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Boost Office Morale: Team-Building Games & Activities

All work and no play makes the office a dull place.

Who says work has to be all work? We all need a little fun at work. It helps to alleviate stress and build teams and relationships. There's even been an "International Fun at Work Day" created to encourage having fun at work.

Whether you're an employee responsible for coming up with team building group activities for your work group, or you're a team leader, supervisor, or manager looking for ways to add some fun for your teams, below are some ideas from which to choose. From experience, team building games and activities also, as touched on previously, help to foster relationships, boost team bonding and morale and support more productive teams.

The Trust Fall

The trust fall is one of the most classic teamwork games, when an individual falls back and has to "trust" that three other team members will catch him or her. This game helps to build trust, as the name implies, among team members. There's also a lot of laughter and fun to be had.

To play:

1. Split up into teams of four.
2. Three people line up making a U shape around the fourth individual, meaning one on the left, one on the right, and one behind, all facing the fourth individual.
3. Each individual in the U shape should have another person standing behind him or her to "spot" them for safety.
4. The fourth individual of the group stands stiff and proceeds to fall back while the three behind catch the individual before he or she hits the floor.
5. Each member takes a turn in each position.
6. After all groups are finished, have each person share what they learned about themselves and their team members from the experience.

Venture Team Building also has a version of the Trust Fall that requires a raised platform to use if you have access to one.

Purpose Mingling

The Wrike blog suggests a fun group activity they call "Purpose Mingling." At the beginning of a meeting, it can be fun to ask the team members to walk around the room and tell as many people as possible how they plan to contribute to the meeting. Give them one to two minutes to do this. At the end of the meeting, you can offer a prize to those that contributed in the way they said they would. This games encourages interaction and makes individuals think about how they can contribute. It also gets the energy up before the meeting starts.

Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a lot of fun for employees when done right. It's good to create a theme for the hunt and then leave clues that lead to the next clue until the final clue is reached and can be answered. Make sure it’s a teamwork game and not an individual activity! This game builds camaraderie, helps break up cliques and improves strategic and creative thinking.

To play:

1. Come up with a theme for the hunt.
2. Create clues based on the theme.
3. Strategically place the clues in areas where your employees can find them.
4. Divide your employees up into teams with an equal number of players.
5. Give each team the first clue.
6. Send them on their way.

You can keep this game confined to the office, or you can send the team out for an hour or two to make it an out-of-office event. Depending on how you decide to approach the game, you might want to set a time limit and require all team members to meet back in a single location at the same time. The team that got through the most clues wins. The Wrike blog also has some fun suggestions for scavenger hunts for your team.

Truth or Lie

A popular group activity to play at work is the game Truth or Lie. It's a great icebreaker for the beginning of meetings and helps the team get to know each other better. Some laughter and fun also come into play.

To play:
1. Have your employees come up with three truths about themselves and one untruth. The "untruth" should be reasonable and believable.
2. Go around the table and ask each individual to share his or her three truths and the one lie.
3. The others around the table have to guess which one of the fourth statements given is the lie.

Work Jeopardy

I always enjoyed creating a work jeopardy game for meetings and team building days. The game promotes teamwork, creative and quick thinking, and fun. To get ideas on how to create your own Jeopardy game, I suggest you watch the game online or TV for a refresher on how it works, then use the process below to create a game at work.

To create the game, you can make it as simple or as elaborate as you'd like.

To play:

1. Use a poster board or cardboard on a large easel for the platform.
2. Use post-it notes or note cards for the categories and questions for each category.
3. Find something that will works as a buzzer for each team.
4. Determine how many columns you'll have and how many answers you'll have for each column. Five columns with five rows works well.
5. Come up with the themes for each column.
6. Come up with the questions for each theme with the answers to the questions.
7. Place the answer under the correct theme on the board with the blank side facing you.
8. Each answer should have a dollar value attached to it. For the themes, you can choose work or non work-related ones.
9. Identify the host for the game (often the facilitator or creator of the game), and give the questions for each answer to him or her.
10. Divide your team up into three teams with an equal number of players.
11. Decide which team will go first in whatever way you choose.
12. The first team to go chooses a category and dollar amount.
13. When the answer is read, the team has to work together to come up with the question for that answer within 30 seconds to a minute.
14. If the team doesn't come up with the answer in time, then the other teams can steal by being the first to press the buzzer.
15. Whoever has the highest dollar value in the end wins.  

Classify This

When I Work suggests a list of more than 30 team building games, including "Classify This." The group activity promotes team building, creative thinking, and looking at things from a different perspective.

To play:

1. Collect a variety of items, with 20 being ideal  (pens, dolls, toy cars, paper clips, cell phones, candy, paper, hammers, etc.).
2. Place all the items on a table where everyone can see them.
3. Divide the employees into teams with an equal number of players, and ask them to create categories for the objects. They need to categorize the objects into four groups based on commonalities. The commonalities can vary between the teams, from what the items are made of to how they're used, what they're used for, etc.
4. Give the teams five to ten minutes to categorize.
5. Ask one spokesperson from the team to provide how they categorized the objects and why they categorized them the way they did. The reasons might vary from team to team.

Tombstone

At the beginning as an icebreaker, or during a meeting for a break or to boost the energy of the group, you can ask everyone to write down what they want their tombstone to read one day. You then go around the table and ask people to share.

I was asked to do this in a small group meeting once, and the value was that it made me, and the team, think about what was important to us and how it applied to how we showed up and acted/reacted at work and life in general. It also helped us get to know the each other better.

If you do an online search for "team building games and activities," a lot of ideas will come up. It's important to identify activities that the majority of your team will find fun and engaging, so keep this in mind when you're determining the types of games and activities you choose. Good luck, and have some fun!

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