8 Effective Team Bonding Ideas

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September 16, 2020

Hi! You found our list of team bonding ideas.

Team bonding ideas are concepts that accelerate relationship building. These conditions champion openness, shared purpose, and empathy.

Specifically, this list includes:

  • ideas for team bonding
  • ways to bond with coworkers
  • free team bonding activities

And more 🙂

So, here is the list!

List of team bonding ideas

From animal play-dates to group apps to post-crisis check-ins, here is a list of uniting team bonding ideas.

1. Give back to the community

Philanthropy is not a new concept to the corporate world. Many companies encourage employees to participate in charity events as a way to give back to the surrounding community. Community service is a good deed, but volunteering also has many benefits for participants. Volunteering is one of the best free team bonding activities.

Groups who volunteer together share a mission and sense of purpose that connects teammates to the cause and each other. Participants may associate the resulting feelings of accomplishment and fulfillment with teammates.

Volunteering team members can interact more organically with colleagues, assume leadership roles, and gain diversity experience, as United Way explains. Charity emphasizes teamwork values such as self-sacrifice and collaboration.

Selecting a cause as a team adds an extra layer of meaning to the activity.

2. Embrace the great outdoors

Nature has healing powers. When stress stops my brain, nothing calms me quite like strolling through the sunshine and spotting the neighborhood bunnies.

Though enjoying nature may seem like more of a solo activity, getting fresh air has many group-centric benefits. Spending time outside lessens feelings of isolation, improves mood, and enhances sense of community, as this Yale article attests. Nature can make us feel happier and more social, prime conditions for togetherness.

You can amplify the effects of your team bonding experience by taking your team outdoors. Fresh air can put your teammates in the right headspace for connecting meaningfully with colleagues.

Outdoor bonding activity ideas:

  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Bike rides
  • Geocaching
  • Kayaking or canoeing
  • Outdoor ropes course
  • Community gardens
  • Yoga in the park
  • Picnics

Getting in touch with nature can help your team get in touch with colleagues. Nature separates us from the constant distractions of modern life so that we can focus on our companions.

If you lead a remote team and cannot gather in the woods, then you can still encourage your teammates to wander outside for remote activities, or you can simulate the great outdoors with our guided tiny campfire event.

3. Bring the zoo to you

There is a reason that when I do not know anybody at a party, I embark on a housepet hunt. Socializing with animals is easier than socializing with people, since animals are nonjudgmental and outwardly affectionate. After giving the host’s beagle a few belly rubs, I am more than ready to socialize with human party guests.

By including animals in your team building exercise, you can provide both a social lubricant and a mood boost. Animals break down barriers, soothe nerves, and reveal our softer sides. Imagine watching your boss, who rides a Harley motorcycle to work, coo at a calico kitten. Or picture Gretchen from accounting trading her typical pre-coffee Monday morning scowl for an ear-to-ear puppy kissing grin. Most people love animals, so coordinating a visit with furry friends provides the group with common ground. One of the best ways to bond with coworkers is to bond with animals together.

Therapists sometimes recruit pets to help treat anxiety because animals are comforting companions. Many patients practice social skills on animals before approaching other humans, and you can use this same principle to ease interaction between your team.

4. Facilitate recovery

As one of my favorite team building quotes goes, “tough times don’t last; tough teams do.” When I reflect on team bonding throughout my own career, I discover that some of my strongest memories occurred directly after a crisis. I remember shouting out Shakira lyrics in an empty dining room after a dinner rush, or watching Monty Python sketches with my boss after we raced around the building trying to collect signatures against a deadline.

One of the more unusual team bonding ideas is to facilitate recovery after a crisis. Workplace challenges bring on a wartime mentality, where self-sacrifice and adrenaline encourage gratitude and unity among groups. You can seize on these opportunities to more consciously guide your team building process. Recovery sessions are informal discussions with teams where the group analyzes the cause of the crisis, evaluates the response, formulates a forward-looking plan. These check-ins also allow teammates to gage moods and express concerns. This conversation allows you to shape the narrative of the challenge and promote constructive attitudes, while signaling that you care about your team’s well-being.

Unlike the other activities on this list, recovery sessions do not require planning. In fact, these situations often arise unexpectedly. Identifying and initiating these conversations can be tricky at first, but if you remain mindful and make a habit of regrouping and recapping after emergencies, then team recoveries will become second nature.

