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How To Build Company Culture: Trade Your Coffee Machine For These 15 Unique Team-Building Exercises


A group of stylish young women laughing outside. They are in a city scene, most of them are only half-turned to the camera.

A tight team dynamic is crucial for a successful company.

But creating that relationship in the day-to-day life at your office can be challenging. People are busy actually working, which means they rarely get the chance to get to know their coworkers on a more personal level—especially across teams.

Of course, there are always team-building exercises you can do, but they’re more than likely to elicit a few groans from your crew. We’ve all been doing variations of the “five things about yourself on a notecard” exercise since grade school. So why not shake it up?

Here are a few activities that will help build team relationships while still being fun and exciting:  

1) Scavenger Hunt

Combine team problem solving with the thrill of the hunt and a little healthy competition by creating a custom scavenger hunt. This can be as complicated as sending your teams out into the world to find items outside the office, or you can make it internal and set up fun activities to do indoors.

2) Egg Drop

You may have done this in junior high science class, but obviously you’ll be better at cushioning an egg as an adult—right? Work with your teammates to create safety devices for your baby egg using only office materials. Then indulge in throwing things off the top of the building (which is the whole reason for the exercise in the first place, let’s be real).  

3) Truths and Lies

You can do any combination of truths and lies you want—two truths, one lie; two lies, one truth; all lies—rules aren’t real. The point of the exercise is to learn hidden talents or strange histories about the people you share 90,000 hours of your life with.   

4) Battle of the Air Bands

Set up an impromptu stage in the break room, sync a few Bluetooth speakers, and let your teams lipsync for their lives—to borrow from our friend Ru Paul. Award points for best air guitar, best air drum solo, and most impassioned lip sync. Costumes are encouraged but not required.

5) Office Trivia

Employees can learn from legacy team members about your company’s early days via fun trivia questions. Put a pub-spin on the event and serve a few beers to those of age and group everyone in teams with whiteboards to give their answers.

6) Laser Tag

Get out of the office and get your blood pumping with a few rousing games of laser tag. Mix up departments for each team so people who wouldn’t normally talk with each other now have to collaborate to crawl through foam pillars in order to avoid getting lasered while they take down the other side.

7) Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are recent to the team building world but they’re a unique way to problem solve together in a fun environment. There’s such a boom of these rooms that you can choose the location, theme, and style of room you’re solving to match your team’s preferences!

8) Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower

Okay, this one may be standard for team-building exercises, but sometimes the classics still stick. Break your office into small teams and give them a fistful of spaghetti, a large marshamallow, tape, and a piece of string. The tallest tower built from those materials wins—and it has to stay standing during judging.  

9) Community Action Days

Get out of the office and do something together to benefit your neighborhood. Maybe you pack lunches for the local homeless association, or plant trees, or walk dogs at the shelter. Whatever it is, your team and your community will be a little better off for your bonding activity.

10) Penny for Your Thoughts

Give each person five pennies and then go around the circle and ask them to share something unique about themselves, or something adventurous they did in the last year. OKAY WAIT WE KNOW. Hold on. THEN! If anyone else in the circle shares that experience, they put a penny on the table. If not, the person who spoke puts their penny on the table. The first person to lose all their pennies wins.

See, that’s better, right?

11) Zoom

Print out sequential images that create a story when put in the correct order. You can create your own, or you can purchase the ones from the original Zoom by Istvan Banyai. Give each person an image and instruct them to put them in order. The catch is that no one is allowed to show the images to each other.

12) Life Highlights Game

This one can be done in large or small groups, depending on how intimate you’d like the conversations to feel. Ask each person to close their eyes and reflect back on their life up to this point for one minute. Then, ask them to choose one 30-second moment from that reflection that they would relive if given the option. Participants can then go around the circle and share their 30-second moments.

13) Shark Tank

Hold your own mock Shark Tank competition, with different teams pitching different products. You can give them random props and ask them to come up with a product using those items, or you can let teams brainstorm and create an actual solution to an every day problem. Have a few co workers be judges and award prizes for the best pitches.

14) Make Movies

With the increased accessibility of smart phones, making short films in the office together is easier than ever. To mix things up, give small teams a prop, a character, and a location to include in their 1 minute movie. They can shoot all the scenes on their phones and then use free software like iMovie or Adobe Premiere Clip to edit them together. Host a mini film festival at the end of the day to show off everyone’s hard work.

15) Body of Words

For the final item in our list, get your team members up and moving by picking words related to your brand or mission and having people spell them with their bodies. You can do this either “YMCA” style where people have to figure out how to form letters with their limbs, or you can line everyone up in different formations like a marching band to spell the words to the sky.

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