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14 Office Games to Build Your Teams (In-Person and Remote)

 

What is team building and why should you worry about it? Team building is a strategic approach to strengthening work teams, which can help them function better together. Doing team-building activities regularly can boost morale, improve engagement and help employees learn more about their teammates. One part of team building is planning office games that give your employees a fun way to bond and learn how to work well together.

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1. Office Olympics

Create your own version of the Olympics with lots of team games to stir up some friendly competition. Use real Olympic activities, such as races, or make up fun office versions. You might create an obstacle course out of office supplies and have teams push one another on an office chair through the course, for example.

This type of team-building activity gets everyone up and active while having a good time. It sets a positive team culture, as long as things don’t get too competitive. When you divide employees into teams for competitions, they get to enjoy the camaraderie of competing together.

2. Prank wars

If you’ve ever seen The Office, you’re no stranger to the idea of office pranks. This activity plays off the natural pranking that sometimes happens between friends. But it’s important to set boundaries for it. The pranks can’t hurt anyone or damage any property. The idea is to come up with fun, harmless pranks.

This may seem like a different type of team-building activity, but it encourages teams to work together in a fun, lighthearted way. It can also lighten the mood around the office. Set a designated period for the prank war, such as one or two days or even a full week. During that time, teams plan and pull off pranks on other teams. It’s a great way for teams to bond as they come up with pranks.

3. Baby picture match

Ask everyone to submit a baby photo to the person who’s organizing this activity. Create a display of the photos with a number beside each picture. Everyone tries to match the baby picture with the coworker. If your team is virtual, post the images on an internal website, so everyone can see them. Or, gather on a Zoom call and show one picture at a time, letting everyone guess before revealing who it is.

It’s easy to think of coworkers only in terms of their work performance and role. This activity reminds your employees that their colleagues are people outside of the office. It can help them make stronger connections by getting to know a little about one another beyond the office.

4. Office trivia

Take an afternoon to host a team trivia competition. You can divide employees by work teams or mix everyone up and create new teams. The latter strategy works well if you want to encourage bonding across teams and get employees to expand beyond their usual contacts. Each team has to agree on an answer to each trivia question, which forces them to communicate, persuade each other and compromise. Award points for correct answers and total up the scores at the end.

Choose an online trivia platform if you’re working remotely. You can also prepare trivia questions, asking a question of one team at a time. They can discuss the answers over the video conference and then give their final answer, earning a point if they respond correctly.

5. Seasonal decorating competition

Set up a fun decorating competition to get office teams to work together. An easy option is to have each team decorate a door or office based on the season or a particular theme. Certain holidays lend themselves well to specific items, such as decorating pumpkins in the fall, trees in the winter and eggs in spring. You could also have teams decorate cupcakes or cookies and enjoy the delicious results after judging the entries.

If your team members are virtual, have individuals do the decorating at home. Then, take turns showing the results before voting on the winner.

6. Line-up challenge

If you need a quick break during a meeting or training, try a line-up challenge. Everyone has to line up in a certain order without talking. Give them the criteria for creating the line, such as oldest to youngest, chronological order based on birthdays or in order of the least to the longest amount of time working for the company.

This activity helps with team building because it forces your employees to use nonverbal communication and work together to get in the correct order. This game is difficult to do in a virtual setting since you can’t physically line up when you’re all in different locations.

7. Board game bracket

Set up a board game competition using a tournament-style bracket. Everyone gets paired up against someone else to start. Each pair plays a board game, ideally something quick such as checkers. The winners of these games play each other, and the bracket continues until you have one ultimate winner. You can adapt this game to work for virtual teams by choosing an online game. Set up the brackets and schedule times for the competitors to meet online to play the virtual game.

The competitors play individually, but they still bond over the friendly competition. They can also learn more about one another as they play. Work teams will likely support their own members during their games, which can help unify them around a common interest.

8. Scavenger hunt

Encourage teams to work together to complete an office scavenger hunt. You can limit the search to the office or expand it to the community. Give each team a list of objects to either take photos of or collect. The first team to complete the list is the winner.

To encourage the team to bond and work together, require that all team members stay together throughout the scavenger hunt. One way to ensure this is to require photos that include the entire team.

