Workplace Recruiting & Staffing

Do’s and Don’ts of Team-Building Exercises 

By: Kaylyn McKenna
Aug 18, 2020 • 10 min read

Do’s and Don’ts of Team-Building Exercises 

Strong teamwork can help your company produce better and more innovative results. The flow of ideas and information between team members can help foster a more productive, creative, and successful workplace. Thus, it makes sense that the company and team leaders are always looking for ways to build and improve upon teamwork. Often, they turn to team-building exercises activities like ropes courses or team happy hours. If you are considering holding a team-building activity in your workplace, here are some things to consider so that your group can get the most from team-building.


Setting a Goal for Team-Building

The goal of team-building for businesses is to bring the team members together to improve collaboration. Keep this goal in mind. It is most productive to plan an activity that is fun and will enhance team performance. You can incorporate work-related tasks into team-building activities to achieve this. However, you can also include more general skills. Try to make communication and group decision-making into fun activities. Just be sure to set a firm goal in mind. 

Map Out Your Team’s Personalities 

One of the greatest things about working in a team is the mixing of different people with various personalities and experiences. Each team member brings a unique perspective to the table. As a team leader, it’s essential to be aware of the different personalities and work styles of the members of your team. This is especially necessary when choosing a team-building activity. Team leaders should map out the personalities in your organization and consider the interests of your team members, as well as any limitations that could impact their ability to participate. This is one area where a lot of companies fall short in their team-building. 

Is this activity inclusive to all intended participants?

It’s vital that everyone can participate. Do not plan a challenging physical activity like a rope or obstacle course if you know that one or more members will be unable to participate due to a physical impairment or disability. For instance, you could organize an online game to boost team morale. If the activity will include a meal, ensure that dietary restrictions are considered and that there are options for everyone.

Is my team competitive?

Would your team be enthusiastic about a contest or a friendly but competitive game? This tends to go over well for sales teams, but others may prefer something lower pressure or more collaborative.

Will anyone feel embarrassed or uncomfortable participating?

It’s fine to push employees out of their comfort zone a bit and encourage them to try new things, but you want these activities to be fun, not anxiety-inducing. 

Will everyone be able to attend?

A lot of companies plan after-work happy hours or office parties and check team building off of their to-do list. However, holding team activities during office hours is preferable as it ensures that even those with outside commitments can participate as well. Social activities after work hours are just fine, but they should not take the place of more purposeful team-building.

Will the skills used in this activity translate back to the team’s day-to-day work?

Employees may have trouble applying what they learned through the game or activity into their everyday lives. Ending the day with a recap can give team leaders or activity planners and the opportunity to explain the skills developed. They can also recommend how to apply these skills moving forward.

Suggested Activities

If you have a lot of new team members, start with a game that will help break the ice and get everyone better acquainted. Classic ice breakers like Two Truths and a Lie, Show and Tell, or going around the room answering a fun question, can help people open up. 


For sales teams, consider a contest to bolster some friendly competition. This can motivate everyone to work even harder to accomplish a goal. Try setting aside some time for everyone to do a call or email blitz and decide on a success metric (responses, meetings scheduled, sales closed). Be sure to have a leaderboard at the front for everyone to mark their wins on and keep track of the competition. This can also be done in small groups to encourage employees to help one another and learn from each other.


For marketing, product, or design teams, consider a more creative competition. Small groups working together the create something or solve a problem (even a silly or made up one) can bring the team together and get the creative juices flowing.


For active teams, obstacle courses can be a fun way to inspire teamwork, communication, and a bit of healthy competition. Indoor rock-climbing, trampoline parks, or relay races can also be fun for adventure-loving and physically active teams. Volunteering together can also create a great sense of unity and accomplishment among team members.

Team-building for the Remote Workforce

With many teams working remotely in recent months, it’s easy to feel a bit more distant from your coworkers. New team members may also be finding it difficult to get to know their coworkers and integrate properly into the team. However, there are still ways to encourage team-building with remote or temporarily remote teams.



One way to encourage team bonding and help temporarily remote teams feel “normal” is to hold a virtual lunch over zoom or skype. Devote thirty minutes or an hour of a workday to eating lunch and holding casual conversations with your team. Try making this a weekly event. This will allow everyone to check in with one another on a more personal level.

Remote Workspaces

Other virtual activities can include: a show and tell of team member’s remote workspaces, an online game of trivia, or a photo or personal fact guessing game. Most ice breakers can also be efficiently conducted over a video call.

Just remember that social distancing doesn’t need to drive a wedge in your team’s collaboration and positive dynamic!

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