40+ best team-building games for improving communication

All work and no play? If the first image that pops into your head when you think of team-building games is usually the one with your team members idling about, it’s time to refute this common misconception. Apart from being beneficial for fostering the positive mental health of your teammates, team-building activities can be directed towards a specific outcome so that they serve your best business purpose. There are numerous reasons why you should gather your team right away, and this article will give you insight into some evidence-based tools for creating a collaborative and pleasant working environment. A healthy dose of fun has never done harm, so let’s dive deeper into some of the best communication team-building activities. 

Why should we team up and speak up?

Lack of communication in your team is not just an ordinary workplace nuisance. Regardless of the reasons behind the failure to properly communicate, the bottom line is that, without effective communication, you might become a captain of a sinking ship. 

Initiating a communication-focused culture in a team usually involves strategies and practices coming directly from the management. When you intend on promoting a positive communication environment, you should mainly concentrate on purposeful feedback, conflict-resolution methods, and the transparency of all the information. 

However, sometimes the usual methods of improving communication in the workplace appear unconvincing or too challenging to follow through. This is when communication team-building activities come in handy! In case you are still unsure if the team-bonding activities can transform the outcome of your business strategies, let’s look into one of the damaging effects of poor team communication. 

Communicating too little and too late

Holding tightly to our comfort zone seems to be a universal human thing. You enter the office, routinely complete your daily tasks, and when the time’s up, distractedly log off, unconcerned about your surroundings. Upon arriving at the office the following day, you discover that the email you’ve sent to your coworker ended up in spam, and now you both have to handle a missed deadline. Is it time for a blame game? 

If we are already aware that our interaction and collaboration ensure the success of our projects, why do we stick with the ‘broken wire’ conduct in the workplace? Where’s the catch, and are we ignoring the elephant in the room? 

Shying away from addressing specific topics affects the entire team’s performance. Apart from that, it increases the turnover rate and the employees’ dissatisfaction levels. Although there’s no such thing as a miraculous band-aid for ineffective team communication practice, recognizing the issue is a problem half solved!  

Grab the helping hand of team-building activities

When dealing with the productivity and the overall success of the entire company, ensuring employee engagement should be every employer’s top priority. Studies have shown that employee satisfaction and internal communication are deeply intertwined. Therefore, no matter how turbulent the times, investing in team collaboration and communication etiquette paves a steady way to success. 

However, regardless of the multiple benefits the introduction of team-building games brings to a workplace, people usually frown upon them. There are numerous reasons why team-building activities fail, and the diversity of communication styles within a team is one of them. Having in mind diverse personalities is key to holding any successful team gathering, and proper preparation will put your mind at ease even before you set the date.

Why opt for team-building activities?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a close-knit team is a ticket to a company’s outstanding performance. However, more often than not, the idea of running a successful business directs everyone’s attention towards more specific measurable goals. Turning a blind eye to the lack of cohesion between your team members could potentially spiral out of control. Unless you carefully plot a communication strategy, such a circumstance could easily hinder your desired tangible outcomes.   

To prevent your business ideas from crumbling, let’s cast some light on the reasons why communication team-building activities are the best business investment you will ever make. 

Team-building activities establish stronger bonds between teammates 

Research on the effectiveness of team-building activities on team development conducted by Rosemary Rushmer has shown that the more demanding the challenge is, the more supportive and encouraging the team members become toward each other. A successfully conducted team-building exercise supports forming close ties and the overall cohesiveness of the entire team. 

Team-building activities increase employee retention

Losing high-performing team members sounds like every company’s nightmare. However, implementing diverse strategies, such as providing the team members with entertaining and learning opportunities or organizing off-site bonding activities, could lower the turnover rate and increase the overall employee morale. 

Investing in team-building games is a solid foundation for building trust

Numerous performance difficulties arise from the lack of trust among team members. The absence of trust in a team leads to regular withholding of information and poor decision-making. A study on team-building in virtual teams has shown that when engaged in team-building activities, especially those directed towards enhancing team communication abilities, team members show higher trust towards each other. 

Team-building games prevent conflicts in the workplace

Investing your time and resources in preventing conflict before it arises prevents your business from facing the economic consequences of employee dissatisfaction. Properly devised team-building activities help foster the awareness of the company’s culture. Employees more familiar with their workplace behavior standards are less likely to engage in conflict. 

5 best team-building activities to improve communication

If it still seems like successful coordination of a communication team-building activity is out of reach, we’ve compiled plenty of diverse team-building activities. Not only will this list help you plot a well-structured team-building event, but it will also assist you in building a dream team!

One-syllable mystery

Use this when: Your goal is to improve your team members’ communication style and their focus abilities

Time: 15 minutes

You will need: Index cards with different terms

How it’s played: 

  • Divide your team members into two separate teams, A and B. Each team should select one person to be their Clue Giver. 
  • The Clue Giver draws one card and tries to lead the teammates to guess the mysterious person/place/object written on the card. The person giving the clues can only use one-syllable words to describe the item from the card. For example: “This is what you need to buy things” (Money).
  • While the Clue Giver from one team is trying to explain the term, members of the opposite team are supposed to listen attentively and pick out mistakes. If they catch the opposing team’s Clue Giver uttering multi-syllable words, the opposite team is not given any points. 

