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What are fun team building activities for the workplace?

Written By

Barbara Perino

Executive Coach at Barbara J Perino Inc.

Briefly Speaking

Read about these fun team building activities for the workplace that can loosen your team up in no time.
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“Team-building exercises can be a powerful way to unite a group, develop strengths, and address weaknesses – but only if the exercises are planned and carried out strategically. In other words, there has to be a real purpose behind your decision to do the exercise – for example, improving the team’s problem-solving or creativity skills. The most important step when planning a team-building exercise comes at the very beginning: you must start by figuring out what challenges your team faces. Only then can you choose exercises that will be effective in helping them work through these issues.” (Mind Tools)

To start with, here is a great ice breaker that gets people laughing at the start of a meeting, especially if the meeting is one that is typically boring, long or you simply just want to stir things up. 

  • Before the meeting, go to www.googlism.com. Have everyone type in their first name and print out the results or designate one person to do this for everyone involved in the meeting.
  • Pass out the results to each person and ask them to circle all the descriptions that they want to share with everyone else at the meeting. 
  • This can be a really funny exercise as some of the descriptions are hilarious and creates a relaxed environment before people have to get down to business.  We don’t laugh enough in our work.

These fun team building activities for the workplace are really focusing on the Being vs. the Doing of the team as individuals:

What I know about you – Expressing Appreciation and Acknowledgement

To get to know a little more about others on the team, tape a blank sheet of paper on each person’s back. Pass out markers (that don’t bleed through the paper). Everyone is asked to walk around and write complimentary/appreciative words on each person’s paper (only positive comments). The time spent doing this part of the execise will depend on how large the team is. No more than 15 minutes is probably a good timeframe.

After everyone is done writing their comments, ask everyone to take the paper off their backs and share with everyone what was written down.  People will put these papers on their walls in their workspace or take them home to share with family. Appreciation and acknowledgement are key components to a happy work environment and are not expressed enough in work settings. This is one of the best team building activities for the workplace that honors these two words.

Getting to know you – Insight into who people are

Pass out 3×5 cards to everyone and ask them to write down three things about themselves that others probably don’t know about them. Have everyone turn their cards into the facilitator or leader of the meeting when they done. That person reads the answers aloud and asks people to guess who they think answered the questions. It’s a great exercise to get to know people a little bit more. A question to be asked when this exercise is done is “what were some surprises you learned about people doing this? (Discuss this)

Improving Communication – Back-to-back drawing

Divide your group into pairs, and have each pair sit in a chair, back to back. Give one person in each pair a picture of a shape, and give the other person a pencil and pad of paper.

Ask the people holding the pictures to give verbal instructions to their partners on how to draw the shape without actually telling the partners what the shape is. After they’ve finished, ask each pair to compare their original shape with the actual drawing, and consider the following questions:

  • How well did the first person describe the shape?
  • How well did the second person interpret the instructions?
  • Were there problems with both the sending and receiving parts of the communication process?


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4 Reader Comments Share your thoughts.

    floreacalin 1 year ago
    I think team building exercises are really helpful in companies... you could also pick up some ideas from www.buildingteams.ro
    Coach Cat 1 year ago
    Thank you for this article, Barbara. I tried the Improving Communication Game in my Seminar and had a lot of fun! Everyone draw somehow a slightly different picture! It shows that even though you think that you communicated clearly what you have in your mind, people still might have a different idea of your thoughts in their mind. Very eye-opening!

    One of my favourite opening game for seminars is the "Airplane Game": Very interactive, a lot of fun and a good get-to-know-you game:
    - Every participant should fold a paper airplane (be prepared to have an example if someone forgot how to fold a paper airplane)
    - Everyone should write down personal things on the airplane. I always go with: their name, function/job title, their favourite drink on air and their ideal seatmate on the airplane. (You may also add other questions or categories e.g. what they did yesterday evening, what they like or dislike, what are their favourite movie actors etc.)
    - On queue, everyone throws their airplane around the room for about 1-2 minutes. Each person should pick up a different airplane to throw.
    - At the end, everyone picks up one airplane and has to find the owner
    - This is the person that they should present to the group
    Barbara Perino 2 years ago
    I agree. You have to know your audience. Some aren't appropriate. You can filter them though.
    Linda Lombardo 2 years ago
    Be wary using Googlism.com if you are in a work environment. Some of the comments that come up are rude and inappropriate for the workplace.