Teambuilding always sounds like a great idea in theory, but in reality, many employees view traditional teambuilding activities as kind of a drag. Even if the people in your office genuinely enjoy spending time together, it doesn’t always feel natural for a bunch of grown adults to get together and play improv games or do “trust falls” when they are not really accustomed to these sorts of activities in their daily lives.
Good teambuilding activities support the authentic goals of your unique team, and provide meaningful, natural ways for your employees to bond. Here are some ideas for unusual team building activities that are meaningful and fun without being corny or contrived.
- Go on a food tour.
If there is one interest that most humans generally share, it is food. Take advantage of this mass commonality and get your team together for a food tour. Ask your employees what kinds of food they like to eat. If the whole team loves grilled cheese, foot the bill for a grilled cheese tour to a few local cafes where employees can try different sandwiches and vote on the best. If you live in an area with a strong regional cuisine (Shout out to the Philly cheesesteak and Chicago deep dish pizza!), use your food tour as an opportunity to bring everyone together to learn about some local culture.
- Get in shape.
Most people wish they had more time or resources to devote to establishing a regular exercise practice, but often work and family responsibilities get in the way of making this dream a reality. A good place to start planning a teambuilding activity is by polling your employees on their exercise goals. If a number of employees express interest in picking up yoga, for example, a great teambuilding activity could be to offer a bimonthly in-office yoga class taught by a professional instructor. Your employees will enjoy this activity more because it helps them to achieve their own personal goals.
- Learn together.
Personal goals are often a good starting place for meaningful and fun team building activities for work. Ask your employees about the hobbies they wish they had the time and resources to pick up, and then think about how you could all engage with these hobbies together. For example, if your employees wish they had time to learn to cook great meals, a great team building opportunity could be a cooking party where everyone goes home with a number of healthy dinners to put in their freezer. (Don’t forget to bring extra take-home containers!) Other ideas include a knitting circle, a woodworking class, or a book club.
- Do something crazy.
When you work full time, it is easy to get trapped in the daily routine of your own life. Many employees value opportunities to do an activity more adventurous than something they would ordinarily pursue. Activities like indoor rock climbing, guided whitewater rafting, and hiking are a great chance for everyone to take a risk together. Encouraging your employees to leave their comfort zone is a great way to facilitate bonding.
- Host a weekly or monthly skill swap.
Chances are, the people in your office already have unique and interesting hobbies that you don’t even know about. Instead of dictating team building from the top down, give your employees a chance to grow together in a grassroots way. At a skill swap, employees are given the opportunity to teach each other something new. If your graphic designer is a coffee nerd, give her the opportunity to teach the team about latte art. If your HR person is a painter on the side, give him the chance to lead the team in an art related activity. Learning together is a great way for employees to get to know each other’s strengths.
With good planning and an open mind, team building can be a fun and exciting opportunity for everyone involved.