Starting to notice some droopy shoulders around the office? Does your team need a bit more pep in their step? Sounds like it’s time to plan a team outing.
Team outings are a great way to facilitate bonding with your team members, reduce employee stress, and give them the chance to get to know one another outside of the office.
And, you know, they’re really fun.
But how do you find ideas for a great team outing? Maybe you start with a Google search for “team outing ideas” and stumble upon an article that suggests “field trips” and “professional development activities.” Sounds like a starting point, but where’s the real excitement?
Next time you plan an outing for your team, cut the trust falls and get one of these awesome ideas on the calendar instead.
Company Team Outing Ideas
Giving time to support a good cause isn’t just good for the soul; it’s also a great way for your team members to bond. Place-based volunteering ideas include things like volunteering at a local soup kitchen, helping build a Habitat for Humanity house, or delivering gifts to children’s hospitals during the holidays. Skill-based volunteering is a cool way to stretch your employees’ expertise: It’s when your team volunteers their time and uses their professional skills — anything from marketing to app development to writing — to help a nonprofit.
Image Credit: VolunteerSpot
2) Mystery Dinner
Mystery dinners are one of the most beloved traditions here at HubSpot. On a single night, you send a group of folks from different teams within your company to dinner somewhere in your city (or at someone’s house). The dinner is hosted by one of your company’s leaders and paid for by the company. These dinners allow random groups of people from the same company to spend an evening chock full of good food and conversation together.
What makes them a mystery dinner? The only thing participants should know about the dinner ahead of time is the date and time. Then, on the afternoon the dinner is supposed to take place, send each group an email with the name of the restaurant they’re going to and who they’ll be going with so they can arrange transportation together. Optional: Give every dinner host the name of a restaurant or bar to invite everyone to congregate at once the dinners are over.
3) Room Escape Games
Here’s a great bonding activity that requires leadership skills, teamwork, logic, and patience. Room escape games — Escape the Room, Puzzle Break, AdventureRooms, etc. — have become a wildly popular team-building exercise for groups around the globe. (Want to find one close to your office? Check out this directory for Escape the Room.)
Here’s how it works: A group of people get “locked” in a room for one hour. During that one hour, they have to find hidden objects, solve puzzles, and figure out clues to locate the key that will set them free. And it’s not easy: Only 20% of players actually make it out before the hour is up.
Image Credit: Escape the Room St. Louis
Nothing says “let’s work together” quite like trying not to end up in the water. Want to take advantage of the outdoors? Grab a paddle and head down to the closest river for a great spring or summer outing.
Many public rivers and ponds have boat houses where you can rent kayaks and canoes — and you can encourage folks to rent multi-person ones and pair up with people they don’t usually work with.
5) Trampoline Parks
Hey, who says trampolines are just for kids? Take your team to a trampoline park for some jumping fun and a chance to work off the day’s stress. Many cities have local places with trampoline activities — if you’re in the Boston area, check out Skyzone for trampoline dodgeball and basketball games.
Image Credit: Mustbeart
6) Karaoke Night
What better way to get your employees to break out of their shells than to have them get up and sing some karaoke? You can even have a contest for best group karaoke performance. Bonus points if there are feather boas and cowboy hats involved. This works best for a more extroverted group, so if your team isn’t into strutting their stuff on stage, consider an idea on this list that caters more toward their personalities.
Image Credit: derekgavey
7) Something Embarrassingly Touristy
Embrace your city! Pick a hot tourist destination and go as a team. You can even do a Segway tour. (Fanny packs: optional.) It’ll be fun to laugh at how silly it feels to be a tourist in your own city, and you might even learn something new.
Image Credit: Wikimedia
8) Kart Racing
Nothing like a little competition to bond a group together. An adrenaline-pumping event like kart racing is a great way to get employees to interact with one another in a totally new and fun way. Just make sure everyone pays attention during the safety lecture.
9) Laser Tag
Another great way to get your adrenaline pumping? A good old game of laser tag. Not only is it great fun, it’s also an opportunity for employees to exercise their strategy and logic skills, as well as teamwork skills. Bonus: Make teams ahead of time and have people dress up.
10) Painting Class
If you’re looking for a slightly more relaxing activity, take a group painting class. Paint Nite hosts painting classes by local artists at various bars throughout major cities for painting on canvases, wine glasses (like in the picture below), and so on. It’s a great way to let your team members unwind, catch up over some drinks, and express their creativity.
11) Cooking Class
In the mood for something a little more… culinary? Change up the usual outing to a bar or your local restaurant, and try a cooking class. Through a service such as Kitchensurfing you can hire a professional chef to come cook a fancy meal for you in your home or office kitchen. Between the multiple courses prepared before your eyes, your team will have plenty of time to strike up conversation and enjoy the delicious aromas.
Image Credit: Kitchensurfing
12) Sports Game
Round up the team and head out to a sports game. What a fantastic way to rev up team spirit while combining both competition and camaraderie.
Image Credit: Wikimedia
Team-Building Activities, Games, and Exercises for Work
13) Scavenger Hunt
Find a beautiful day, break everyone out into groups, and have a scavenger hunt around the city. You can organize one yourself, or use an app like Stray Boots. Your team will feel nice and refreshed after some fresh air and fun challenges. Be sure to take lots of silly pictures — you can even have a slideshow when everyone regroups at the end.
Here’s a culinary team-building activity that could end in dessert or disaster — in a fun way. Creating new dishes together requires creativity and will require everyone to put their team and leadership skills into action. Divide your team into smaller teams, pick a food category, and challenge each team to whip up something delicious. The category could be anything from ice cream to salsa to pizza.
One fun twist you could add? Pick a single ingredient that all teams must use, like maple syrup or Oreos. Or, have each team get creative with the shape of their food — you can make pizzas into almost any shape.
Image Credit: Teambonding.com
15) Improv Workshop
Comedy and improv events are fun, interactive experiences that’ll have your employees roaring with laughter while teaching them useful communication and soft skills, like focus and trust. Depending on your budget, you could do anything from simply playing improv games with your employees to bringing in professionals to run competitive, fast-paced activities.
Image Credit: Al-Jazeera
16) Board Game Tournament
Here’s one way to spark your team members’ competitive sides without having to leave the office. Organize a team-wide board game tournament. Especially if your team is pretty big, it may be easiest to pick a single game, and then have people sign up for specific time slots where they’re free to leave their desks and spend some time playing the game. Some great games with reasonable play times include Boggle, Jenga, or even games using good ol’ playing cards. Don’t forget to incentivize with prizes for first, second, and third place.
Image Credit: Glassdoor
17) Professional Development Workshop
Want to encourage your employees to bond while providing them with an opportunity to learn and further their career? Offer a shared learning experience either at your office or at an off-site workshop or conference. The activity could be specifically related to your employees’ jobs, or it could be something more broad, like a negotiation or leadership skills workshop.
Now you’re ready to show your team a great time while increasing their happiness and creating a great company culture. And hey, you might just be the “cool boss” now. How cool would that be?
What are your favorite creative team outing ideas? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in May 2014 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.