9. Two truths and a lie

Two truths and a lie is a classic among office games. It lets coworkers learn more about one another, which helps them connect and see each other as more than just coworkers. Each person takes a turn sharing two things that are true and one thing that’s a lie. Everyone else guesses which statement is the lie.

This is an easy option to adapt to virtual teams. Simply gather everyone on a video call and take turns sharing two truths and a lie.

10. Escape room

Gather your team and head to an escape room to encourage everyone to work together. Cooperating and using each other’s strengths can help the team successfully escape. DIY escape room kits are available, so you can set up an escape room in the office if you prefer.

Virtual escape rooms are also very popular. It means you don’t have to physically meet at an escape room or set one up at the office. Your team can complete the virtual escape room and get the same experience from home.

11. Speed movie

Divide your employees into small groups of four or five people. Each team needs to produce a short film in a set time period, such as three hours. To shake things up, choose different movie genres and have each team draw a genre randomly. You can also add other required elements, such as a specific location, action or object, that has to appear in the movie.

Each team breaks off to plan, film and edit their movie in the given time. Have the teams assign roles to each person, such as director and editor. This lets them work as a team in a fun situation, but some of the ideas of working together as a team can transfer to work situations. Screen the movies and choose a winner.

This activity is a little more difficult to adapt to a virtual environment, but it’s still possible. Teams can meet and plan their movie via video chat. Each person records their part at home and submits it to the editor, who puts it together. Get everyone together in a group call to screen the short films and choose a winner.

12. Office mini golf

Divide employees into teams and have each team build a mini golf hole in the office. You might limit the materials they can use or assign a certain theme to make this task more challenging. Designing and building the mini golf hole is a teamwork exercise that requires patience and lets each person showcase their talents. Judge each of the holes to choose a winner. Then, let the teams play the mini golf course.

This activity is more difficult to adapt to a virtual setting since the teams aren’t together to build the holes or play mini golf. You could have teams create drawings of their mini golf hole design without building it and judge them on their creativity.

13. Problem-solving challenge

Put together teams of employees to compete in problem-solving challenges. One example is the egg drop where groups build something to protect an egg from breaking when it’s dropped. Provide limited materials that teams can use for the protective egg compartment. When the time is up, have each team drop their protected egg from a designated height to see if it survives without breaking. If you have more than one team with an egg that doesn’t crack, move to a higher drop spot.

Another example is building the tallest tower using only the materials provided. Or, have teams build a bridge out of materials such as uncooked spaghetti and marshmallows to see if they can build a structure that holds up across a designated distance.

These activities are ideal as in-person office games, but they’re difficult to do when everyone is in a different location. These activities let each person share their ideas before the team collaborates and creates a solution they think will work. It’s similar to problem-solving they may have to do on the job.

14. Office Shark Tank

Recreate the TV show Shark Tank at the office with this team-building game. Divide employees into small groups, each of which has to create a new product to pitch, just like the real show. Tell them exactly what they need to include, such as a business and marketing plan, slogan and fake financial information for the company.

Each team presents their idea to a few people who’ve been designated as the “sharks.” Tell each shark how much money they have to invest in the imaginary companies. They can ask questions and make investment offers like the sharks do on the TV show.

If your team is virtual, you can do everything online. Teams can meet in individual video conferences to plan their presentation. Then, they can make the presentation virtually with everyone watching.

This teamwork activity encourages creative thinking. It also forces the group to work together to create a solid pitch, so they’ll get investment offers from the sharks.

Office game considerations

When choosing team-building games to play at work, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Employee personalities: Choose working games that your employees might enjoy.
  • Ability levels: Ensure everyone can participate in the office games you choose. Limited mobility, vision impairments and other issues may make some office games difficult.
  • Let employees plan: Get employees involved in choosing and planning team-building games, so they can do activities they enjoy.
  • Schedule games during work hours: Don’t expect your employees to stay late to do team-building activities. Schedule the games during working hours to give employees a break while you work on team building.
  • Focus on collaboration: A little friendly competition can be enjoyable, but emphasize collaboration and teamwork over aggressive competition while playing.
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