The more your employees trust one another, the stronger and more productive your team will be. It’s that simple.
That’s because when workers trust each other, they have each other’s backs. If, for example, an employee is swamped one week and asks a colleague to help out with their workload, it’s much easier to say yes when the second worker knows their colleague will return the favor down the road.
According to our past employee engagement reports, coworkers are the number one thing employees love about their jobs. But that doesn’t mean you can throw 20 random workers into a room and expect them to get along swimmingly overnight. It takes time to develop resilient bonds. In order to build the strongest team, you need to set aside adequate time and resources specifically to help employees get to know each other better.
One of the easiest ways to increase camaraderie among your staff is by scheduling team-building trust activities on a regular basis. Depending on the size and scope of your organization, it might be something you want to do once a month or once a quarter.
Drawing a blank as to what kinds of team-building activities can build trust? Here are 20 team-building activity ideas to get you started.
1. Perfect Square
Also known as Blind Square, this team-building initiative for work has your employees start by standing in a circle holding a rope. Blindfold them and tell them to drop the rope. Next, tell them to take a couple of steps away from where they were standing.
Finally, have them return to the rope and try to work together to lay it out in a perfect square. This team-bonding activity teaches your team to depend on one another and achieve goals together.
Tools you’ll need: rope, blindfolds
2. Back-to-Back Drawing
Begin by having your employees pick a partner. Have the pair sit back-to-back. One employee has a blank pad and pencil, while the other is given a picture with an obscure shape on it. The employee who’s holding the picture instructs the one with the pad on what to draw.
The goal is to see how accurate the resulting drawing turns out. This team-building group activity helps your employees learn to rely on each other and communicate using in a detailed manner.
Time: Unlimited, but look to add a 3-minute timespan for the actual drawing process.
Tools you’ll need: pens, paper/pad, pictures
3. Night Trail
For this team-building game for the office, assemble an obstacle course of sorts. Blindfold your employees and have them get into a line. Give them a rope and tell them to all grab onto it. Have the team try to navigate the obstacle course.
Employees are allowed to talk to one another — so leadership will be displayed and trust will develop. This team exercises also makes use of people’s senses, having them rely on teammates while also using their best skills.
Time: Look at 10 minutes for the set-up, 30 minutes for the activity itself, and any extra time for feedback.
Tools you’ll need: blindfold, rope, objects to create the obstacle course if you’re having the event inside
4. Trust Pinball
Break your team into groups of at least 10 and have them stand in a circle for this game. Choose someone to become the “pinball” and blindfold that person from where they stand in the circle. The manager (or designated facilitator) then gently pushes that person across the circle.
Eventually, the blindfolded person will bump into people on the other side of the circle, who will spin them around and nudge them toward folks on the other side. Let everyone take turns being blindfolded.
Time: 1 hour
Tools you’ll need: blindfold
5. Willow in the Wind
Break your team into small groups of eight or so people. Have someone volunteer to be the “willow” and have the rest of the group form a circle around them.
The willow closes their eyes and lets the group know they are ready to fall. The group lets the willow know they are ready to catch them. With extended arms, they keep the willow upright.
Time: 2 to 3 minutes per person
Tools you’ll need: none
Go to an open space and lay out a number of obstacles on the ground (e.g., cones and chairs). Pair your employees together, and make one of them wear a blindfold.
The purpose here is to have the employee who can see verbally direct the blindfolded peer across the minefield to the other side without running into anything. The blindfolded staffer can’t talk, so they have to rely on close listening and coworker trust only.
Time: 5 minutes per person
Tools you’ll need: objects to use as obstacles, blindfold
7. Slice and Dice
Instruct a large group to stand in two lines facing each other. Have them extend their arms out so that they intersect. The person at the end of the line will then walk down the gauntlet. Each team member will raise their arms to allow for safe passage.
The activity is also known as the trust wave because the person passing under the “tunnel” and through the arms has to be brave and rely on the others raising their arms in time.
Time: A few second for each person, make sure everyone takes turns
Tools you’ll need: none
8. Scavenger Hunt
Everyone loves a classic so this is one of the most popular team-building activities—especially when holidays are approaching. Arrange a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Break your team into small groups and have them find the items as quickly as they can.
Alternatively, have the teams start from different areas of the “map” so they don’t clash. The first team that collects every item on the list wins. Team members will be forced to work together during this activity, which will help build trust.
Time: 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the area that needs to be covered
Tools you’ll need: fun items that need to be collected
9. The Human Knot
Have your team stand in a circle. You’ll need at least six people though to ensure a good-enough difficulty level. Instruct everyone to lock their right hand with someone on the other side of the circle (make it harder by having them lock hands with the person standing across from them).
Then, have them lock their left hands with someone else on the other side of the circle. Try to see whether they can untangle without unlocking hands.
Time: 5 minutes for a difficult level, otherwise take as long as needed without exceeding 20 minutes
Tools you’ll need: none
10. Eye Contact
Have your employees take turns staring into each other’s eyes for 60 seconds. Not only will they become better at maintaining eye contact, but they should also connect with one another on some level.
Time: 60 seconds for every pair
Tools you’ll need: none
11. Blind Wine Waiter
A trust activity that ends with everyone having a glass of wine — nice!
Break your staff into teams of six people. Every team needs to track down a bottle of wine, uncork it, and pour it into six glasses. Only one member isn’t blindfolded, and everyone needs to perform exactly one task.
Time: 5 to 10 per person
Tools you’ll need: a bottle of wine, wine opener, glasses, blindfolds
12. Running Free
Go to a large open field or park. Break your team into pairs, with one member being blindfolded. Instruct them to hold each other’s hands. The person who can see then leads the blindfolded member from a slow walk to a short, fast run. Swap the blindfold and repeat the process.
