15 Engaging Office Challenge Ideas for Work

By: | Updated: August 27, 2022

Here is our list of the best office challenge ideas.

Office challenges ideas are ways to achieve specific objectives by engaging in challenging activities and healthy competition. For example, drinking water contests, trash pick-up challenges, and office workout challenges. The purpose of these activities is to create an avenue for growth and development while also promoting team building.

These activities are examples of workplace competitions and employee engagement campaigns and are in-person versions of virtual team challenges.

This list includes:

  • green office challenge ideas
  • wellness challenge ideas for the office
  • office team challenge ideas
  • office bracket challenge ideas
  • office fitness challenge ideas

Here we go!

List of office challenge ideas

You can enjoy an office challenge by engaging in different fun activities and contests. From organizing a Healthy Lunch Cook-Off to Office Pool, here is a list of some fun office challenge ideas.

1. Healthy Lunch Cook-Off

A healthy lunch cook-off is a great idea to put employees in a competitive mood. The contest promotes healthy eating at the workplace while improving participants’ culinary skills.

To organize a healthy lunch cook-off:

  1. Although optional, pick a theme for the cook-off contest. You can use fun themes like meatless Monday, taco Tuesday, simple sandwiches, Italian day, and Asian salads.
  2. Choose the recipe for the meal if participants will cook the same meal. Then, share a copy of the recipe with all employees participating.
  3. Select a date for the event. You would want to decide how long the contest will last and whether or not the cook-off will be a recurring challenge.
  4. Prepare the venue for the events. Also, ensure that the necessary equipment ranging from cutlery to aprons and fresh food is available on the contest day.
  5. Divide the employees into several groups. Then you may have a single group compete for a particular cook-off session. If you have a large group, then the employees can compete in teams instead.

The employee or team with the dish voted as the tastiest by other employees wins the challenge. After the challenge, you will have a buffet of healthy meals to share in the office for lunch. It is a great idea to have the challenge weekly or regularly. The contestants get to show off their cooking skills and learn recipes for delicious plates of healthy meals.

For more culinary team building activities, check out online cooking classes.

2. Plant A Tree Challenge

Planting trees is one of the best green office challenge ideas for teams. By engaging in this challenge, your company contributes to making the ecosystem better.

To do this activity:

  1. First, search for a location where you can plant trees. You can search for acceptable locations in the neighborhood or use a yard belonging to the company. You can also partner with a local tree-planting organization and get your employees involved in the planting process
  2. Depending on the size of your company, divide the employees into teams
  3. Then have each team plant a tree together in a good spot.

Before proceeding to the challenge, it is best to educate employees on how to plant a tree properly. You can invite a tree-planting expert to inform the team. If you intend to partner with a tree-planting company, then the firm can give you professional assistance when planting.

For more eco-friendly activities, check out virtual Earth Day ideas.

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3. The Seven Hours Sleep Race

Racing by sleeping is one of the best wellness challenge ideas for the office. This contest aims for employees to sleep for a minimum of seven hours at night.

You can place small items like decorative pebbles in the office for the employees to collect. An employee can pick a pebble only when they had the recommended seven hours of sleep the previous night. The challenge can last for several weeks or months.

After the challenge ends, it is time to count the collected stones. The employee with the highest number of pebbles wins. You can convert the winner’s pebbles into a gift or other reward.

Another option is to keep a spreadsheet and have employees input the number of sleep hours they get each night. At the end of the challenge, celebrate the employee with the highest cumulative sleep hours.

Check out more employee wellness program ideas.

4. The Sprout Pencil Challenge

One of the best green office challenge ideas is for employees to replace regular pens with sprout pencils. Sprout pencils are like ordinary pencils. However, instead of erasers at the end of the pencils, you will find a capsule containing seeds.

Each employee will receive a pencil. The challenge starts when the workers put the pencils to use. Once the pencils become too short to use, the employees will plant them. Then the workers will show off their beautiful plants, trees, or vegetables once pencils sprout.

The most important part is to see which employee would first use their pencils short and plant without cheating. If you want to avoid employees’ cheating by unnecessarily sharpening their pencils, then you can make the challenge long-term.

Some employees may not like to take up the burden of taking care of a plant. A great option would be to donate the plants to family members, friends, or local organizations like a community center.

