Working together can be strenuous, and can only be exacerbated by not knowing who your peers are as people. Team building exercises are an easy, fun way to boost morale and bond with your co-workers. They create a better sense of community and set the stage for everyone to achieve common goals. Whether you’re opening a new restaurant in NYC or launching a tech startup in San Francisco, everyone can use these tactics to bring their teams together. In this series of activities, co-workers and peers will be referred to as “team members” and “teammates” because improving employee morale and bonding is a team sport.
1. Two Truths and a Lie
Team Building Level: Beginner
While this is known a popular game at high school and college parties, it can easily be applied to a work environment. Maturity and work appropriateness is a key factor in this exercise, but with that in mind the activity can still be a lot of fun. Do your best to seat your team at a communal table or better yet a circle of chairs. Give your group a few minutes to brainstorm two facts about themselves and one lie. Once everyone knows what they’re going to share, go around the room and have people guess the lie. The game ends when the last person’s lie is guessed, by the end everyone would have learned something new about each other and feel a great sense of kinship.
2. Fun Facts Game
Team Building Level: Beginner
This activity uses a little bit of prep, but it’s worth it at the end. Have all of your teammates send you one interesting fact about them the day before. Collect all of the fun facts, number them, and put all the facts on a piece of paper in order with enough space to write a name next to each one (Ex. 2. ____Tim_____ is a black belt in Judo and Karate. ) – this will be your answer key. The next day gather all of your team members and give them a blank copy (names not included) of the numbered facts sheet with a pen. Instruct them to write their names at the top of the paper, then try to write in the name next to whichever fact matches the person in the room. Be sure to time them between 10-15 mins, depending on the size of your group, to complete the exercise. After the time is up, to ensure that there is no cheating have every teammate pass their paper to their peer to the left and have them check each others’ answer, all while you share the correct answers aloud.
Tip: Remember to put a folder or clipboard behind the answer key, while reading them. At the end, give the person with the most facts matched correctly a prize – a gift card or branded swag would suffice.
3) Pass the Positivity
Team Building Level: Beginner
This is a great activity to start off a Monday morning, and it will wake everyone up, even if they’re in a “pre-coffee” state of mind. Similarly to “Two Truths and a Lie” gather your team in a circle, but have them stand-up. Find a small bean bag, stress ball or mini stuffed toy that is easy and safe toss to each other. Each time a teammate is thrown the object and catches it, he or she must say something positive. It can be anything from “the weather is beautiful today” or “I’m happy for my health” or “I love my dog”. The point is to begin the journey, that is your day, on a positive note. Just as negative attitudes are contagious, so are positive ones. As an added bonus, positivity is shown to increase sales, which is always a good thing.
4) Scavenger Hunt
Team Building Level: Intermediate
Creating a scavenger hunt can be fun and bring out the competitive spirit in your teammates. As a more advanced team building activity, it requires a little more equipment and organizational skills. For supplies you will need: list of the rules, list of items to be found for each team, bags to hold the items, flashlights with fresh batteries (depending on the time), and smartphones for photo hunts. Divide your group into 2-5 teams, depending on your size, and it is important that they come up with their own team names. In your list of rules be very specific about respecting other people’s property and personal space. You may choose to give your hunt a theme like a restaurant or hospitality job locations or movie memorabilia. Encourage your group to take lots of pictures to preserve the memories. Get as creative a possible, the more outlandish the items, the more fun the hunt will be. Whichever team finishes first should get a medal or trophy (very cheap from a party store) or another comparable prize.
5) Group Classes
Team Building Level: Advanced
Learning a new skill together can be a great adventure for the entire team. However, this requires a little more money and some solid scheduling experience. Cooking classes are usually a safe bet since everyone likes to eat. Creating art together encourages everyone into a more relaxed setting outside the office. A painting class is the perfect bonding activity and it doesn’t hurt if they offer wine with catering options for the whole team. Research places in your area that provide team building games for you. For those working restaurant jobs in NYC, Chelsea Piers is very well-known for setting up excellent experience-based and athletic driven activities. With a limit of 15-400 people, there’s a high chance that there’s something for everyone. All of these activities will give your team something in return, maybe a dinner or a painting, and definitely a great time!
6) Escape the Room (other interactive group activities)
Team Building Level: Expert
Maybe your team has done really well together, and they deserve a fun treat. When happy hours and dinners get boring, mix it up by having them solve a mystery or a puzzle together. Companies like Escape the Room and Mystery Room NYC have growing chapters around the country. Each exercise “locks” you in a room for 1 hour and you must solve a mystery together using your team’s knowledge in science, logic, problem solving and even math. You’ll find out each team member’s strength, begin to see leaders emerge and find out who has a fierce competitive streak. The only problem with these activities is the number of people is usually limited to 10-15 players, which can be a struggle for larger groups.
If your team is particularly brave, and you have some extra money to spend on them; taking your group to an interactive show just might fit the bill. Shows like Sleep No More and Queen of the Night can give everyone a different experience without leaving the building. Sleep No More is truly unique as it divides its show amongst multiple floor levels of a hotel, and groups usually get split up, but bond over the suspense and thrill of being a part of the show. As for Queen of the Night, the slight drawback is that the dinner and show combo can be a little less than work appropriate, in fact, many even describe it provocative. Again, this depends on your team’s relationships with each other. Overall, team building is all what you make of it, and depending on your group’s attitude and personalities you can curate to your own needs.