Secret agenda

Use this when: You want to focus on your team’s cooperation and collaboration abilities

Time: 15 minutes

You will need: Blank cards and pens

How it’s played: 

  • After giving each team member a card and a pen, let the participants think of a strange word or a phrase they will write on their cards. They are not supposed to share their strange words with any of the team members.
  • Start the game by saying, “Once upon a time….
  • The team member sitting next to you should continue the story by adding one of their strange secret words. For example, “Once upon a time, there was a hysterical cucumber whose blindfolded submarine texted him every Saturday morning….
  • The story goes on until the last team member reaches a conclusion.

Yin and Yang

Use this when: You want to encourage asking purposeful questions and foster meaningful team interaction

Time: 45–60 minutes 

You will need: A list of things that usually go in pairs, such as peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, king and queen, etc. You need to write these things down on post-it notes and stick individual notes on team members’ backs.  

How it’s played: 

  • Each team member is supposed to go around the room and try to discover the mystery word on their back by asking questions about it. They could ask something like, “Am I food?”, “Am I an animal?”, “Can you drink me?”
  • Upon discovering their secret identity, team members should try to go around the room once again and successfully find their match. 

Blind design

Use this when: You wish to improve your team’s ability to give instructions 

Time: 40 minutes

You will need: Blank paper sheets, pens, a variety of objects or pictures

How it’s played: 

  • First, divide your teammates into pairs. They should sit back to back.
  • Give a blank sheet of paper and a pen to one team member and an object or a picture to the other teammate. Set a time limit.
  • The person holding the secret object/picture should attempt to give detailed instructions to their teammate about the object’s traits. The other teammate is supposed to draw the secret object as accurately as possible based on the given instructions. 
  • The team member explaining the secret object is not allowed to reveal what the object is. Their instructions should mainly focus on instructing the teammate on how to draw different shapes. For example, “Draw a circle. Draw another circle inside of the first one.” 
  • When the time is up, let everyone compare their drawing with the original and discuss the complexity of the task. 

Are you more like

Use this when: You intend to foster communication and encourage taking the perspective of other team members

Time: 10–15 minutes

You will need: Cards with things that usually go in pairs (“movie” and “television”, “door” and “window”, “cat” and “dog”)

How it’s played: 

  • Randomly assign a card to each team member and let them know they are supposed to find their match.
  • Upon finding their match, team members are supposed to answer the question posed by their cards. For example: “Are you more like a door or a window?
  • Team members are supposed to elaborate on their responses.
  • When everybody’s done, re-assign the cards and start over.

30 more communication team-building activities

When your team members frequently keep the information under their hat, who should take the blame for the repeated mistakes? Even though the management must ensure that each team member is aligned with the company’s goals, everyone should be held responsible when the miscommunication leads to a project failure. Employees have an equal share in contributing to the effectiveness of the team’s communication. However, sometimes the idea of a perfectly accordant team is out of an individual’s reach. This is where specific team-building activities that focus on communication come to the rescue. 

Whatever the outcome you would like to achieve, we’ve gathered some of the best team-building games specifically designed to promote effective teamwork communication, and divided them into categories. Specifically, in this section, we’re going to tell you more about:

  • Icebreaking team-building games
  • Drawing team-building activities
  • Five-minute team-building activities
  • Problem-solving team-building activities
  • Virtual team-building activities
  • Outdoor team-building activities

Let’s dive in for more details.

Icebreaker team-building activities

A well-prepared icebreaker activity can do wonders for creating a collaborative environment. Whether their purpose lies in getting to know each other or establishing a strong connection between team members, the following icebreaker activities will provide solid grounds for improving your team’s communication process from the get-go. 

Paper telephone

Use this when: You want your team to be comfortable with each other and share a laugh

Time:  30 minutes

You will need: A blank sheet of paper and a pen for each team member

How it’s played: 

  • Share a piece of paper and a pen with each team member and let them know they should come up with a sentence.
  • Explain that the sentence they think of does not have to be unusual. They can come up with something as simple as “I don’t like watermelon.” 
  • The next step is to write their sentences on a piece of paper.
  • Upon finishing that, each team member should pass their paper to the person sitting on their left.
  • When everyone gets their papers, they need to draw the phrase written and fold it so that the only visible part is their drawing. They are supposed to pass it on to the next person.
  • The person receiving the piece of paper then needs to try to guess what the original phrase was and put it in words. Upon finishing, they pass on the piece of paper again so that their writing is the only visible part.
  • The following person needs to draw the written phrase until the paper reaches the person who wrote the initial phrase.
  • When everyone receives their sheets of paper, they should read the phrases aloud and comment on their colleagues’ precious works of art.

A penny for your thoughts

Use this when: You want your team to get to know each other and bond on a personal level

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: A jar filled with coins that are not dated older than the youngest person playing the game

How it’s played: 

  • Start by explaining that each team member should draw one coin from the jar.
  • They should look at the date the coin is issued and think of a special event that happened to them that year. It could be anything, from learning how to swim to graduating from college.
  • The game continues until every team member finishes sharing their memorable story.  