5. Learning A New Skill

One of the office challenge ideas you can adopt in your office is for employees to develop certain skills. For instance, team members can learn a new language, knitting, or graphics design. Dedicating time to learning such skills may prove difficult. However, with this challenge, employees will strive to overcome that difficulty.

The team or individual employees can choose a particular skill to learn. Team members will also need enough time to master that skill. One of the best ideas is to create time during work hours. You can extend the duration of the lunch break or make a special break for this purpose. A 12-minute break may seem short, but the time amounts to one hour in five days. During the break, employees will focus on learning a new language or learning other specified skills.

Afterward, have your employees tested on those newly acquired skills. You may ask questions relating to the skills’ subject matters and award points for the questions. The employee with the most points wins the contest.

Here is a guide to professional development ideas for work.

6. Meditation Challenge

Meditating is a fantastic activity for employees’ mental health. After educating the team on the importance and types of meditation, you should give them time to decide their goals for meditating. For instance, this challenge can be a breathing exercise, focus exercise, or even positive affirmation. Team members do not necessarily have to share the same goals.

The challenge will aim to achieve the goals within a specified time. You should determine how long the team meditation will last. This challenge can be a one-time event or an ongoing goal.

7. Employees’ Productivity Challenge

Challenging the productivity level of employees in the company is one of the most engaging office team challenge ideas. You can grade the teams in various areas like punctuality, labor efficiency, and the number of successful projects. Although productivity or quality of work can be difficult to measure, you can assess it by establishing a performance baseline. A performance baseline is a reference point to which you can measure and compare the efforts and achievements of employees.

To set a baseline, clearly spell out the work outputs expected from each team or employee in the company. For example, in areas like punctuality, you can set a time limit on when employees should be present in a meeting or the office. Also, you can track the arrival period of the workers in a time book. Employees who can reach the office within the expected time on most days stand a chance to win the punctuality challenge.

This challenge will build healthy competition among team members. Other benefits include:

  1. Eliminating procrastination
  2. Improving teamwork
  3. A shoot up in work output
  4. Motivated employees

Pro Tip: You can schedule productivity awards daily, weekly, or monthly. Then award the winner or the winning team with a prize. Giving prizes and recognition will motivate other employees to put more effort into their work.

Here are employee recognition ideas.

8. Trash Pick-Up Challenge

Trash pick-up challenges are an excellent activity for office employees. You can encourage teams to engage in this activity in the following ways:

  1. Ask each group to find areas that need cleaning.
  2. Provide the team with sanitary gear like gloves, masks, and face shields.
  3. Decide a date for picking up the trash. You can pick an available date for all teams or have each group select a comfortable date.
  4. Then ask the teams to take a “before and after” picture of the areas they intend to clean.

You can award prizes to teams that cleaned the largest area or packed the biggest bag of trash.

9. Office Workout Challenge

An office workout is one of the office fitness challenge ideas to try with your team. You can have this challenge by having a workout training session on work-free days. You can start by asking employees to set personal fitness goals. The aim will be to achieve those goals within the time limit. Also, you can create a general plan like:

  1. A 10-minute regular HIIT workout challenge
  2. Squat till you drop challenge
  3. Skipping 200 times per day
  4. A 28-day planks challenge
  5. Flexibility challenge
  6. Sit-up challenge

You can expect to have fun while tracking your goals with other employees. Furthermore, you may hire an expert trainer to guide the team or have an experienced team member take the burden.

At the end of the challenge, review employees’ goals and celebrate the wins, no matter how small. Encourage employees who could not reach their goals to try the challenge again and keep going.

Here are lists of team workout ideas and online team fitness providers.

10. Drinking Water Contest

Drinking water contests are one of the best wellness challenge ideas for the office. The commonly recommended water intake level is around two liters per day. Since the contest is an office challenge, then the goal should be to drink only about one liter of water during working hours.

Before the challenge, you would want to ensure the availability of clean and regulated drinking water around the office.

An employee who drinks the allocated volume of water at the end of working hours earns a point. After the challenge is over, sum up the participants’ points. The employee with the highest points wins. You can track progress on a shared spreadsheet, or have participants click a water drop emoji on a Slack post upon finishing each glass.

