Team building ideas that aren’t completely lame

Enough of those tired team builders that feel more like obligations to seem happy we’re all at work. You’ve got a fun group, so try out something from these suggestions—and get ready for some laughs and eye-opening moments.

Everyone loves a compilation! Ask colleagues to send you an email telling you their favorite song, and why. Collect those songs onto a single CD and pass copies out to everyone in the office, complete with fancy cover and liner notes containing everyone’s favorite song background story.

Don’t underestimate the power of fandom. Who among us doesn’t have a team we root for more than any other? Stage a Supporter’s Day by inviting everyone to show up for work donning their jersey or hat of choice. In fact, wearing novelty t-shirts or hats has even more possibilities. Don’t forget about Terrible T-Shirt Day or Christmas Sweaters in July Day.

Several modern board games are great for getting a team cooperating or squaring off. Escape the Room: Stargazer’s Manor gives you an escape room experience in a box. Pandemic, Fuse and Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective all feature players working together to beat the game, not each other, so everyone must collaborate on a solid plan. Scotland Yard demands that the team outwit one sly criminal among you. Werewolf is a very simple game for large groups that produces lots of funny paranoia and shared scheming, while the classic Pit demands players negotiate crazy deals amidst utter chaos.

You may not realize it, but you’re already working inside a miniature golf course. All those long hallways in the office, that smooth carpet… it’s time to set up a mini-golf tournament at work! Assign individuals or teams to create golf holes (anything you have lying around will work beautifully as obstacles) and start passing out putters and balls. And put no limits on creativity. You’ll be amazed at how whimsical that course will turn out.

Difficult People D

Who can resist a ‘Betcha Didn’t Know’? Ask everyone to submit one fact about themselves that no one could ever possibly guess even if they knew them for a long time. Print all the facts out on a sheet of paper, and have folks try to match the facts with the people who submitted them. Now you’ve created some real intrigue!

Step right up! Consider staging a carnival at work consisting solely of activities that employees come up with in their workspaces and all around the office. A trash can become the focal point of a basketball contest, or a $10 miniature plastic pool table can facilitate a billiards throwdown. You can challenge people to guess just how many pages your stapler can truly bind together in a single punch, or you can tell a colleague’s fortune with a blank deck of playing cards and a little imagination. The possibilities are endless.

We all dream of being rock stars. For one day, make it happen, sort of. Go out and find a random jumble of crazy clothes (hello, thrift store, or just ask for donations), a selection of instruments, and most importantly, wigs! Then split into groups of four for brief photo sessions in which the “bands” get dressed to the nines and pose for all they’re worth. These pictures will be absolutely unforgettable.

As if there aren’t enough cooking competitions… Bring that spirit—with the awesome end result of everyone getting fed!—into work. Have a chili cookoff, a bakeoff or even an Iron Chef-style contest where each group is presented with 10 random ingredients, and has to make something palatable using only their ingredients, water and the microwave. The key to a good food contest is to get specific; keep competitors focused on just a few options for what they prepare so they’re not overwhelmed by the possibilities.

Where are your artists-in-residence? They’re everywhere. For one week—at least—take down everything on the walls at work and replace it with original paintings, drawings and photographs taken by the staff.

That is ADORBS! Here’s a guaranteed winner—have everyone bring in a photo of themselves from when they were about 5. As soon as they’re up on a bulletin board, the cuteness begins. (You may find that baby pictures don’t work quite as well for laughs and the “Awwww” factor!)