Time: 4 to 5 minutes for each pair, depending on the size of the field
Tools you’ll need: blindfolds
Break your employees into groups of six. The leader has frostbite and can’t move. The remaining team members have snow blindness and can’t see. The object is for the team to pitch a tent from scratch by listening to the leader’s directions.
Time: 50 minutes
Tools you’ll need: office supplies like papers and cards to build the tent with
Have your employees form groups of about seven people and stand in a line in a relatively open room. Place objects around the room that can be easily picked up. The first six people in the line will be blindfolded, and the last person can see.
The sighted person will then direct the “snake” where to go to pick up the object by tapping the person in front of them on the shoulder, who will tap the person in front of them on the same shoulder, and so on. Once they’ve secured the object, the person in the front moves to the back and becomes the sighted person.
Time: 20 minutes or more, depending on how many objects need to be picked up
Tools you’ll need: blindfolds, objects to be picked up
15. Turning Over a New Leaf
Split your employees into groups of about 10 people. Have them all stand on similar-size tarps or plastic sheets. Make sure the tarps aren’t so big that they make the game simple. The goal of this activity is to flip the tarp over without anyone breaking contact with it. The group that is able to do it quickest wins.
Time: the group that finishes the task faster wins
Tools you’ll need: tarps or plastic sheets
16. The One-Question Icebreaker
Believe it or not, 78% of people who work 30 to 50 hours a week spend more time with co-workers than with their families. But according to a Globoforce study, they might not have the opportunity to build connections with them on a personal level during the day-to-day work.
Opening up a meeting with one of the icebreaker questions below can help coworkers get to know each other better and bond. This works as a perfect virtual team-building activity whenever your team can’t be together in the same place.
- What's your favorite conspiracy theory?
- What's one thing that people don't know about you?
- What's your favorite vacation spot?
- If you were a time traveler, when/where would you go for one day?
- Tell your favorite joke.
Time: The group that finishes the task fastest wins
Tools you’ll need: tarps or plastic sheets
17. Two Truths, One Lie
Another party favorite you can try even if your team is remote. Have every person say or write down two things that are true about themselves and one that’s a lie. The rest of the team members will take turns to guess which of the three statements is a lie.
While this is one of the simplest team-building group activities, it encourages every person to be creative and also helps the whole team get to know each other better by talking about fun or outrageous things they’ve done in the past.
Time: 5 seconds for each person who’s making a guess so the activity doesn’t extend forever
Tools you’ll need: none but you can opt to have the employees write down the truths and lie
18. Making a Team or Company Logo
Divide employees by department or make sure that designers and creative people are all evenly spread throughout the teams. Give out the needed materials (unless you want to opt for digital collaboration) and instruct them to draw a team or company logo.
This will help you get new ideas, keep the people on your team creative, and see the real values of your company. The game is both fun and useful and helps you see how every single team envisions the company.
Time: 30 minutes or more if you want detailed results
Tools you’ll need: paper, pens/crayons, or just keep things digital
19. You Get One Question
This is another type of icebreaker that’s super quick and doesn’t require much preparation time so it can be used whenever you want to help your team unwind a bit.
Divide your team into pairs and give each a random card. These cards need to contain a scenario or role like leading a team or ruling a country. Every person in the pair should come up with a single question to determine if the other person would be right for that specific role.
You can also discuss these questions with the entire team later so they can get to know more about one another.
Time: 5 minutes for each pair plus 20 to 30 minutes to discuss it with all teams (optional)
Tools you’ll need: have the scenarios written down on cards beforehand
Move small balls or marbles either across one room, or, if you’re daring, through multiple rooms. The smaller the group, the more difficult the activity is.
Each person will hold short pipe halves they use to balance the ball until it passes into another person’s pipe halves. Then, they move towards the end of the line so they can retake the ball when it reaches them again.
You can also place obstacles throughout the course’s path so it’s not as easy. Time limits differ and the winner is anyone who can keep the ball longer without dropping it.
Time: 10 to 30 minutes
Tools you’ll need: pipe halves, smaller balls or marbles, small basket and box
Connecting your remote teams
The future of work is represented by both remote and mixed teams. Many of the above team-building activities won’t work when your employees are placed all over the world. But there are lots of fun activities to initiate in your virtual workspace via Slack, Zoom, or any team communication tool you’re using.
The easiest activity is having everyone post an image of their pets or workspace. If you’re feeling more adventurous, exploring crazier topics like “What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever bought?” can be a good time. If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted activity, why not host a meme contest?
There are also riddles and quizzes to try or you can stick to the icebreakers mentioned above. Simply asking a fun question every day and having people talk about their life experiences is a solid team-bonding effort.
Even scavenger hunts and bingo or board games can take place online. Here’s an example of a team doing this activity virtually:
Make your own list of team-building activities and bring on the fun!
Although team-building games are great ways to start strengthening team bonds and creating an engaging workplace, it takes continuous effort to maintain a world-class work culture and keep your employees connected.
Sometimes it's hard to move the needle if you have no idea what's working or what isn’t. Stop second-guessing your decisions and use pulse surveys to get employee feedback for improvements.
You can also use pulse surveys to see which aspects of your work culture need improvement. If trust is a huge issue, turn to any of the group activities suggested above. In case other problems like a lack of creativity or communication skills are affecting your employees, check out our complete guide to team-building activities.
Bottom line? Dedicate a couple of hours each week or every other week to gather your team so they’ll get to know each better and maybe even make a new friend. That’s how you build a healthier, happier culture—one that delivers the best results.