Use these creative team-building events as inspiration for your own engaging and fun company event ideas. Includes snow days, tasty treats, sketch comedy, and other unique examples.
Team-building events are an essential part of a company’s overall health. Taking care to entertain, educate, and strengthen relationships within your business has a lot of benefits. From elevated performance to facilitating personal growth, corporate team-building games and events are a powerful tactic for leveling up your workforce. They can also be a staple to any company’s event strategy. But what, exactly, is a team-building event?
What is a team-building event?
Team-building events are a specific type of B2B event marketing where your primary audience is, in fact, your very own colleagues. The goal of this event type is usually to foster better communication and collaboration amongst team members. It’s also a great time to address and resolve conflicts in the present, while also preventing them in the future.
Team-building events are especially popular among businesses that have recently experienced a milestone—be that a merger, product launch, or round of funding. They can also be very useful in strengthening existing relationships before large projects or quarterly kick-offs to help obtain a more productive group mindset moving forward.
Why is a team-building event valuable?
In addition to the reasons already mentioned, team-building events accomplish what all great marketing strives to do: bring people together in fresh and memorable ways. Your team-building ideas can spark new relationships, create lasting partnerships, and set the tone for future success. They can even resolve tension and improve the productivity of the office as a whole.
Sound too good to be true?
Here are 30 unique and effective relationship building and team outing ideas to inspire your next event.
Team-Building Event Ideas
1. Have a field day.
LexisNexis makes it a priority to get the group moving outdoors when the weather is nice. They recently participated in a camp fun day. Their activities model was similar to what you’d find at a traditional high school field day. They played kickball and had a three-legged race. They even had a chance to shoot some cans. No matter what you choose to do, sometimes team-building events can (and should) be all fun and games.
Why not take advantage of a beautiful local park or the lovely sunshine while you have the chance? It’s a well-known fact that breaking routine and getting fresh air are two easy ways to boost creativity.
2. Surprise them with a treat.
The folks at Lever know they have more than a couple team members with a sweet tooth so they knew exactly what to get them—ice cream. The people ops team surprised their colleagues with this impromptu team-building treat in the middle of the work day when they least expected it, bringing out an ice cream cart that had a variety of toppings and flavors. The event organizers also played fun music and wore USA team colors to celebrate the Olympics at the time. And they even went as far as to plant toothpick flags in each serving with a Lever value written on it.
These organized yet spontaneous moments give employees a chance to take a break, stretch their legs, and enjoy some sweets with coworkers.
3. Set a cleaning challenge.
Fantastic Cleaners is known for being experts at keeping things fresh and organized, so they looked to their strengths when creating this team-building activity. They wanted to choose an exercise that would require a high level of efficiency and group support. In the end, they settled on a timed cleaning challenge.
With only a limited amount of tools (2 spray bottles and a single roll of paper towels for a team of 10) and 5 minutes on the clock, employees scrambled to clean their own work stations. Resource scarcity encouraged them to help one another while the limited time amped up the stakes.
Source: Fantastic Cleaners
4. Get outdoors.
Even if you’re not able to host an entire day filled with organized games and challenges, you can still shake things up with outdoor team-building activities in more low key, manageable ways. Bonusly noticed that their sales cycles were dramatically slower during the warm summer months. The leadership team decided on creating a new set of routines to help employees get through the summer slump. Since employees already had an established pattern of meeting face-to-face with off-site teams every quarter, they worked hiking into their last iteration. Sticking to local trails and exploring nature together helped them get to know one another in a simple and cost-effective way.
5. Give some recognition.
Who doesn’t love to be acknowledged for a job well done? Community Tax knows we all appreciate being appreciated, so they encourage team bonding through peer recognition. This powerful motivation tool encourages employees to be more active participants in all aspects of their work.
The ongoing activity gives teams the option to share examples of something helpful or particularly impressive that another employee has done. Once they’ve nominated their peers, the compliments are publicly acknowledged. Employees bond together and become more productive in the long-term as they know their work is very much appreciated at all levels of their organization.
6. Film a sketch.
It’s easy to get so caught up with work that you tend to take yourself and your job a little too seriously. But, as MyEmployees soon learned, a little playfulness can go a long way.