It’s my birthday

Use this when: You would like your team to enhance their non-verbal communication skills and learn how to cooperate

Time: 15 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • First, explain that this activity requires the participants to complete it in silence. They are only allowed to use non-verbal communication, such as gestures or movements.
  • The goal of this activity is for the team members to line up according to the month of their birthday, from January to December. 
  • When they finish lining up, everyone is supposed to share their birthday month out loud and check how successful they were in completing the task without verbal communication.

Number 45

Use this when: Your team members recently started working together, or you just aim for everyone to get to know each other better

Time: 15 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • Have the team members pair up and interview each other for no longer than 2 minutes. 
  • Give everyone additional 5 minutes to prepare an introduction for their partner. Point out that the introduction should consist of exactly 45 words.
  • Other teammates should carefully listen and stop their colleagues if they exceed the word limit. 

Pop the balloon 

Use this when: Your goal is to improve your team’s communication style

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: A group of interesting questions, balloons 

How it’s played: 

  • Before the game begins, prepare a list of questions you think the group might find interesting. For example, “What is the most useless talent you have?”, “What is one ridiculous thing someone has tricked you into believing?”, “What will finally break the internet?” etc.
  • Place each question into a balloon, and blow it up. 
  • Explain that every team member should catch one balloon, pop it and then respond to the question from the inside of the balloon. However, the trick is not to use filler words when responding, such as ‘’um’’, ‘’like’’, ‘’kind of’’, ‘’you know’’, ‘’okay’’, etc. 
  • Release the balloons into the air, and let the game begin!

Drawing team-building activities

Fostering a positive communication environment in a workplace does not have to focus on verbal communication only. Sometimes your team members’ interaction and collaboration depend on their abilities to leap out of the box and embrace a creative mindset. Try introducing the following drawing activities if you are looking for novel methods of strengthening the bond among your teammates. 

Roughly drawn

Use this when: You intend on fostering a safe atmosphere of sharing among your teammates

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: A list of fun questions, sheets of paper, and pens 

How it’s played: 

  • Beforehand, prepare a list of interesting questions for your team members. They can be as simple as “What is your favorite travel destination?” to “How do you feel about pineapple pizza?
  • Choose one random question from the list, and give everyone a piece of paper and a pen.
  • Upon reading the question, explain that speaking is not allowed, and the only way to respond to the question is by drawing the answer. Instruct your teammates to try to finish their drawings within 2 minutes. 
  • When the time’s up, everyone is encouraged to proudly share their artwork and elaborate their answers. 

Whisper and draw

Use this when: Your goal is to improve team cooperation and raise the awareness of attentive listening

Time: 15–30 minutes

You will need: White paper board or regular sheets of paper, various pictures 

How it’s played: 

  • Start by dividing your colleagues into two or more different groups, depending on the number of people involved in the activity.
  • Assign different roles to the members of each team. There should be one Looker and one Artist. The rest of the players get into the role of Communicators. 
  • Next, give the Looker of each team the same picture. 
  • Upon successfully memorizing the given picture, the Looker is supposed to describe the picture to the first Communicator by whispering.
  • Communicators whisper the description of the picture to each other until the description reaches the Artist. 
  • The last person standing in the line, the Artist, should attempt to recreate the initial picture based on the description they heard from the teammates.
  • When all the groups finish their drawings, reveal the mystery picture to everyone. Discuss how different their final drawings are from the original and talk about the most challenging aspects of the game. 

String drawing

Use this when: You would like to enhance your team’s creativity and collaboration 

Time: 10 minutes

You will need: Sheets of paper, string, and markers

How it’s played: 

  • Before the game starts, you will need to tie pieces of string to a marker. The number of pieces of the string attached depends on the number of people playing the game.
  • When everything’s set up, provide each group with a larger piece of paper. Explain that the task is to draw a picture by each team member moving their piece of string. 
  • Depending on how challenging you would like the game to be, you can instruct them to write a word or draw a more complex picture (such as an elephant riding a bicycle).
  • In the end, discuss your teammates’ strategy and the most challenging part of completing the task. 

Collaborative portraits

Use this when: Your goal is to encourage one-on-one interaction among your team members, especially if your team is newly formed

Time: 10 minutes

You will need: Sheets of paper and pens 

How it’s played: 

  • Give every team member a piece of paper and a pen, and instruct them to write their names down.
  • Next, everyone should walk around the room, holding their papers, until you give them a sign to stop. 
  • After being instructed to stop, they should quickly pair up and exchange papers.
  • Explain that each team member is supposed to draw the eye of their pair and give their teammate back their paper. 
  • When everyone’s done, they should hold the paper with their names written on it again. 
  • Instruct them to start walking again until you stop them. Repeat all the steps until they’ve got complete portraits. 

I feel like a turtle

Use this when: You would like your team to openly express their feelings 

You will need: Post-it notes and pens

Time: 10 minutes

How it’s played: 

  • Distribute post-it notes and pens to each team member. Start by asking a simple question: “How do you feel?” and instruct your colleagues to draw a picture instead of verbally responding to the question.
  • Explain that instead of simply drawing a smiley face, they should fit their feelings into a category. For example, instruct them to draw an animal or a vehicle that can best portray their emotions. 
  • When everybody finishes drawing their emotions, encourage them to elaborate on their choice.  

