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Aug 23, 2013

Don’t have time to shut down your office and take everyone on a team building retreat? I’ve got nine (9) simple activities you can use to build your team.

Most of these activities can be held in the last hour of work or over a lunch meeting with just a little bit of planning. Studies have proven that playing games and being creative during work time can lead to better problem solving.

The time you spend with your coworkers during these activities can bolster team spirit, build camaraderie, and give your company the shared experiences that create a great culture.

9 team-building activities

Here is the list:

  1. Sports Tournament: If your company already has a ping-pong table, foosball table, or other indoor sporting game activity, you have the makings of a sports tournament. Whether it’s a one day event, or a week-long ongoing tourney, it’s easy to take a game and use it to team build. The tournament organizers can pair team members up with one seeded player and one novice on each team to make sure it’s more about fun than winning.
  2. Donut Tasting: After a particularly heated discussion about which bakery in the area produced the best donuts, one company where I worked decided to have a blind donut tasting. People brought in a dozen glazed donuts from a variety of different bakeries one morning. We cut them up into quarters and assigned each platter a number. The team tasted from each platter and voted for their favorites. You could do the same thing with coffee, pies, barbecue, whatever appeals to your company culture. Team members get the chance to show off their favorite food joints and bond over the discussion.
  3. Office Olympics: Office Olympics is a series of tasks in which anyone can participate. You can design your own Office Olympics depending on what your company produces. Plenty of boxes around? Construct a tower. Who can shred documents the fastest? Pencil Jenga! Be sure to include a variety of tasks so that many people have the chance to win something.
  4. Dress like a Rock Star Day: If your workplace isn’t too formal, you could hold a theme dress day. It might take a little prodding, but inviting coworkers to dress like their favorite rock star, movie star, character from history can end up being a lot of fun. When we had theme dress days at one of my companies, departments would sometimes even go for a cohesive look (like characters from the Wizard of Oz.) Award prizes for the best costumes.
  5. Board Game Afternoon: Bring in your favorite board games and have a game afternoon on a Thursday. From Apples to Apples to Trivial Pursuit, it’s a lower key activity that can promote team building with friendly competition.
  6. Pumpkin Carving Contest: A seasonal activity can help everyone get into the festive spirit. Have teams have to work together to figure out how to hollow out the pumpkins and get the carving done within an hour.
  7. Origami Afternoon: Following instructions and working with nice paper are a plus when your team learns how to make origami. Coworkers can decorate their spaces with their creations. This team-builder is great for a more formal company where raucous competition wouldn’t be appropriate.
  8. Wednesday Dance Party: Pick a song or two, or accept playlist recommendations, and move those muscles! It’s especially good for waking up a late afternoon slump. The key is to keep it short, one, maybe two songs at the most. Choose from a variety of genres and time periods to include all generations.
  9. The Bonding Minute: One of my favorite team-building ideas is held during weekly department/team-level meetings. Instead of going straight to the agenda, every attendee shares an important life event from the previous week. It allows the team to get to know each other better and build a rapport, no gimmicks needed.

This was originally published on the OC Tanner blog.