Let’s be honest, everyone loves to get up from their desk and abandon their computer, even if it’s for an hour. Team building activities are a great way to strengthen team bonds, get the creative synapses firing, and the blood flowing. But not all team building activities are equal. There are team building activities that induce a surge in eye-rolling competitive testosterone (running races and athletic-based activities), and those activities that are just plain cringe-worthy (trust falls).
A good team building activity has at least one productive purpose. This can be problem solving, team bonding, or even a reward for your team’s hard work. Picking the right team building activity depends on your purpose, and of course, your budget. But fear not – even if your “budget” consists of the coins at the bottom of the petty cash tin, you can find a team building activity that’ll engage even your most reclusive of coworkers.
Purpose: Fun, increased creativity, improved presentation skills
So your budget is like…nothing. That’s OK, we can work with that. Prezzo Roulette is a fun and free exercise that’ll get your team thinking on their feet. This works best for about 5-10 participants. First, pick 5-10 random topics. Don’t make the topic anything *heavy* (world wars and famines, not so great). You want it to be a bit of light-hearted, silly fun. Maybe think of something totally specific and niche, (agricultural practices of the Mayans 2000 BC-1000 BC), or something really complex (quantum physics and its relation to time travel), or something purely silly (Conspiracy theories of Sesame Street). Then make 10 slides, free of text, to relate to the topic. Each participant picks a topic at random, without knowing what it is. They have three minutes to give their presentation. Encourage the participants to get creative with it – after all, this is just a fun exercise to encourage members to think on their toes.
*Insert company name*talks
Purpose: fun, improved presentation skills
Like TED Talks, but way less formal. In our office, most Fridays around 4:30, we gather for something we’ve nicknamed ‘Mobtalks’. Each week, a member of our team gives a 15-20 minute presentation on a topic of their choosing. We’ve had everything from: Worm Farming 101, How Cranes are Built, Tips for a California Road Trip and A History of Popcorn. Sometimes they can be very interactive (the cake decorating workshop was a tasty highlight). By 4:30pm on a Friday, your productivity isn’t going to be at its highest. And after a week of having one’s nose to the grindstone, it’s nice to kick back with colleagues, beer optional, and learn about something completely random.
Purpose: fun, team building, problem solving skills
This challenge won’t necessarily cost a lot of money, but it will require time. Time to think of challenges, create clues, print the clues and word up any businesses etc who may be a part of your race. We had an Amazing Race activity as part of our Christmas party last year, and, take it from us, it requires A LOT of planning. But – that being said, it’s a great way to mix everyone up, get the team working together, and have a few laughs along the way.
Purpose: fun, reward
Bowling is one of those team activities that comes with a grain of salt. This one is purely reward. It is a fun, relatively affordable way to allow you team to relax and have fun. But! If you have a couple of colleagues who make *everything* competitive, this may not be the best option. There’s nothing worse than everyone having a nice time and that *one* person screaming at their ball to hit a strike…
Purpose: fun, reward, team work
The ‘team work’ purpose might be a bit of a stretch… but the other two are airtight. What could be more fun than dressing up in ridiculously large inflated zorb balls and bashing into one another at speed without fear of injury? You can add some more structured team activities into it, such as soccer…but you’d be forgiven for just sticking to the bash and crash method.
Purpose: fun, reward, team work, problem solving
Escape rooms are everywhere now – from the major cities to country towns. For those unfamiliar, an escape room is a lockable room or set, with a number of clues and hints stealthily placed throughout the room. Teams are given a time limit to solve the clues and work out the combination, or location of the key, to secure their freedom. This is a great one for those who work with analytically-minded teams (finance, accounting and investigations). Don’t worry, if someone suddenly discovers they’re claustrophobic while in the room, there’s always a safety override switch.
Outsource your team activity
Purpose: whatever you want it to be
There are companies that literally specialise in creating team building games, challenges and exercises. Tailored to your brief, group size, desired outcomes and budget, these companies can set up and facilitate team building activities of all kinds. Be Challenged, an Australian-based company, have a number of pre-developed programs designed around outcomes. But the potential is limitless – they can tailor make any activity to suit your group, domestically or internationally.