Creating a positive workplace culture is important for many reasons. It can help you retain your top talent, foster a collaborative work environment, and attract A players to join your team.
Plus, when your staff enjoys coming into work, they're more engaged, healthier, and better aligned, all of which helps boost performance across the board.
But you can't just wave a wand or snap your fingers and immediately have a kickass culture. Building it takes a lot of planning and time.
One of the best ways to improve your current workplace culture is by hosting team building activities and other culture events.
The Power of Culture Events
Culture events that align with team building can drastically improve your company culture. They help in many ways, like:
- Encouraging learning in a collaborative, supportive environment.
- Paving the road for some creativity in new settings.
- Boosting morale and employee satisfaction.
- Making employees feel valued and recognized.
You can host a variety of culture events that are based around team building, but you can also encourage skill strengthening in these events too.
No matter the type of culture event you decide to host, you want to improve communication, encourage friendly competition, and give your staff a chance to socialize and have some fun!
Let's review fun team building activities and other culture event ideas you can host both in the office and out of the office.
21 Activities You Can Do In the Office
There are a ton of awesome activities you can do in your own office space.
These activities are easy to set up and orchestrate since you don’t have to go off site. And there are plenty of options that fit your budget and the time you can allot.
Here are a few ideas:
Game of Possibilities
You’ll need some random objects and about five to 10 minutes for this fun, mind-bending game that helps you think more creatively.
You simply give one object to each member of the group, then each person in turn goes up to the front to demonstrate a clever use for that object.
The goal for the rest of the team is to figure out what the player is communicating without speaking to them. The more original the idea, the more effective the activity becomes as a lateral thinking exercise.
The player shouldn’t speak or use facial expressions to give the answer away.
This is one of the shortest team building activities, but also one of the best.
It’s great for any indoor situation, and it can scale up to almost any number of participants. But you can’t do it just any time: You have to plan for it before a scheduled meeting.
About 15 minutes prior to the meeting, give participants the chance to mix and mingle.
They have two goals: First, to tell as many people as possible what, specifically, they hope to share and contribute during the meeting. Second, to actually do those things when the meeting starts.
Hard as you might try to keep a positive outlook, sometimes it’s just difficult to find the bright side.
This game will make it simpler by giving each participant the space to re-evaluate a situation and see things from the other side. Plus, it’s a great way to boost a teammate’s confidence.
The game is played in pairs. To start with, one person shares an authentic negative memory – from work or personal life – with their partner. After explaining the situation, they go over it again focusing only on the positive aspects.
The partner helps them build more on the positives that arose from that tough situation. Once they’ve succeeded in getting a new perspective on the event, the two partners switch roles and start over.
Truth and Lies
This is one of the most enjoyable “old school” team building activities around. It’s also very simple, and you can cover a large group quickly.
It starts by getting everyone together in a circle facing one another – think of story time all the way back in grade school.
Each participant comes up with two facts and one lie about himself or herself, and then everyone takes turns sharing them.
The lies should be plausible because it’s up to the rest of the group to guess which of the three factoids is actually the fib. It helps you move past preconceptions to really get to know someone.
Everyone loves Pictionary, right?
This captures some of the fun and excitement of the classic party game, but also calls on you to pay close attention and work together with your teammate. It’s especially helpful for new team members to establish a rhythm with one another.
One partner describes an object, one aspect at a time, and tries to guide the other partner into drawing it. At no time can they admit exactly what the object is.
They should be facing away from each other so they can’t communicate through sneaky gestures, either.
As team building activities go, the common book is truly special.
It gives you the opportunity to not only strengthen your team, but create a brand new tradition that could last for years to come.
And it all starts with something simple: A large, blank scrapbook.
The book should be left in a place where it’ll be accessible to everyone on a regular basis, such as a break room or other common area, with pens, pencils, markers, tape, and more in easy reach. Now, you’ve got all you need to craft a real monument to your workplace culture.
Your common book can include things like:
- Quotes from readings, coworkers, or write-ups about your company.
- Memories of fun, exciting, or unexpected events that happened at work.
- Post-It notes or other artifacts that show what was going on at a given time.
- Responses to specific writing prompts that may already be on certain pages.
Whatever the case may be, everyone should be allowed and encouraged to share their thoughts in the common book.
