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The team that plays together stays together, so if you’re heading up a team at work or manage personnel then investing in some quality team-building exercises can pay dividends in strengthening group dynamics and improving morale at work.

Although there’s a lot of dubious psychological waffle around the subject, excellent team building activities can:

However, if you’re not careful, it’s effortless to organize a team building activity that is more of a chore than a fun event, where participants may not enjoy themselves or get any benefit out of the exercise.

You also have to be careful when choosing an activity to make sure that it won’t put individuals in embarrassing situations that, at best, will make them dread further team building activities and, at worst, will make them more withdrawn from the group.

Here’s a selection of unique activities that you can’t go wrong with, and are sure to leave you with a happier, friendlier and more effective time at the end of them.

1. Escape Rooms

Escape rooms are specially designed facilities where competing teams must pass through a series of rooms, each containing a different puzzle or challenge to be overcome.

Escape rooms tend to mix up some light physical exertion with brain-teasing logic puzzles, so that lateral thinking, as well as physical effort, is required to win the day. Whether someone’s strengths lie in spatial awareness, maths, or creative thinking, there should be a challenge where their skills can shine.

Divide your group into two teams and see who can complete the escape room quickest, but even without a competitive format, these puzzles themselves are still great fun to overcome.

2. Urban Orienteering

Urban orienteering (or challenging walks, as they’re sometimes known) help get your team out of the office and moving around town trying to follow an orienteering map, whereby participants follow a trail of directions to the next location providing another clue as to where to go. In nature, orienteering requires a quick march and good map reading skills for participants to succeed.

In urban areas, however, there’s the opportunity to get a little more creative. Municipal orienteering providers usually plot routes around busy historic areas of town, peppering local history and culture into the clues, to provide a more immersive and engaging experience where participants will have to be vigilant at all times for landmarks and details that point the way to the next clue.

It’s a fun and relaxed activity that you can also break up with stops for food and drink along the way, and allows everyone to get involved without creating stressful amounts of pressure to succeed.

3. Scavenger Hunt

This is an easy activity that won’t cost the company a penny and can be done in or out of the office. Just draw up an original list of things for people to find and photograph in the shortest amount of time. You can split your group into different teams to encourage cooperation.

Plus, you can have pretty much anything on the list. This could range from, say, a picture of the ICT manager’s bicycle, to a mug from the office’s nearest coffee shop. The sky’s the limit with this game, so use your imagination to make it more enjoyable for everybody involved.

4. Gaming Bars

Everyone plays video games nowadays, so it’s no surprise that video game bars have started popping up all over the place. Like the arcades of old, they usually have a massive selection of multiplayer titles to choose from so everyone can have a go. Blessedly, however, they haven’t retained the smell of sweat or the scary guy in a corner selling drugs to teenagers.

Gaming bars offer a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere where your team can choose from a wide variety of titles to compete and cooperate with. People can also order food or have some drinks, so you can’t go wrong with gaming bars for a fun, casual and stress-free day out.

Team Building

5. Board Game Sessions

Despite the odds, board games are experiencing something of a renaissance of late, and are no longer seen merely as something to do after dinner at family gatherings. Order in some takeout and pick a range of titles old and new for your staff to play. It’ll create a relaxed environment for them to get to know each other better, and the staff can improve cooperation in figuring out the rules and trying to win their games.

If you don’t want to go for board games, you can also pick traditional favorites like Pictionary and charades for staff to play, that, at most, only requires a pen and paper. Games like this will often get people laughing as well, which is always a sure-fire icebreaker.

6. Community Service

There’s nothing like coming together for a good cause, and getting your team involved with some local community service initiatives can help a team bond while doing some good in the world, and help bolster your company’s image and social values.

Some community service initiatives you could participate in might include reading to people in hospitals, helping with an environmental cleanup program or working a shift at a soup kitchen.

Sure, it might demand more involvement from your team, but the more they invest in the work, the more they’ll get out of it, and helping other people does make you feel good. Plus, it provides a great alternative to a lot of the standard cringe-worthy team-building exercises that can feel insincere and self-serving. You’ll often find that people are more likely to invest themselves in good causes than they would be for the majority of office exercises.

These are just some ideas to get you started. There are a ton of team building activities for every situation, so remember to prepare ahead of time to find the right kind of activity for your group.

Coming up with great team building activities can be a fun exercise in itself, and there are enough games to suit the makeup and temperament of any team. Just be sure to let your staff know that it’s meant to be fun and not taken too seriously, and if they don’t prosper at a particular challenge or activity, then it’s nothing to feel ashamed about.

You can also use the opportunity to see how different individuals react to people, situations, and challenges, which can help you get the most out of your staff as a team moving forward.

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