Pulling inspiration from their weekly book club (another great team-building event idea), the folks at MyEmployees decided to spoof a beloved novel in the form of a sketch video. Needless to say, they were all pleased with the results and the future blackmail fodder they now have on one another. Taking time to be a little goofy while working towards a common goal can help with future projects as well.
7. Take them to lunch.
Frank Recruitment Group has a standing “Lunch Club”, where employees get to indulge in an all-expenses-paid celebration. This monthly event centers around fine dining and, for top performers, usually involves a trip to major cities like London, New York, and Miami.
Exclusive events can motivate employees to do their best in order to win a tangible experience. Those who qualify to join the “Lunch Club” get to bond over their shared victories and have plenty of inside jokes to pull from once they get back to the office.
Source: Frank Recruitment Group
8. Get crafty.
Blueboard knew they had a talented group on their hands, so for their team-building event they decided to get involved in some arts and crafts. To get the creative juices flowing they enrolled employees in a local block printmaking class. Their team enjoyed learning how to cut stamps, design unique patterns, and make prints on canvas bags that they got to take home afterwards. They also learned who in the group was secretly talented at printmaking. And their keepsakes continue to remind them of the fun and fulfilling experience they shared.
9. Start a tradition.
Adeva makes establishing team traditions a foundation of their workplace culture. Instead of using a single event to strengthen their workforce, they foster ongoing team-building with regular lunches, after work hangouts, and national holiday celebrations. It might not be that fancy or unique, but fostering team spirit in this way has helped them grow closer over time. Even the most trivial practices can do wonders for building a team that communicates and works together on a higher level. As long as your audience enjoys it and you regularly host events of this nature, you can basically use any of your other corporate event ideas to inspire a new tradition.
10. Host a happy hour kickback.
Every week, without fail, the Smith Brothers Agency busts out the kegs, ping pong tables, and snacks for a rooftop happy hour. It gives their employees a chance to relax with one another, a luxury they wouldn’t normally get to indulge in. Even if you don’t have a rooftop or ping pong tables to spare, providing free drinks and fun games is possible in any office space. You can even take advantage of your local wine or beer scene by holding a regular tasting.
11. Reflect with purpose.
If you’re less intrigued by games and drinks and would prefer a deeper, more profound approach to team-building, look no further than Guidefitter’s weekly check ins. In addition to scheduling regular breaks, the Guidefitter team makes time for both professional and personal recaps every Wednesday. Employees have a chance to share two successes from the past week as well as their goals for the coming week. Giving them space to pause, self-reflect, and share has bonded the Guidefitter team more than any other activity as they continue to foster a culture of trust and respect.
12. Have a board game tournament.
Once they caught wind that their team shared a major obsession with board games, BambooHR had no choice but to put together a regular tournament. Rather than limit the fun to a single evening, they now offer an entire selection of games employees can play during their lunch breaks. Every department participates, so players gets a chance to mingle with people they normally wouldn’t see during a normal workday. If you plan to have board game-themed bonding time, you can’t go wrong with a mix of classic and indie games. Pro tip: If you’re not sure what indie games are hot right now, check any of the Reddit board gaming discussion groups or relevant and popular GoFundMe pages for inspiration.
13. Walk a mile in each other’s shoes.
Blinds Direct believes that strong teams are built on a foundation of mutual respect, solidarity, and understanding. This belief led them to create an event known as “Role Switch”. For an entire day, the web and marketing departments at Blinds Direct were paired up and told to complete each other’s tasks for the day.
During this event, employees were surprised to learn exactly what goes into each other’s roles. Spending the day together required them to work as a team. Each participant ultimately learned the effort their colleague’s role requires and to be more considerate of one another’s workloads when doing projects together in the future.
14. Give them a thrill.
If your team is stacked with adventurous personalities like the ones at SnackNation, you might want to consider adding indoor skydiving to your team-building itinerary. In order to take the literal leap of faith, SnackNation employees pumped each other up and provided support when needed to improve event engagement. These brave employees made memories together, with keepsake videos of their laughter and excited faces to prove it. Even if your group is not into skydiving (of the indoor or outdoor variety) some other sort of physical activity that gets them outside of their comfort zones can have the same effect.
