Building a cohesive team is important for any business. But too many leaders make team building into a time-consuming, expensive process. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. It can be as simple as a round of drinks, group calisthenics, or a quick game of Pictionary. No psychology necessary. This article will show you 20 of the best quick team building activities to keep your employees engaged and working well together.
Quick Team Building Activities
1. Group Excercises
Calisthenics are exercises designed to achieve fitness and health. They can be done anywhere, anytime, but keep it simple so your employees don’t find it too difficult (or get too sweaty). Bodyweight exercises are your best bet. Jumping jacks, air squats, push ups, and/or burpees are just a few of the exercises you can choose from. Pick one, do a couple of sets of 5-10 reps and for increased impact, mix a few of the exercises together. This activity is great to do mid-afternoon, when everyone feels like taking a nap. Get them up and moving so they can be productive for the last few hours of the workday. The team that exercises together stays together.
2. Knot My Job
Another great team-building exercise is Knot My Job. It’s a great way to get everyone’s juices flowing. First, assemble enough string or rope so that all your employees can have an equal piece. Then, gather everyone together, distribute the string, and challenge each team member to tie as many simple overhand knots as possible in a set amount of time. If there’s a tie for the most knots, challenge those employees to see how many knots they can untie in that same amount of time. The employee with the most knots tied or untied wins.
If you want to make it more challenging, teach them a new, more complicated knot and challenge them to tie as many of those as possible. Most people can tie an overhand knot without really thinking. But ask them to tie a Bowline Hitch, and now you’ve got the brains and the body involved. That can make for a seriously fun(ny) competition.
3. A Round Of Drinks
Sometimes, quick team-building activities don’t have to be games. Leave the office early or gather after work hours and treat your team members to a round of drinks at the local watering hole. Just make sure everyone’s okay to drive afterwards.
Alternatively, you could hire a portable bar and bartender to set up and serve after-lunch drinks to your team. That would negate the risk of anyone being too inebriated to drive home because there would still be time in the workday for the alcohol to wear off. Just make sure you all stay together like you would if you went out.
Another option for the “drinks with friends” concept is to institute a wine or whiskey tasting on Friday afternoon. Choose one wine or one whiskey, let everyone try it, and then talk about what you like and dislike. This can be a great way for members of your team to get to know one another better.
4. Team Crossword Puzzle Race
Another great game for drawing your team closer together is the team crossword puzzle race. First, make two copies of the same crossword puzzle. The New York Times crossword can make for an interesting challenge. Or you can pull a simple puzzle off the internet. Just make sure the puzzles you use are identical and that you have access to the correct answers.
Second, divide into teams and give each team a crossword puzzle. Then challenge the teams to fill in the crossword puzzle in a set amount of time—say, thirty minutes. As an alternative to one long stretch working on the crossword, you could break it up into quick five- or ten-minute sprints. Imagine your team laser-focused on their tasks when you walk in and yell, “Crossword!” They drop what they’re doing and huddle together to see how many words they can get in five minutes. What a great way to get both the blood and the mind going at full throttle. If no one completes the crossword in the time you set, the team with the most correct answers wins.
5. Pictionary Throughout The Day
This quick team-building activity requires a bit of preparation but the extra effort is worth it. You’ll need an easel, a pad of paper, markers, and some Pictionary cards. To make the game simple, run each round like the old Pictionary TV show.
Divide your employees into two teams. Draw a Pictionary card and choose a word. Give one player from team A two minutes to draw while her teammates try to guess—they can shout out answers as she draws. When time runs out, give team A one more guess. If they don’t get the right answer, give team B one guess as a chance to steal. Then switch sides and let team B draw.
Because these rounds are fairly short, you can conduct a number of them throughout the day. You can keep the same teams all day and calculate the total score at the end to determine the winning team. Or you can treat each session as its own game and mix and match the teams every time.
6. Mario Kart For Nintendo 64
This may be one of the greatest quick team-building activities ever. All you need is a TV, a Nintendo 64, and a copy of the classic Mario Kart video game. If possible, get four controllers so you can involve more players at a time.
If you have four controllers, divide your employees into teams of two and pit one team against another. Alternatively, you can have each employee play for himself. If you’ve got the time, let the winners of each round play against each other until there’s only one team (or individual) left. Get everyone playing together and you’ll create a team that feels cohesive, engaged, and appreciated.
