Team Building Challenges: Examples

Home » Resources » Team Building ChallengesUpdated: July 18, 2022

You found our list of fun team building challenges.

Team building challenges are contests that invite teams to reach collective goals. For example, employee cookoffs and workout challenges. These types of team activities emphasize that overall success depends on every team member’s triumphs.

These challenges are a type of employee engagement campaign, office challenge, workplace competition and are an in-person version of virtual workplace challenges.

Specifically, this list includes:

  • physical team building challenges
  • outdoor team building challenges
  • quick team building challenges
  • social media challenges for work

So, here is the list!

List of team building challenges

From workouts to work goals to hackathons, here is a list of team building challenges that will motivate team members and raise productivity.

1. Employee Cook Off

You can transform the regular lunch routine into a tasty tournament by hosting your own employee cook off challenge.

How to host a cook off:

  1. Select a food such as chili, macaroni and cheese, barbecue, wings, or brownies.
  2. Advertise the event around the office.
  3. Instruct chefs to sign up.
  4. Provide crock pots or chafing trays, or direct employees to bring similar warming equipment.
  5. Ask employees to donate canned goods in exchange for admission to the event.
  6. Provide voting slips so that employees can choose the best dish.
  7. Tally up votes, declare a winner, and award a prize.

Contestants can enter the face-off as individuals or as teams. If you choose to format the cook-off as a department vs. department competition, then you may want to allow each team to sign up for a slot to use the office kitchen. Or you may want to select a food which requires little or no oven time; teams can cook chili in a crockpot or decorate pre-baked cookies, for example.

Cook offs inspire culinary creativity and competition and allow teammates to bond over the common interest of free, tasty food.

For inspiration, try these virtual cooking classes.

2. Inbox Zero Challenge

The Inbox Zero challenge prompts employees to order and tidy inboxes every night. After sorting messages into folders and trashing any excess emails, employees will screenshot the pristine inboxes and upload the photo to a shared drive. You can periodically host a drawing and award the winner a prize such as an Amazon or Starbucks gift card. The more often an employee organizes the inbox and enters the drawing, the more chances that worker has to win.

You can transform the initiative into even more of a team building challenge by offering department-level awards. Coworkers will propel peers to prune emails and will cheerlead each other towards total inbox zen. Inbox zero is one of the more useful teamwork challenges because the activity promotes efficient work habits.

3. Workout Challenge

Workout challenges make great physical team building challenges. These fitness challenges are activities where participants commit to a routine of exercises for a set amount of time. Often, partakers invite friends, family, and coworkers to join the challenge.

These fitness challenges motivate your teams to practice healthy lifestyle habits and compensate for the sedentary nature of office work.

To institute a team workout challenge, pick a type of exercise, choose a timeframe, and call the team to action. You can find lots of existing options for these kinds of activities by searching online.

Examples:

  • 30 day bedtime workout challenge
  • TV workout challenges
  • Do anywhere cardio challenge
  • Beginning workout challenge
  • Walking or running challenge
  • Take the stairs challenge

You should schedule periodic check-ins to motivate the team and hold all members accountable. You can download a fitness tracking app to monitor group progress, and you can also spur teammates to share tips, exercises, selfies, or short videos to a team chat or social media group.

Implementing healthy lifestyle changes such as fitness regimens can be hard, but building a support system simplifies the process.

Here are more ideas for team building workouts.

4. Charity Challenge

Charity challenges are events where coworkers band together to serve a worthy cause. To host a team charity challenge, you can follow the steps listed below.

Charity challenge:

  1. Choose a charity.
  2. Decide on a fundraising activity, such as running a 5k or selling chocolates.
  3. Record progress on a website or poster
  4. Celebrate the completion of the goal

Charity challenges create a culture of shared values. Dedicating time and energy towards a noble goal like community service helps teammates establish more meaningful connections with each other.

Here are ideas for online fundraising events and a list of the best charitable team building activities.

5. Work Goal Challenge

One of the most relevant team building challenges is to select a team work goal. Perhaps you want to gain ten new clients by the end of the month, or avoid on-the-job accidents for a whole quarter. Whatever the goal, you should choose a specific and measurable objective so that teammates can quantify progress.

Once you select a target, you can create a reporting method. I heard of one company that used a racetrack to symbolize sales goals; sales staff excitedly raced to a poster to move a paper car forward upon closing a sale. You could create a similar display, or could measure progress via a countdown clock, a daily report, a Trello board, or another method. The point of the tracker is to visualize the goal headway, which motivates employees to work harder to reach the finish line.

Lastly, you can incentivize employees to complete the challenge by offering a special treat such as a half day off, a bonus, or a fun event. Providing a prize transforms the activity into a fun contest instead of a strict order.

6. Social Media Challenge

Social media challenges are prompts that inspire social media friends and followers to perform a specific action and share the results on a platform like Facebook or Instagram. For instance, a ten year challenge directs posters to share a current picture alongside a photo from ten years ago, while the ice bucket challenge that circulated a few years ago tasked participants to pour buckets of freezing water over heads to raise awareness and money for Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Social media challenges for work are a fun way to facilitate connections between coworkers. To institute a challenge, create a private group within the platform and add participating team members.