15. Organize local hangouts for remote employees.
One of the most common team-building event obstacles is getting geographically distant employees to feel emotionally close to one another. In order to solve this issue, Buffer dedicates themselves to hosting recurring gatherings in smaller, more local venues. These scheduled hangouts are organized, paid for, and marketed by their core team so the only thing remote employees are asked to do is show up and enjoy themselves.
While working remotely has its lifestyle perks, getting face time with colleagues can make a huge impact on their happiness and encourage them to stay with the company long term. Hosting a lot of small events made it possible for attendees to travel to the location nearest them. For the best results, try communicating with your employees similarly to how you’d carry out any other multi-touch event marketing plan.
16. Do a traditional scavenger hunt.
Amazon recently had their summer interns participate in an organized scavenger hunt that helped bond these temporary team members. From trivia challenges, to local treasures, to charity fundraising, there are lots of themes to choose from when planning a team-building event based on scavenger hunts. Friendly competition helps bond teammates and the hunt itself is usually filled with challenges that stretch limits as well as imaginations.
17. Have a photo challenge.
If you don’t have the resources to hire a professional scavenger hunt company, why not try making your own? Not only is it cost effective, it also gives you a chance to challenge your own creativity. The team at Wrike came up with a series of challenges and silly tasks that required photographic evidence of completion. Things like getting a piggyback ride from a stranger and before and after shots of a beer were just some of the wacky challenges their employees had to capture with their cameras.
18. Try something new.
Workshops don’t have to involve the typical topics. Instead, look to more unique options for educational team bonding, like the kind of events Happy Dancing Turtle likes to throw. Although they are focused on sustainability (and plan a lot of their events around this theme) they also branch out and do activities that are kinda-sorta related, like reiki classes and beekeeping. In doing so they bring new and fresh perspectives to old issues. No matter what you choose to teach them, team-building events centered around educational workshops help employees develop new skills while strengthening their relationships.
Source: Happy Dancing Turtle
19. Subject coworkers to terrible movies.
The employees at Process Street have a hilarious tradition — they nominate terrible films that they secretly love to the group, forcing them to watch and indulge in their own awful taste. The best part is that their remote teams also get to join the fun. Sharing these cherished but horrifyingly bad movies together gives them something to laugh about as they watch their colleagues squirm over outdated cult hits and poorly written blockbusters. It also serves as fodder for future conversations in and outside of the workplace.
Source: Process Street
20. Use technology.
It's hard to not have fun when playing with gadgets and gizmos, which is why KneeVR’s Virtual Reality event was such a hit. Teams were able to experience new technologies firsthand by playing with newly released products. You can even plan your event around an industry theme, like the one in this example which was, “Virtual Reality in Healthcare.” Opening their minds to never before seen possibilities expands an employee’s belief in themselves and the capabilities of their team. And don’t forget about event technology.
21. Have a Pokemon Go! competition.
Pokemon isn’t just for kids. This free app encourages players to get outside and capture augmented reality pocket creatures to raise and battle. The game’s structure is based on team work, which is why The Next Web chose it as their central team-building activity. They even made the event mandatory, although it didn’t really have to be since employees were in the habit of looking forward to these 30 minute challenges every day. The game gave them a chance to chat and build rapport with one another while indulging in a little healthy competition.
Source: The Next Web
22. Create an autonomous system.
Pandora encourages their employees to form their own team-building groups through shared interests like cold-brew coffee and kayaking. In order to participate, employees must form a group with a minimum number of participants. When they’ve reached that number, Pandora funds their group outings. Because the whole endeavor is free for them, employees have been extremely active in this program, participating and leading multiple groups at a time. The end result is a semi-autonomous method for facilitating team-building events on a consistent basis.
23. Conduct personal check-ins.
Google understands that their employees have full lives outside of work. Lives that come with ups and downs, requiring them to hide their emotions for fear of workplace backlash. Instead of encouraging them to put on a happy face, Google sends out a ten minute pulse check at the start of the day. The survey is made up of five elements: psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact.
