What are Team Building Activities?

The aim of team building activities is to strengthen the feeling of togetherness within a team to  increase communication, productivity and motivation of the employees. Often, a team activity come sin the form of team building games, designed to forge a team while also having fun together.

TL;DR: Team building activities definition

Simply put, team building activities for work are a selection of fun and challenging exercises that aim to improve the performance and effectiveness of a team. Their function is to build trust, improve communication and foster the collaboration amongst the members of your team. Typically, they are used in the workplace as part of a team building event or during team offsites. However, team building exercises are also applicable to sports teams, school and project groups, and much more. The exercises usually focus on problem-solving, building trust and challenging the teams. Whether you choose to do these exercises online or offline, is up to you. The goal of completing these activities is to help team members appreciate each other’s strengths, weaknesses and to work together in order to reach a common ground.

What are the benefits of team development activities?

Not sure if team development activities are the right fit for your team? They come with a myriad of benefits that can improve the effectiveness and performance of a team. Some key benefits include:

  • Improved communication and collaboration: Working together with your coworkers isn’t always easy. Every team building activity helps people to find out how communication works best for them and is, in the long run, more effective. This leads to better decision-making, problem-solving and helps the team to achieve their goals.
  • Increased trust: Team building activities bring coworkers closer together and, consequently, increases the trust people are willing to put into each other. Trust fosters communication, which increases the positivity and productivity and your work environment. It is not always easy to build trust in teams, which why actively promoting it is so important.
  • Unity and shared purpose: In order for a company to be most efficient, coworkers need to feel connected to each other. The team’s overall goals are of upmost importance. During a team building activity, the feeling of unity, which increases motivation, engagement and commitment, is fostered.
  • Skill improvement: Working together is all about having the right toolkit for collaboration. Skills such as problem-solving, critical-thinking and decision-making do not come easily to every employee. Team building exercises are a prime opportunity to hone and improve these skills.
  • Developing a positive team culture: Even if you may not think so, but the team culture can make or break your company. Not only for current employees, but also for future ones. If your company has a bad reputation as an employer, top talent will search elsewhere. A team building activity fosters the team spirit and brings your teams together. It is also a great place to discuss cultural things that may need improvement. Ultimately, holding these team gatherings will show employees that they are valued, which leads to a more positive and productive work environment.
  • Stress relief: Stressed out employees are prone to conflicts and do not live up to their full productivity potential. Team building activities can be fun. Employees get to hang out with their coworkers, get their head freed of everyday paperwork, and get a reminder of why they choose to work for your company in the first place.
  • Team bonding: Bonding time between colleagues is very important. Team building activities are the perfect opportunity to play team bonding games and develop the relationships within the team for the better.

Did we convince you that team building exercises are much more powerful than you thought? Ultimately, you want to reach your goals, and team building exercises can be your most important asset in the process.

What are team building skills?

Essentially, team building skills refer to the competencies your employees should achieve when regularly taking part in a team building activity. With these skills in place, there’s nothing in the way of creating a positive and productive work environment. Building these skills can be done by doing team building activities, joining special development programs and regular meetings and reflections. Some team development competencies include:

  1. Communication skills: Without proper communication, your company is screwed. Your employees must have the ability to clearly and effectively convey information, ideas, and feedback. Active listening and responding is an important part of that.
  2. Collaboration skills: Want to achieve a common goal? Then everyone needs to collaborate in order to achieve it.
  3. Leadership skills: Not everyone is destined to be in a leadership position, that is the honest truth. A good leader needs to have the ability to guide and inspire the team towards a common goal.
  4. Problem-solving skills: Your team will be faced with many problems that need fixing. It is an important skill to identify and solve these problems as a team.
  5. Decision-making skills: Your time is precious, and slow decision-making processes are notorious for guzzling it right up. Employees need to make efficient and effective decisions as a team. The success of the project and overall goal are of upmost importance.
  6. Adaptability skills: Environments change, and your team members need to do the same. Fast adaptability is a key skill your employees should possess.
  7. Conflict resolution skills: Too many cooks spoil the broth: Besides the broth, the relationships within the group can also be spoiled when conflicts arise. It is important to cope with them in the right way and come up with a satisfactory solution.
  8. Emotional intelligence skills: Your coworkers are not worker machines, but human beings. Emotional intelligence allows you to understand and manage the emotions in yourself as well as your team members.
  9. Trust-building skills: For all of the above, trust is extremely important. Building it takes time. It is an ongoing process that needs to be reinforced constantly.
  10. Creative skills: Want to succeed on the market? Then innovation is your best friend. Having creative heads in your company will be one of your most valuable assets.

The Bruce Tuckman Phase Model: team building for work explained

This so-called team clock by Bruce Tuckman is a widely used model that helps to understand the dynamic of teams. When a new team forms, it goes through four distinct development phases. Tuckman describes these four stages as forming, storming, norming and performing. Understanding these stages helps to find out which corporate team building activity is the best fit for your team at a certain stage.

1. Forming

During the first phase, forming, the group is first brought together. Individuals are still polite and cautious with one another, as they figure out their respective roles and positions within the team. This stage is vital for developing a sense of trust, which precise team building exercises can foster.

2. Storming

The name already suggests it: During the storming stage, conflicts and disagreements may arise in the group. Individuals slowly but surely find their place within the team, and develop their own ideas and opinions. Finding a common ground becomes increasingly difficult, which negatively impacts efficiency. Team building exercises focused on conflict management can make this phase easier to manage.

