You found our list of the best team building exercises.
Team building exercises are activities designed to encourage cooperation and strengthen interpersonal relationships, The results of these activities include decreased workplace conflict and heightened employee satisfaction. Examples of team building exercises are the Human Knot, Scavenger Hunts, and Profile Bingo.
These activities are similar to team building games and fun group activities, and are a way to improve team cooperation in the workplace. These exercises include both indoor team activities and outdoor team building activities.
Specifically, this list includes:
- team building exercises for small groups
- quick team building exercises for work
- team building exercises for employees
- large group team building exercises
- group bonding exercises
Let’s get to it!
List of team building exercises
From Won in 60 Seconds, to Lip Syncs, to Stand, Sit, Lie, here is our list of the most engaging teamwork exercises. We also have a list of unusual team building activities for work.
1. Human Knot
The Human Knot is one of the most common team building exercises, and is one of the best team building exercises for small groups. In this activity, team members tangle arms and carefully unravel the knot without ever unclenching hands.
- Participants form groups of five to twelve members
- Group members assemble in a circle
- Players reach left hands across the circle and grab an opposite member’s hand
- Players reach right hands across the circle and grab a different participant’s hand
- Without letting go of the grip, team members must untangle the jumble and form a ring
This team building challenge requires exceptional communication, as no player can shift alone without affecting the rest of the group. Teammates must discuss and strategize the next move together, deciding whether coworkers should drop towards the floor, step over arms, or spin.
Close proximity helps colleagues break barriers and warm up to coworkers quickly, while the problem-solving aspects of the game teach employees to rely on teammates to reach collective goals.
Learn more about the human knot.
2. Won in 60 Seconds
Won in 60 Seconds is actually a series of team building exercises. Teams compete to complete various cooperative challenges in a minute or less.
- Using chopsticks, transfer as many beads as possible from one bowl to another
- Keep a balloon in the air for one minute. No team member can tap the balloon more than twice in a row
- Line up and take turns trying to bounce a ping pong ball into a cup
- Stack and unstack a pyramid of thirty six plastic cups
- Using only a straw for suction, carry a ping pong ball to the finish line in a relay race
One member of the team will keep score throughout the challenges, and at the end of all rounds each group will compare stats. Won in 60 Seconds harnesses competition to create team spirit, and requires teams to communicate and innovate to achieve goals.
3. Profile Bingo
Profile Bingo combines the thrill of the classic game with the joy of forming teammate bonds. This game is one of the most fun large group team building exercises.
To play, print out cards with squares that contain traits or experiences.
Here is a generator we made for your game:
Be sure to randomize the order of the squares so that no two cards are identical.
Participants will move about the room and talk to colleagues in hopes of getting to shout “BINGO!” first. To ensure that teammates mix with as many members as possible, you can stipulate that players can use each team member’s name only once. If your group is smaller than the number of squares, then you can change this rule so that players cannot use the same coworker’s name in a single row, column, or diagonal.
When one player screams “BINGO!” ask the participant to read off each winning square and the name of the teammate the trait applies to. If for some reason no member gets Bingo after the allotted time, then you can ask the employee with the most marked squares to read the answers.
Profile Bingo encourages teammates to converse and form casual relationships, which in turn leads to heightened synergy and higher workplace productivity.
We also have a post on icebreaker Bingo.
4. The Amazing Race
The Amazing Race is a TV show where contestants compete to complete tasks and beat the other teams to the finish line. As far as team building events go, The Amazing Race works best on retreats where participants can visit various locations. You can also adapt the game to play in a single room by creating stations.
- Create a course with several challenges
- Divide the group into teams of two or three.
- Provide each team with a map and list of clues. Each team should start on a different challenge.
- Allow thirty minutes to one hour to complete the race.
- Wait at the finish line to congratulate the winners.
- Unlock a padlock by choosing the correct key out of a pile. Remove your names from the now unlocked box before relocking the box and returning the key to the pile.
- Run up and down the staircase five times. Record video as proof.
- Eat a whole bowl of spicy wasabi peas. Solve the riddle on the bottom of the bowl.
To win, teams will have to cooperate and tackle challenges strategically. These tests flex problem solving and time management skills and build trust and camaraderie among team members.
Here is a list of DIY Amazing Race ideas.
5. Workday of the Undead
The game Workday of the Undead operates on that same horror movie logic.
- All players select a slip of paper from a hat. One or two slips read “zombie,” and the rest “survivor.”
- Start with a large square as a playing space. Participants move about the square.