After they’ve completed the pulse, team members get to sit and chat about the test in-person with their colleagues. They then take turns suggesting ways they can help or provide resources that could improve each of the five areas for one another. This practice helps provide an element of emotional safety at work and can easily be duplicated at any company.
24. Raise the stakes with prizes.
If your team-building activity involves challenges or competition, consider adding some valuable swag to make things a little more exciting. At Insect Shield Repellent Technology, they host a weekly and monthly brainstorm session with all of their employees. Contributed ideas are placed under serious consideration and anyone whose idea gets picked wins a coveted prize. Their employees are encouraged and rewarded for thinking outside of the box. They also get a chance to piggyback off the suggestions of others and work as a team to problem solve.
Source: Insect Shield
25. Create a virtual water cooler.
Communication, however casual, is an important part of establishing employee culture. Which is exactly why Zapier uses a dedicated Slack channel to connect remote and onsite team members. By encouraging them to take breaks and chat in the freeform space, employees have a chance to loosen up and get to know one another. Employees get to share their favorite videos, memes, and gifs, forming inside jokes with people they may have never met in real life, but have to work with everyday.
26. Have a snow day.
Snow days aren’t just for school aged kids. If you live and work in a climate that gets cold during winter, follow UKSV Creative Communication’s lead and take your employees for a sled ride. Add other snow-related activities like a snowball fight or a snowman-building competition. Bonus points go to whoever builds a snowman or woman that looks the most like your CEO.
27. Organize a group improv class.
If you want to build up your team while having a few good laughs, improv is right for you. The Everywhere Agency decided to join an improv class to learn the basics. As a small business that works intimately with clients, they valued the experience because it helped them become better at active listening. They also learned how to take ideas from others and build on them in positive ways. Participants were also forced to put themselves out there, allowing for mistakes and receiving support from their teammates in return.
Source: Everywhere Agency
28. Get physical.
It makes sense that a gaming company like Genera Games would want to incorporate sports into their team-building events. Given that they spend most of the day seated at a desk, employees look forward to getting outside and playing some quick games of basketball with colleagues. It helps them break up their routine and take a much needed breather. They use professional outdoor courts for their games, but indoor hoops or even a well-placed waste paper basket could do the trick.
Congratulations to the team behind Barbie™ Fashion Closet who are celebrating the game's one-year launch anniversary! In just one year we've already achieved tens of millions of downloads for this game. Play now! https://t.co/aTxsuC8dgP #Barbie #BarbieGame pic.twitter.com/luO3uHoDAp— Genera Games (@GeneraGames) September 12, 2018
29. Unleash your inner foodie.
The team at Watershed Communications loves to eat, so they developed a team-building event they call Foodie Fridays. The day centers around indulging in a food-related class of some kind. To date they’ve learned how to make chocolate, stomp grapes, pickle green beans, and even roast their own coffee. These experiences are truly unique and employees always look forward to them. Even if your group isn’t interested in food-related topics, finding another common point of interest can help turn peers into teams.
30. Take a page from your kid’s (coloring) book.
Plum Organics adds an element of fun to their special team-building meetings. Together they choose a day of the week for creative brainstorming. Then, when the time comes, they bust out crayons, colored pencils, markers, and — as you may have already guessed — coloring books. As the staff comes up with ways to improve their latest project they also color and decompress.
Coloring helps stimulate their minds while they work while also giving other areas of their brain some much needed relief. This example proves that sometimes the simplest team-building activities are the most effective.
Key Takeaways: Team-Building Events
There are lots of (big and small) ways to facilitate relationships that go beyond a trip to the local bar. The next time you plan a team-building event, consider the following:
- Give some Recognition: A little recognition goes a long way. Create opportunities for employees to give one another the opportunity to show some appreciation.
- Get Out of the Office: While there is plenty do indoors, an external venue or activity can create some space for employees to stop thinking about work and instead think about how to work better.
- Introduce Play: While workplace competitions can help drive productivity, team-building events can be a great opportunity to drop the competitiveness and encourage employees to tap into their inner child.
- Make the Time: Team-building doesn't have to be an elaborate event. Just getting people together for a modest breakfast, lunch or dinner can create a good space for growing closer.