7. Answer Trivia Questions
Answering trivia questions is a fun and challenging way to promote team unity. This quick team-building activity can be played in many different ways, but all you really need is a bunch of trivia questions to make it work. If you can get your hands on Trivial Pursuit (the game), you’re good to go. You don’t need the board, or the dice, all you need are the questions. If you can’t get a hold of something like that, just type “trivia questions” into your favorite search engine for plenty of material.
To play the game, divide employees into two teams. Ask the question and give team A one minute to answer. If they don’t know the answer, give team B 10 seconds to steal. Then reverse roles and give team B a new question.
If you can get hold of some type of buzzer, you can have a head-to-head trivia face off where both teams can answer! The team that buzzes in first gets to answer. If they get it wrong, the other team has the opportunity to steal. Get creative with how you play the game and your employees will have the time of their life.
8. Group Meditation
Group meditation is a great way to give your employees a break from their busy work day while building a more cohesive team and the benefits of meditation are significant. Meditation helps reduces stress, improves concentration, increases happiness, and benefits cardiovascular and immune health. All great things for keeping your employees happy and healthy.
If possible, get enough yoga mats so that everyone can lie on the floor. If you don’t have the room to get everyone lying down, you might consider just using office chairs. You may also need to bring in someone who is familiar with running a meditation session so your employees get the most out of this quick team-building activity.
9. Fact Or Fiction
The Fact Or Fiction game is another great way to get to know your team members better, and help them get to know each other. At the beginning of the workday, have your employees write their name on one side of a note card. Then, have them write two facts and one fiction (two truths and one lie) about themselves. Make sure they label which are true and which are false. It’s also a good idea to tell your employees not to make the lie too outlandish. “I’ve been to Mars” is much more of an obvious lie than “I’ve been to Antarctica.”
Later in the day, gather everyone together in a circle and then choose someone to reveal the three pieces of information about themselves. It might even be a good idea for you to start the process. Then allow the rest of the group to decide what is fact and what is fiction. Give time for questions if the facts are really unique.
10. One-Minute Typing Test
This team-building activity is both practical and fun. It encourages fast typing (a good business skill to have) and a spirit of competition. To set it up, print a copy of a fairly long news story. Then give each employee a minute to correctly type as much of the news story as possible. All you need is a simple word processor with word count capabilities so you don’t have to count each individual word. Alternatively, you can use a typing test website (like TypingTest.com) if you have access to the internet.
If all your team members are close together, you can conduct this competition with everyone typing at the same time. If that’s not feasible (for whatever reason), have each person do it one at a time. You could even do it two or three times throughout the day then average the scores together. The team member who types the most, or has the fastest speed, wins.
11. Treasure Hunt
Get two of the same object— empty carafes or pans work well. Label one “A” and the other “B”. Hide these objects in the workplace (either together or apart). Gather your employees together and divide them into team A and team B. Then give them a clue or just tell them you’ve hidden labeled objects somewhere nearby. Give them two minutes to find their team’s object. First one to hand the object to you wins. If no one finds their team’s object in the two minutes, run the treasure hunt again an hour or two later.
12. Watch A Funny YouTube Video
There’s so much out there to make us laugh these days and YouTube has pretty much all of it. Take some time out of your busy schedule, gather the troops together, and watch a hilarious viral video. Maybe a funny cat video or something by Conan O’Brien. There are so many to choose from you really can’t go wrong.
This quick and easy team-building activity is a great way to refresh and engage those who are feeling drained or stressed. It gives them time away from their task(s) to think about something else for a while. The nice thing about this game is that it doesn’t require any extra equipment and only take a few minutes to complete. Here’s how it works.
Divide the group into two lines (they don’t have to be equal) and have them face the other line. Flip a coin to see which team goes first. Then, either give them a minute to study the opposite line, or just make them turn around (face away from the opposite line) right away. Now give the other line a minute or so to change ten things about themselves. They can change whatever they want, but simple ideas include:
- Swapping clothing
- Swapping jewelry
- Removing shoes
- Untying shoes
- Rolling sleeves
- Unrolling sleeves
- Unbuttoning shirts
- Untucking shirts
If you want to make it really difficult, you can include the person’s place in the line as a variable to change. When time runs out for making changes, instruct the first line to turn around and find the things that are different. Give the guessing team a certain amount of time to add to the suspense of the game. Once all changes have been discovered, or when time runs out, switch roles and go again.
