Imagine a team where everybody gets along well and shows concern not just for the team’s performance but for the overall well-being of each team member. Sounds like a winning team, right?
Building genuine connections among team members has become more critical now than ever. Beyond just achieving project goals, a cohesive and harmonious team can elevate creativity, productivity, and job satisfaction.
In this article, we’ll explore a few ways that don’t just promote camaraderie but also help team members get to know each other on a deeper level.
From icebreakers to team-building adventures, here are some activities that create opportunities to build rapport, share experiences, and ultimately enhance the sense of camaraderie among your coworkers.
1. Virtual Coffee Chats
Remember those water cooler conversations that brought everyone together in the pantry? You can now enjoy a virtual version of it, armed with your choice of beverage.
Virtual coffee chats provide a quick break from all the work-related stress and allow team members to have non-work-related conversations. It’s a casual virtual get-together where people can share stories, ask questions, and gain unique insights from whoever they’re paired with.
The great thing about virtual coffee chat platforms like CoffeePals is that the app does almost everything for you. Once you’ve set up your preferences, you can have cross-team matches and connect people from different departments.
You can even enjoy other features like Coffee Maker, which sends questions to your team channels, or Coffee Lottery, which randomly pairs team members to key people in the organization, like the CEO or other top executives.
2. Social Bingo
That old Bingo game where you sit around waiting for different numbers to be called might be fun, but this is even better. This time, we’re personalizing the cards to create opportunities to know people better.
Instead of numbers on each card, the boxes should contain descriptions like “Allergic to peanuts” or “Drinks at least 4 cups of coffee a day”. Once each team member has a card, let everyone go around the group and ask people which of those boxes describes them—the first person to tick off all the boxes on their card wins.
This activity is a great way to discover what makes each person unique while potentially showing who among the group have a lot in common.
3. Coffee Maker
You can learn a lot about a person based on how they answer the most random questions. This activity lets everyone see each team member's perspectives on different topics.
For this activity, pretend that everyone’s hanging around the coffee maker, making conversation. The Coffee Maker feature by CoffeePals sends different conversation-worthy questions in the team channel at least twice a week. From there, everyone can jump in and answer the questions.
These questions range from “What’s your dream travel destination?” to “Who’s the most inspiring person you’ve ever met?”
4. Virtual Social Shuffle
Since the conversations in Coffee Maker happen via chat in Microsoft Teams, you can do something similar via video chat.
Just pre-load a list of questions or talking points to a Picker Wheel. Then, gather everyone in a video call. Spin the wheel and take turns sharing your thoughts on whatever topic the wheel lands on.
5. Hometown Map
Display a world map on one wall of your office. Then, have everyone put pins on where their family comes from. You can even print out the faces of each team member and glue them to the pins so that everyone can see who comes from where.
From there, organize office mixers or other events that let people share their origins. Some people might be from different backgrounds on their mother's and father’s side of the family, so it could be interesting to see what traditions and cultural practices they embrace. This would also be a great DEI activity, so encourage everyone to join.
This is a great icebreaker for office events, team buildings, and other similar get-togethers.
Depending on how many participants there are, group everyone into teams of equal numbers. As much as possible, put people who don’t know each other yet or do not typically interact with each other in a single team.
Once the teams are organized, have everyone sit down and come up with a list of 5 things that all team members have in common. Make sure it’s not as simple as “wearing pants” or “can talk.” It would be interesting to find out that all team members like the same band or have travelled to at least three countries.
7. One Word Story
This game has been around for ages, but many people don’t realize that it could actually help connect people. Although it doesn’t require sharing something about yourself, it encourages people to work together to create a fantastic story in the end.
Have the first person say a word. Then, the next person says another word that can be connected to the first word. Have everyone take turns until they form a sentence, then a paragraph. Go on until the group has come up with a complete story.
While some might be tempted to make the story make sense, it would also be fun to end up with a completely ridiculous story where nothing really makes sense. The more spontaneous and creative the group is, the better.
