Fun Team Building Activities for All Types of Teams

Good news! Team building doesn’t have to be mandatory, an exercise for extroverts, or involve sporting events or beach balls on every occasion. We mean, it can and often does (read on for the very best summer team building ideas for work), but there’s way more to discuss when it comes to fun team building activities that work for all players in today’s work world.  

Why Is Team Building Important? 

Summer team building activities allow colleagues to attach camaraderie, personal growth, and meaningful relationships to their job. Why is this critical?  

  • Doing the Right Thing: They invest thousands of daylight hours (some burning the midnight oil, as well) to meet business goals. After that investment of energy, commitment, and time away from family, no one wants to come up empty, wondering what they have gotten out of all that they have given. Showing employees you see them and care about them as individuals is critical to retention and productivity, especially in a climate where so many employees are remote.  
  • Enrichment for All: Employees who can collaborate with their colleagues means more meaningful work, increased innovation, and better results.  

What’s Different About Team Building Today? 

The last few years facilitated a cultural and economic shift toward fewer, more meaningful interactions, and a work force that spends more time in solitude or working from home. Employees are more independent, self-starters, and in touch with their intellectual, emotional, and social needs when it comes to their job. As a result, fun team building activities are less about a structured “getting to know you” event and more about meaningful, enriching interactions with colleagues around a common interest or activity.   

What Are Some Corporate Team Building Ideas that Appeal to Everyone? 

Your event doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to be awesome. The most important aspect of a successful team building activity is to make it thoughtful: Are different employee interests and preferences taken into account? Does every attendee feel welcome? Diversity and inclusion are key.  

  • Movie Night or Matinee: Rent a screen and give one or two movie options at the same theatre complex, so all team members can enjoy a show. Provide a family-friendly option for those with kids. Look for a theatre that delivers menu items seat-side during the show. Hand out personalized stadium blankets so employees can get comfortable and take home a keepsake. 
  • Catered Meal: With many employees working from home, “lunch hour” can look like a nap on the couch or chips and dip at the kitchen counter. Invite your team to a catered meal that offers something for everyone. If your group is social, have assigned seating with a twist: Each employee picks a number from a basket at the door to find out who’s at their table. Could be the CEO with whom you’ve wanted to share your bright ideas and who turns out to be all ears; the task master project manager who makes your life miserable against every deadline but runs a bulldog rescue out of their home; or the web designer with the cutting sense of humor who’s sure to leave you in stitches. 
  • Baby Picture Mash Up: Provide employees with a sheet of their colleagues’ baby pictures, and another with a recent shot. Have them match up cute babies with current-day teammates. This team building activity appeals to doers and thinkers, those of few words and those with the gift of gab. Give prizes to the employee who gets the most correct matches, the teammate with the cutest baby photo, “ugly duckling to swan” journey, and least changed before and after.   
  • Favorite Something: Do this activity over Zoom, at a picnic, or during a dinner out. Let employees vote on which topic to focus on—their favorite song, city, sports team, or family member. Make this meaningful and fun by offering incentives to overshare (incentivize participation but don’t require it). A laser engraved stylus pen for all the gory details! A stainless steel tumbler for the most unbelievable story! Have employees vote by applause or secret ballot for the most gift-worthy anecdotes.  

What Summer Team Building Activities Work for Smaller Groups?  

A great way to encourage bonding is in smaller groups of employees who interact daily. Often these interactions are remote, so getting together for a physical activity can strengthen bonds in real life that are mostly virtual during the work week. 

  • Escape Room: This perpetually popular team activity is great for summer teambuilding or all year round. The escape room premise is a room with clues and codes, requiring strategy, tactics, trial and error, patience, perseverance, and a cool head under pressure. Escape rooms allow employees to get to know themselves and each other and to rapidly identify skill sets in real time. Most likely, you and they will be surprised. And whether they love it or hate it, each employee will appreciate the unique experience of escape room play. Have a meal or drinks afterward and hand out prizes for best noodler, calmest under pressure, least into it, most eager, and most ferocious at final count-down. 
  • Park-Based Scavenger Hunt: Separate into groups of three or four by picking names from a basket. Include relaxing and enriching items to scavenge, like a logo napkin, receipt, or coaster from a park food truck or restaurant; a leaf from an indigenous plant; and a selfie with a stranger.  
  • Rotating Lunch: For direct reports, have one employee pick their favorite lunch spot for each team building lunch, either monthly or quarterly to keep momentum going. Smaller groups get to know each other and have a good incentive to experience new cuisine while learning about their colleagues.  
  • Bay Cruise or Whale Watching: Keep the group small so folks can mingle and enjoy the peace of the sea. Include plenty of passed appetizers and beverages so guests don’t have to brave a rocking boat to find the refreshments table.  

What Are Some Team Building Ideas for Work that Feel Natural, Not Awkward? 

Some tips for easy-going summer team building that leave everyone feeling a wee bit better about themselves, their colleagues, and their meaningful work: 

  • No Story Circles: Host employees on a harbor cruise, catered picnic, or afternoon at a microbrewery. Include standing and seating areas so employees can mingle and munch according to their comfort zones. Facilitate social options where employees are comfortable and they’ll open up without any prompting.  
  • Don’t Say “Team Building”: Some folks appreciate an undeclared morale-building event. This way your more independent-minded employees don’t feel directed to be merry; all bonding and good cheer feels organic.  
  • Give Them Options: Some employees may want a cooking class while others prefer an escape room. Still others want box seats at a local game. Ask for options and try to offer several events that speak to all your talented team’s preferences.  
  • Food Is Love: Send out a survey that asks employees what their favorite food is prior to your team building lunch or dinner. Surprise every employee with their favorite meal. This is guaranteed to spark spontaneous conversation and story-telling (why, exactly, is spaghetti with ketchup your go-to dinner?), and make everyone feel special.  

What’s a Good Giveaway for My Corporate Team Building Event? 

A customized keepsake ensures every employee leaves your event feeling welcome and recognized. Have one or two options on hand so your team members get to choose. Options engage recipients and leave your employees feeling special. Customize with just your logo or include the name or date of your team building event. Distribute some gifts to all employees and customize others as prizes. For keepsakes they’ll keep, we like these: 

Travel Mugs and Tumblers: Include your brand at concerts in the park, pool parties, and s’mores by the campfire with these summer team building drinkware giveaways. 

Cooler Bags and Backpacks: Fun and functional, customized cooler bags and backpacks leave colleagues feeling great about your business and prepared for summer adventure of all sorts.  

Tech Accessories: Who’s got the tunes? Your team, of course. Send them home with a custom blue tooth speaker

How Can I Make My Summer Team Building Activities a Success? 

People feel good about an event when they leave feeling good about themselves. Host events that don’t force employees out of their comfort zones unless they’re into that. Allow for the observers and the doers to enjoy the event by making every personality feel at home. Provide sun and shade, music and quiet, hamburgers and raw veggies. Even if you don’t hit it exactly right on the vegan slaw or the sloppy Joe’s, the fact that you thought of all your team members and made an effort to connect with them and include them is the most important element to your event. Send employees off with a meaningful gift that celebrates your small business and their contribution to it. 

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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Karleen Wise Andersen

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