7 Effective Team Building Ideas To Enhance The Working Environment

Some employees think of team building as a tedious necessity, something to be tolerated but not to be enjoyed. But with the right events, team building can be fun and exciting as well as educational. In this HUB, I will highlight some of the best ways to make team building a great, memorable experience that will stay in the minds of your employees for years to come. We'll look at the new team building ideas in detail, examining the strengths of each. Finally, we'll put all of these ideas together and discuss the importance of selecting a professional team building company to achieve the greatest results.

Charitable Team Building

This type of teambuilding exercise combines constructive group exercises with a great cause. Whether it's helping children or building houses with Habitat for Humanity, these exercises bring everyone together to help others.

Bikes For Kids Charity Team Building Event
Bikes For Kids Charity Team Building Event

Although almost any company can arrange a teambuilding event that involves charity, the best ones will structure the charity event so that it has an added team building component. For instance, employees might be required to work together to build a bicycle or house, combining resources for success. These activities are usually followed by a debrief, allowing everyone to share insights and bringing the team closer together.

The best charity team building will also involve some sort of skill-building workshop. For instance, the trainees may be required to complete a simulated marketing proposal for the house they have built, enhancing their ability to plan and execute marketing strategies. These "commercials" are usually graded, providing feedback that can be used for future endeavors within your company.

Modified Murder Mystery

This isn't your usual mystery dinner theatre! Murder mystery parties with hired actors for all the main roles don't do anything much for team building, but one company is spearheading a new type of murder mystery that is much more promising. This game offers over 100 different player options, allowing every member of your team to choose a character. And instead of a murder, which makes someone sit out, it's a theft: each character is attending a charity ball, and someone steals the funds raised. The rest of the game involves catching the thief, learning important team building lessons along the way.

After the mystery is solved, the Master of Ceremonies (a company facilitator) will draw attention to the different lessons learned while playing. There is a discussion of what happened, and ultimately the facilitator issues a challenge to every player. He or she encourages each of them to change one aspect of their performance at work to help the entire team function better.

Team Building Scavenger Hunts

Most scavenger hunts are a madcap rush to finish, with little interaction between players even if there are teams formed. But team building companies are changing all that with games designed to challenge the traditional dynamic and make scavenger hunts live up to their team building potential. In these improved hunts, employees will learn about historic culture of a given city, and by the end of the hunt they'll know the layout better than the locals. Companies typically have pre-set scavenger hunts for a number of cities, but the best firms will also custom-design a scavenger hunt for a city of your choice upon request.

Be certain that you are getting a scavenger hunt designed to challenge and build teamwork skills, rather than an older and less effective one. Look for more in-depth questions and clues rather than a laundry list of things that must simply be found. Also look for a facilitated discussion of the hunt to unpack what has been learned.

Canoeing Adventure

A canoeing adventure gives you all the fun of an outdoor trip, but adds a team building and problem-solving component. Your employees are broken into teams, and given essential elements that will help them complete a challenge and solve a given problem. They then take off in canoes, looking for prizes and clues. Teams plan, interact, and learn valuable business lessons along the way. A good teambuilding company will ensure that all participants are safe throughout the game; don't trust any company that doesn't provide lifejackets or GPS monitoring.

At the end of the exercise, there should also be a guided discussion. A facilitator from the team building company should lead your employees through the different lessons learned, showing how the different tactics that led to success in a canoe also lead to success in the office. As a result, good facilitators are able to give participants a detailed set of steps that will improve work performance.

Wilderness Adventure

A good wilderness adventure is much like a canoeing adventure, but with an even greater emphasis on interdependence. Teams are sent to find items within a wilderness, and must rely on each other for ideas and for basic navigation. Teams must also cooperate with other teams to reach overall objectives - a good wilderness adventure will really drive home the interconnectedness of a work community, no matter how large.

There is a wealth of business lessons to be gained from an orienteering wilderness adventure, and a professional facilitator is instrumental in helping your employees extract those lessons. With the right guidance, your team will learn to play to each other's strengths, trust each other, and managing limited resources. In many ways, the workplace is analogous to the wilderness, and success in the wilderness often translates to success in the office. But be certain that you get a qualified teambuilding company that is capable of making the connection between the wilderness adventure and the team building exercise; if they simply facilitate a rather banal hike through the woods, your staff won't get the same benefits.

