Team bonding ideas: Build stronger connections and improve collaboration

Team bonding is essential for high-performing teams. While some teams naturally click and collaborate effectively, others may need a little help to strengthen their bond and reach their full potential.

There are lots of obstacles that can get in the way of teams being effective, such as:

  • Lack of communication
  • Poor trust and cohesion
  • Conflict and misalignment
  • Lack of engagement
  • Poor leadership
  • Silo mentalities
  • Lack of recognition and appreciation

These are all issues that need to be resolved if a great team is to get up and running. They need to see, share, and understand a common goal. Only then can leadership provide the support they need to accomplish their goals.

But what if team bonding doesn’t happen? What if each person feels like they’re on their own? How can managers help them find a place in the team?

One way is through team-building activities, such as exercises in informal settings, that help teams get a feel for their unique group dynamics.

The benefits of team building activities are many, helping to:

  • Boost confidence
  • Encourage creativity
  • Enhance communication
  • Improve morale
  • Identify leaders
  • Expose strengths and weaknesses
  • Connect remote teams

Team building activities are about more than just having fun—they help employees connect on a personal level to break down barriers, develop camaraderie, and understand team dynamics. When used effectively, these exercises can change a company’s trajectory.

Let’s discuss some of the best team-building exercises to unlock your team’s potential.

What Group Activities Aim to Develop

Each member of a team has different strengths and weaknesses. While there may be a “best” team member—somebody with more desirable strengths—it would be unwise to rely on them to carry the team. Here’s why: While it’s tempting to think of every business organization as an assembly line, a la Henry Ford, the fact is that most jobs in the white-collar space require a lot of critical thinking and improv.

One goal of team building exercises is to instill confidence in employees as they contribute to team goals. However, there’s another goal: giving managers insights into the different work and personality styles of the entire group.

What are the Four Main Types of Team Building Activities?

Every team-building exercise should have an expected outcome, whether bridging communication, exposing a flaw, or playing icebreaker games. Drawing up the right puzzle might take some imagination, but you can follow a few patterns to get started for both small and large groups.

Problem-Solving Activities

Escape rooms, scavenger hunts, and group puzzles are all great ways to teach teams to solve problems and do some creative thinking together. It’s beautiful to watch people spontaneously throw themselves into work they’re good at or try something else if no spots are available.

An excellent problem-solving activity will invite healthy debate and efficient delegation. To reach the finish line in time, teams must make many things happen, giving them a little pressure to work together.

Some great in-person problem-solving activities include:

Egg drop: Build a contraption that safely encases an egg so it doesn’t break when dropped. Teams collaborate on how to build something out of tape, plastic, and cardboard, and the height of the drop increases as eggs survive.

Marshmallow spaghetti tower: Each team gets 20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti, a roll of tape, some string, and a marshmallow from which to build a tower. The winner is whoever builds the tallest tower with the marshmallow resting comfortably on top.

Escape rooms: Easily the most fun, these are professionally designed rooms with hidden clues that unlock more clues until you win. They cost more, but they’re great for getting people together.

Communication Activities

Two Truths and a Lie is probably the most played communication game, where team members read the room to sell one lie to the group. Getting a message across sometimes means overcoming a bit of shyness. Other times, it challenges people to communicate differently than usual in order to adapt to situations.

A few great communication games include:

Can You Hear Me Now?: AKA Pictionary, one person draws something while their teams try to guess what they’re drawing within the time limit. This is an excellent game for Zoom calls and helps to exercise non-verbal communication.

Taboo: One person tries to get their team to guess a word without using it or any other banned words/phrases.

Codenames: This board game has yet to reach the mainstream, but it’s a personal favorite for adapting communication to different groups. One person gives a single word for their team to pick a card from the cards on the table. The winning team picks all their cards first, urging clue-givers to use words that could apply to multiple cards. Trust me, it’s a lot of fun.

Trust-Building Activities:

Most people have tried a trust fall, where one person surrenders to gravity, assuming that others will catch them (it might be time to let that one go, now that I think about it). A trust-building activity builds rapport among team members by making them vulnerable and learning to rely on each other for support.

Some fun ways to build trust include:

Perfect square: Four blindfolded team members hold a rope and work together to form it into a square, removing blindfolds afterward to see how they did.

Human knot: A group of at least six links hands in random ways and works together to untangle themselves.

Minefield: One person walks blindfolded through a path littered with obstacles, and their team calls out to carefully guide them.

