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15 Productive Team Building Activities That Actually Work

productive team building activities

Speaking of workers’ correlation with productive team building activities, Pepper is one of our prized asset. Lately that spark has been missing and her team members don’t seem to be in shape. Just in case you were wondering who Pepper is, well, she’s been an integral part of our nTask team – just like Fred.

Their workflows are just a repeating cycle of reviews, reviews, and some more reviews. The most common sight in the workplace is gloomy faces and droopy shoulders.

Now, what does this tell us? It is time for some productive team building activities!

Workplace team building activities are a great way to boost the morale of team members and induce some positive energy into their monotonous work routine.

These fun yet challenging activities are a sure way to bring an aura of constructive energies to the work environment, consequently enhancing the productivity levels of the team.

So, here’s our take on 15 productive team building activities that actually help in developing a strong relationship among team members.

The best part? They’re all actually pretty fun.

Pro tip

Not everyone is comfortable with every activity. Choose the productive team building activities for your team as per the comfort level of members and carefully decide the ones each team member feels safe while playing.

For your ease, we’ve divided each of these productive team building activities according to the objective they fulfill.

Problem-solving activities

1. Sneak a peak

This problem-solving team activity requires very little equipment and can be performed quite conveniently without the need of a special space.

What you’ll need:

  • Legos or any kind of building blocks.

Instructions:

  • Divide everyone into 2 teams with an equal number of members on each side
  • Choose a facilitator, who’s not a part of any team (could be anyone: no special skills required)
  • Ask the facilitator to build a random structure, that can be replicated, using the building blocks
  • Make sure to keep the structure away from teams, preferably in a separate room
  • Now, one player from each team is allowed to come and look at the structure for 10 seconds, go back, and instruct the team on how to build the exact replica for 25 seconds
  • As per the defined timeframe, another player goes and takes a sneak peak of the structure, comes back, and guide
  • The process is repeated until each member of the team has had a sneak peek at the structure
  • The team that builds it first, wins!

Objective: For this activity, team members get to explore their true problem-solving skills, PLUS play with LEGOS! Who doesn’t love Legos?

Tip for the facilitator:

Make a rule that the person who comes to look at the original structure cannot go back and touch the new structure for replicating it.

2. Shipwrecked

An activity inspired by classic shipwreck stories, when implemented at workplace invokes a sense of decision making and how to get out of a particular situation.

What you’ll need:

  • Just a few printouts with pictures of some survival items (and lots of patience 😉).

Instructions:

  • Divide the participants into 2 teams (or as many as you want- you decide!)
  • Set up a small area, representing a wreckage, with pictures of some survival items in case of a shipwreck. Some of these could be different kinds of food, ropes, flares, torch, weapons, and sextant
  • Make sure the items are limited so that the teams are forced to communicate and barter
  • Now ask the teams to take 25 minutes to get all the survival items, that they think are essential, and rank them in order of their importance
  • Team members must collaborate and mutually decide the items they think they cannot survive without. They can negotiate with the opposing team to get the desired items, according to their needs

Objective: There is no winner or loser in this game (not everything is about winning now). This team building activity tests the individual problem-solving skills of a person and shows how they handle clash of views while ranking the survival items.

Warning:

The gravity of a situation can get grave when teams cannot come to mutual grounds for selecting the items, and chaos can erupt. To avoid this, each team must assign a leader who knows how to tackle complex situations.

3. Escape

What you’ll need:

  • A room
  • A door lock and key
  • A few clues (the number depends on how challenging you want this activity to be)

Instructions:

  • Gather a group of people (no teams this time, whew!) into an empty lockable room
  • Hide the key somewhere in the room, and spread out mysterious clues that lead to the key
  • Allocate time for the people to solve the clues and find the key
  • Enjoy!

Objective: This deceptively simple activity checks the intellectual level of the individuals and how they solve the curious clues for finding their way out of the room. This helps the managers to get an idea of how that person handles unforeseen circumstances at the workplace.

Another goal of this activity is to check how tactfully one individual collaborates with the other in finding the hidden clues.

Tip:

A great way to make this activity even more interesting is to convert the space into some interesting themes. Some of the ideas can be haunted rooms, murder scenes, theft scenario (or just use your creativity and come up with one. We leave it to you)

Productive Team Building Activities for Communication

4. Minefield

A major chunk of this team building activity focuses on team communication, trust building, and effectively interpreting the verbal messages.