Five-minute team-building activities

Carrying out a team-building activity does not have to take a lot of time from your regular workday schedule. Beat the clock with these quick and effective communication team-building activities and motivate your team to hone their communication skills. 

Survive it!

Use this when: You want to inspire your team to collaborate and solve a problem together

Time: 5 minutes

You will need: 5–10 office objects of your choice

How it’s played: 

  • Explain to your team members that they are deserted on an island. 
  • Reveal the group of objects you have prepared beforehand, and instruct them to rank the objects according to their usefulness for survival until the rescue crew comes.
  • The solution they propose should be the one everyone agreed on, and the team needs to explain the reasons behind their decision to rank the objects in that particular order.

Highlights

Use this when: You would like your team members to bond

Time: 5 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • Instruct your teammates to spend 2 minutes thinking about some of the best things that happened to them in their lives.
  • Let them know that everyone should select not more than 30 seconds of their brightest moments.
  • Instruct each team member to share the most precious 30 seconds they would like to relive. Encourage them to explain their choice.

Classified

Use this when: You intend on promoting collaboration in your team

Time: 5 minutes

You will need: 20 randomly selected objects of your choice

How it’s played: 

  • Before starting the game, divide your team into smaller groups. 
  • Instruct them to classify the objects into five different categories. Their discussion should not take more than 5 minutes, and everyone from the group should agree on their decision.
  • When the timer goes off, each team is supposed to explain their choice.

Me, myself, and I 

Use this when: Your goal is to inspire your team members to avoid self-centered communication

Time: 5 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • Divide all the team members into pairs and assign one partner a topic to share their opinion. It could be anything from “Is ‘Friends’ better than ‘How I met your mother’?” to a more challenging one such as “Which do you prefer, ninjas or pirates?
  • Instruct them to speak not more than 3 minutes, but to try to avoid using the words such as “I”, “me”, “myself”, “mine.” The other partner is supposed to listen and interrupt their pair if they use any forbidden words.
  • When the time’s up, reverse roles and start again.

Everything’s possible

Use this when: You would like your team to focus on non-verbal communication 

Time: 5 minutes

You will need: Plenty of random objects of your choice

How it’s played: 

  • Divide your team into two or more groups. 
  • Give one member of each group a randomly selected object, but let them know that nobody else from their team can see the object.
  • Instruct this team member to explain a use for that object so that their teammates can discover what it is. However, this person is not allowed to speak. They can only use their gestures to lead their teammates to the correct answer.
  • The first group to guess the object is the winning team!

Problem-solving team-building activities

Nothing promotes collaboration better than working towards a common goal. Apart from promoting a healthy cooperative environment, the selected problem-solving activities will enhance your team’s communication skills and lead them to adopt alternative points of view while tackling a problem. 

Sneak a peek

Use this when: You want to increase your team’s collaboration and communication skills, especially when resolving a common issue 

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: A set of legos or blocks to build a statue

How it’s played: 

  • Before starting the activity, build a smaller statue without letting your team members see it.
  • Divide the team into two or three smaller groups and instruct them to pick one person who will look at the hidden statue and memorize it. 
  • Upon returning to their groups, they are supposed to give precise instructions to their team members to recreate the statue.
  • If you have built a lego statue, explain to the team members that they need to pay attention to all the colors and shapes of the original figure.
  • The team that finishes recreating the original statue first is the winning group. 

A fox in the boat

Use this when: You strive to encourage your team to communicate effectively and strengthen their cooperation skills

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • If your team consists of a large number of people, consider splitting it up into smaller groups.
  • Instruct the groups that they are supposed to participate in a challenge of solving a riddle together. 
  • Share the riddle with your teammates: The woman is supposed to cross the river in a boat. She has to get three more things with her across the river: a fox, a chicken, and a bag of corn. However, the boat is old and rickety, and to successfully reach the other side, she cannot take more than one thing at a time with her. What is the most efficient method to solve her problem?
  • The winning team is the group that solves the riddle first.

Moon survival

Use this when: You want to encourage your team to participate in joint decision making

Time: 15–30 minutes

You will need: A blank Moon landing ranking chart for each group

How it’s played: 

  • Explain to your team members that they are members of a space crew on the moon. Their task is to reunite with their mother ship on the lighter side of the satellite. However, their ship has landed 200 miles away from the meeting point due to mechanical problems, suffering significant damage. Most of their equipment is lost except for a small number of items. 
  • Divide them into several groups, depending on the number of people in your team. 
  • Give each group a blank Moon landing chart and instruct them to rank the items according to their relevance for survival. They should place number 1 next to the item they consider the most important, number 2 to the second most significant, etc.
  • When all the groups have made their decision, share the NASA Expert Analysis chart with them. Let the groups calculate their scores. The lower the score, the better their chances for survival.