As you fill one book, start another, and continue for as long as you can. Before you know it, you’ll have a unique record of your company culture that everyone is a part of.
Along the same vein as a social hour, this is a great way to bring the office together for some bonding.
On the third Thursday of the month, pick a pub to deliver catered food and drinks to your office. Mingling during an intentionally social space prompts employees to feel more casual and have more organic interactions.
It’s a great opportunity to celebrate work anniversaries, birthdays, and achievements too. You also have a chance to onboard new hires into the culture and allow the team to get to know them outside of work hours.
Space allowing, bring in a basketball hoop or ping pong table to create some friendly competition.
There’s a variety of in-office sports adaptations that employees can play and practice during their lunch hours. It’s a fun bonding experience that not only gets the blood flowing, but teaches skills like teamwork and strategy too.
Whether you pick a monthly, quarterly, or annually competition, raise the stakes a bit.
Tournaments are a great opportunity for employees to let off steam and interact with each other without discussing shop. It also allows for different departments to engage with each other when they otherwise wouldn’t.
Wall of Fame
This one is relatively easy to implement, and it can be a huge morale booster once it takes off.
Dedicate a wall to accomplishments, awards, encouragement notes between coworkers, thank you letters from customers, and other memorabilia that can inspire your team.
Don’t forget to decorate it as well. Put up an office team photo to bring it all together.
As you do more and more team building activities, add pictures to memorialize the experiences as well. Get creative in how you decorate. Polaroids are all the rage right now.
We can all probably admit that you’re never too old to play with toys.
They’re a wonderful stress reliever that gives a brief escape from the pressures of your role. Hula hoops, origami paper, board games, and the online sensation, slime, are all great tools of fun.
To make it even more inclusive for employees, pitch the idea of everyone bringing in their favorite toy or game from their childhood. Let the nostalgia roll in as coworkers laugh and remember their youths together.
Whether it be a pizza payday or an ice cream social to celebrate a company achievement, food is a great way to bring people together.
Make it a fancy dinner party where everyone has to dress up. Or organize a potluck, where everyone brings in a dish.
For even more fun, add rules to the event. For example, maybe only foods that are red or have red in it can be served.
Be conscious of dietary restrictions though. Excluding someone from the party can have the opposite effect and make an employee feel isolated or forgotten.
It wouldn’t be fair to pretend that tensions never rise between employees.
Sometimes to diffuse it, the most mature course of action is to get immature. Foam sword fights are a safe, hilarious way to let off steam and settle disputes.
Typically, after a few swings and a few laughs, the conflict is dissolved or forgotten and everyone can go about their day feeling a little lighter.
This is a fun way to have the team participate in organizing the event.
You can pick a different dish (e.g., chili, pie, BBQ, cookies, brownies, etc.) each time this activity comes to pass and allow those who want to participate throw their bid in on earning the title of the best.
Other employees get to have fun tasting and voting on the goods, schmoozing and socializing all the while.
In subsequent contests, don’t forget to acknowledge the reigning champions. Healthy competition is healthy team building.
Baby Picture Guessing Game
An oldie, but a goodie, have team members bring in baby photos of themselves.
One designated person should collect them and set them up on a table or poster with a number attached to each. From there, the rest of the office should guess whose picture is whose, writing down names next to the assigned number.
This is a great way to generate familiarity amongst employees and leadership.
The camaraderie that follows is worth any minor embarrassment that may come with a photo of your face covered in chocolate or missing your two front teeth.
For problem solving skills development, a scavenger hunt is a great way to increase teamwork and communication.
Organize it within your office building, hiding items on different floors.
Break the staff up into groups and send them searching for signs, items, or people. There’s a variety of ways to mark finding an item on the list, like photo evidence or retrieving a flag.
Make sure someone on each team is documenting the game so you have pictures to display later on.
A favorite among friends and family, companies can have a great time hosting their own trivia games in-house.
Topics can vary from pop culture, history, and beyond. Not only is it a fun brain teaser; it’s also a collaborative event. Teams have to work together in figuring out answers.
Take votes around the office before the activity takes place so you can pick a topic that isn’t too obscure for everyone to participate in. It’s no fun when only one or two people know all of the answers.
Similar to building brick towers or bridges out of straw and Play-Doh, cup stacking challenges employees to work efficiently and intelligently.