Social Activities

The idea of social activities is to be easy and fun. Just give team members a chance to relax, unwind, and connect on a personal level.

Some lighthearted social activities include:

  • Team lunches
  • Happy hours
  • Fun team outings
  • Office trivia

Feel free to research and improvise ideas for team-building games that fit your management style. For example, a team of software developers may benefit more from a coding challenge than a game of human knots. There are no correct answers here; they are just experiments.

What are Some Unique Team Bonding Ideas for Remote Teams?

The prevalence of remote teams in today’s work environment presents unique team-building challenges. However, it’s easy enough to host fun team-building activities virtually.

Some ideas for virtual team-building activities include:

Online games: Virtual scavenger hunts, online trivia, and virtual escape rooms are all great ways for remote teams to play fun games and develop bonds.

Virtual happy hour: Getting people together on camera is so much fun. Topics wander, and people share great stories about themselves, but make sure everyone knows it’s optional to attend. Some people still have lots to do, and others might need more time to be ready to hang out in that setting.

Remote team retreats: Give team members an Airbnb/Vrbo gift certificate to hunker down in a private rental and participate in team-building exercises virtually. These retreats can include online team-building activities, guest speakers, and collaborative workshops to align team goals and build camaraderie.

What are the 5 C’s of Team Building?

It’s essential to understand the philosophy of team building. For example, putting your team on a ropes course should teach them to step in and help others when needed—not just boost their motor skills.

In 2019, leadership coach Cathy McCullough published the 5 C’s of Team Building. In it, she lays out a roadmap for where leaders should focus when planning a team-building event. The 5 C’s are communication, collaboration, cooperation, camaraderie, and commitment.


Effective communication is crucial to any team’s success, so leaders should provide opportunities to openly and transparently share ideas, thoughts, and feedback. Good communication helps align team members on goals, expectations, and project timelines.

Teams that foster open communication channels are better at avoiding misunderstanding, resolving conflict, and efficiently working toward common objectives.


Team collaboration means relaxing your own biases to work toward a shared goal. It doesn’t matter whether or not the goal is a good idea: this is the time to add your ideas to the collaboration pool and give them a chance to float. Team-building activities are a better time to quibble about right and wrong.

Once collaboration is over, there’s plenty of work to do, so dig in, share ideas, and help solve problems during brainstorming. Good collaboration helps team members feel valued and empowered, leading to more engagement and productivity.


Teams have to cooperate to get the most out of teamwork. Different perspectives only lead to synergy when each contributor feels respected. Make sure your team-building activities create opportunities for shows of respect.

Cooperation means getting team members to work together by respecting each other’s perspectives and contributions. This means being supportive, flexible, and willing to compromise for the team’s greater good.


Friendships at work can play a significant role in feeling calm and relaxed and doing your best work. A strong sense of team camaraderie will generate team spirit and loyalty, encouraging team members to go above and beyond for each other and the team as a whole.

Team Building Activities for Work

All the examples so far take place in settings outside of work. This will only sometimes be possible, so managers should also find ways to build those bonds during work hours.

Team building at work blurs the line between specific activities and basic management practices. For example, most morning standups invite people to share what they did over the weekend. This is team building—the prompt works just as well in the office as it does in a park.

Slack channels are great for team building. Throw a question in the group chat asking what peoples’ favorite animals are. Invite them to share an embarrassing moment. Have a channel for cringeworthy dad jokes.

At work, team building looks like:

Effective communication: Regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and team-building exercises help team members get to know each other better while encouraging open and transparent communication.

Promoting collaboration: Make opportunities for collaboration and teamwork. Assign projects or tasks that require cooperation so that team members work together toward a common goal.

Creating shared experiences: Go to lunch together. Play a game once in a while. Doing this can break down barriers and build camaraderie.

Celebrating successes: Recognize and celebrate both individual and team achievements. Help team members develop a sense of pride and belonging within the team.

Leading by example: Team leaders and managers should be approachable, supportive, and inclusive. Their actions set the tone for the rest of the team.

You don’t have to rent an escape room to get team members working together. Does it help? Absolutely, but budget constraints are eternal, and you have work to do. Make time for team members to collaborate and build confidence in their roles.


Effective team building is pretty straightforward. Most of us like having friends at work, and while being open and vulnerable is an ongoing process, in truth, letting our guard down even once can build lasting bonds.

Make team building part of your company culture, and you’ll find that enhanced communication skills and employee engagement make work fun and incredibly productive.