These creative team building activities have been used with teams from a variety of functional areas, in a variety of sectors. When I hear "our team is all business" or "we don't get a lot of participation in team building games," I think to myself "Challenge accepted!" It's not that workplace culture or team dynamics prohibit people from loosening up. More often, it's the facilitator or team leader being afraid of a negative reaction. By not going "all in" to the activity, the facilitator or leader sets the tone and the group just follows suit.
These three activities have been particularly successful with groups described as "reserved," "serious" or "uncomfortable with games." If you have a challenging group, consider these creative team-building activities.
3 More Creative Office Team Building Activities You Haven't Tried Yet
1. The Web of Appreciation: Facilitation Instructions
Objective: To illustrate how encouragement, appreciation and recognition within a team creates a strong and inter-connected support system between all team members.
You Will Need: One yarn ball made of 2 standard skeins of heavy duty yarn.
Explain: This activity is a fun way for all of us to work together and see how many compliments and encouragements we can give each other. REPEAT THIS ACTIVITY every 3-4 months.
- Ask participants to stand in a circle with about 6” between each participant.
- Give the yarn ball to the person who will start.
- Ask the participant to hold on to the loose end of the yarn and to toss the whole yarn ball to another participant.
- Instruct the starting participant to give the person they tossed the yarn ball to a word of encouragement, a genuine “thank you,” a compliment or a recognition.
- In turn, each participant will toss the ball and say something positive and uplifting to the recipient. This can go on for 10-15 minutes.
- After a web has been formed, have everyone set the part they're holding down on the ground simultaneously.
Debrief: Observe how strong an interconnected web becomes. Talk about how feeling good and helping each other feel good creates strong connections, too.
2. Snowball Fight: Facilitation Instructions
Objective: To give participants an opportunity to express what they need from each other.
You Will Need: Three pieces of plain white paper and a pencil or pen for each participant.
Explain: This activity is a fun, safe, and anonymous way for us to tell each other what we need.
- Let participants know that all the information shared in this game will be anonymous.
- Ask participants to write down one wish on a single piece of paper. This is something they wish other people on the team would do differently. Every statement starts with “I wish…”
- Tell participants to write “I need…” at the top of the second piece of paper. Then they should complete the sentence by saying what they need from other team members.
- On the third piece of paper, ask participants to write “I’d like you to know” and to finish that statement with something others may not understand
- After all three statements are written have participants wad up each piece of paper and put them in a pile all together.
- After all statements have been written, wadded up and put into a pile, tell participants to have a snowball fight throwing the papers at each other (and mixing them up by doing so). Participants should continue throwing snowballs until you call time (3-5 minutes).
- Call time to end the snowball fight and ask participants to now open and read the written statements. Allow enough time for all pieces to be passed around and read. No one needs to be identified as the contributor of a wish, need or something to know.
Debrief: Observe how good it feels to share, even anonymously. Encourage participants to consider the needs expressed even if they don’t know who said what. Let participants know that it is good to share openly, too, in whatever way is comfortable for doing so.
3. Knot Again: Facilitation Instructions
Objective: To illustrate how to work together and use the connection to each other as a strength.
You Will Need: No materials or setup is needed for this activity.
Explain: This activity is a fun way to make all of us think about what it means to be a team. One of our greatest strengths is how we are connected to each other. So we’re going to get connected and then work together on that connection.
- Ask participants to stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.
- Tell participants to put their hands into the center of the circle so all hands are close.
- When participants are properly positioned, with all hands in the center together, tell participants to close their eyes.
- On the count of 3, every participant (eyes still closed) is to find someone else’s hand to hold. On the second count of 3 (eyes still closed), every participant is to find someone else’s hand to hold in their free hand without letting go of the first hand held.
- Once every participant has found two hands to hold, all may open their eyes.
- Without letting go of hands, the group should now try to untangle themselves and get back into a circle or line.
- Encourage participants to listen to each other’s ideas during this exercise.
- There will be a limited number of passes the team can earn (about 1/3 as many as there are team members). Each pass allows ONE hand pair to break, so these must be used strategically. To earn a pass, the team must perform a task. Ex: sing a song together, compete for loudest whistle, give a compliment to the people each is holding hands with, etc.
Debrief: Observe how strong the connection was and ask about the pros and cons of being more connected with some than with others. Ask how much easier this would have been if people could just hold hands with whomever was right beside them. Facilitate discussion about the difficulties on the team when people only rely on certain connections that may tangle up the whole team.