3. Norming

At the third stage, norming, the group begins to work through their conflicts and finds a common ground. Group members appreciate each other’s ideas and perspectives. This is where norms and rules for working together start to form. Conflicts tend to happen less often, and make way for unity and cooperation within the group. Incorporating team bonding games at this stage helps to keep operations to run smoothly.

4. Performing

At the final stage, performing, the team is fully functional and able to work effectively towards achieving their goals. Group members are able to fully trust each other’s judgment and abilities, communicate effectively, and decision-making becomes efficient. The group is at its most productive. A team building activity at this stage should especially focus on fostering the relationships between team members and possible challenges ahead.

It’s worth noting that these phases do not necessarily happen linearly. A group can cycle through these stages multiple times. Also, not all groups will go through every single one of these stages. Some might get stuck in one stage or the other, and some may never even reach the performing stage. But Tuckman’s model provides a framework for understanding how groups develop over time and how to address common challenges that arise in group dynamics.

Key takeaways of Tuckman’s model

✅ If the team is in the forming or storming phase and the individual members first have to get to know each other, the goal of team-building measures is to create trust and orientation.

✅ If you want to strengthen existing teams, such as in the performing phase, the focus of a team building activity is on boosting self-confidence. Measures in this phase also aim to loosen up, maintain team spirit or, in the best case, even maximize it.

✅ Team-building measures are also an ideal way to liven up a seminar. Therefore, team building activities are perfect as a supporting program.

The most popular and effective team building activity is the one taking place outside the office premises. Build trust in your teams by not being just a bystander at team events, but by actively participating in them.

The most popular team building activities

As we have already established, corporate team building activities are a great way to improve communication, collaboration, and motivation within teams. There are a variety of team building activities available, each with their own unique benefits. Here are a few examples of the most popular team building activities:

  • Escape Rooms: Escape rooms are an extremely popular team building activity, because they challenge teams to work together by solving puzzles and trying to escape out of a themed room with a set time limit. Escape room activities are great for improving the problem-solving and communication skills within your team.
  • Rope courses: Outdoor team building activities count as the most popular ones. Rope courses are a great example of that. Here, teams are working together to navigate through a series of obstacles suspended in the air. These activities are great for building trust and teamwork, as team members must rely on each other to safely complete the course.
  • Cooking challenges: Not only delicious, but also great for developing your team: Cooking challenges are team building activities where teams are given a set of ingredients and a certain amount of time to create a dish together. An activity like this is great for promoting teamwork and communication, as team members need to collaborate to create a tasty dish in a short amount of time.
  • Scavenger hunts: One of the most classic formats among the team building activities. They challenge teams to collaborate to find a set of items or complete a set of tasks (usually within a time limit). These activities earn their popularity by placing employees in a unique situation that promotes team work and communication.
  • Charity work: You not only want to do something good for your team, but also for others? Team building activities that involve charity work are a great way to build a sense of purpose and give back to the community. These activities can include volunteer work, fundraising or other charity events. These activities can help to build teamwork, inspire creativity and promote empathy as well as social responsibility.
  • Function: Team building games can also have a specific function. For example, as part of a kick-off event, a Christmas party or general company retreat.

Virtual team activities

Hold up: Team building activities are not confined to an offline setting. Virtual team building experiences have become increasingly popular over the course of the past years. Many people are working remotely, and teams are more locally divided than ever. It is only natural that team building activities are also happening remotely. They provide a way for team members to connect and bond, even when they are not in the same physical location. Some examples of virtual team building activities include:

  • Virtual Escape Rooms: What works offline, also work online, right? Well, that certainly rings true for escape rooms. Similar to traditional escape rooms, they challenge teams to collaborate on trying to break out of a room. Usually, they can be done with the help of a video conferencing platform. A classic escape room is too boring for you? Check out our Spaceship, for an immersive and fun team experience!
  • Virtual Games Night: Everyone loves game nights! And whoever says they cannot happen virtually has never tried them before. By now, almost every popular board game has an online version. Team members can play games like charades, pictionary or trivia together via an online meeting tool. They are not only super fun, but also a great stress-reliever.
  • Virtual Book Club: Your virtual teams spend a lot of time in front of the screen anyway, so why not consciously carve out some time to read a book as a team building activity? Team members can read the same book on their own time and then discuss their thoughts and feelings about it. If you want to keep the theme connected to what your company does, then it is also a great way to further educate your employees. Having a regular book club not only promotes the well-being of your company, but also creates a sense of community.
  • Virtual Team-Challenges: Nowadays, many companies offer fun online team building activities that are specifically created with an online setting in mind. Team members share ideas, collaborate, and work towards a common goal together.

So it is safe to say, that virtual team building activities are just as effective for forming a strong, cohesive and productive team, as regular offline solutions. The four examples above are by no means the full extent of online offers out there, so there surely will be a solution that is right for you. Just remember to keep your goals and the needs of the team in mind. Read more about our ultimate list of online team building games and remote activities.

VIDEO: Teamazing Offline Team Building Activities

FAQs Team Building Activities

That is up to you. There is no right or wrong time frame in which you should carry out your team building activities. It also depends on the size of the company. Many companies do regular team buildings with departments, for example with the marketing or sales team. There is usually one big get-together with the whole company yearly to foster team building.

First off, you should be clear on the goals you want to achieve with the team building measures. To do that, you first need to find out where your team might experience hardships. If your company has a hard time communicating, then a special workshop on communication is more likely to be successful than a whole afternoon of get-to-know games. If the measures are the right fit for your company, then they are guaranteed to reap the desired results.