NASA Expert Analysis chart

ItemNASA rankingExplanation
Box of matches15Without the oxygen on the moon to lighten the matches, they are completely useless 
Food concentrate4It’s a great way to get your energy restored
50 feet of nylon rope6The object can be used to climb cliffs or for injuries
Parachute silk8Offers great protection from the sun
Portable heating unit13Usually unnecessary, unless the group is placed on the darker side of the moon
Two .45 caliber pistols11These could risk self-propulsion
One case of dehydrated milk12Offers the same amount of nourishment as the food concentrate, but it’s much bulkier
Two 100 lb. tanks of oxygen1The two most important objects needed to survive
Stellar map3Necessary for navigation
Self-inflating life raft9It can be used for propulsion
Magnetic compass14Due to the unpolarized magnetic field on the moon, it serves no purpose
5 gallons of water2Extremely necessary, especially if the group is on the light side of the moon
Signal flares10It could be used as a signal when the mother ship is spotted 
First aid kit, including injection needle7Needles might create openings in NASA spacesuits
Solar-powered FM receiver-transmitter5It can be used for communicating with the mother ship, but only for short-range

Scores

0–25 ExcellentImpressive survival skills!
26–32GoodYou did it!
33–45AverageAlthough you struggled, you managed to survive!
46–55FairIt was close! But you made it out alive.
56–70PoorUnfortunately, you couldn’t save everybody.
71+Very poorOh no! Bodies everywhere!

Guess who

Use this when: You would like to improve your team’s listening and communicating abilities

Time: 20–30 minutes

You will need: Guess who cards prepared beforehand for each group

How it’s played: 

  • First, divide the team into smaller groups of 10 people. 
  • Read out the instructions and hand out the clue cards to each group. Give out the same number of clue cards to each person from the team. Let everybody know that they are not required to share their clue cards with anyone from the group. 
  • Set a timer for approximately 20–25 minutes to try to solve the riddle. 
Instructions: Sammy, Mark, John, Chris, and Phil live in the same neighborhood, and they carpool together. They all enjoy the outdoors. They all have five different hobbies, drive five different types of cars, and have different jobs. Your task is to figure out each man’s hobby, career, and vehicle type. 

Clue cards

The mountain biker drives a yellow minivanChris is a rock climber
The musician does not drive a grey SUVThe hiker is not a musician
The engineer does not drive a yellow minivanThe runner drives a grey SUV
Chris is not an engineerThe musician is not a rock climber
Sammy is not an architectThe architect does not drive a green jeep
Phil is a partner at his firmThe teacher drives a black truck
The mountain biker is not a teacherJohn is not a runner
The golfer drives a black truckThe golfer’s name is not Sammy
Phil does not like to hikeChris is not a musician
Mark drives a green jeepThe mountain biker is not a lawyer
The rock climber does not drive a green jeepSammy does not drive a grey SUV
The lawyer does not drive a silver Toyota

Solution:

Sammy: mountain biker, musician, yellow minivan

Mark: hiker, engineer, green jeep

John: golfer, teacher, black truck

Chris: rock climber, architect, silver Toyota

Phil: runner, lawyer, grey SUV

Fishbowl

Use this when: You would like to encourage your team to think outside the box and collaborate 

Time: 15–20 minutes

You will need: One jigsaw per group

How it’s played: 

  • Divide your team into different groups of 3–6 members.
  • Give a jigsaw puzzle to each group and explain that their task is to create a fishbowl out of the jigsaw pieces.
  • If the task appears too challenging, you can allow the groups to use various props they find in the room.
  • Upon explaining the rules, give each group 10 minutes to complete the challenge.

Virtual team-building activities

Trying to retain the cohesiveness of your team members while working remotely might appear challenging. However, forging team bonds does not have to depend on the physical environment. Let’s look into some of the best virtual team-building games for improving team communication and discover that promoting healthy teamwork might be more than scheduling a conference call to keep everyone updated. 

Name it!

Use this when: You would like your team members to get to know each other better and have some fun together

Time: 5–15 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team’s great ideas and your preferred remote team communication tool

How it’s played: 

  • Depending on the team communication software your team uses, create a group messaging channel. For example, Pumble allows you to organize your team’s communication by offering you the chance to create either a public or a private channel for your specific purpose.
  • Think of a name for your newly created channel, such as #emojichallenge, #tunecommune, etc. Invite your team members to join in the fun!
  • Instruct your team to look at their phones and find their most recently played song. 
  • Upon finding the tune, they will have only 3 minutes to translate the song’s name into emojis and send it to the designated channel. To avoid confusion regarding the rules, if playing in Pumble, you can pin messages to your channel so that your teammates can access them at any time. 
  • Here are some examples of the emoji song titles: 

💁‍♀️4️⃣🎄👉👤 – All I Want for Christmas is You

📐👉 – Shape of You

📜✂️ – Papercut

  • Other team members try to guess the correct answer within 3 minutes. As soon as they come up with an idea, they can send the message to the group channel. Whoever guesses correctly can share their own last played song with the rest of the colleagues. 

Remote Scavenger Hunt

Use this when: You want your team to communicate with each other regarding their personal interests 

Time: It’s up to you to decide on the specific time frame

You will need: Nothing but your team and your preferred remote team communication tool

How it’s played: 

  • Even though working remotely might prevent you from setting up a traditional scavenger hunt for your coworkers, you can share a goal-based list with them and instruct them to find the items around their homes. 
  • The goal list can look like this: 
  1. Find an item that makes you happy in the morning
  2. Look for an object that evokes wonderful memories
  3. Share your favorite mug
  4. Proudly share the most unusual hat you own
  • Apart from the usual lists, you can also organize a more challenging theme-based scavenger hunt where your team members search for items in a specific color. If the holidays are near, think of holding a holiday-themed virtual scavenger hunt. 
  • After setting up a specific time frame for searching for the listed items, instruct your team members to share their photos in Google Drive, a Pumble channel, or via email. 
  • When everyone shares their photo, you can set up a video meeting to talk about your team members’ choice of items. 

