Team Building

Some people think team building is a hoax.

They believe something like, “because it’s difficult to measure the impact, the impact must be minimal or non-existent.”

I believe the opposite is true.

Together with skill-based training and providing the right equipment, team building is one of the most effective investments you can make for your company; this is true whether you have two employees or two thousand.

Here’s why…

You’ve probably heard, at least anecdotally, that “people don’t quit companies, they quit managers.”

What you haven’t heard, because I just made it up, is that “people don’t stay for companies, they stay for colleagues”, which includes relationships with managers, subordinates and peers.

Building meaningful relationships as an adult is often cited as tough, and this is probably because:

  • You just don’t meet as many people;
  • The people you do meet are in a professional or similar context; and
  • Other adults you meet are busy with their romances, families, careers, Crossy Roads, etc.

One way you can make new relationships is at work, and a great way to make this easier is with team building activities. You can also do online team building with remote teams.

What is a team building activity?

A team building activity is something you do with your colleagues that is specifically designed to improve relationships, collaboration and communication.

This effort doesn’t have to be a big event or expensive; a simple example of team building is doing a quick icebreaker question at the beginning of meetings. Participants will follow up with each other about the icebreakers, which could include learning your colleagues grew up in a nearby town, speak the same language or also spend their weekends on an obscure hobby like re-reading Asimov non-fiction.

These opportunities to chat and share will eventually become friendships or at least stronger co-worker-ships, and you’ll see a correlated increase in job satisfaction, retention and productivity. Work is a surprisingly important social outlet, and your best team members will stay for those relationships… or at least some of them will.

Beyond icebreakers, you can plan your own team building activities or work with an outside group. Here are a couple of examples of activities you can do:

Museum Hack – My colleagues run renegade tours of the world’s best museums, which includes team building activities in NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC and other awesome cities. Tours are designed from the ground up to be a meaningful team building experience, including “corporate hacktivation” for stories, games and challenges that inspire better teams.

The Great Guac Off – A new(er) project. The Great Guac Off is a company team building activity based on a guacamole making competition. We include icebreakers, mini-challenges and group photos to ramp up the team building & team bonding. Guac Off is available in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC.

Team Building Hero – This one is more like a hub for various team building activities. Team Building Hero does renegade museum tours, storytelling workshops, guacamole making competitions, gingerbread house competitions, scavenger hunts and more.

A few meta thoughts:

  • Team building doesn’t have to be cheesy or boring, and that type of event is probably less successful.
  • If you are at all hesitant about investing in team building then start with freebies like icebreakers.
  • Try doing something out of the ordinary. The classics are company picnics, cupcake swaps, etc., which can be cool… but make it cool.
  • FYI, some synonyms and related words for team building you may have heard: team bonding, corporate events, team offsite, company offsite and company retreat.
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13 thoughts on “Team Building”

  1. A good team building activity could be listing 5 unique facts about yourself and your coworkers have to guess the one fact that is false. It’s another good icebreaker that allows everyone to learn some interesting, fun facts about one another.

    I also think that it is crucial we are getting some form of exercise or movement in when working from home, or in an office for that matter, but a good warm up while video conferencing or on a call could be everyone chooses their favorite form of movement, EX. jumping jacks, push ups, wall sit, dance move, ext. Even just doing the chosen movement for 20-30 seconds could be a great 10 minute warm up and get those positive endorphins flowing before working!

  2. Wow!! Great Work. I’d love to see something with a “Talent Show from Home” theme for all the Remote Teams our there. Maybe Singing Contest, Dance Competition…somehow make the content or catch to share ideas, policy changes, mission views, culture, etc.

  3. A great team building activity should be something that requires every member of the team to participate and exercise their unique skills in solving a problem together. A great activity could be something like solving a murder mystery puzzle like those created by Mysterious Package Company. Everyone is involved in telling a story together, and often different skills (puzzle solving, analysis, art work, writing) are needed to complete the full puzzle and solve the mystery. Everyone on the team gets to have fun and work together, but they will also learn new things about each other and synergize their skills, and leave the exercise with something fun to talk about.

  4. Virtual Blindfolded Building Blocks.

    Big Lego Blocks built in a picture to show up to the team.
    Boss will be blindfolded with real lego in his/her hands.
    Team will describe the details for the boss being able to build the same structure already built in the picture.