11. Take The Stairs Challenge

A simple fitness challenge that does not require participants to take a trip to the gym is to take the stairs rather than the elevator. During the challenge, workers will try their best to take the stairs whenever possible.

You can ask your team to ditch the elevator for the stairs except in an emergency. Then ask the workers to keep track of the number of times they took the stairs in a day or several days. Tell the employees to sincerely and discretely write down the number of steps. You can award a prize to the employee that took the highest number of stairs.

12. Using Reusable Water Bottles

If one of your goals in the office is zero waste, then using a reusable water bottle instead of a plastic bottle is a good idea.

You can give your employees a reusable water bottle as a gift. The goal is to use the water bottle throughout the challenge time. You can award points to all the participants at the beginning of the challenge. Then for every plastic disposable cup or bottle used, the employee gets a point deducted.

At the end of the challenge, you can award a prize to the employee who could retain the highest point.

Here is a list of swag vendors who make water bottles.

13. Take A Step Challenge

Take a step challenges are one of the popular office fitness challenge ideas focusing on cardiovascular health. The challenge’s goal is to take a particular number of steps within a specified time.

To do this activity, decide how long the challenge will last. You can prescribe a long-term or short-term duration based on the experience you want. Alternatively, you can specify the number of steps, for instance, 6,000 steps. Then the goal is to reach the set number as quickly as possible.

You would also want to decide on how to track the steps. It would be best to use a pedometer. A pedometer is a small device that counts steps through a small lever following the movement of your hips. Next, you can set a board in the office and input the names of all the employees participating. Every morning at work, a participant will enter the number of steps recorded for the previous day. You may decide to count steps only on workdays or every other day.

Depending on the rules you set, the winner can be the first participant to reach the specified number of steps. The winner can also be the employee with the highest cumulated number of steps during the challenge period.

14. Reading Challenge

A reading challenge is a way to get workers to read a book or several books within a specific time. To make the activity more challenging, you can test the knowledge of the employees on the books they read.

To have a reading challenge in the office, pick the books to read. There are diverse options to choose from, ranging from academic texts to fictional and motivational books. After, set the date and duration for the reading challenge. The course will depend on the book’s size. However, it is best to have the challenge on work-free days like weekends for medium-sized and easy-to-read texts.

Pro Tip: You can give high points to the first person who finishes their book. Also, award points for correct answers to questions relating to the books. Then the participant with the highest cumulative points wins the challenge.

For reading recommendations, check out these lists of professional books.

15. Office Pool

One of the most fun office bracket challenge ideas is to set up an office pool. Office pool is an activity where employees can predict the team that will win in a particular sport or reality show. Every player will make a valuable stake when placing their bet. Then the players who predicted the outcomes correctly will share the combined stakes of every player.

To run an office pool, you can use just a pen and a piece of paper to collect information. Also, determine the point system. A player can earn points based on outcomes accurately predicted. You should award more points towards the end of the pool. In addition, you can draft out the rules and give a copy to the players.

An office pool is a fun, challenging game for anyone in the office. It does not matter whether the employee is a sports fan or not. The primary goal is to beat other players by making correct predictions.


Office challenges are a great way to target and achieve a specific goal in your company. In most cases, the challenges include activities and contests directed to improve the environment or an aspect of employees’ lives. The good part of these office challenges is that the challenges function as a great team building activity. Irrespective of the challenge, ensure you have as much fun as possible.

For more engagement ideas, check out competitive team building games and Christmas office decorating contests.

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FAQ: Office challenges

Here are answers to questions about office challenge ideas.

What are office challenges?

Office challenges are contests, interventions, or activities that target an improvement in an aspect of employees’ lifestyle or habit, society, or the environment.

What are some good ideas for workplace challenges?

Some good workplace challenges include Office Workout Challenge, Reading Challenge, Healthy Lunch Cook-Off, and Office Pool. These activities are also great for bringing employees together and building team spirit.

How do you do a workplace challenge with employees?

To do a workplace challenge, first determine the goals for the challenge. The plan may be for employees’ personal development, mental, physical, or financial wellness, or contribution to the ecosystem. Once you have sorted out the objectives, then decide the activities or contests to achieve the goals. Also, figure out the duration of the challenge. Most importantly, get the participants together and have fun doing your chosen office challenge.

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at teambuilding.com. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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