Innovative Business Meeting Icebreakers

Without a doubt, the hardest part of a meeting is the first few minutes. Whether your employees are all close friends or virtual strangers, it can be hard to get everyone introduced and in a frame of mind for productive business. Luckily, there are new icebreakers being developed by teambuilding companies that can help everyone relax and get to work. The following are some of the emerging techniques, with short explanations of structure and benefits:

  • Interview Introductions. Co-workers interview one another, and then introduce the person that they've interviewed. This is particularly good when your employees hardly know each other, or to facilitate group bonding and foster a group dynamic.
  • Ball Toss. This is a game used to help establish ground rules before a project or initiative gets underway. Have the group stand in a circle, and toss the ball between members until everyone has had a turn with it. When someone catches the ball, they have to say one norm they'd like to apply to the entire group for the duration of the project. Play continues until everyone has a turn. At the end, everyone will have expressed their particular desires for productive interaction and everyone can feel like they've been heard. Individuals are free to pass, but every time an idea is stated, be sure to write it down so nothing gets lost.
  • Change Challenge. This icebreaker is designed to question your employees' feelings about change. Everyone will stand up and find a partner, and then be asked to take 30 seconds to make 5 changes to their basic appearance. Their partner will then have 30 seconds or so to note those changes. They will then be asked to make 10 changes in 20 seconds, and so on until significant verbal resistance arises. After that, the facilitator will convene a discussion to explore why the resistance to change occurred, and highlight how the changes can be applied to the office environment.

These are only a few of the icebreaking strategies that team building organizations have developed. They are highly effective in getting everyone acquainted and talking, and they also develop a group consciousness.

Indoor Team Building Games

Having fun is wonderful, so long as the fun is accompanied by solid team building. But that fun doesn't have to be outdoors: you can get the same team building effect no matter how small your space. There are many other ways that teambuilding can be done in a confined space; these are just two examples.

  • Crossing the line. A rope circle is laid down on the floor, and then cut in half with masking tape. Two employees are set up, one on each side of the line. The first person to convince the other employee to cross over the middle line and join the other side is the "winner"; the two are not allowed to touch each other, and must manage to lure their "opponent" to the other side with verbal coercion only. The "winner" here will raise interesting questions about cooperation, and ultimately demonstrate that you must give something in order to get something back - even in a corporate environment that encourages competition above all else. A thorough discussion should always follow a game of this nature to ensure that every employee understands the message.
  • Customer connection. A rope is laid out on the floor, with a bucket at one end of it. Participants choose from lengths of PVC pipe, which are randomly assorted. They are then challenged to get a marble - representative of a customer - from one end of the rope into the bucket by transferring it from one PVC pipe to another. The marble must ultimately travel through every PVC pipe (incorporating every participant) and may not be dropped. The exercise is ultimately timed, with the goal being to deliver the "customer" to the end of the process as smoothly and quickly as possible. The metaphor is clear, but a good debrief is still necessary.

With indoor team building games like these, it is easy to create a group dynamic and facilitate cooperation no matter how small your space is. These games also tend to be cost effective, making them a great way to jump-start a new project or initiative, or simply to introduce a new working group within your company.

Putting It All Together

Whether you want to commit a few hours or a few days, there are effective teambuilding strategies that will provide real results. The key to finding a great teambuilding company is, ultimately, finding one that is flexible. You want one that offers a variety of different strategies, but that has the experience and knowledge to provide good discussion along with fun event planning. Once you find a company that gives a balance of both, your business will reap the rewards of increased productivity and office harmony.

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Comments 4 comments

Megan L 7 years ago

Thanks for these great tips! I always thought corporate team building was a standard series of boring exercises -- I didn't realize how many fun and educational alternatives there are available!

Mark G.  7 years ago

What great ideas! I am in charge of planning our next company retreat and was searching for ideas to make it different. This is awesome!

Christine OKelly profile image

Christine OKelly 7 years ago from California

Wow -- these are GREAT ideas!! I LOVE the idea of the modified murder mystery -- and the scavenger hunt! I've been thinking of bringing together my team (which is all over the US) to meet up for a 'retreat' and these ideas seem great for bringing focus and purpose (and fun) to the experience. Thanks!

SteveJarvis78 profile image

SteveJarvis78 3 years ago from Sheffield, UK

Half the battle in creating team building events is picking the right event for those who are going to be taking part. We've found that a lot of employees in the companies we visit have had a bad experience in the past because the activity was done on the cheap or not properly thought out.

Plan things right and your staff will love it Just make sure it's suitable for everyone and fun. Employees will always learn more if they don't feel its hard work

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