The game can be played in teams or individually too, so different skills can be developed depending on the goal of the event.
From a team perspective, building the tallest cup pyramid faster than the other teams fosters collaboration, communication, and delegation skills.
On your own, though, you have to flex your capabilities with time management and planning. Bragging rights should be coveted for whoever wins.
Another stress reliever, this activity is a bit more complex.
You’ll need Nerf guns and two large teams to execute it successfully. Divide the office into two teams: zombies and survivors.
Each survivor is allowed one Nerf gun and as much ammo as they can collect. Then they are given sixty seconds to disperse around the office and hide.
After that minute is up, the zombies are released and go on the hunt. If a zombie touches a survivor, the survivor becomes a zombie and loses their Nerf gun. If a zombie is shot by a survivor, then the zombie has to freeze for five seconds while the survivor escapes.
It’s a fun game that’s sure to stir up some suspense and excitement.
Tallest Tower Contest
A throwback to school days, provide wooden blocks to different teams.
The rules are pretty simple. Build a tower as quickly as possible without knocking it over. The tallest tower wins.
In an effort toward good sportsmanship, you can offer awards for the “fastest” tower built using a certain number of blocks, the most “creative” tower, and other such ideas.
Team members will learn how to work together more efficiently and find new ways to streamline project management.
Bingo is a fun game to play just for the sake of enjoying time with one another.
You can pick up a bingo kit pretty much anywhere games are sold, and it’s just antics from there. Employees are able to socialize and compete in a low stakes situation, learning more about one another and their interests.
If you want to make it a bit more interesting, you can have employees play to win a prize. Cash, a gift card to a restaurant, or a work from home day are just a few examples of what you can offer.
Pasta Slurping Challenge
Probably the silliest on this list, a pasta challenge is a hilarious contest that only the most confident employees will step up to play.
Each contestant is given a cooked spaghetti noodle. They line up and, when given a cue, slurp it as fast as they can. The first to finish wins.
Add fun elements, like pasta sauce, or rules, like only allowing one breath to be taken. It can be a potentially messy situation, but the laughs and photos the office will get as a result will be worth it.
20 Activities You Can Do Out of the Office
Getting out of the office is important for a multitude of reasons.
Socializing in different spaces can be fun for employees and spark new ideas. It’s a break from the norm that will keep the office exciting and engaging.
Here are some fun coworker events you should consider hosting outside of the office:
If your budget allows, nothing gets the adrenaline going like a go-kart race.
It’s a great way to get employees interacting together in an environment entirely different from what they’re used to. If everyone listens during the safety lecture and plays fairly, then a lot of bonding should occur.
To really break up an employee’s norm, have them interact with people they may not be too familiar with due to department assignments.
Pick a night to send folks from different teams to a dinner somewhere in the city. They shouldn’t know any details about the dinner besides a date and time until the afternoon before.
Then, send out an email listing the restaurant and who’s attending so that they can carpool. Paid for by the company, these random groups can socialize over good food and drinks together.
Everyone knows karaoke is a chance to get out of your comfort zone.
Have a contest for who gives the best performance, solo or as a group. It’s a great way to develop trust within the team and self-confidence individually.
But make sure you don’t pressure your shyer employees. Everyone should be there just to have fun, not feel embarrassed.
Company Car Wash
Pick a sunny day to get sudsed up together. Washing your car is such a chore, especially if you have to do it by yourself.
The team effort of helping one another clean their vehicle will unite your employees. You can keep it restricted to only the cars owned by staff, or host a charity car wash open to the public, donating the proceeds to a charity of the team’s choosing.
A relatively new past time, escape rooms have become pretty popular over the last few years.
You may have to separate your team into groups depending on the size of your company, but the activity is a great way to foster teamwork and problem solving skills.
Host a dinner afterwards so everyone can share their experiences and blunders.
Another competitive game to get the blood pumping, a few rounds of laser tag will see your employees exercising their logic and strategy skills.
It’s a blast that demands teamwork and unity.
Giving time and support to a cause won’t only bring your employees together; it will also give your organization an opportunity to give back.
You can pick skill-based volunteering, where employees can use their expertise to help others, or place-based volunteering, like helping at a food kitchen or distributing school supplies to less fortunate families.
Learn what causes your employees care about and find different ways for the whole team to participate. Some employees may already be active with certain nonprofit organizations and would appreciate additional support.
