15 Return-to-Office Team Building Ideas

Team building doesn’t have to be dull or expensive. Here are 15 simple activities that will engage your team and have them primed for action.

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During the global lockdown, 2500% more companies invested in virtual team building to boost remote worker employee engagement. And post-pandemic, virtual team-building activities aren’t going away anytime soon. Sixty-four percent of organizations believe that virtual team setups will continue to be a part of the office, even as employees return to the office.

But despite the popularity of virtual team building, managers and HR professionals are looking for ways to help their teams reconnect in person. In some cases, this will be the first time coworkers meet in a regular work environment.

When it comes to returning to the office team building ideas, there’s no limit to your creativity. You can find ways to foster collaboration virtually and in person. For example, if you decide to play an online game, employees in-office and working from how can both participate.

To get you started, here are 15 creative ideas you can use to build relationships, foster camaraderie, and boost team bonds in the post-pandemic workspace.

Memory wall

Constructing a memory wall is a fantastic ice breaker and reconnection tool. Have employees collect photos of previous outings and team-building activities and pin them on a wall in the workplace that is a popular place for people to socialize. Some potential locations include the break room or near the water cooler.

If you have a lot of new hires, you can also have team members write down on a notecard what they are most looking forward to this upcoming year and what their goals are. When you have group staff meetings, you can ask employees to share their progress.

Volunteer day

For an inclusive team building exercise that intersects with company culture and values, hold a volunteer day.

Sometimes it helps to do something out of the office. For an inclusive team building exercise that intersects with company culture and values, hold a volunteer day. This team building event can also act as free promotion for your company within the community.

First, you’ll want to pick a location to volunteer at. This can be an animal shelter, soup kitchen, or another worthy cause. To further engage your colleagues, you can even vote on your preferred action. Or you can choose a different cause for each department or team, since small groups can be easier to manage.

Once you know where your team will be volunteering, set a data and schedule the afternoon off for the outing.

Show and tell

During the lockdown, many people took th opportunity to invest in new hobbies and interests. Consider scheduling a 45-minute break during the workday and ask employees to show off things they did to keep themselves entertained while at home. It could be anything from an instrument that they’ve recently learned to play or even cute pics of their pets. The options are limitless.

Company field day

It’s no secret that physical activity can decrease stress and give you a boost of energy. In fact, one study found that participants in workday exercise improved their time management by 72%.

You can leverage this by hosting a company field day. The staff can participate in activities like egg tossing, nerf gun battles, three-legged races, and disco dance challenges. Many of these team-building games are not only fun, but they also foster communication skills and teamwork.

Yoga session

Many find yoga to be a huge stress reliever while also being a workout, and initial studies suggest that regular yoga practice can reduce anxiety. Book a yoga session at a local studio or hire an instructor to visit the office for an afternoon to give your team a crash course. Better yet, visit a local park conduct your impromptu session there.

Exploration day

Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt. And you can make these games as simple or complex as you want.

Come up with a scavenger hunt that allows employees to explore the city. Leave clues or riddles at different businesses and locations around town. Team members will have to collaborate to piece the clues together. Once the scavenger hunt is over you can all meet up at a local restaurant to have lunch.

If don’t have time or the resources to put together such a large puzzle, or if you’ve moved to a new office post-pandemic, you can keep it simple. Instead of a city-wide or downtown scavenger hunt, keep it near the office and get lunch catered.

Company raffle

It’s hard to go wrong with gifts. Another great way to make employees feel appreciated and have fun in the workplace is to have a company raffle. The gifts don’t have to be expensive. They can be as simple as a gift basket, quilt, fiction book, calendar, coffee mug, or coffee shop gift card.

And if you combine the raffle with other icebreaker games such as a trivia night or a jigsaw puzzle, you can incentivize all team members to join in.

It’s also important to note that raffles can be in-person or online – so you can easily involve your remote team.

Camp retreat

Most of us can recall roasting hotdogs or smores over a campfire, or telling scary stories with fellow campers. Or just sitting under the stars enjoying the night sky. Take advantage of this nostalgia by taking your team members on a camping trip.

This is a much bigger event than an office ice breaker, but a well-constructed retreat can really boost morale. You can also incorporate both special training or seminars into the break while giving employees plenty of space to chat, play team building activities, and relax.

A well-constructed retreat can really boost morale. You can also incorporate both special training or seminars into the break while giving employees plenty of space to chat, play team building activities, and relax.

Talent show

Talent shows are a fun way to help team members distress and get to know a little more about each other. Take an hour or so from work and ask each team member to show off a unique skill and then vote on who was the most talented. You can even offer a prize for the lucky winner.

If you have a large office, it may be worth it to use the talent show as the “closing” hour of the week. For example, two or three employees can show off their skills in the last work hour every Friday. You can even bring in remote employees by having a computer set up for a conference call.

Karaoke

Set up some music in the break room and ask your team members to meet there. They can choose to sing or just sit back and watch others. Either way, it’s sure to be a fun night for all involved.

You can also order a pizza or another take-out favorite to further promote participation and get your employees connecting.

Employee movie night

After the workday has ended, break out some chairs and a projector to host your very own movie night. Provide snacks and soft drinks along with a few movie options for employees to vote on watching.

Online games

When the pandemic hit in 2020, online games became the start of virtual team-building exercises. These games can be as simple as online bingo, pool, Words with Friends, or even a murder mystery.  For example, some companies specialize in creating team-based games, such as Murder in Ancient Egypt or Jackbox Games.

Keeping virtual activities on the agenda can help you retain and engage your remote workers.

Share employee playlists

Another fun option is asking employees to share their favorite songs and creating a team playlist. You could even host a “dance party” either in the office or as a virtual meeting, and ask a different employee to DJ at each party.

Escape rooms

Finally, participating in a virtual escape room or visiting one after work with your team can be a nice change of pace. Not only will your teammates get to flex their communication and creative problem-solving skills, but they will have a lot of fun.

Employee’s choice

Have a meeting and ask employees to come up with fun team-building exercises that they would like to do together. By giving your team members the initiative to determine their own activities, your employees will feel valued and appreciated. They will also be more likely to take part in the chosen activities.

The biggest challenge? Choosing what to try first

Team-building exercises are an excellent tool to put returning workers at ease and engage them in the workplace. The biggest problem most managers face is deciding what to do first. When in doubt – ask your team what activities they would enjoy most. Not only will you have an action plan, but your colleagues will be more invested in the process.

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