Your team works hard—really hard—and they deserve a break, but after suffering through awkward ice breakers, planning team building activities can be daunting.
These 40 activities will help your colleagues get to know each other so they can work better together... without tying themselves into a human knot. These activities should be optional, not mandatory. If they’re exciting enough, your team will want to be there, naturally fostering a strong company culture.
1. Breakfast to start the day
Fill the office with the smell of bacon and coffee and watch how quickly your team comes running. Have a slow start to the day and let everyone bond over breakfast before jumping into work.
2. Sports game
Take everyone out to the ballgame. Get a group of seats at a local sports game and cheer on your hometown team together.
3. Team hike
Step away from your desks and go into the woods together. Choose a moderate hike that all employees feel comfortable participating in—and don’t forget the trail mix.
Do good together. Take employees to a food bank, build Habitat for Humanity houses together, or just get your hands dirty in a local community garden. Find a project that feels important to your team. If you're local, there are endless ways to find volunteer opportunities in the Bay Area.
5. Mystery bar crawl
If all of your employees are over 21, take them on a bar crawl. Let some employees pick their favorite spots within walking distance of each other, but don’t reveal the plan to everyone else until everyone gets to the first stop.
6. Embarrassing tourist attraction in your area
Play tourists for the day. Go on a celebrity home tour or a double-decker bus or to the top of the Space Needle. Most locals won’t have been to the touristy stops and you’ll be able to get some fun photos together.
Schedule a team lunch that lets everyone show off their cooking talents... or at least their take-out ordering skills. A potluck is a fun way to share everyone’s favorite foods. Have a sign-up sheet so not everyone brings a cheese plate.
Get competitive in the most ridiculous way possible. Reserve some lanes at a bowling alley, order some wings, and see who has the best hook.
9. Go-Kart racing
Round and round and round you’ll go. Bring your colleagues to the Go-Kart track and relive your best childhood days.
10. Room Escape Games
Work together to escape the room with games like Room Escape Adventures and Puzzle Break. This is a great way to build communication skills and work towards a common goal... but your employees will just think it’s fun.
11. Mystery dinner
Organize a mystery dinner. You can organize it at an executive’s house or do it at a restaurant. Give the employees just the date and time, and plan the meal with the help of a pre-written script or kit unless you want to plan it all yourself.
12. Beach day
If you live near a beach, take the team to sit on the beach and hang in the sun. Bring a picnic lunch along, too.
Not on the coast? A waterfall, lake, river, or watering hole work just as well.
13. Cooking classes
Strap on your aprons and get your team working together. In addition to more collaboration experience, you’ll get a delicious meal at the end of a cooking class (bonus!).
14. Or make it competitive — a cook-off!
Pin teams against each other for an Iron Chef-like challenge. Have each team make a dish and have everyone vote on the winner. Winners get bragging rights, or maybe chef hats with your company’s name on it.
Go back to middle school recess with a kickball game. You can make it as competitive as you want, but don’t forget halftime snacks and a cheering squad.
16. Pizza party
Throw it back to grade school with the classic pizza party. No matter how old you are, no one can pass up the classics.
Release your team’s inner rock star and bring everyone to karaoke. Many locations have private rooms so your employees can have their own space without belting to the public.
Get on the water! Rent kayaks, canoes, peddle boats, or stand up paddle boards and spend time away from the office where life is "but a dream."
19. Laser tag
Another middle school throwback, laser tag will likely bring up some nostalgia for your team. It might also bring up some serious competition.
20. Ice cream run
Surprise everyone with an ice cream run. Schedule a “meeting” but instead, make it a walk to the local ice cream shop.
21. Throwback movie night
Screen a team favorite (take a vote beforehand) and provide popcorn, candy, and other movie snacks. Either find a comfy spot in the office to watch, or take everyone to a fun screening in a local theater.
If you have an athletic team, suggest a 5k (or more intense race) to run together. Those who aren’t runners can support the team and cheer them on at the finish line.
23. Book clubs
Suggest a book each month for company-wide reading. Host a book club meeting to talk about the book. These can be books that relate to your business or just-for-fun reading.
24. Office Olympics
Made famous on “The Office,” Office Olympics can be reminiscent of an elementary school field day filled with any activities you like. Have a mix of different competitions that range from athletic to silly to totally bizarre.
25. The buddy system
Provide all new hires with a veteran mentor so they feel welcomed upon arrival. This helps new hires feel at home and also helps current employees develop management skills.
26. Professional development classes
Either provide professional development classes in house or offer employees paid classes elsewhere. These will help your employees know you’re invested in them and help them gain new skills to make them stronger employees for your company. Examples include classes in public speaking, finance, social media techniques, and photoshop.
27. Adventure club
Set up an Adventure Club that provides one fun activity a month. Organize biking, hiking, fishing or camping trips that employees can opt into and spend time off the clock together.
28. Weekly brainstorm
Hold space for a weekly free-flowing brainstorm where employees can bounce ideas off of each other and help each other solve problems they are working on. Bring food to help fuel minds.
29. Employee recognition
Regularly recognize successes that employees have through public shoutouts either orally or in newsletter blasts. Also, discuss challenges employees are facing in weekly or monthly meetings so everyone can help contribute ideas for problem-solving.
30. Wine Wednesday/Thirsty Thursdays
Who doesn't love a little happy hour? Go out or bring it in — just be sure to include everyone in the festivities, even if they don't drink.
31. “Pack up your troubles”
This idea comes from justworks. Have your team problem solve together. Each person writes something that’s been challenging on a piece of paper. Then they throw it in a basket, and someone picks up each paper one by one. Together the team tries to brainstorm how the problem can be solved.
32. Holiday parties
Celebrate holidays together, and not just the ones in December. Plan a Friendsgiving, Halloween hangout, Fourth of July BBQ, and other events during the year to keep celebration a theme in the office.
33. Weekly wins and challenges
At weekly meetings, have each employee share a win (something that has gone well this week) and a challenge (either personal or work related) with the team. Make sure this is optional so employees can feel comfortable sharing only when they want to.
34. Opportunities to shadow other employees in different departments
Let employees try something new for a day by letting them visit different departments and shadow. This will help with empathy and understanding of what everyone does as well as increases chances to learn new skills.
35. Launch Day
Once a year (or more frequently), allow your employees to pitch their own ideas. This leads to new products and new ways of doing things for companies. Give them a day to build their projects and showcase their successes with the whole office.
Give employees time to focus their efforts on tasks that can be disrupted. Make a list of tasks that are either boring or require more work than they should and figure out how to make them better. Make it a competition and keep everyone going with snacks all day.
37. Lunch board games
Every other week bring board games to lunch. This gives employees something fun to look forward to and avoids "Sad Desk Lunch" culture. Sit back and watch the Scrabble battles begin.
38. Create comfortable collaboration spaces
With the help of an interior designer (or someone with that kind of mind), create spaces that people can work together on projects so they don’t have to squeeze around a small desk. Create pods of chairs, beanbags in a circle, or anywhere people can be comfortable talking together during the day or after work.
39. Off-site lunches
Go on a lunch outing at great restaurants in the neighborhood. Even if your office serves lunch, it’s still fun to get out and explore. Take suggestions from employees to get a variety of ideas.
40. Take suggestions
No one knows what your employees want better than your employees! Ask what kind of team building activities they want to do and plan events that align with their requests.