In-Person, Remote, Virtual, Hybrid..? Your Team Can Still Have Fun AT Work! Fun team building activities for all types of teams!
Companies that have a positive and fun work environment are more productive, experience lower rates of absenteeism and turnover, and are more creative. There’s proof! Yet somehow, many CEOs, managers, and employees are uncomfortable with the idea of having fun at work.
But, why? Do we think that fun team activities should only happen outside of work? Or, do we think that having fun means we’re not doing our best work?
Unfortunately, this is a common misconception. As shown by a growing body of research in positive psychology (like these studies from Oxford University and the Harvard Business Review), happier and more positive workforces are actually more productive.
Part of creating a positive and healthy company culture involves creating more opportunities for team members to connect, have fun, and support each other with kindness and compassion.
A great way to embed a positive culture where team members have fun and support each other with kindness and compassion is with team building activities. But first, you need to build the foundation.
You cannot force your employees to have fun at work. People need to be in the mood and need to know that it’s ‘ok’ to have fun.
So, first you need to make some space for fun.
Fun at work can mean many different things depending on the nature of your business, your employees, and your working environment. While work isn’t typically considered fun, it’s possible to look at ways to reduce any unnecessary ‘un-fun’ tasks or activities that suppress productivity and motivation. Some examples may include:
Ask your team for specific feedback on what types of meetings, tasks, or other aspects of work are de-motivating to them. Once you remove or modify these unmotivating tasks, stress levels will go down and your team will be more open to the idea of enjoying work and having fun.
This is when you can start to weave in some regular and one-off fun team building activities. They could be a monthly quiz lunch hour, kicking off each team meeting with an icebreaker, having dress up Fridays, celebrating monthly achievements with a happy hour, or scheduling an interactive team building workshop.
Regardless of what you choose, get buy-in (and participation) from leadership early, and get them to demonstrate that it’s ok to have fun. Without their support, your efforts may be fruitless.
Once you’re on your way, make sure you keep looking at ways to weave in more opportunities for your team to connect, engage, and support each other. A positive work culture takes time to build and requires nurturing. The goal should be to include some sort of fun team-building activity on a regular basis as well as a few larger team events throughout the year. Where to begin..?
We’ve pulled together a list of some of our favorite ideas for having fun at work. Everything on this list can take place in less than an hour and can be adapted for all team sizes and working environments. Because whether you’re back in the office or working remotely, we think everyone deserves a little fun at work!
Up to 10 minutes
Perfect for kicking off a team meeting or breaking up days of back to back meetings
(1) Back-to-Back Drawing
Objective: A fun activity for building team communication and helping participants think about how they communicate instructions.
Time: 20 minutes
Prepping the activity: Research, collect, and prep a series of pictures that each pair will need to draw based purely on verbal instructions. The pictures can be hard copies or digital depending on your team type.
Running the activity: Divide your group into pairs and ask each pair to decide who will be the speaker and who will be the artist. Give each speaker a picture which they will describe to their artist, who must draw the object from the description alone. Once finished, get the pairs to swap roles to draw a different picture. Have a laugh and if you want to take it a step further, debrief in pairs and/or as a group!
Pro Tip: Choose pictures that aren’t too difficult to draw but have a variety of elements to sketch out. And if you have a digital team, try using a digital drawing board like Miro or Sketch.io that the artist can screenshot.
Objective: Learn how to frame things differently and overcome negative experiences.
Time: 10 minutes
Prepping the activity: No prep required!
Running the activity: Divide your group into pairs. One of each pair shares a negative experience from work or their personal life over the past year or two. The other member of the pair then takes the opportunity to reframe the experience and describe some of the positives that came out of the experience.
Pro Tip: If this game feels too personal, get team members to write down details of a negative experience (real or fictional) which are then distributed amongst the team to reframe in a positive way.
(3) Suddenly Storytelling
Objective: Get team members to think on their feet when new developments or problems suddenly arise.
Prepping the activity: No prep required!
Running the activity: Get your team together around the table or on a Zoom call. Kick off the game by narrating the first three sentences of a story. At the end of the sentences you need to say “suddenly” and the person sitting next to you has to continue the story. Go around the ‘circle’ until everyone has had a turn.