8. Guess Who?
Here’s another fun way to learn tidbits about your coworkers.
Give each team member three small pieces of paper. Have them write a random trivia about themselves on each piece. Then, have them fold these slips of paper and drop them into a bowl.
Have someone draw paper from the bowl. Ask them to say whatever’s on the paper out loud, then make a guess who the trivia is about. It’s interesting to see who guessed it right, but it would also be cool to find out if two or more people shared the same trivia!
9. Story Swap
If you want a straightforward activity where team members can learn more about each other, conducting a story swap is a good activity.
Have everyone in the team find a partner. As much as possible, pair up people who don’t really know each other that well. Then, ask everyone to prepare a story about themselves that they want to share. It could be a memorable past event in the team member’s life or a lesson they learned from their own experience.
Set a timer and have the first person share their story with their partner. Five minutes is ideal, but it’s up to you if you want to give each person more time to speak. Once the timer is done, set the timer for the second person.
Ask for volunteers once everyone has shared their story with their respective partners. The volunteer will then give the group a gist of their partner’s story and share their thoughts.
This activity allows people to learn more about each other and is an excellent way for team members to learn active listening and empathy.
10. Helping Hands
Prepare a board on one side of the office. For virtual teams, you can have a virtual board on a productivity app that your team uses.
Have everyone post something they’ll need help with for the week. It could be anything from asking for help on a work-related task or looking for someone to carpool with on a Wednesday. It could even be as simple as asking for a book or movie recommendation.
Then, encourage everyone to help as many people as possible each week. This exchange of positive energy is a great way to boost team morale and gives everyone a sense of belonging.
11. Gratitude Board
Have in-office teams prepare a physical board in the office, making sure it’s placed somewhere everyone can see. Virtual teams can also create virtual boards or do this activity on the team channel.
Each time someone feels gratitude for someone in the team, ask the person to write a message of thanks and post it on the board. It could be anything like, “Thanks for helping me out with that task,” or “We’re grateful for the smile you have on your face even if today was stressful for the team.”
You can give it a more celebratory vibe by having the whole team clap for the person who did a good deed when the note is posted. You can even install a bell near the board so anyone posting can ring it to get everyone’s attention.
Make sure that everyone posts at least one gratitude note per week. Once everyone gets used to the practice, you’ll eventually see people posting multiple times a week, spreading the attitude of gratitude around the office.
12. Escape Rooms
What’s the best way to have your team members bond by solving problems together? Have them complete an escape room challenge!
Escape room challenges typically run for 60 minutes and come with different themes. Some companies can even bring the challenge to your workplace, transforming meeting rooms into the headquarters of jewel thieves or a hidden room in an Egyptian pyramid.
Virtual teams can also enjoy virtual escape room challenges, bringing together team members regardless of geography.
13. Office Happy Hours
While team members work together in the office, a more casual environment can help them loosen up and start swapping personal stories. What better way to bring them together than happy hour?
Make this a part of your onboarding process, or do it as a diversity and inclusion initiative. The goal here is to let everyone get to know each other better and have everyone mingle outside of work.
14. Affinity Groups
Affinity groups bring together people who have the same interests and backgrounds. These groups foster a sense of belonging and encourage open dialogue, enabling team members to connect deeper beyond their immediate work tasks.
Affinity groups usually organize their own meetings and regular activities, allowing members to build stronger connections because of the long-term interactions. They even organize activities that impact the communities around them, which could also contribute to the organization’s reputation.
15. Game Night
How about a night of fun and games? Bring the entire team together and have them play different board and card games. The fun vibe will not just bring out everyone’s competitive streak; it could also be an excellent way for team members to turn into great friends.
If you have a huge team, you can form small groups, have them compete, and earn points for each win. The top team could win a prize and bragging rights, and you could even throw in a trophy that they could display in the office.
Whether you schedule all of these activities in your workplace or just pick a few from the list, it pays to remember that a strong team isn't just about skills; it's about strong connections. With these activities, you're well on your way to building a team where members succeed personally and professionally.