- Zombies infect other players by touching palms.
- Survivors try to identify zombies by pointing at the suspecting player and yelling, “Stop! Zombie!”
- If the player in question is a zombie, then the zombie is out for the round. If the accused player is a fellow survivor, then the accusing player is out for the round.
- At the end of the round, ask zombies to raise their hands.
Zombies will try to infect as many other players as possible, and survivors will try to outnumber the undead. Whichever group has more members at the end of the round wins.
You can play several rounds and shrink the playing space each time to increase the difficulty of spotting zombie attacks.
This activity teaches teammates to read body language, a vital team communication skill. The game serves as a valuable reminder that, as in the zombie movies, just because a teammate does not speak up, does not mean that all is well.
6. Lip Sync
Lip syncs are short entertaining videos in which performers mouth words to popular songs. You and your teammates can embrace your inner pop icons and create group lip syncs.
Here is how:
- Select a song all group members know
- Pick out costumes and props
- Choreograph and rehearse your movies
- Record the performances. The video can be as short as thirty seconds or as long as five minutes.
Producing an entertaining lip sync requires creativity, coordination, and delegation, cornerstones of effective teamwork.
One major plus of this collaborative exercise is that you can engineer Lip Sync routines with remote teams too by recording separately on video applications like Loom or together on video conferencing software like Zoom.
7. One Question
In this activity, teams settle on one single question to ask in a particular situation.
- Selecting the company’s new CEO
- Going on a blind date
- Greeting aliens who have just landed
- Meeting a deceased friend or loved one
- Talking with your pet in English
- Exposing a con man
One Question teaches employees to target specific information and form more effective questions, which is an important skill when working with deadlines or with limited peer contact. One Question also forces participants to use negotiation and compromise skills, as all team members will have to agree on the same question. Furthermore, the game functions as a bonding exercise because One Question reveals teammates’ motivations and priorities.
Here is a list with more question games to play.
Shredded is the office version of cooking competition Chopped. Employees will work in teams to complete the challenge instead of competing solo. While Chopped requires contestants to create culinary delights, Shredded challenges participants to compile an industry product from random elements.
You can design the challenge based on specific departments. For instance, your marketing team must design a social media campaign that includes a sailboat, a cinder block, and a karaoke machine. Or, your developers must pitch an app based on a typewriter, wishbone, and matchbook. If you have trouble selecting your “ingredients,” then you can search for a random item generator to help.
Once your teams unveil the contents of the baskets, you can allow 20-40 minutes to produce the product. When time expires, ask groups to present. Only the most innovative and technique-driven teams will avoid getting “Shredded.”
9. Escape From Pompeii
When I was a kid, “the floor is lava,” was one of my favorite games. I loved jumping from couch to ottoman to coffee table to avoid touching the carpet. Escape From Pompeii combines all the fun of dodging a molten river with teamwork.
Vesuvius just erupted. You and your teammates must get all members aboard the raft within five minutes or less. To make the “raft,” you will tape off a small section of the floor, or place a piece of wood on the ground. All teammates must fit within the rectangle. Participants can arrange themselves in any combination, as long as all team members are aboard the raft and no part of any member’s body touches an outside surface.
Escape From Pompeii sharpens communication skills and prioritizes collective success over individual outcomes. Plus, it is nice to know that if a volcano erupts, then your coworkers have your back.
10. The Newlywork Game
The Newlywed Game was a 1960’s game show that pitted couples against each other to determine which spouse knew the partner better. In the spirit of those lovebirds, the Newlywork Game summons employees to guess and recall traits and preferences of teammates.
- Give every group member a whiteboard or notebook
- Choose one teammate at a time to be the subject of your questions
- Allow the team 20 seconds to answer each question
- Ask teammates to reveal responses
- Discuss the guesses as a group, and agree on a most likely answer
- Instruct the subject to reveal the correct answer
- Award points to any coworker with the correct response
- Favorite food?
- Biggest pet peeve?
- Dream vacation destination?
- Favorite work task?
- Favorite client?
- First job?
- Favorite holiday?
The game is a good litmus test for which teammates know each other well. You could even suggest that the pairs with the most incorrect answers meet for coffee. The Newlywork Game encourages employees to get to know each other beyond job titles, which leads to more holistic workplace relationships.
Check out this list of virtual game show ideas.
11. Real Life Social Media Wall
Like most people born before the new millennium, I remember a world before social media. Back in the day, we passed notes to friends and mailed horribly awkward school photos to relatives. While the immediacy of social media is convenient, printing a picture or hand-writing a note is satisfyingly sentimental.