Disclaimer:

No actual landmines are laid during the setting up of this activity, so don’t worry! It’s completely safe.

What you’ll need:

  • Random hand-held objects
  • Blindfolds, and
  • Good listening skills (might we add)

Instructions:

  • Find an open space and spread all the objects across the space, giving an illusion of a minefield
  • Split everyone into teams of 2 (yes, we’re back to teams)
  • One person from each team should put on a blindfold and stand at the start of a minefield, and the other person at the end
  • Now, the other person must lead the blindfolded team member to cross the minefield, without stepping on any of the objects
  • The blindfolded person cannot speak at all. Only listen! (see what we meant when we said you got to have good hearing abilities)
  • Once the blindfolded member successfully crosses the minefield, roles switch
  • To make the activity more challenging, specific pathways can be created with the objects

Objective: At the end of this activity, you can discuss the communication problems teams had to face. This can be used as an excellent source of understanding how individuals share and interpret information.

5. Just listen

No, it’s not a public appeal to listen to a famous cover! We promise it’s an actual workplace activity that really helps with building the communication skills of individuals.

What you’ll need:

  • Divide everyone into 2 teams with an equal number of members on each side
  • Cards with random topics on them

Instructions:

  • Have your team sit in pairs across from each other
  • Spread out the cards with random topics on them
  • Make one team member randomly pick a card with the pre-written topics
  • The team member who picks the card has to express his views on the topic and the other one should listen. Just listen (again, not a pledge!) and comprehend on his views
  • After the team member is done speaking, the other team member needs to summarize what he understood
  • Repeat the same by switching the roles

Objective: This activity invokes a sense of patience in you by making you listen patiently to the other person’s point of view without coming up with rebuttals. Fair enough, no?

For workplaces, it’s a great tool to analyze the open-mindedness of your employees.

Pro tip:

The topics on the cards could be the on-going problems in your organization or within your team. That way, you can get clear perspectives on what the employees feel about a particular situation.

6. Build a Bridge

Build a bridge is an interactive activity that focuses on building bridges, not walls! (See what we did there? 😉) This team building activity helps in strengthening the communication skills of individuals because teams have to brainstorm and come up with ideas to build the perfect bridge.

What you’ll need:

  • Materials for bridge building. Could be anything ranging from straws, pieces of wood, paper, pipes, or even random toy bricks
  • Measuring tapes
  • Notepads for drawing

Instructions:

  • Divide the individuals into teams (ideally two)
  • Allocate spaces to them in a way that one team cannot see another team’s work
  • Supply them the bridge building materials and clock the time
  • Now, the catch here is that both the teams are supposed to build each half of the bridge and are supposed to communicate verbally with each other the way they’re building their half
  • At the end of the allocated time, both the teams are to join their halves to complete the bridge
  • The trick here is to build the bridge as close to your opponent’s as possible

A common issue:

When the teams are building bridges and communicating with each other, they can get into conflict and disturbance can erupt. To avoid such a catastrophe, try to appoint a leader for each team responsible for all communication and conflict management.

7. Back-to-Back Drawing

We know what you’re thinking! Don’t worry, even if you’re an amateur at drawing, you can still be a part of this fun activity that is a quick take on Pictionary.

When we’re talking about Pictionary, we automatically tend to think of verbal skills of a person, and this is exactly what the focus of this team building activity is- building strong communication skills.

What you’ll need:

  • A few pictures
  • Pens and pencils
  • Colored markers
  • Sheets of paper

Instructions:

  • Make everyone choose a partner and make a team (no, you’re not getting rid of teams any time soon)
  • Have them sit back to back and give a picture to one of the team members, and paper and pen to the other
  • At this juncture, give 10 minutes to the team and ask the person with a picture to verbally describe it to the other member while he tries to draw it
  • The description of the picture must only include clues or uses of the object in the picture
  • When the time’s up, see how close the drawing was with the original picture

Objective: This quick team building activity can easily be played indoors or outdoors and is a great way to identify the communication flaws among team members.

Team Bonding Activities

8. Office Trivia

If you’re looking for a quick activity to check how observant your team members are, office trivia was specially designed for you!

