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September 09, 2022

Team Building 101. Part II: The Activities

Project Management Resource Management
BigPicture Team

We understand that team building is an important part of every contemporary business. Fortunately, the supply meets the demand – there are many different activities you can use to bond with your teammates. Importantly, many of these games are suitable for both offline and online meetings, as well as for Agile, Hybrid, and Classic-oriented teams.

Team Building fun activities – the list

These activities are not grouped in any particular order. You can perform them both online and offline, probably with a little adjustment. Some of them take 5 minutes of your time, while others can last for months, even years. Feel free to choose whatever activities you‘ll find best for people in your workplace.

Crack a joke

Becoming a funny guy brings some perks. According to Harvard Business Review:

Leaders with any sense of humor are seen as 27% more motivating and admired than those who don’t joke around. Their employees are 15% more engaged, and their teams are more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge — all of which can translate into improved performance.

People bond over jokes, especially the bad ones, so aim at corny and self-aware jokes to have a bigger chance that everyone will laugh at them. But why it’s risky? Many jokes have a tendency to be at the expense of marginalized and persecuted groups. Don’t do that – it’s not worth it, and it will convince other people you’re a bully and may end up in the HR department.

What to do, then? It’s always good to remember to ruffle the weathers of more privileged groups (i.e., ultrabillionares and their spending habits), be a little self-deprecating, or rely on classic dad jokes and wordplays. But before you turn into office George Carlin, always remember to read the room. There is only a specific time and place for jokes – don’t overuse them.

Regular brainstorming session

Everyone has an idea from time to time. Sometimes it’s a small improvement; sometimes – a game changer that can rake in loads of cash for the company. Brainstorming sessions are one of the best ways to present, polish or even implement people’s ideas. But you can attract them in a number of ways:

  • Think about problems – in classic reverse, team members speak about scenarios that need to be solved and present ideas that might be helpful. It’s a good method for the IT world, as it works on similar rules as User Stories. Instead of saying what you want from an app, you talk about the problems it has. The rest of the group must think about how they can tackle these issues.
  • SWOT table – A good old management matrix can also serve as a great addition to the brainstorming session. As we wrote in the previous articleThis matrix helps you assess four main areas of your potential project – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Then, with a little bit of brainstorming, you can pinpoint these elements. From your team members, you can learn your team’s strongest sides and biggest advantages, potential weak spots that need to be taken care of, opportunities you can take advantage of in business, and threats that are the source of failure for your initiatives.
  • Idea swapping – before the session, you can give your team a theme, topic, or idea they should focus on. Every member comes up with a solution, but here’s the twist. They give their ideas to you before they share them with the rest of the team. You swap those ideas and randomly assign them minutes before the session starts. This way, participants are out of their comfort zone and must adopt a new perspective. It’s a good way to make brainstorming sessions more exciting, as well as help your colleagues stay creative and interested in the problem-solving process of your workflow.

Board, card, and tabletop games

Nothing beats the good old boards, dice, cards, and arguments about the rules. In the last few years, the board games industry has been booming – the market is worth billions of dollars, and new titles often blend the “classic” gameplay with the use of smartphones or Augmented Reality.

Among such classics as Jenga or Monopoly, we can pinpoint a few older and newer games that are definitely worth your time:

  • Poker – absolute basics; naturally, we’re talking about the Texas hold’em variant. You don’t have to play for real money – plastic chips are all you need to start bidding. Poker is a great game to know your team members, as it’s a game that blends tactics, wits, the ability to bluff, and just a pinch of luck. A great game that requires you to think and anticipate.
  • Chronicles of Crime – a rather new game, published in 2018. It has an interesting premise: you play a Scotland Yard detective that must solve a criminal case. It may be murder, kidnapping, or a stolen artifact from British Museum. You visit different places, gather evidence, and question witnesses and potential suspects. You do that by scanning QR codes from the cards attached to the game. But you must watch your every step – usually, you have a time limit to solve the case. Each conversation and travel takes some of your time. If you don’t gather enough information, you may be forced to guess who the perpetrator was, and sometimes you just won’t solve the case. Scenarios often have multiple endings based on the number of evidence you gathered. The necessity to connect the dots in a limited amount of time makes this game a thrilling experience.
  • Munchkin – a fast-paced card game with a theoretically simple premise. You play as an adventurer with one goal: to reach level 10 to win the game. You do that by slaying monsters, selling your equipment, or drawing a card that lets you level up. But other players have the same goal. This means a lot of negative interactions. You can make other players’ battles harder by aiding their enemies, putting a curse on them, or helping them… but not for free. A perfect game to mock, backstab and irritate your coworkers.

Role-playing games

Disclaimer: Stranger Things didn’t make Dungeons & Dragons cool – it was always awesome. But the fourth season of the show definitely put some spotlight on the RPG games. That’s good – the more, the merrier. It also means that books and starter packs for many different RPG systems are available via most e-commerce sites. The possibilities are endless now, as genres stretch from classic heroic fantasy to thriller, horror, science-fiction, and more modern, non-fantastical settings.

Importantly, with the renaissance of Old School Roleplay (OSR), many new rulebooks focus more on the roleplaying aspect of the session. The entry barrier is so low that all you need to do is gather every interested teammate and try it for yourself. You can find a lot of free scenarios and systems for beginners on the internet. With chat and messenger apps like Discord, you can successfully play in a hybrid or a fully remote setting and keep the immersion intact.

Outdoor activities

More complicated logistically, outdoor activities are a great occasion to meet everyone face to face and do more unusual things. There are plenty of different activities to do outside the (home) office. You can throw a party (a dedicated company budget is a plus), go for a city break, or have fun in the arcade or go-karting. The possibilities are now huge, as the pandemic is now (mostly) tamed. People still feel the need to engage in social activities more, so connect to that urge, and throw some good old in-the-flesh meeting. Before that, you can do a survey to see what events and forms suit your teammates best. It’s always good to know their opinion – they can be creative when it comes to things to do in their spare time and for team-building activities.

These are the tips for team-building activities. In the last, third part, we’ll summarize the whole team-building process, as well as think about its benefits. Stay tuned.