5. Keep in touch with technology

Though I keep reading opinion articles about the isolating effects of technology, I cannot help but feel like our devices are not solely to blame. Bad communication habits contribute to our feelings of disconnection. Smartphones and computers enable us to contact almost anyone any time, yet we often choose to ignore friends, families, and coworkers in favor of scrolling through our Instagram feeds.

Instead of using technology as a figurative moat, we can lower our drawbridge and welcome visitors. Not all team bonding needs to happen in person; virtual team activities can also endorse kindness, closeness, and consideration.

Moving social time online removes face-to-face contact, but allows teammates to socialize on a more ongoing and consistent basis.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Regular virtual happy hours or virtual coffee dates
  • Online group games like Words with Friends, Uno, or Mario Kart Tour
  • Social media groups or group messages
  • Download and try out an app together, such as a podcast maker, a constellation identifier, or a goat simulator

Though technology occasionally divides us, devices also give us common ground. Almost everyone owns a computer nowadays, and we can always use technology as a conversation topic when other subjects elude us. You can harness society’s smartphone addiction to score bonding time for your team.

6. Build something together

Working with your hands is soothing. Whether you whip up a batch of ravioli from scratch or build a picnic bench for squirrels, creating something out of nothing is rewarding. Satisfying as solo achievement may be, producing a project as a group is even more delightful. When you build a birdhouse or finish a mosaic as a group, as a bonus you get to celebrate with others. Starting a project is one of the more productive and satisfying ideas for team bonding.

Building something together makes for a great team bonding exercise because not only does your group collectively enjoy the experience, you can also admire the aftermath together.

Suggestions for group bonding projects:

  • Volunteer to build a house at Habitat for Humanity
  • Plant a community garden and make a meal come harvest time
  • Attend a paint and sip class
  • Mix homemade candles with essential oils
  • Craft wood wall hangings for your wing of the office

With a little skill, effort, and enthusiasm, your opportunities are endless. Build a Lego mansion, a zen garden, or a mural together, and you just may build a stronger team.

7. Break a sweat

Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals that trigger happiness. Though working out is not always fun, the aftermath can feel rewarding. You can embrace the fitness good feelings to help your teams feel closer and more accomplished. Practicing healthy habits alone takes a great deal of discipline, but working out as a group provides a motivational boost.

Group workouts like team building yoga allow your team to push through challenges together. You can either find an online workout to follow, or you can recruit a local fitness instructor or trainer to lead the group.

Suggestions for group workouts:

  • Walking a trail
  • Training for a race
  • Barre class
  • Blacktop basketball
  • Yoga
  • 80’s aerobics
  • Ninja warrior training
  • Weightlifting
  • Adult recess, aka playground games like kickball and tag

If nothing else, then your teammates can bond over panting and resenting the YouTube trainer’s perkiness.

8. Take a trip

Many companies send employees on team building retreats to focus on developing skills and bonding with colleagues. Abandoning the office and spending a few days in a new locale can be a great way to escape interruptions and recontextualize your teammates’ relationships. Groups foster connections based on shared experiences, and team retreats provide a variety of activities and adventures to link your teammates together.

Whether you are a large organization or a smaller business, traveling together can coerce your teammates out of the comfort zone and open the group to new impressions. Team retreats are great ways to prioritize team bonding, but you can also plan shorter journeys, such as a day trip to a local winery or state park. Exploring unfamiliar territory together can bring your crew closer than ever.

Conclusion

By encouraging your teammates to bond, you foster trust and respect. Bonding activities humanize colleagues and increase the likelihood that teammates will help or ask for help when necessary. Close work relationships breed happier, more productive workplaces.

For more ideas on establishing togetherness, check out this epic list of team building games.

FAQ: Team bonding ideas

Here are some of the most common questions and answers about team bonding ideas.

What are team bonding ideas?

Team bonding ideas are methods of fostering communication, transparency, and closeness amongst your group. Teamwork requires trust, and trust requires the kind of empathy and communication that team building activities promote.

What are good team bonding ideas?

The best activities break barriers and uncover interesting characteristics. Some good team bonding ideas include giving back to the community, building something together, and embracing the great outdoors.

Why is team bonding important?

Team bonding helps teammates appreciate each other’s interests, personalities, and experiences. By encouraging compassion and understanding, this approach reduces workplace conflict and promotes loyalty.

How do you build a strong relationship with your team?

To develop rapport with your teammates, ask thoughtful questions and actively listen to responses. You should dedicate time to understanding your colleagues. By spending time together outside of the scope of work (even just on breaks between meetings) you signal that your teammates are more to you than task robots.

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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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