What you’ll need:

  • Just a bunch of questions about your office. That’s how simple this activity is

Instructions:

  • Design a series of questions that circle around your office or are specific to your team members
  • The questions can range from knowledge about the equipment used in office, to the number of employees in a particular team, or you can even ask about birthdays of team members (Beware though! Facebook won’t be there to save you this time, buddy!)
  • The team member getting the most answers right, WINS! (Keen observation does pay off sometimes)

Bonus activity: Office Trivia for Remote Teams

For bonding of geographically scattered team members, office trivia can take a special form. Team members have to match the pictures of workstations with their respective owner. It can be a nice ice-breaker activity for newly developed remote teams.

Instructions:

  • Ask all team members to share pictures of their home offices or workstations in advance
  • Gather all team members on group chat and one by one, start sharing the pictures
  • The entire team is supposed to guess which team member the office belongs to
  • Continue until you’re done with all the pictures

Objective: If you’re wondering how sharing pictures of your personal space help with team bonding, it does so by helping the team members understand each other on a more intimate level and can help remote team members to open up in a better way.

Tip for future:

An interesting take on the remote version of the activity can be to ask questions about personal spaces of team members the next time it’s being played. For instance; whose workstation has post-it notes all over it? And so on!

9. Team Emblem

Let’s admit that one of the hardest things at workplaces is to cultivate a sense of identity among team members. This simple team building activity can help you do that! It’s an excellent initiative to bring forward something every team member can connect with and shows the collective identity of the team.

What you’ll need:

  • Cardboards and all the other stationery items required for designing an emblem, like markers, pens, tape, crayons etc

Instructions:

  • There’s no need to make new teams for this activity. The already existing teams at your workplace can participate
  • Provide teams with all the items they need for making the emblem
  • Give ample time to teams for coming up with ideas. The emblem should be a representative of the collective values of the team and what their shared inspiration is
  • Once the time up, gather all the teams and ask each of them to showcase their emblem and all other teams present should try to interpret the emblem

Objective: This team bonding exercise is a great way to bring out the creative juices of your team members. They must work together to design an emblem for their team identity. It also promotes bonding through sharing of creative ideas and builds a stronger sense of team cohesiveness.

10.  Team Jigsaw

We all remember playing with jigsaw puzzles during our childhood days and how we would all get excited with them. If you’re one of those people who were and still are enticed by jigsaw puzzles, you’re in luck, because we’ve just added jigsaw puzzles to our list of productive team building activities.

For successful completion, you have to bring your ‘puzzle completing’ skills to work with you.

What you’ll need:

  • Boxes of a jigsaw puzzle

Instructions:

  • Make two teams and hand each team a box of puzzle
  • A trick here is to mix just a few pieces of one box with the other (Shh, don’t tell the teams)
  • Give the teams a time limit and ask them to start solving it
  • Once they begin working, they’ll realize there are some missing and some extra pieces in their puzzle
  • Eventually, they’ll figure out that they need to work together to solve their respective puzzles
  • Ask the teams to work together until the puzzles are solved within the specified time limit

Objective: In this process of solving puzzles, teams will learn how to work together and communicate effectively.

11.  Game of Possibilities

Unlike the infamous ‘Game of Thrones’ season, this team building activity does not have anything to do with any trivia. ‘Game of Possibilities’ spans over 5 – 10 minutes and does not require that many objects/ props to begin with. It is more like a charade where one player takes an object and demonstrates its use through actions ONLY. Meanwhile, others do the guess work!

What you’ll need:

  • Any number of random objects that pique your attention

Instructions:

  • Gather around in a small group with a bunch of objects sitting in the middle
  • People can take turns to volunteer, or you can draw names of your team members for who should go first
  • One person will select a random object and demonstrate the use for the said object
  • Other members of the group will try and guess what the object holder is trying to demonstrate
  • Set a timer to make it short and interesting

Objective: This is a team building activity where everyone gets to display their creative side. Also, there are no panic buttons and any possibility of your office breaking down into a quarrel. Overall, it is a fun activity for any team to bond over.

12.  The Human Knot

Just like ‘Tug of War’ this game is a perfect icebreaker for any office that’s usually moot at the communication side. Participants of this game have to rely heavily on communication, teamwork and problem solving in a fun way.

