Top 8 team bonding exercises

Posted May 23, 2014, by Julia Watters

Recently on the Career FAQs blog, we’ve spoken a lot about the people that make your work life difficult. If you’re the eternal office optimist and your desk mug reads ‘we can work it out,’ here are our top 10 activities to try out with your colleagues. 

1. Trust fall

This is the quintessential trust exercise employed by human resources professionals and managers the world over. The goal is for employees to put complete faith in their colleagues by blindly falling backwards and having a co-worker catch them. According to a recent Career FAQs poll, you’ll need to tread carefully with this one, as the majority of people resign because they don’t feel like their boss or colleagues have their back . Why not prove to your colleagues that you’ll be there to catch them when they fall and let them do the same. 

Ultimate trust exercise

2. Two truths and a lie

This can be a fun getting-to-know-you exercise, especially when you have a group of people meeting for the first time. Each person needs to say two true things about themselves as well as one falsehood. The end result is often some crazy revelations about your colleagues, as people go for their quirkiest truths in a bid to throw you off the scent. They may fool you in the game but the joke will definitely be on them if they reveal too much.

No lies

Disney’s Pinocchio

3. Animal sounds

Usually it’s not kind to treat your colleagues like animals, but this is the exception to the rule. In this game, each person is given a piece of paper with an animal on it. Each animal features twice, with the aim being to start making your animal’s noise until you find the other person who is the same animal. It’s designed to help shake off inhibitions and get to know team members, and it also might be the only time it’s completely acceptable for you to call a disliked colleague a pig.

Top 8 team bonding exercises


4. Back-to-back drawing

This is another trust exercise that involves two colleagues facing away from each other. One has a drawing and the other has a blank piece of paper and a pen. The one with the drawing guides the pen wielder, e.g.: ‘start at the bottom left-hand corner of the page, draw a straight line diagonally for 5cm, then draw directly up for 4cm …’ This can produce some interesting results and you will definitely find out who works well as a team in the office and who isn’t good at giving/following basic instructions.

drawing on your strengths

5. Human Knot

This is a game of skill and patience, which you’re going to have to hope your team has, or you’ll be stuck together. Everyone stands in a circle and then holds hands with various people in the circle. For example, you might use your right hand to hold the hand of a person on your left, and your left hand to hold the hand of someone on the other side of the circle. This creates the ‘human knot’ and the circle must work together as a team to unravel themselves. The unspoken goal is to do it in a way that doesn’t involve someone breaking the knot and storming off in a tanty.

Learn to listen

6. Mine Field

Similar to back-to-back drawing, this exercise involves a blindfolded employee making their way across an obstacle course (or ‘mine field’) with only the voices of their colleagues to guide them. Like so many team bonding activities, it’s designed to promote trust and working together. Unfortunately, many workplaces have trouble communicating in the best of circumstances so you may just end up running into a few traffic cones.

team trusting

7. Group hugs

Some workplaces encourage group hugs as a way of reuniting teams after periods of high stress. Work groups can drift apart in times of extreme pressure so it’s important to get everyone back to smiling when the pressure is off. While it may work in certain environments, it’s probably best reserved for specific groups, so that won’t turn it into an awkward conversation with your HR department.

group hug

8. Team fun run

With the rise of charity fun runs, so too has the office charity fun run team risen. Playing right into our human nature to want matching shirts for, well, any occasion, it’s a great opportunity for the team to work together for something other than a client project. Training sessions can also see your team bond outside of the office… and the post-run beverages aren’t bad for team bonding either.

So why not get happy and get on the team bonding bandwagon. After all, if your colleagues become your friends then you get to hang out with your mates five days a week!

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Julia Watters

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