip of a pen / pencil and have team members pull each string in separate direction. Lift the pen / pencil only by holding the string and place the pen / pencil into the opening of a bottle. Members are not allowed to speak to one another and are allowed to communication via hand signals or sounds.
Benefits: Communication, team coordination, leadership
20. Community service
This can be organised as part of corporate social responsibility programmes. It is a great way for team members, especially those who share the passion to help and serve others, to bond and develop teamwork. Through acts of kindness, members of the organisation get to see the kinder side of their colleagues, which may give rise to a higher level of empathy at work.
Benefits: Bonding, empathy
21. Egg drop
Gather basic construction materials such as newspapers, plastic wrappers, balloons, rubber bands, rag cloth, straws etc. Divide the team into groups of 4 or 5 and have them construct something that using those materials to protect an egg safe from a single-story drop. Gradually increase this height until left with one winning group.
Benefits: Teamwork, creative problem solving
22. Fill the bottle
Fill pails with water and place a bottle about 5 or 10 metres away. The objective is to use whatever means necessary, except to use items that are design that transport water, such as bottles, pails, cups, buckets etc., to fill the bottle with water. The first team to fill the bottle with water wins.
Benefits: Creative problem solving, teamwork
23. Catch the balls
Blindfold a team member. Have other team members stand 10 metres away, behind a designated line. Have the blindfolded member throw tennis balls at the direction of other team members, who will attempt to catch them in a bucket / pail. Tennis balls must not bounce off the ground. Members can shout out instructions to the blindfolded member to increase accuracy or distance of his / her throws.
Benefits: Teamwork, covering for the weakness of other team members
24. Move the balls
Gather 5 to 10 balls of different sizes, such as football, tennis ball, ping pong ball etc. Place them all at one area. Team members are to bring these balls to another designated area 5 to 10 metres away, without using hands and without the balls touching the ground.
Benefits: Teamwork, creative problem solving
25. Half the bridge
Separate the team members in equal numbers into two rooms that are next to each other. Provide basic construction materials such as paper, toothpicks, straws, tapes, glue and ice cream sticks. Both groups will try to build half a bridge, which upon completion, will be joined to the other half from the other group. They are not allowed to see each other’s designs and can rely only on verbal communication to describe the bridge’s designs.
Benefits: Teamwork, simultaneous planning and communication
26. Blindfold tent building
Prepare instructions and basic materials for team members to build a tent. Blindfold all but one team member, who will be only reading and giving instructions but not touch any construction materials. Those who are blindfolded are to build a tent.
Benefits: Teamwork, leadership, listening and following orders
27. Scavenger hunt
Print out puzzles, riddles and scatter them across the office. Ensure that the answer to a puzzle / riddle leads the team members to another puzzle / riddle. The team that finishes the hunt in the shortest time wins.
Benefits: Problem solving skills, teamwork, leadership
28. Do what you see
Group the participants into teams. Show the team a simple video performing dance moves or acts / plays. Instruct the team to replicate the acts within a certain time frame, say 2 weeks or 1 month. The team with the most convincing replication of the act wins.
Benefits: Bonding, leadership, creativity
Prepare toothpicks and hexagon nuts. Line the team in a single file and have them bite onto a toothpick each. The objective is to transfer a specific number of hexagon nuts from the front of the line to the back, using only toothpicks the team members are biting.
Benefits: Bonding, coordination
30. Stand up together
Tie a pair of team members together while sitting on the ground. They must stand up together while still being tied. Once completed, add more members and repeat the process.
Benefits: Support and communication
Through team building activities, employees get a more up-close and personal feel with one another than they usually would during working hours. They get to interact and develop closer bonds with each other, which ultimately translate into a smoother, stronger working relationship. Via games, employees indirectly pick their brains, which encourages creative thinking, problem-solving skills and nurtures leadership. Of course, it would be make it more enthralling should organisations throw in some goodies as rewards, such as vouchers, prize monies, trophies or even a simple team lunch.
The above are just simple examples of how these activities, if thoroughly and thoughtfully organised, can impact the organisation’s engagement level, motivation and spirit. Carefully planned team building activities will hone the specific skills and subtly encourage employee engagement; these could be the first steps toward the organisation’s success.