You can keep it small and have everyone come together at a park on a nice day to eat food and relax together.
On a larger scale, though, you can make an entire field day of the event. Play games, like sack racing, egg toss, frisbee, or capture the flag, to get everyone active. It’s a great time to commune and enjoy one another when the weather’s nice.
Allow your team to let their inner kid out on a trampoline.
It’s a great way to work off stress and show off to workplace friends if you have cool tricks up your sleeve.
Trampoline parks are pretty common in most major cities, and many of them host dodgeball and basketball game tournaments.
Arts and Crafts Class
Book a class at a local art shop for your team to have something to walk away with.
There’s a wide variety of classes to take: painting, pottery, origami, and others. Painting ceramics is a popular choice where your team will receive a finished product within a week or so.
They can take pride in displaying them on their desks. If you have a Michael’s nearby, many locations offer craft classes as well.
An active way to engage with each other, employees can sign up to participate in local walk-a-thons or marathons together.
The key is to keep participation as a no pressure situation. Employees shouldn’t feel obligated to go a certain distance or run a certain time.
Encourage them to go at their own pace. Many may buddy up together and make it a social event, while others will use the opportunity to test their limits and run the distance.
No matter how they want to go about it, the process should still be engaging.
Developing skills doesn’t have to be reserved to just the office. A cooking class is a fun challenge for employees who are looking to spice things up in their kitchens.
They can walk away feeling good about a new recipe or have a new story about how they burnt a dish. Doing it together generates a feeling of community. Maybe hold a mini contest to see who prepared their food the best.
Kickball is an all inclusive sport that won’t leave anyone out.
Regardless of athleticism skills, everyone can participate in one capacity or another. It’s a great option for teams that aren’t necessarily into parties or happy hours.
Again, it also builds upon those teamwork skills and collaborative energies.
If you live on a coast and have access to sand or surf, why not take advantage of it for your team?
Pack up some sunscreen and towels and take the team out to the beach to relax and enjoy one another. If the beach allows, you can have a barbecue, play some games, or just float with your peers as the salt water soaks your worries away.
Fun in the sun is incredibly underrated.
Theme Park Field Trips
This one is incredibly budget dependent, but many companies have funded corporate trips to Walt Disney World and other popular theme parks.
Employees can share new experiences together on trips that they may not have been able to do on their own. Between all the rides, food, and character meetups, your team is bound to walk out of the park with some fond memories.
And hey! More pictures for the Wall of Fame!
For those extremely competitive team members, paintball is a great way to flex strategic skills and teamwork.
There are many different paintball fields and courses around with equipment rentals available. Employees can work together against strangers or face off against each other in a friendly game.
Just make sure everyone is padded up properly. Paintball is notorious for creating a few welts on exposed skin.
A much more laid back activity, organize a day of fishing for those who enjoy it.
You can fish off a local pier or rent a boat for the occasion. Maybe a team member will already own one! It’s a stress free time when you can just throw your line into the water and hang out with coworkers outside of the office.
See who can reel in the biggest catch so that you have some tales to tell at work the next business day.
This probably will be the most popular team building activity. Wine tasting has earned a reputation of being one of the most entertaining times for associates.
Research any local vineyards that offer tours and tastings. Coworkers can spend time with each other while experiencing what their local vendors have to offer.
Considerably cheaper than a theme park, if your city has a local fair come in town, it can be a great time for employees to have some fun together.
There’s plenty of heavily fried foods to consume along with some neat shows. Make it a competition to see who can bring home the most prizes from fair games.
Kind of like a scavenger hunt, send your team into a local museum, zoo, or aquarium to find different facts, sites, or animals on a list.
Employees should have the opportunity to pick if they want to have a tour guide or explore on their own, as long as they meet at a designated time and area. After everyone’s grouped back together, find out who can come up with the most interesting fact that they learned along the way!
Bring Your Culture Together
Coordinating events and activities like these can help bring everyone together.
Team building isn’t all that cheesy and it’s far more than just trust fall games. Find activities that fit in your budget, your time, and your work community so that you can keep on improving your work culture.
Remember, the goal is to bring everyone together. Test out a few of these team building activities, and seek feedback from your staff on which ideas sound the most exciting to them. Then, get to the fun!