Ideas for (Non-Corny) Team Building Activities

Do you sometimes feel that you just work next to your colleagues as opposed to with them? Taking part in informal interaction can be a step toward developing a more collaborative working relationship or moving a group of individual contributors toward working together as a team.

Half-Day

  • Take a field trip to the movies or go bowling
  • Organize a fun competition such as trivia, bingo, or field day internally
  • Volunteer as a group in the community
  • Watch a virtual conference or product launch together. Share learnings.

Lunch and Learn

  • Potluck—especially after a holiday to get rid of leftovers!
  • Bring in speakers from the community or other organizations
  • Get to know other functions and their priorities if you work in silos
  • Form a walking group or jogging group during the lunchtime hour
  • Take team lunches to celebrate birthdays or milestones
  • Watch a webinar or TED video together & discuss

After Hours

You spend approximately forty hours with your coworkers week after week so it might seem over-the-top to add night and weekend activities to this tally as well, especially if it might interfere with your family time. But getting to know their personal side—and becoming acquainted with family members can contribute to a better working relationship. Not as a formal program, but because you care about them as people and are interested in spending time together in a non-work setting/atmosphere.

  • Take advantage of business trips and traveling together—don’t sit in your room alone
  • Form a team—volleyball, soccer—and play against local leagues
  • Train for and participate in a 5k
  • Weekly ritual—go out for beers on Friday after work
  • Include family for a more personal holiday party—host at someone’s house

A Few Guidelines

  1. You might be tempted to increase participation by pressuring people to take part. Don’t do that. Keep it voluntary and instead appeal to interests and motivations.
  2. Mix together passive and active; structured and non-structured. If you are watching a webinar, for example, also schedule some time to discuss it.
  3. Rotate responsibilities. Solicit ideas as a group to take the pressure off of any one particular person.
  4. Make sure nobody feels isolated or left out on a consistent basis.
  5. Don’t aim for productivity; avoid discussions about current work projects.

Where to draw the line on teambuilding activities? I personally dislike contrived trust-building activities. One reason for this is because I think trust is built on actions of integrity over time. But another is that I was actually dropped in a trust fall by my manager once! Whoops! For more (shocking and entertaining) examples of what NOT to do, check out one of our previous posts, a list of the most horrifying teambuilding activities!

Eva Rykrsmith

Eva Rykrsmith is an organizational psychology practitioner. Her passion lies in bringing a psychology perspective to the business world, with the mission of creating a high-performance environment. Follow her @EvaRykr.

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