14. Keep The Balloon Up
This one is simple: keep three balloons in the air. For a truly chaotic and fun time, get enough balloons so that all your team member can have three. Gather everyone in a large open space (like the lobby), give each person three balloons of the same color (e.g., Bob has three red while Cindy has three yellow) and see who can keep their balloons up the longest. If you have a lot of people this quickly becomes a swirling mass of color and confusion. Film the event so everyone can see what happened after. Hilarious!
If one giant balloon fest isn’t feasible because of space constraints, don’t worry. Just use your imagination and come up with something different. You could divide into two teams and have one person from each team keep their balloons up at the same time. If you have more time, challenge each person to keep the balloons up for as long as possible. If you do this with teams, add up the times for each team, and the highest number wins. If you do this individually, the person who can keep their balloons up the longest wins. There are so many different ways to vary this game, you can make it as simple or as difficult, as long or as short, to fit your needs.
15. Blow Up Balloons
This team-building activity is just like it sounds. Teams (or individuals) attempt to blow up and tie as many balloons as possible in a set amount of time. Make sure you have lots of balloons so you don’t run out. And if you can get two different colors, it will make counting at the end so much easier.
This is a great activity to use before a larger party because you’re playing a game and making decorations at the same time. If you’re not having a party, or when the party is about over, you can then play the next game.
16. Pop The Balloons
It might sound easy, but it’s really not. Divide your employees into two teams, and have one member of each team take a turn popping as many balloons as possible in one minute. The caveat? Do this while wearing oven mitts or boxing gloves. See why it’s such a challenge? To make it even more difficult, instruct contestants not to step on, sit on, bite, poke, or use any implement but their hands to pop the balloons. With this game, you’ll see why frustration can be really funny.
17. Baby & Adult
Ask your team members to bring at least one baby picture of themselves. When you’ve got all the pictures, post them on a wall in the conference or break room. Then, gather everyone together, break into teams (or play as individuals), and try to match the baby to the adult. The person or team with the most matches wins. This game has a lot of variations so be creative and mix things up for a new challenge.
To make it harder, or to extend the game so you can use it again, consider mixing in baby pictures of famous people. Alternatively, print out baby pictures and recent pictures of famous people and play that way.
18. Find Your Match
Before you start this activity, you’ll need a marker, tape, and enough paper for each team member to have one sheet. Sit down by yourself and come up with as many pairs of things as you can. Common, well-known pairs work best because you don’t want you employees confused about which ones go together. Here are just a few ideas:
- Minnie and Mickey
- Hard and soft
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Yin and yang
- Noise and silence
- Salt and pepper
- Dark and light
- Up and down
- Fred and Wilma
- Archie and Jughead
- Han Solo and Chewbacca
When you’ve come up with all your pairs, write each word (not pair) on a separate sheet of paper (hard on one sheet, soft on another). Next, gather everyone together, line them up side by side (so they can’t see each other’s backs), and tape a piece of paper on each person.
Instruct participants that they can only ask “Yes” or “No” questions to determine what word is on their back. The ultimate goal is to find your match, but each person must know the word on their back before pairing off. Once a match is made, the pair must learn three to five interesting facts about one another and report them to the group when the game is over.
This game goes by many names, but the premise is simple: pick up and move as many M&Ms (or Skittles or Raisinettes) as possible in one minute using nothing but chopsticks. This game requires at least one set of chopsticks, two bowls, and plenty of candy. You can play this where everyone competes against everyone else, or you can divide into teams. The team version is particularly funny to watch.
For the team version, give everyone a pair of chopsticks. Each team needs two bowls. Dump a bag of candy into one and leave the other one empty. Then instruct the teams to move the candy from the full bowl to the empty bowl using only the chopsticks. You may also want to mention that team members can’t touch anything with their other hand or move the bowls in any way. Only the chopsticks can touch the candy.
20. Sort The Beans
You will need plenty of table space and lots of beans for this game to work, so plan accordingly. We suggest purchasing two bags of black beans and two bags of chickpeas (or any type of beans that differ in color).
Dump one bag of black beans and one bag of chickpeas into a bowl for each team, and then mix the beans thoroughly. You’ll also need two empty bowls for each team to hold the sorted beans. Alternatively, you could just have teams sort the beans into piles on the table top. Whatever works for you.
When everything is set, challenge the teams to sort the beans by type. The team that sorts all its beans first is the winner. This is probably the easiest variation because you don’t have to count at the end. But for an extra bit of fun and urgency, consider setting a time limit of one or two minutes. The team that sorts the most black beans and the most chickpeas in that time wins the game.