16 Fun Community Building Activities for Work in 2021

Home » Resources » Community BuildingUpdated: November 12, 2021

You found our list of the best community building activities for work.

Community building is a practice that fosters connection and a sense of belonging between people with similar interests or positions. Community building activities are events and exercises that promote camaraderie and fellowship and between like minded individuals. For example, volunteering, newsletters, and group game nights. The purpose of these activities is to forge a group identity and give participants a feeling of belonging to something greater than themselves.

These exercises are similar to team building games, relationship building games, and connection games.

This list includes:

  • community building activities for adults
  • virtual community building activities
  • community building exercises for work
  • hybrid community building activities
  • community building games

Here we go!

List of community building activities

From games to art projects to good deeds, here is a list of activities that foster a sense of community in large groups.

1. Shared Photo Albums

Shared photo albums are one of the simplest community building activities. Simply add group members to a collaborative photo album, such as a Cloud album or a Google Drive folder. Then, encourage members to share pictures with each other.

You can give the albums a theme, such as family members, pets, food or travel, or make the albums more general and occasionally throw out prompts like “show us the view outside your window,” or “what are you having for lunch?” Since participants can participate at different times from afar, this exercise is ideal for dispersed groups and makes for one of the better virtual community building activities.

2. Monthly Meals

Monthly Meals are one of the top community building activities for adults. Food has a way of bringing people together and encouraging conversation. Not to mention, food is universal– everybody eats. Plus, meals have cultural roots and emotional significance, and can serve as a powerful get to know you activity.

Holding group meals on a monthly basis makes the gathering feel more like a ritual and community activity than a one-off event. With recurring eating outings, participants can build upon past conversations and forge bonds instead of simply making introductory small talk.

There are many ways to structure monthly meals. For instance, the group can decide on a different restaurant or cuisine to try each meeting, organize a potluck, or elect a different team member to serve as the chef each month.

You can do monthly meals virtually too. Simply schedule a Zoom call, have each team member order or prepare a dish, then gather together to eat and chat. Typically, employers give food stipends or reimbursements to cover the cost of these remote meals.

3. Collages

Collages are one of the most hands-on community building exercises for work. Each participant contributes pictures, and the end result is a larger image containing the smaller parts.

Participants can use personal photos, magazine cutouts, printed out-images, or some combination of these materials. You can also make collages digitally by using Canva or a digital whiteboard app.

It helps to give participants general instructions or themes for the collage, for instance, “where do you call home?” or “what is your life’s goal?”

When participants finish, have each team present the collage to the group and explain the significance of the images. Then, display the completed collages in a spot where all contributors and colleagues can admire it, such as in a communal break room or on an internal company blog.

For more visually-creative activities, check out this list of online art classes.

4. Volunteering

Volunteering gives folks a shared mission and a sense of doing good for the world. Volunteer work not only connects participants to other group members, but also to the wider community.

The group can come together to raise funds, do a cleanup, read to children, write letters to soldiers or seniors. There is no limit to the projects your team can get involved in, and there are always opportunities to do good in the neighborhood.

The best volunteering ideas for community building tend to be ongoing, so that the group can notice a change and take pride in the difference they are making together. Ongoing philanthropy work also gives participants more chances to bond with teammates and the people they are serving.

For inspiration, check out these lists of volunteer opportunities and fundraising ideas.

5. Give-a-minute, Take-a-minute

Give-a-minute, Take-a-minute is an activity inspired by the give-a-penny take-a-penny dishes in grocery stores. This exercise operates on a pay-it-forward concept. Basically, this activity is a pool folks can talk into when they need extra help, only instead of spare change, requests get other group members’ time and assistance

The offerings can be quick work-related tasks, for instance, mailing a package, or a non-work favor, such as giving an opinion on an outfit. You can make a home base for requests, such as a Slack channel or a bulletin board.

This activity normalizes asking for help and encourages teamwork, and gives the sense of community support. Give-a-minute, Take-a-minute can also facilitate introductions between team members who get few chances to interact otherwise.

6. Newsletters

A large component of being a part of the community is keeping updated on other members. Back before the internet existed, most clubs and communities sent out paper newsletters. The practice has since gone digital, with organizations sending out email newsletters.

Newsletters are a way to keep members informed about organizational happenings and other team members’ accomplishments. Plus, group leaders can curate the content vs moderating it live, as in forums or group chats.