Your coworkers may or may not be friends on social media. Either way, you can recreate the experience just for your office by starting a Real Life Social Media Wall.
To create the wall:
- Hang a bulletin board
- Provide paper, markers, sticky notes, and thumbtacks
- Encourage employees to contribute content and comment on colleague’s contributions
You can find thumbtacks shaped like smiley faces and hearts to simulate “like” and “love” reactions. Mini post-it notes work great for “comments,” or you can paint the whole board with blackboard paint and allow teammates to scrawl in chalk.
Here is a list with more fun bulletin board ideas.
12. Common Factor
Finding common ground helps teammates solidify relationships. Common Factor helps colleagues unearth these connections in record time. This game is one of the best quick team building exercises.
To lead participants through a game of Common Factor, ask teammates to move to a designated area of the room if certain statements apply. For instance, “If you have ever attended a music festival, gather in the center of the room.”
Sample common factors:
- Pet owners
- Exotic pet owners
- Adoptive parents
- Country music fans
- Hip hop fans
- Horror movie fans
- Romantic comedy fans
- Have been abroad
- Have visited more than ten countries
- Have visited 20+ states
- Hate cilantro
- Birthday falls on a holiday
- Twin or Triplet
- Met a celebrity
Feel free to add your own factors to the list, even if the ideas are unusual. Even if employees wind up standing in front of the room alone for one category, coworkers learn a new and interesting fact about that teammate.
Chances are, your colleagues will find more commonalities than differences. Either way, this maneuver provides colleagues with talking points. To optimize the exercise, you can leave time at the end for participants to link up and chat about the facts.
13. Hand to Hand
Hand to Hand is ridiculously simple. First, participants pair off with a stranger. You, the leader, call out commands such as “hand to hand,” “toe to toe,” “back to back,” and “elbow to elbow.” Partners touch the corresponding body parts together. After you shout out three commands, yell “person to person.” Partners turn to each other and share three personal facts. After one minute, you will instruct participants to switch partners, at which point the routine will restart.
This exercise worked well for our event because our organization was massive and most attendees had never met. Hand to Hand was a way for employees from different areas to easily mix and connect. The silliness of touching shoulders or knees eliminated any awkwardness and allowed for less stilted conversations.
14. Color Me Familiar
Color Me Familiar gets coworkers moving and mingling in a crayon-swapping and fact-swapping operation.
- Hand each participant a coloring page and one color crayon
- Instruct participants to color a picture using every color on your list
- Players will move around the space and borrow crayons
- In order to use another teammate’s color crayon, team members will have to share one personal fact
Color Me Familiar spurs coworkers to cooperate and learn more about teammates in the process. Coloring is soothing and allows teammates to relax and create together. As an added bonus, participants will walk away from the activity with cubicle artwork.
Yes is one of the best large group team building exercises. To perform this activity, a large group forms a circle. You start by making eye contact with someone across the circle, and asking “Yes?” The teammate stares back and answers, “Yes.” Then you and the teammate switch places. When the teammate you chose reaches the new spot, he turns around, locks eyes with another participant, and asks, “Yes?” The activity continues for however long you would like. You can raise the challenge level by starting a new chain of yes’s, so that many members are speaking and moving at once.
Yes tests teammates listening and focusing abilities and stresses the importance of nonverbal communication. The maneuver encourages eye contact, which plays a huge role in bonding. Also, this activity spreads positivity throughout the group. As silly as it sounds, hearing “yes,” repeatedly and seeing smiles uplifts your mood and boosts confidence.
Here are more improvisation games to play with groups.
16. Speed Bump
Speed bump is an obstacle-avoiding game that encourages teammates to work together and communicate.
- Spread large objects randomly around the room.
- Split the group into pairs or small groups of up to four.
- Blindfold one participant.
- Instruct the other group members to lead the blind teammate through the obstacle course towards the finish line.
Any large object will work for the speed bumps. Cardboard boxes are easiest to obtain, but you can also set up obstacles like giant teddy bears, inflatable yard decorations, bowling pins, or kiddy pools full of plastic balls for added fun.
For an extra bit of entertainment, you can also set up a “lego walk,” at the end of the course. Place a tarp on the ground and tape off a thin lane in the middle. On either side of the lane, spread out loose legos. Teammates will need to guide the blindfolded, barefoot team member safely through the path using hands and directions.
Speed Bump practices the fine art of giving and deciphering instructions and builds trust between team members.
Check out more communication games.