3, 2, 1, exaggerate! 

Use this when: You would like to enhance your team’s ability to communicate their ideas and think outside the box

Time: 15–20 minutes 

You will need: Nothing but your team members! 

How it’s played: 

  • Explain to your team that everyone is supposed to grab a nearby item and come up with an unusual story regarding it.
  • The idea is to encourage your team to make the object as fantastic as possible and fascinate everyone with their brilliant imagination. They could grab an old coffee mug and say something like: “This is an ancient relic used by my ancestor, Count Dracula.
  • Upon completing, everyone can share the real story behind the object they chose to present.

Virtual escape room

Use this when: You intend to improve your team members’ communication skills by directing them to a common goal

Time: 60–180 minutes

You will need: An escape room virtual platform of your choice

How it’s played: 

  • Before scheduling a group call, opt for searching for the best virtual escape room to suit your team’s interests. There are plenty of free options available, such as A Lost Memory, Mystery Escape Room, or Romeo and Juliet.
  • Whichever platform for the game you pick, the rules are quite simple. During a limited amount of time, your team is supposed to find the quickest way to get out of the room, following the given clues. 
  • After you find the perfect game for your team, schedule a video call with them and prepare for hours of unforgettable fun!

Forensic sketch artist

Use this when: You want to spark creativity in your team as well as to encourage them to collaborate and communicate effectively

Time: 15 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team and your preferred virtual team communication tool

How it’s played: 

  • If you are managing a larger team, consider splitting it into smaller groups. 
  • Explain that a couple of robberies happened last night, and the witnesses provided enough information for the forensics team to sketch the potential suspect.
  • Generate a face at Random Face Generator.
  • Let one person from each group see the face by sending them a private message or an email.
  • This person should describe the robber to their team members. The team members then try to draw the robber according to the description.
  • If you are on a group call with the whole team, consider allowing one group to be the first one to start to avoid many people talking simultaneously.
  • When the time’s up, everyone should share their portraits. The one which resembles the generated face the most is the winner. 

Outdoor team-building activities

If you search for a reason to transfer the social interaction from the office cubicles into an unconventional environment, opt for organizing your next team-building activity outside. Not only will the surroundings provide your team members with a bit of fresh air, but they will also lead everyone to take a fresh perspective on their routine communication methods. 

Minute to win it

Use this when: You want to inspire your team to communicate and collaborate toward a common goal

Time: 1 minute per game

You will need: Various items, depending on the challenge you pick

How it’s played: 

  • Whichever challenge you select, explain to your team members that they will have one minute to complete it. 
  • One-minute challenges usually involve physical challenges, such as stacking a pile of pennies using one hand only or keeping a balloon afloat for one minute. However, they also include solving math problems or coming up with as many words as possible based on the previously assigned alphabet tiles.

The longest shadow

Use this when: You would like to encourage your team to focus on their communication abilities

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • Divide your team into smaller groups and instruct them that their task is to create the longest possible shadow.
  • The groups should attempt to position themselves in a way that they create a continuous shadow. However, they are only allowed to communicate verbally during the preparation time and not test their strategy out.
  • The group that successfully creates the longest shadow is the winning team.

Share your treasure 

Use this when: You want to increase your team member’s cooperation abilities

Time: 45–60 minutes

You will need: A scavenger hunt list

How it’s played: 

  • Depending on the location you choose for the outdoor team-building activities, take some time to plot the scavenger hunt list you will print out or send to your teammates.
  • Here are some ideas on how your list might look like: 
✅ Share a photo of a team member at least 10 feet off the ground
✅ Find a team member wearing a funny hat
✅ Share a photo of a team member riding a bike
✅ Find a car or a truck older than the 1950s
✅ Take a photo of all team members forming a pyramid
✅ Look for a team member walking someone’s dog
✅ Find a funny T-shirt slogan
  • Divide your team into smaller groups and share the list with all groups. Instruct them to take photos whenever they complete a task and share them on social media or your preferred communication channel. 
  • Set a specific deadline for completing the challenge. The group that completes the most tasks within the time frame is the winning team! 

The minefield 

Use this when: You would like to build more trust among your team members and lead them to communicate more effectively

Time: 15–30 minutes

You will need: Various objects (balls, pins, etc.) and blindfolds

How it’s played: 

  • Set up the game field by placing various objects around the lot upon selecting a site for your team-building game. These objects are mines that your team is supposed to avoid.
  • Divide your team members into pairs and explain the game rules. While one pair member is blindfolded, the other tries to lead and guide their partner through the field, avoiding the mines. 