Team social media challenge suggestions:

  • When I first started challenge- Encourage members of the team to share a lesson learned upon joining the company.
  • Logo gogo- Task team members to snap and share photos of the company logo in creative and unexpected places.
  • Workspace snapshot- Direct team members to share a workspace picture, encouraging the appearance of bobbleheads, pets, and snack stashes.
  • TILMJB- Ask teammates to finish the sentence, “today I love my job because…”

You can keep posts private, or you can share contributions with a wider audience. Besides building teamwork amongst coworkers, you can generate goodwill for your brand by exhibiting the creativity and company love of your employees. If you and your teams are comfortable sharing posts with the public, then you should refer to your company’s social media policies to ensure all participants share on-tone and inoffensive content.

7. Kindness Challenge

Kindness challenges are one of the best quick team building challenges. You can institute a kindness challenge to encourage your teammates to perform good deeds towards fellow workers.

Suggestions for kindness challenge:

  • Pay five compliments
  • Treat a teammate to a midday snack
  • Acknowledge a colleague’s great work
  • Smile at ten coworkers
  • Thank a mentor

Kindness challenges promote positivity in the workplace and can improve employee morale. Caring acts and words cost nothing but can greatly affect a teammate’s mood. Small, simple gestures such as the ones on the above list help build rapport and trust among team members and boost employee satisfaction.

8. Hackathons

Hackathons are events common in software companies where teams innovate together to design a new product such as a parking spot locating app or a travel budgeting calculator. No matter what your industry, you can task teams to work collectively on quick projects that have real applications.

To host a mini hackathon, you will need to set a time limit, secure a venue, and designate a theme. Examples of hackathon prompts for non-technology departments might include “patient satisfaction procedures,” “interactive social media campaign,” or “expense management tool.”

During mini hackathons teammates flex creativity and ingenuity. This challenge is especially relevant for teams because participants develop products to use daily.

Here is our guide on how to do a virtual hackathon.

9. Random Lent

Growing up, I participated in Lent, which is the period of fasting before Easter. Every year, I swore off one bad habit or indulgence for forty days, such as eating potato chips or cursing like a sailor. Young me used to slip up after a week or so. Ironically, my older self has a much easier time abstaining, even though I no longer officially observe Lent. From time to time, I like to practice a “random Lent,” where I voluntarily give up one compulsion such as hitting snooze or chowing down on post-dinner ice cream.

You can turn Random Lent, or whatever you prefer to call it, into a teamwork challenge for your group.

To institute a Random Lent:

  1. Pick a time period, such as a week, two weeks, or a month.
  2. Ask each employee to give up one frequently used item or habit
  3. Create a team tracker board using a program like Google Sheets
  4. Instruct each teammate to log daily progress on the board
  5. Incentivize the exercise by offering individual and collective rewards such as a team bagel party, a new department coffee machine, or tickets to a sporting event.

Discipline and self-sacrifice are good habits for healthy teams, since the actions of individuals impact group success. During Random Lent, teammates can cheer each other’s commitments to improvement and foster individual accountability by way of team accountability.

10. Scrapbook Challenges

One of my favorite jokes from the show “Parks and Recreation” is that main character Leslie Knope creates a scrapbook for every occasion. I like to think that every work team contains a Leslie Knope type waiting to illustrate all the team’s achievements in glitter and patterned paper.

Of course, not every scrapbook needs to be literal. Teams can memorialize significant group events in any medium, including virtual options such as social media pages, online photo albums, and videos.

The point of a team scrapbook challenge is for every group member to contribute bits and pieces that tell the story of the team.

To start a team scrapbook challenge:

  1. Buy a book or start an online page
  2. Invite employees to contribute materials
  3. Throw out prompts like “team shenanigans,” “work family,” “best job ever,” or “real professional, guys”
  4. Highlight especially creative submissions

The added value of this activity is that it creates a way to measure the group’s growth and a means of reflection. Employees can remind themselves of good times with the team by revisiting favorite memories.

11. Step Up Challenge

Experts recommend a monthly goal of 10,000 steps, or 5 miles, which equates to about 30 minutes of daily exercise. You can ensure your team treads many monthly miles by instituting a Step Up Challenge.

You can ask everyone on the team to download a step tracking app or use a fitness tracking device like a Fitbit. If oldschool, then your teammates can also use a trusty pedometer. Whatever the device, team members should measure and track daily steps and aim to hit 10,000 steps in a month.

If your team lives in the same city, then you can even organize a team walk towards the end of the month to help the laggers reach the goal. The step challenge encourages employees to incorporate exercise into daily routines and helps to create teams that are active in all senses of the word.

12. Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are some of the best outdoor team building challenges, yet you can do these activities inside too. To organize a hunt, first ready a list of hints, commands, and places to hide clues. Next, create a list of instructions. Then, divide the group into teams, set a time limit, and let the hunt begin.

You can give your scavenger hunt a certain theme, or leave the structure more general and focus on fun and teamwork.

Here is a list of clues for DIY scavenger hunts, and more outdoor team building ideas.

Final Thoughts

Team building challenges provide a mix of friendly competition and support within work environments. These activities are a fun and effective way for teammates to practice goal-setting together and to learn to navigate deadlines and high pressure situations. Plus, these exercises encourage a sense of pride and accomplishment and allow for a little healthy bragging.

Next, check out this list of team building exercises and this collection of National Fun at Work Day ideas.

FAQ: Team building challenges

Here are some of the most common questions and answers about team building challenges.

What are team building challenges?

Team building challenges are activities that contribute towards a larger group goal. These exercises emphasize the idea that individual efforts add up to constitute group success.

What are some good team building challenges?

The best team challenges promote positive habits such as physical activity, organization, imagination, and consideration for coworkers. Some good team building challenges include social media challenges, kindness challenges, and the inbox zero challenge.

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