The message can feature regular columns and sections such as member shout outs, group announcements, member profiles, and upcoming events. Content can be more playful or routine as well, for instance featuring favorite quotes, objects members could not live without, foods members recently tried and liked, reading recommendations, and new discoveries. These fun features can engage the audience and help members grow more familiar with each other.

Here is a list of get to know you questions to use to generate possible newsletter content.

7. Slack Clubs

Slack Clubs are one of the easiest virtual community building activities. Within the larger community, members can branch off into subcommittees based on interests. For example, travelers, parents, musicians, or movie buffs. These clubs can give teammates a chance to chat and get to know each other better based on shared passions. Club members can even arrange virtual or in-person hangouts around these hobbies.

To create a Slack club, simply create a new Slack channel, and make an announcement in a companywide Slack thread. You can also allow community members to make their own clubs and committees.

Check out this list of Slack channel ideas for inspiration.

8. Decorate the Space

One of the most meaningful community building exercises is to have members decorate the meeting space together. Simply ask each team member to bring a special decoration or accessory for the space. Examples might include posters, comfy throw blankets, plants, or cold brew coffee makers. Each team member adds a special element to make the space more personal and welcoming. You could even offer a modest stipend so that members can buy new items, and teammates can pool their stipends towards a larger purchase.

If decorating a room is not an option, then you can make a team bulletin board instead. You could also create a digital bulletin board together.

9. Lifestyle Challenges

Performing lifestyle challenges is a way to achieve a shared goal together. For instance, drinking more water, kicking unhealthy habits, exercising more, reading, or learning language. First decide on an objective, then set a time limit for the challenge, such as a month. Be sure to come up with a way to monitor progress, and check in as a group periodically to update each other and cheer each other on. Acknowledging milestones along the way can boost morale and motivation, and you should celebrate the wins at the end of the activity. Even group members that do not complete the challenge or reach the goal will have made strides, and recognizing this progress can encourage participants to keep trying to improve.

Self-improvement is one of the best ways to build community, as growth often requires community support.

10. The Chain

The Chain is one of the most fun community building games. The point of this exercise is to reveal similarities between group members. To play this game, participants stand in a large circle. A leader starts the game off by standing in the center of the circle, and making a personal statement. For example, “I have traveled to Africa.” Any participants who share this trait rush to the center of the circle. The first person to reach the speaker and link arms becomes the next section of the chain, and must continue the game. The exercise goes on until all players are part of the chain.

This game can uncover surprising similarities, and show links between team members. Plus, the game promotes unity and shows that members are part of something larger than themselves.

11. Prompt of the week

Prompt of the week involves asking a series of thought-inspiring questions for team members to answer publicly. Every week, simply post a prompt and ask team members to weigh in via reply-all email, forum, in-person discussion, or Slack thread. Respondents can react directly to the question, and also to team members’ responses.

You could even create a poll out of the most popular responses for lively conversations, and settle the debate via vote.

These prompts can foster conversation during times when there is no community business to discuss, and can help peers learn more about each other outside the scope of the work.

Here is a list of icebreaker questions and a list of poll questions to use as prompt inspiration.

12. Barter Board

Barter board is an in-office classifieds where teammates can exchange objects and services. For example, homemade desserts, language lessons, spare desk organizers, tickets to shows, or offers to help clean a messy desk. Participants can also post reasonable requests in this space, or just initiate random trades for fun. In the spirit of community, barter boards give members the ability to share expertise and resources and help each other out, plus give members extra opportunities to interact.

13. Recommendations and Reviews

Word of mouth is one of the major benefits of belonging to a community. Folks tend to trust suggestions from peers over advertisements. Offering up recommendations and reviews is one way to foster a sense of community among a group, as these suggestions provide value for other members.

You can structure your review board into different categories such as books to read, places to visit, and activities to try out. Trello is a great medium for this format, however you can also make a social media group or Slack channel. Team members can write about their impressions and experiences, or can share reviews directly from sites like Yelp and Google.

Traveling teammates tend to benefit most from this exercise by getting recommendations for their next destination, making this idea one of the better hybrid community building activities.

14. Water Cooler Chats

Every community needs a space to meet and chat, such as the proverbial water cooler that acts as a gathering place in offices. You can create a water cooler space for your group, such as a breakroom, group chat, or recurring meetup, where folks can gather and banter. If meeting in a physical space, then provide drinks and snacks as well as optional activities like board games. If you are meeting online, then be sure members have access to communication platforms such as Slack access or a contact list to add new members to group texts.