The idea of this game is to have your team gather around in a circle. Make everyone hold hands with the person standing across the circle. Once the knot is complete, try to untangle without letting go of both your hands.

What you’ll need:

  • Nothing, except for willing participants!

Instructions:

  • Gather around in a circle, or whatever shape your team would like to go for
  • You can also create multiple small groups depending on the team size
  • Everyone has to hold hands with the person standing across the circle
  • Under no circumstances, a team member is supposed to hold hands with either individuals at his sides
  • Everyone can wear blindfolds if you are interested in taking a challenge
  • Once you are about to start, someone will say, “Ready, Set… Go!”
  • The team that untangles first is the winner

Objective: The objective of this game is to develop cohesive communication and problem solving skills. It typically takes 15 – 20 minutes to complete. ‘The Human Knot’ is also a good icebreaker among office team members who don’t get to communicate frequently due to job placements.

13.  Scavenger Hunt

‘Scavenger Hunt’ has taken many forms and shapes, depending on the organizational culture and team sizes. The idea of this game is to help members bond with one another, whilst being able to develop team building skills.

A bunch of goofy, but harmless, tasks are written on a bunch of papers. Later on, each member draws a paper and performs the activity mentioned in there. Winner with most number of completed tasks takes away the reward.

What you’ll need:

  • Small sheets of paper and a pen

Instructions:

  • Write down as many interesting and goofy tasks as possible
  • You can ask your team mates to write down these tasks to make things random and interesting
  • Once all the papers are filled, fold them in equal sized bits
  • One by one, ask the team members to draw the folded papers
  • Everyone is supposed to complete the task that’s mentioned on their sheet of paper
  • Setup a timer if you want to rush things
  • Make sure that the tasks are not offensive or derogatory

Objective: Scavenger Hunt is packed with oodles of fun and laughter for the entire office. People have their unique way of doing things, which brings in a bout of cheer from everyone. As part of recommended productive team building activities, it is an excellent team building opportunity for businesses that don’t get to mingle that much.

14.  Egg Drop

This one’s for office cultures that are hard pressed for productive team building activites and cognitive skills for problem solving purpose. Egg Drop is involves a protective make-do casing around the eggs, and then dropping them to see which one doesn’t break.

What you’ll need:

  • A dozen or two dozen eggs
  • Office supplies to be used as a contraption around eggs

Instructions:

  • Gather your team around and give each member an egg
  • Ask everyone to use office supplies to build a contraption around the egg. This is to prevent the egg from breaking once it is dropped
  • Your team members can use tapes, newspapers, paper clippings, pens, pencils and other material to secure their eggs
  • Once the timer is up, everyone will drop their eggs
  • The person whose egg didn’t break will be the winner
  • Setup a timer if you want to rush things

Objective: This activity is a good example of a productive team building activity where everyone engages in completing the same task in a unique way. Although ‘The Egg Drop’ has been known to leave a mess on the office floors, it does make up by helping team members bond with one another.

15.  Barter Puzzle

‘Barter Puzzle’ is a slight variation of ‘Team Jigsaw’ activity that we talked about earlier in this post. However, the emphasis in this activity is not only on honing team building skills, but also salesmanship for concerned members.

This is a perfect activity where the participants have to haggle with other groups for key jigsaw pieces in a race to complete their puzzle first!

What you’ll need:

  • Different jigsaw puzzles with key pieces swapped with other groups’ jigsaw sets
  • At least 2 – 3 groups of teams with a preset number of members

Instructions:

  • Give each group a jigsaw puzzle with scattered pieces
  • Make sure that the key pieces, or random puzzle pieces are swapped with those from other groups’ jigsaw puzzle
  • Have all participants communicate and barter with opposing group in an attempt to swap their missing jigsaw puzzle pieces
  • Members can strategize and assign roles to different members who will barter on behalf of their teams
  • The team which completes the puzzle first is the winner

Objective: The objective of this team building activity is to polish salesmanship and presentation skills of a company’s employees. Whilst doing so, team members get to communicate with one another to complete their puzzle first. It is a fun activity that’s laced with numerous challenges against a ticking clock!

Your turn now!

That covers our list of productive team building activities! It’s your turn now to use them according to your goals and team needs.