Save the egg

Use this when: You wish to inspire your team members to collaborate and solve problems together

Time: 30–45 minutes

You will need: Eggs, cardboard, tape, plastic straws

How it’s played: 

  • First, divide your team into two or three smaller groups. Give each group one egg, 40 plastic straws, and one meter of tape.
  • Instruct your coworkers to create a structure to prevent their eggs from breaking when dropped from a fixed height.
  • Give each team 20 minutes to devise their strategy and build their egg containers.
  • When the time’s up, drop all the containers and check whose egg is still intact. 

Ten team-building activities for specific communication situations

Whether we spend our workdays in a brick-and-mortar office or comfortably sitting in our favorite chair at home, we can all agree on the fact that our daily interaction with other people is inevitable. After all, every business environment implies frequent encounters with different communication situations. Sometimes they can be as manageable as an update meeting. However, occasionally they turn into a challenging task hard to handle. This is where team-building activities tailored explicitly for particular communication situations, such as conflicts and feedback, come in handy.

Conflict resolution team-building activities

Perceiving a team conflict as an opportunity for improving communication is the first step towards resolving it. Although it might appear challenging to foster a positive work atmosphere when the conflict ensues, you can still reestablish collaboration despite the workplace disputes. Let’s look into some of the best team-building activities for managing and preventing conflict. 

Puzzle the leader

Use this when: You wish to prevent your team from competing and show them the benefits of collaboration

Time: 20–30 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • Before starting, instruct everyone to sit in a circle. 
  • They are supposed to perform different movements or gestures (clapping, whistling, etc.) initiated by an individual from the group.
  • Once every team member does the same movement, somebody else can change it and perform a different gesture.
  • The task is to be coordinated and collaborative enough to make it impossible for the activity leader to discover who the initiator of the movement is. 

Mime your memory

Use this when: You would like your team to avoid making assumptions and learn how to ask for clarification instead 

Time: 15–20 minutes

You will need: A list of interesting questions

How it’s played: 

  • Divide your teammates into pairs. Explain that every pair member will ask a question. However, their partner won’t be able to answer the question verbally. Instead of a verbal response, they need to try to mime their answer.  
  • The person asking the question can ask as many clarifying questions as they want to understand their partner’s perspective better. 
  • The choice of questions is vast. From “What was your hobby when you were a child?” to “How would you spend one million dollars?” 

Conflict spin

Use this when: You wish to change your team members’ perspective on conflict and lead them to resolve conflicts in a positive way

Time: 20 minutes

You will need: Sheets of papers and pens

How it’s played: 

  • Split your team into several groups. 
  • Tell them that the task is to come up with a new definition of the word conflict but without using any negative terms. 
  • When the groups agree on a solution, instruct them to write their definition down and illustrate it with a simple sketch.
  • Upon completing their tasks, each group should present their ideas and elaborate on their choice of words.
  • Discuss the positive aspects of a conflict with the whole team.

Nothing, something, anything

Use this when: You would like to encourage your team to implement dialogue in resolving conflicts

Time: 10–20 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • Divide your team members into pairs. 
  • Instruct them to stand facing each other while holding their fists out. Let them know that they will play a variation of the game “Rock, paper, scissors.” 
  • Instead of the usual phrase, they should say, “Nothing, something, anything.”
  • Once they say the word “anything,” they should yell any word that comes to their mind (a ball, a computer, a cat).
  • Upon coming up with the word, they are supposed to debate why each of their terms would beat the other person’s word. 

Face it

Use this when: You want to explain the importance of non-verbal communication and encourage your team to differentiate between emotions easily

Time: 10–20 minutes

You will need: Paper cards and pens

How it’s played: 

  • Split the team into smaller groups. 
  • Instruct your teammates to write down an emotion on a piece of paper. 
  • After everyone has written their ideas, each group member draws one paper card and tries to lead their group members to guess the emotion. However, the person explaining can only use facial expressions. 
  • Set the timer for 10 minutes. The winning group is the one that gets the highest number of correct answers within the given time frame. 

Feedback team-building activities

Without devising a feedback-friendly culture, you might end up in a loop of frequent misunderstandings or lack of motivation in your team. However, redesigning the methods of providing feedback can do wonders for your team’s overall productivity and engagement. Let’s look over some of the most helpful team-building exercises to encourage your team members to rethink their means of giving effective feedback. 

Blind Origami

Use this when: You want to teach your team members about the importance of feedback in communication

Time: 25–30 minutes

You will need: Origami diagrams and sheets of paper 

How it’s played: 

  • Before the game starts, prepare some Origami diagrams for half of your team. You can easily find them online, at Origami.me or Jo Nakashima’s website. 
  • Divide your team members into pairs and provide one partner an Origami diagram. This person should do their best to instruct their partner on how to make the Origami.
  • The person making the Origami is encouraged to ask clarifying questions and request feedback on their progress.
  • Upon completing the task, discuss how challenging it was to create an Origami relying on verbal instructions only and how helpful partners’ feedback was. 

On a positive note

Use this when: You wish to offer your team a chance to change their perspective on feedback

Time: 15 minutes

You will need: Index cards

How it’s played:

  • While the team members are sitting in a circle, instruct them to write down one positive trait on their index cards. 
  • When everyone’s done, put all index cards in a hat or a bowl.
  • Each team member should draw one card and assign it to the person they consider the fittest for that particular trait. 
  • Encourage your team members to provide specific examples and elaborate on the reasons behind their choice.