17. Draw, Partner
Draw, Partner requires participants to sketch a picture using only a teammates’ instructions.
- Split the group into pairs
- Instruct each pair to stand back to back
- Give one partner a pen and paper, and the other a line drawing
- Direct the partner with the drawing to describe the picture to the other partner, who will draw the object
- Reveal the artwork and gauge the accuracy
- Direct partners to switch roles and repeat the activity with a new picture
Draw, Partner practices communication and listening skills. Teammates learn to give clear directions and decipher directions with little outside information. To maximize the activity’s impact, you can encourage the sketching partner to ask questions to clarify the instructions.
18. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are one of the most common team building exercises for employees. A scavenger hunt is a game where participants search for particular items. The player or team who finds the most objects scores the most points and wins the game. Scavenger hunts have long been a staple of corporate team bonding, but you can spice up the quest with the variations listed below.
Scavenger hunt variations:
- Company Hunt – Lead participants through different areas of the company to find objects specific to different departments. For example, a photo of the legal department’s dartboard, or a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie from human resources. This approach familiarizes coworkers with colleagues and tightens company culture.
- Friend Hunt – Challenge players to procure items from and complete tasks with strangers. For instance, record a duet with a stranger or acquire a business card for an unusual profession. This approach practices interpersonal and persuasion skills.
- Art Hunt – In this version of the hunt, participants collect images, objects, or words and create a mural or poem with the found materials. This approach emphasizes creativity and ingenuity.
- Reverse Hunt – In this twist on the traditional hunt, teammates receive bizarre objects and pictures of strange items, and must identify as many objects as possible in order to compile a list. For example, items may include unusual animals, industrial tools, or lesser-known foreign landmarks. This approach favors critical thinking and discussion.
All scavenger hunts promote resourcefulness and collaboration. Teammates must join forces, put heads together, and brainstorm ways to collect as many clues as possible. Corporate team activities such as scavenger hunts give colleagues a shared purpose which can translate into workplace alliances.
19. Stand, Sit, Lie
“Stand, Sit, Lie” follows a simple premise. Participants form groups of three. You will give each team a scene to act out, such as visiting a couple’s therapist to argue about getting a dog or trying to get a refund on a cruise ship. At any point, one team member must stand, one team member must sit, and one team member must lie down. If any team member switches positions, then the other players must compensate.
Stand, Sit, Lie, forces teammates to cooperate. To follow the rules of the team building exercise, each team member must be aware of the other players’ positions. This activity serves as a reminder to check-in with colleagues to ensure all parties’ actions align.
20. Pictures Worth 1000 Words
Master bullsh**ters will shine during Pictures Worth 1000 Words. This activity challenges teams to concoct coherent stories on the spot while using a slideshow of random pictures for reference.
- Compile a set of slideshows filled with 10-20 random pictures apiece
- Divide groups into teams of four or five
- Invite teams to create an on-the-spot story in response to the slideshow
To ensure that no one team member dominates the presentation, you can stipulate that each teammate must explain one slide at a time, and all participants must take the same number of turns.
Pictures Worth 1000 Words tests teams’ improvisational skills. This team activity also emphasizes that even when teammates work solo, individual contributions impact the rest of the team.
Team building exercises help new team members adjust to group dynamics and polish experienced teammates’ critical thinking and communication skills. These challenges are an opportunity for teammates to bond while learning how to communicate and rely on each other. Teamwork may not come naturally, and group exercises help workers practice cooperation and build skills that enhance collaboration.
We also have a guide to team building events, one on how to do a team building yell, one with ideas for team building challenges and a list of fun competitive challenges for team building.
FAQ: Team building exercises
Here are some of the most common questions and answers about team building exercises.
What are team building exercises?
Team building exercises, also sometimes referred to as team building activities, are maneuvers that require teams to work together to overcome obstacles or conceive creations. These activities teach team building skills such as communication, negotiation, and collective problem-solving.
What are the best team building exercises?
The most effective exercises inspire meaningful connections through a shared sense of purpose. Some of the best team building exercises are The Amazing Race, Color Me Familiar, and Shredded.
Are team building exercises effective?
Nobody can guarantee that an exercise will achieve the same results for all groups. But if you conceptualize goals beforehand, carefully select and facilitate the exercise, and reflect on the lessons, then you increase the likelihood of motivating, connecting, and empowering your team.
How do you include team building exercises in meetings?
Team building functions most successfully as an ongoing effort. You can start team building by introducing exercises at the beginning or end of meetings as a way to transition into the session or reinforce the themes of the gathering.
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