Time and again you read about the many benefits of team building and why it matters in the modern workplace. These may seem like frivolous activities, but there is actual data to prove otherwise. In fact, when team building exercises are regularly incorporated into an office environment, especially ones that include problem-solving, communication, and decision making, you create truly engaged employees and teams who find purpose in their work.
These are the employees who contribute to your ultimate success and end up boosting employers’ bottom line. And this isn’t just because they’re more productive. From a recent Gallup poll, “Teams that work together well (teams in the top 25%) incur lower healthcare costs.” This is likely connected with other studies that show how sitting in a chair for more than 8 hours a day has a direct negative impact on health.
Instead, separating long working hours with team building exercises can give employees a chance to take the breaks they need and “refresh.” If you want to reap some of these amazing benefits for your team, here’s how to get started with team building exercises at work.
When (and How) to Start
When: We’ll start by saying that every employee has their own work schedule and personal priorities. It’s best if you, as a manager, try to work around their time and not cause unneeded interruptions in workflow. That being said, try to get a majority to agree to a time and day that works best for them, and try to schedule activities in advance so no productivity is lost. For example:
- Every Wednesday during lunch
- Every other Friday at 1 pm
- Every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am
How: To set up team building exercises, you can assign individuals to groups. Every time the group meets, you can choose to “switch it up” by dividing them a different way. For instance, splitting up groups by department or floor. Switching groups or partners frequently and randomly helps you avoid office “cliques” afterward.
Finally, make the time enjoyable. Your office space may allow for couches and more comfortable seating than desk chairs. Bring food and beverages. Share a meal or even a small snack. The success of this project is entirely dependant on the participants, and if they’d rather be at their desks working, then everyone is missing the point.
Workplace Clubs and Sponsored Teams
This isn’t so much a team building “exercise” as it is a weekly gathering for discussion. Clubs and teams are a great way to promote team building, however, especially since they are voluntary and all participants want to be there. Employees can choose a club by interest (books, photography, Yoga, knitting, volunteering, etc.) or by sport.
If your company chooses to sponsor a league by paying their registration fee, your brand can be advertised on team t-shirts or sweaters. Popular sports include basketball, bowling, soccer, or running. Partner with local charities for marathons and half marathons to raise money or awareness for a cause they feel close to.
This is a team competition and a fun icebreaker for groups just getting to know each other. First, you will need at least two teams of people. Each team is given one raw egg and random office supplies to work with.
Office supplies could be anything, including paper, tape, utensils from the break room, straws, pens, or rubber bands. Once the supplies are distributed, start a timer for 20 minutes. The teams have that much time to build a contraption or package that would help protect the egg from an 8-foot drop. When the timer goes off, take all of the packages and one by one, drop them 8 feet from the ground. Teams with unbroken eggs will be declared the winner!
Two Truths and a Lie
This game allows co-workers to know each other better on a more personal level. First, the entire group starts out by sitting in a circle. Each person will take turns telling two true facts about themselves and one lie, in any random order. However, they cannot reveal which is a lie.
After sharing, everyone else must “vote” on which statement they believe is a lie. If they are right, they can have one point. After every person in the circle has had a turn, the person(s) with the highest number of correct guesses, or points, wins.
There is also another version of the game Two Truths and a Lie in which the statements are written down on pieces of paper. Once they are all written down, everyone in the group must “mingle” for 20 minutes while to try to figure out who is lying. Or they can spend time convincing others of their own lie. When the conversations are over, then the voting can begin.
This can be an individual or team challenge. While it is possible to conduct a scavenger hunt in the office, it’s best to try this outdoors since there may be some running involved. Make a list of tasks for each person or team to complete within a limited time frame. They should remember to bring their smartphones because they must snap a photo of someone from their team completing the task. The tasks could be as silly as you want, such as “Give a stranger a high five!”
Once the list is checked off, everyone can meet back at the office to view the photos if they wish. Points are awarded for each list item, so the more difficult the task, the more likely they are to win.
Drawing Back to Back
This is an interesting game of interpretation. Have two people sitting back to back in their office chairs. One person will be given an image or picture, and the other person will have to draw it with a pencil and paper. They can’t look at the image, though – their teammate in the other chair must describe it for them. Set up a timer to keep the game moving fast. At the end of the round, it’s interesting to see how the picture has been interpreted.