To encourage conversation, you can occasionally post prompts such as “what TV shows is everyone watching right now?” or “what fun fall activities do you have planned?” It also helps to have guidelines so that team members know if any topics or posting times are off-limits.

Check out this guide to doing virtual water coolers.

15. Coffee Breaks

Not every community meetup needs to have structure. In fact, informal gatherings can inspire more natural interactions and build better bonds. Casual meetups like coffee breaks give team members the chance to relax together and talk about whatever topics naturally arise. These 1:1 meetings provide face to face time with fellow group members in a casual setting, and can improve group dynamics overall. Members getting to know others individually in more intimate settings strengthens the group as a whole.

Group leaders can use an automated matching tool to randomly pair up members, and those paris can plan a time to grab a coffee together and chat.

Check out this guide to doing coffee breaks virtually.

16. Game Nights

Game nights are one of the most fun community building activities. These events give members an opportunity to gather, compete, and spend time together. Focusing on the game helps to eliminate awkwardness between unfamiliar individuals, and playing the game together can break the ice and provide a fun foundation to the relationship.

To host a game night, simply invite attendees, gather supplies, and provide snacks and drinks. You can either play the same games together, or if the group is larger, then you can offer a variety of games and let attendees choose their own.

For more ideas, check out this guide to online game nights and these lists of team building board games and virtual board games.

Tips for Community Building Activities

Here are helpful hints to boost your community building efforts.

1. Stick to a schedule and regular rhythm

Community building requires ongoing effort. Keeping the community active and engaged means regularly planning activities and facilitating discussions, otherwise the group you worked so hard to build may go dormant and members may drop off.

When community happenings regularly occur, then folks are likely to save room in their busy schedules to participate. Events do not necessarily need to be on the same day or time every month, however you should host happenings on a predictable schedule and aim for consistency in the number of interactions each month. This approach gives a sense of normalcy, dependability, and momentum, and ignites energy.

2. Make conscious efforts to foster inclusion

Some team members are bound to be shier than others, especially if your group does not interact often in person. As leader, be ready to play matchmaker and make connections between outliers and the more outgoing members of the group.

Of course, also champion diversity and make the group a safe space to express different ideas and perspectives. Community means everyone gathers together, but do not expect that mingling will happen naturally. Bear in mind that members may need a nudge to step outside of their comfort zones, get to know new people, and mix with others in the group, especially as your community grows larger. Be ready to shepherd the group and take steps to ensure that everyone feels included.

3. Pick activities with mass appeal

Community relies on the discovery of common ground. While it is ok to go more niche every now and then and explore areas of more specific interest, the point of community building is to find activities that the whole group can enjoy. Picking activities with mass appeal tends to result in better turnouts and higher rates of participation, which in turn means more shared experiences and chances for connection within the group. Planning widely beloved programming helps foster a sense of togetherness and unity, and helps members benefit from the full scope of the community.

4. Let the community shape the programming

Good community organizers build community around group members’ interests, rather than pushing their own agenda on members. These leaders take feedback and suggestions from members, and allow group members to take the initiative and lead and organize events from time to time. Remember that the community exists to serve its members. Communities are a collaboration and community members should have a voice.

Final Thoughts

With the hectic pace of modern life and advancements in technology, society finds itself lacking and craving community more and more. Human connection is an essential part of life, and it is important to build back these systems in new ways. While more traditional communities may be lessening, people are gathering in new ways, such as online and within the workforce.

Community building activities are a way to guide this process. These exercises are ways to build more meaningful connections and uncover common ground that may not be immediately obvious. These methods encourage interaction and build support systems and result in more positive cultures and increased loyalty and engagement. Not to mention, these activities add variety and excitement to everyday life and the regular routine.

Next, check out this list of communication games, and this explanation of the 8% rule.

FAQ: Community building activities

Here are answers to common questions about community building activities.

What are community building activities?

Community building activities are group activities that encourage members to work towards a shared goal and learn more about each other. These exercises help create a group atmosphere and sense of belonging.

What are some good community building activities for work?

Some good community building activities for work include decorating the space, prompt of the week, lifestyle challenges, Slack clubs, and monthly meals.

What is the difference between community building and team building? 

The difference between community building and team building is that community building tends to be on a larger scale. Team building typically happens with immediate group members and collaborators, while community building is with anyone associated with the group. Both have an emphasis on camaraderie, but team building is more about instilling teamwork while community building is about building connections and making participants feel like part of a much larger whole.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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