Pro tip: If you want to make the activity more ‘work-focused’ you can set up the story so it’s about challenges or issues that may come up in a project.
Up to 30 minutes
Perfect for when you have more time to dedicate to a team building exercise.
(4) Sales Challenge
Objective: Develop the team’s sales and presentation skills.
Time: 20-30 minutes
Prepping the activity: Gather a collection of random everyday objects that are seemingly uninteresting.
Running the activity: Divide your group into smaller teams of 2 or more people and give each team an object. Give each team 5 minutes to prepare a 2 minute ‘sales pitch’. Each team then needs to deliver their pitch and then answer any questions. After every team has pitched, ask everyone to vote which pitch they believe was the best. Prizes optional.
Pro tip: If you’re working on presentation skills as a team, spend some extra time at the end to debrief the presentation style, techniques, and language for next time!
(5) Sneak a Peek
Objective: Understand how an individual can contribute to the team’s overall success as well as practising problem-solving and communication skills.
Time: 30 minutes
Prepping the activity: Build a ‘sculpture’ using building blocks, lego, or basic household items (e.g. tape, spaghetti, canned goods) and make sure each team member has access to the exact same or similar supplies.
(6) Running the activity: Divide the team into groups of 2-6 (2 if remote). Ask one member from each team to sneak a peek at the sculpture for 10 seconds. They then have 25 seconds to instruct their team on how to build it. After 5 minutes of building, another member can sneak a peek. The process can continue for a fixed period of time or until one team successfully replicates the sculpture.
Pro Tip: Give the teams some time at the beginning to come up with a communication strategy before they see the sculpture. Then at the end, give them some time to debrief if it worked!
(7) Office Trivia
Objective: Work collaboratively together to solve problems and answer work and non-work trivia questions.
Time: 15-30 minutes
Prepping the activity: Design your own trivia session with work-related questions/topics like “what brand of microwave do we have in the kitchen?” or use one of the myriad of online quiz resources to come up with a more generic pop quiz (some of our favorites are TriviaMaker, TriviaHub, Jeopardy, and Water Cooler Trivia). Once you’ve decided on your format and questions, nominate a quiz master who will run things on the day.
Running the activity: Divide your team into smaller groups and kick off each round. Each group competes to see who can answer the most questions correctly. Prizes or gloating rights optional!
Pro Tip: For added variety, try mixing up the formats and topics for each round so it plays to different team member’s skill sets.
Up to 60 minutes
Perfect for when you want to give your team a little more time for connecting and having fun!
(8) Turn-key event
Objective: Engage in an easy to organize hands-on activity that generates informal communication amongst team members.
Time: 60 minutes
Prepping the activity: The benefit of turnkey activities is that they require minimal attention to logistics and details. The idea is to schedule an event, discuss any specific requirements or goals with the organizers, and then show up on the day ready to have some fun!
Running the activity: Whether the event is in-person, hybrid, or virtual, make sure everyone has the information, materials (if provided), and some basic information about what to expect. Once the event starts, leave it up to the host/s to walk the team through the activity and tailor it to the participants to make sure it keeps everyone engaged.
Pro Tip: Consider turnkey events where all participants receive something physical, as these tend to resonate best. For example, tinyB Chocolate sends out DIY Chocolate Brigadeiro Kits to all participants which are then used during a live chocolate-making event hosted by a professional chocolatier.
(9) Scavenger Hunt
Objective: Work together as a team to plan and execute simple tasks under time pressure.
Time: 45-60 minutes
Prepping the activity: Come up with a fun list of items to be completed by each team and assign a points value to each. Make sure the list has a mix of physical and non-physical challenges to cater to different strengths and weaknesses.
Running the activity: Divide your team into smaller groups or 2 or more people and nominate a scavenger hunt judge. Set a time limit and then give each group the list of items to be completed. Either count the points as teams complete the tasks or count them up at the end. Announce the winning team and celebrate!
Pro Tip: If your team is virtual, check out these great ideas from Teambuilding.com or from Scavify. And if a scavenger hunt is popular with your team members, consider hosting themed ones on a regular basis!