    One person talking at the time.
    Structure should be exact based on form and blocks colors.

    No more than 5 minutes.

    This exercise enhance team trust, communication and collaboration. Boss giving the opportunity for the team give instructions to them, reinforcing how he/she trust in their directions, but making sure we comply with rules and deadline to performance delivery.

  5. A fun team building activity could be games via video conference calls. Actual games from game nights such as Scrabble, Pictionary, or even charades could be fun. Being able to get up and charade helps to interact with your coworkers while also promoting a type of physical activity; while games like Scrabble can help to break up the monotony of being at home while using your brain powers and testing your spelling skills without autocorrect options.

  6. I believe that team building is so important, especially in a remote setting because that everyday commradarie that you would have in a brick and mortar setting is gone, so you have to come up with inventive ways to engage your teams. My idea for a virtual team building activity is COCOA & CLUES and it includes a hot cocoa making kit and your choice of “Clues” themes kits. One theme is crossword puzzles where your teams of two or three work together to find clues to solve the puzzle. You can also choose a “Clue” who dun it game type and third choice is a 5 minute mystery type theme. These types of puzzles encourage communication, critical thinking and teamwork. Make and try different varieties of hot cocoa and get to know each other when teamed up with others who chose the same Clues theme.

  7. Virtual Bingo Happy Hour would be something that I would do with my colleagues. It may sound like an activity for the elderly, but we can make it more interesting by adding either alcoholic beverage to the game or bad drinks for the losing party.

  8. I think a “murder mystery” remote meeting would be beneficial to building team work skills. Games that are mysteries require people to be able to communicate with one another and will hence improve your team’s communication skills.

    Maybe a team vs team game of strategizeing how to escape a scenario. Both teams would be presented with the same scenario and must compete to come up with the best plan. –The scenarios are completely ridiculous and require a lot of communication and creativity to make solutions.–

  9. A great team building activity would be Virtual Charades. An activity where it has the team all moving (to get them thinking and active), creating ways to describe the word with laughter and commentary.

  10. A fun and exciting virtual team building exercise is the virtual dinner party! A dinner party where each guest cooks the same meal in each of their respective households, all within a virtual meeting environment. Here teams can get to know one another on an even more intimate level, coming into each other’s home to share a meal. Here they can admire one another’s decor, compare culinary skill, and share a drink all remotely of course! However, there’s a twist! The recipe for the meal will be separated and distributed randomly among the team. Teams will be required to work together using both critical thinking and communications skills to complete there meals successfully.

  11. A great team building activity would be a happy hour, popcorn, karaoke evening. I include the popcorn method because that way people would just be called up instead of waiting or trying to avoid a turn because participation is key. It would be fun, exciting and have everyone on their feet. It is bound to be a night to remember for everyone.

  12. I think a great team building activity would have to be hands on, something that gets the brain working but also gets the body working as well. Something that is an overall building and bonding experience for the team. What better way to do that than to incorporate a build the best challenge. Basically this challenge tests who can make the best quality product with using as few resources as possible. Each person would get paired with one other person. One person has the list of the resources (household object) while the other person gets those object. The one with the list of objects is the one instructing how to build the structure while the one with the items is the one building the structure. The team is given a specific thing to build and from there they are the master of what they make.

  13. I think a great activity to do remotely for some team bonding would be this camp game I have participated in in the past. In this game one person is the camp leader and tells the rest of the group they can bring one item with them to camp. Since my name is Kira I would tell the rest of the group “My name is Kira and I am going to bring a kite with me to camp” I would then ask everyone else to tell me their name and what item they would like to bring with them. Lets say the first persons name is Mike and he wants to bring a tent. He would not be able to go. The next persons name is Alyssa and she would like to bring a fishing pole she would not be able to go either. Then lets say the next persons name is Monica and she wants to bring a mop, she would be able to go. This would confuse all other participants and they would then try to figure out the secret and she was able to go. I will not give the secret away for now since this game is extremely fun and could last for hours! This fun brain teaser game is a way for people to remember face and their names. Since this game is done remotely through video call we could make it more fun by having everyone go through their house looking for items they would want to bring us and the workers would know the secret and decide if they could go to camp.


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