According to a Gallup poll, Americans working full-time typically clock in 47 hours of work every week. We all want a warm, friendly work environment and colleagues we enjoy spending time with.
As a manager or team leader, it’s important to build a work climate that is fun and encourages collaboration. How can you develop relationships with your team members and colleagues and improve teamwork?
Here are 7 ideas for team bonding that will help you get to know your team, reduce stress and inject some fun into work:
1. Spice up your office with a makeover
Unless you’re working at Google, Airbnb or any of the World’s Coolest Offices, it’s likely that your work space could do with a makeover. Get your team together and brainstorm some ideas on how to easily and cheaply spruce up the office. A big budget isn’t necessary; all you need is some creativity and time. Simple additions such as small plants, motivational posters or colorful pillows could make your office more inviting.
You can use the office makeover as an opportunity to find out what physical conditions and atmosphere your team members prefer to work in, and open up a discussion on how best to accommodate each other’s preferences. Perhaps some of your team prefer a more quiet environment, whereas others don’t mind a bit of socializing. Use the discussion to set boundaries that everyone can agree on, and you’ll find that everyone is better able to enjoy their time in the office.
2. Get outdoors, complete some challenges & make memories
Bring out the child in everyone by organizing a scavenger hunt! Get your team out and about, completing tasks and exploring the neighborhood or city where your office is located. Scavenger hunts are an enjoyable way to get your colleagues working together to reach a common goal, and the shared experience creates fun memories that everyone can look back on fondly.
As most people own a smartphone these days, consider organizing a photo-based scavenger hunt which requires participants to take photos to show they have completed the list of missions for the hunt. Let your team surprise you with how creatively they interpret each task! You can even print out the funny photos to put up at the office.
3. Give your time to a worthy cause
Working together to make a difference in the community is a fantastic way to bond with your team. Find a cause that everyone is comfortable with (it could be an animal shelter, an orphanage or a senior citizens’ center) and then schedule an afternoon for the team to volunteer there. You could also commit to a larger project such as building a house for Habitat for Humanity, if you’re able to take the required time off from the office.
Volunteering is not only great for your company’s social responsibility programme, but it also allows your team to work together to achieve an aim that is larger than themselves and even the organization. The shared experience and feel-good vibes from giving back will deepen the relationships within your team.
4. Cook up a storm
Food is a great way to bond. Instead of the usual team lunch or dinner, do something a little different by getting everyone to work together to cook the food before you enjoy it. There are various options: it could be something as simple as having the team make their own pizzas to having a facilitator guide two or three smaller groups so that each completes one course of the meal.
Regardless of skill level or experience, a cooking class is a fun activity that allows the team to work together, have a laugh and enjoy (hopefully!) good food afterwards. They’ll enjoy it so much, they won’t even realize they’re bonding!
5. Tag, you’re it!
If your team is made up of active go-getter types or are moderately fit, physical team games such as laser tag or paintball will work well as a team bonding activity. Both activities are an enjoyable way for participants to work together, improve communication and build trust. It’s also great for the team to let loose and feel like children playing catch or act as though they’re in a video game simulation.
Combine a laser tag/paintball session with a meal afterwards, and it’ll be a fun team day out that everyone will remember.
6. Solve clues to escape a locked room
Escape room adventures are a mix of mental and physical challenges, and they’re a great activity for teams at work. These rooms are sometimes based around a theme or story, and the team is locked inside the room and given a time limit to solve a series of puzzles and clues in order to ‘unlock’ the room. The game setting injects an element of fun and you can see how each individual reacts under pressure, how everyone communicates with each other, and who’s great at problem-solving.
7. Have a board game competition
For something less physical and more low-key, board games are a great option for team bonding. For maximum fun, organize a board game session outside of the office -- it could be a cafe or an outdoor space that creates a casual atmosphere. Alternatively, you could create a round-robin competition in the office and allow players time off from work during their designated round.
Board games are good for some friendly competition that everyone can be a part of, no matter what age, gender or job level. It can be an effective way to bond with colleagues from different departments or job ranks.
These ideas for team bonding are a good option as a precursor to a more formal team building session with structured games and activities. Team bonding outings are great for breaking the ice between colleagues who may not know each other well or if the team is newly formed. Moving out of the office and into a casual setting makes it easier to interact and connect with colleagues as everyone feels relaxed and out of 'work mode.'
Improving relationships between your team members could ultimately have a positive effect on employee turnover -- 67% of employees say friends are a reason to stay in an organization. So invest in some team bonding and give your team the chance to feel more connected to their peers and the company!
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