One breath feedback

Use this when: You would like to lead your team to reconsider their idea of feedback and to instruct them to be brief and unambiguous when sharing feedback

Time: 5–10 minutes

You will need: Nothing but your team!

How it’s played: 

  • Arrange the seating so that everyone from your team can face each other. You can opt for a circular seating arrangement. 
  • Explain to your team members that it’s time for a feedback session but that there are specific guidelines for providing feedback. You can direct them to focus on one particular topic (especially if the feedback session ensues after a meeting) or lead them to provide general feedback to their teammates.
  • Everyone is supposed to give their feedback in just one breath! An average person can speak for only 25 seconds before stopping to take another breath. Since the activity requires everyone to share their feedback as quickly as possible, give your team a couple of minutes to think their words through. 

Feedback toss

Use this when: Your goal is to demonstrate the importance of feedback and encourage your team to implement instructive feedback into their everyday practice

Time: 15 minutes

You will need: Balls, basket, stopwatch, blindfold

How it’s played: 

  • Divide your team members into groups of seven people. Each group should consist of a Tosser, a Scorekeeper, a Retriever, and an Assistant. The rest of the team should provide feedback and instructions to the Tosser. 
  • Start by drawing a starting line. Place the basket at least 15 feet from the starting line.
  • Explain to your team members that the goal of the activity is to try to score the basket as many times as possible in one minute. 
  • The Tosser’s task is to try to score the basket blindfolded. The Retriever is supposed to pick up the ball and give it to the Assistant. Then, the Assistant gives it back to the Tosser. The Scorekeeper’s task is to pay attention to the number of baskets scored.
  • Throughout the first round of the game, nobody from the group is allowed to speak. The Tosser attempts to score the basket without any input from their team.
  • During the second round, the team members can provide short input to the Tosser, such as only one-syllable words like “Yes” or “No”.
  • Before starting the third round, instruct the team members to guide the Tosser by providing as much detail and instructions as possible.
  • Upon finishing the game, discuss which type of instructions helped them score the most points. 

Faraway kingdom

Use this when: You wish to teach your team members about the consequences resulting from the lack of feedback and communication

Time: 30 minutes

You will need: A printed copy of the riddle

How it’s played: 

  • First, divide your team into two groups, the Task group and the Waiting group. Assign the roles of Facilitators to one person from each group. 
  • Separate the groups by placing them in different rooms. 
  • The Waiting group’s task is to stand in silence and wait for the Riddle group to come to their room. Explain to the Waiting group that the moment they break their silence, the game ends. 
  • The Task group’s assignment is to solve the following riddle within 15 minutes:

I disappear as soon as you say my name

The correct answer is Silence.

  • When the game begins, the Facilitators are allowed to enter the opposite group’s rooms and see what the other team is doing. They are also allowed to share the information with their groups, but this rule is not explicitly communicated. 
  • The idea behind this activity is for both groups to conclude that the entire game development depends on their willingness to communicate with each other. If the Task group shares their riddle with the Facilitator from the opposite group, they might reach the correct answer easier. Similarly, if the Facilitator from the Waiting group does not inform the opposing team of the Waiting group’s task, solving the riddle might take longer than expected.
  • Regardless of the task outcome, upon completing the activity, initiate a discussion on the importance of communication and the difficulties arising from the lack of feedback. 

Wrapping up

Cultivating a healthy communication culture is the landmark of operating a thriving business. However, effective workplace communication goes beyond our abilities to transmit information coherently. Among many other factors, it involves giving adequate instructions, adopting and comprehending non-verbal cues, and paying close attention when engaged in conversation.

Although devising proper communication practices for your team members might be essential to your organization, it’s a continuous, time-consuming process. However, frequent mishaps resulting from the absence of team communication are an alarm for a change of strategy. Try introducing some of the abovementioned team-building activities to forge stronger ties and a safe environment for effective team communication. 

References

  • C.C. Widayati, A. Arijanto and others (2021). The Effect of Emotional Intelligence, Communication and Teamwork on Employee Performance. In Dinasti International Journal of Digital Business Management. Vol.2, Issue 3, Retrieved 02.09.2021, from: https://dinastipub.org/DIJDBM/article/view/843/547
  • Forbes Business Council (2021). 13 Perks To Improve Employee Morale And Retention. Retrieved 01.09.2021, from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/05/06/13-perks-to-improve-employee-morale-and-retention/?sh=58c1b5f27253
  • Gaskell, A. (2017). New Study Finds That Collaboration Drives Workplace Performance. Retrieved 02.09.2021, from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2017/06/22/new-study-finds-that-collaboration-drives-workplace-performance/?sh=720901473d02
  • R. Rushmer (1997). What happens to the team during team building? Examining the change process that helps to build a team. Journal of Management Development. Vol 16, No.5. Retrieved 01.09.2021, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ548447
  • S. L. Jarvenpaa, K. Knoll and D. E. Leidner (1998). Is Anybody out There? Antecedents of Trust in Global Virtual Teams. Journal of Management Information Systems. Vol.14, No.4. Retrieved 31.08.2021, from https://www.jstor.org/stable/40398291

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