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What are the best team-building activities?

Posted by Sidney Ferguson

Last updated on August 31, 2017

A team that's able to work well together is likely to be more effective and more productive than one that can't work cohesively. One way to give your team the best chance of being able to work well together is to engage in some team-building activities every so often.

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Team-building activities can be both educational and fun, plus they help teams understand how each person in the team thinks, works and solves problems. These skills can then be applied back in the office.

4 reasons to do team-building exercises

1. Communication

The most valuable benefit you can gain from a team-building activity is increased communication among the team. Increased communication is the most fundamental way of working more cohesively and effectively.

A successful team-building exercise will result in a more collaborative, successful workplace for a company of any size.

2. Connection

Connecting with your colleagues on a personal level is an excellent way of working more productively with them in the office. When work teams are friends as well as colleagues, this improves morale in the office and makes for a more harmonious place to work.

Team-building exercises give teams the opportunity to switch off from work for a while and focus on getting to know each other out of the office.

3. Collaboration

Teams are more likely to work creatively when they are working with people they're comfortable with. Therefore, it's in everybody's interests to have a team that gets on well, where everyone feels comfortable enough to share their ideas with the group without being judged.

One of the most valuable results that a team-building session can deliver is increased collaboration amongst the team, which can be achieved by working together to solve challenges.

4. Competition

A little bit of competition is healthy among teams. Competition fuels creativity by providing a healthy incentive to work smarter, simultaneously increasing productivityTeam-building exercises encourage a healthy, cooperative amount of competition. 

The tricky part is finding team-building exercises that your team will actually enjoy participating in. Here's a variety of activities that should fit the bill.

6 of the best team-building activities

Off-site activities

1. Scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts involve teams getting out of the office with a list of things to collect. The first team back to the office with all of the things on the list wins. 

Scavenger hunts encourage teamwork and help enhance problem-solving skills. Teams must work together to find the best way to collect all of the items as quickly as possible.

An alternative type of hunt involves teams solving clues, leading them to particular places and objects.

2. Escape rooms

Escape rooms involve teams having to solve clues to escape from a series of rooms before the timer runs out. They usually have themes such as 'Jail Break', 'Egyptian Tomb' or 'Law and Order'.

These rooms encourage communication, trust, cooperation and efficiency - all extremely important skills when working together in an office. 

Escape rooms require teams to think outside the box and help them develop problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They can also help to shake up the power dynamics among the team.

3. Egg Drop

Each team will need several eggs and basic construction materials such as newspaper, straws, balloons, rubber bands, tape etc. You'll also need an outside space where you can drop eggs from a height and a tarp to drop them onto if necessary. Each team needs to create a protective receptacle for the egg. The egg is then dropped from the height and the winning team is whoever's egg is still intact after being dropped from the highest distance.

This activity encourages teams to discuss ideas and be creative in order to win - both crucial skills when working together in an office.

Even with a successful offsite team-building activity, sometimes the benefits don't last long once everyone is back in the office - everyone goes back to working the same way they were before. To avoid this, consider running smaller exercises that can be conducted within the office every few weeks to keep those connections between co-workers alive. Here are a few ideas:

In-office activities

1. Spaghetti Tower

All you'll need for this challenge is 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, 1 roll of masking tape, a metre of string and 1 marshmallow for each team. 

Using these supplies, each team must attempt to build the tallest tower that can support the weight of a marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be at the very top of the tower and must be able to stand on its own without any other support.

To spice this activity up you could provide different building materials or introduce a fan on a low setting to make sure the structures are stable. You could even have the team members who are building the structure be blindfolded, relying on instructions from someone else who can speak but can't touch anything.

2. Minefield

You will need an open space, such as a room or hallway, and some random objects (such as cones, balls or bottles) that will act as 'mines'. The mines are distributed around the open space and team members are paired up. One person in each team is blindfolded and the other person can see and talk but cannot enter the 'minefield'. The blindfolded person must walk from one end of the minefield to the other, without stepping on any mines, by listening to the instructions of their partner. 

You can make this even more difficult by having multiple people walking through the minefield at the same time, making it harder to focus on the instructions your partner is giving you over the instructions from other teams.

3. Line Up

Participants line up in a straight line side by side. They are then tasked with getting in order according to their birthdays, their ages, or anything else. However, they are not allowed to talk! 

This task will make sure everyone steps up their communication skills to get in the right order.

Team-building exercises are a fantastic way of bringing your team together and encouraging colleagues to connect, even though they may not need to work together very often. They offer so many benefits that they're worth the time and effort involved in setting them up.

 

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