10 work team-building activities your coworkers will love

Written by 
Bryan Kitch
October 19, 2022
A photo of team members in an office in front of a laptop during a team-building activity

What happens when you hear the phrase "team-building activities?” 

If you're like many employees across the country, you might wince. Traditional team-building games can be hit or miss.

But team-building exercises, like ice breakers, warmups, or even virtual water coolers are essential for your organization — and it's time they got better press. The key is to be thoughtful and intentional when building camaraderie. Here’s how.

Why is team-building important?

At first glance, team-building exercises may seem like a silly or childish part of onboarding, but they serve a fundamental purpose, and they’re proven to have measurable, positive effects on teamwork. Like any classroom game, team-building activities for adults aim to teach a team about their colleagues or their roles, and help foster an environment of psychological safety — a critical component in team creativity and innovation.

Good team-building games will teach employees about one another's personalities, communication styles, problem-solving skills, and more. That interpersonal knowledge leads to a stronger team, which offers a range of company-wide benefits, including:

When colleagues understand each other, they can better collaborate on difficult projects or support one another’s professional pursuits. 

Related: 25 icebreakers for virtual meetings

10 team-building activities your team will be grateful for

Whether your workplace is remote or in-person, we have ideas for team-building activities that will foster connection in the workplace.  

1. Blind drawing

Time limit: 10-15 minutes

Team size: Groups of two

For this activity, divide your team into groups of two and give each pair a picture (covered up), a piece of paper, and a pencil. Have each pair sit back-to-back, with one holding the picture and the other holding the paper and pencil. The teammate with the picture must describe it — without giving away what the image is — while the teammate with the pencil draws it. This activity is a fun exercise in communication, and it can result in some funny artwork. 

You can also do this activity remotely. On a video call, pair off employees and email a photo to the teammate who’ll be describing the image to their partner. Follow the same steps to see if they can accurately describe the picture in front of them.

2. Scavenger hunt

Time limit: 15-20 minutes

Team size: Any

Give your team a list of things they need to find around the office. They can be physical objects (a photo of a dog on an employee's desk) or bits of office trivia (the company's founding date). Your team's search should take them around the office and require them to talk with different departments. Scavenger hunts are especially good for new teams, as they help everyone learn more about the company and the office layout in one simple game.

If your team’s remote, set a timer and have them run around their house to find items to share with the team. This encourages creativity and will help give team members a fun glimpse into the lives of their colleagues. 

3. What's my name

Time limit: 15 minutes

Team size: 20 or less

Ask your team to sit in a circle and say their names. Then, toss one team member a tennis ball, and ask them to throw the ball to someone else — after saying their name. Add more rules as the game progresses, like "Don't throw the ball to the same person twice" or "Throw the ball to someone with the same first initial as you." This forces the team to learn each other's names and will (hopefully) prevent awkward name mix-ups in the office.

This one is hard to do over a video call, but it’s not impossible. Tell someone you’re “passing them the ball” and add non-physical rules like “You can’t say the company name” or “Choose someone who isn’t on your team.”

4. Group map

Time limit: 20-30 minutes

Group size: 20 or less

This game is an excellent option if you're working with an international team (either remotely or in person for a conference). Set up a large world map on a whiteboard and ask each team member to "place" themselves with a pushpin or "X" on the map. Then, ask the team member to share one value they learned in their hometown or country that matters to them. This team bonding activity will inspire conversation about team members’ personal lives (who doesn't love talking about other countries?) to break the ice and learn about what motivates everyone.

To run this activity virtually, use the MURAL World Map Template and place a pin or sticky note where you’re located on the map.

An image of the MURAL World Map template

5. Jenga questions

Time limit: 20-30 minutes

Team size: Any

Many of us are familiar with Jenga, but this team-building exercise elevates the game. Divide your team into groups (no more than eight per team — you might need more Jenga sets if training a large group), and give each group a Jenga set. Each set should have questions written on the pieces. As a team member removes a piece, they answer the question. This game helps your team learn more about each other in a fun and unique way.

For a remote alternative, have one person set up a Jenga game and pull pieces on behalf of the others. Team members can choose which piece they want that person to pull and answer the question accordingly.  

6. Pencil precision

Time limit: 20 minutes

Team size: Groups of two

This exercise is a socially distanced cousin of the "human knot" and similar games that require your team to work together. Tie two long strings around the eraser end of a pencil, and then tie the end of those strings around two team members' waists. Each pair then has 20 minutes to lower the pencil into a water bottle — while standing back to back and keeping the string taut. The team members will have to practice communication skills and teamwork to achieve their goals. 

7. Count to 20

Time limit: 10 minutes

Team size: 20-50

The goal of this team-building game is to count from one to 20, with each member saying one number at a time. There’s no particular order to follow, and anyone can start the count, but if two people speak simultaneously, everyone starts over. This exercise forces your team to pay close attention to the group dynamic and communicate on the fly to complete the count.

8. Achievement sharing

Time limit: 30 minutes

Team size: 20 or less

While classic ice breaker games involve sharing "one cool fact" or "two truths and a lie" can be a great way to get the conversation started, achievement sharing takes it a step further, providing opportunities for deeper connections. Break your team into small groups (no more than five people per group) and give everyone time to share their greatest achievement — professional or not. This will likely get more people talking, and it teaches your team about their colleagues' values, skills, and more. (Plus, sharing your wins is fun.) 

9. Team jigsaw puzzle

Time limit: 20 minutes

Team size: Any

Team-building activities for work can be inter-departmental, but they should also encourage collaboration with other departments. For this activity, start by dividing the room into groups of 2–4. Give each group a jigsaw puzzle and tell them they have 20 minutes to complete it. As your teams work, they’ll notice that some of their pieces are missing — or rather, that the pieces have been swapped with another team's puzzle. Employees must work with their teammates and opposing teams to get the pieces they need.

10. Off-campus activities

Time limit: Varies

Team size: Any

Finally, one great way to build team camaraderie is to invite everyone to a night out after the workday. Choose your favorite fun group activity: an escape room, improv show, intramural sports league, karaoke night, whatever you choose. As long as your team is having fun and connecting, you're doing something right — and you’re on your way to one successful team.

Many remote experiences exist, too — virtual escape rooms, themed cocktail nights, and trivia all offer teammates bonding opportunities outside the workplace.

Improve your team-building with Mural

When you make time for connection, you improve collaboration, enhance creativity, and innovate faster. Team building not only gives your colleagues a way to bond, but it builds the trust and camaraderie needed to unlock effective teamwork. However, if your team is hybrid or remote, you might struggle to find opportunities for teammates to bond. 

Luckily, Mural offers collaborative digital spaces where you and your team can create opportunities to get to know each other. Get started today with a Free Forever plan, and invite unlimited members so your whole team can participate. 

About the authors

About the authors

Bryan Kitch

Bryan Kitch

Content Marketing Manager
Bryan is a Content Marketing Manager @ MURAL. When he's not writing or working on content strategy, you can usually find him outdoors.

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