Team building activities can cement friendships, improve cooperation between employees, and increase job satisfaction and engagement.

But team building activities can also be a massive waste of time and money if they aren’t planned correctly.

Small businesses in particular may be unwilling to spend big on lavish activities like a corporate getaway or team skydiving trip.

Let's have a look at some corporate team building ideas which won't break the bank, from classic icebreakers to adventurous outdoor team building activities.

What's Your Goal?

One thing first: you need to choose a goal.

Initially narrowing your choices of activity based on what you actually want to achieve is the easiest way of helping you get a good return on your investment, as opposed to starting with other parameters like location or cost per head.

Once you've decided on your goal, you'll find that it's much easier to choose specific activities to organise.

You've significantly reduced the chance that the activity will end up being little more than a holiday paid for by the company - or, on the other hand, a tedious waste of time that your employees resent.

We've split the remainder of this article into sections for four of the most common goals of team building activities. Click the headings below to jump to each section and find activities that meet your chosen goal.

Team building activities to improve communication

Reverse Pictionary | Geocaching | Minefield

Corporate icebreakers/introductions

Through the Keyhole | Office potluck | Two truths and a lie | One question

Problem-solving activities for teams

Object sort or classify this | Office scavenger hunt | Egg drop

Morale-boosting team building activities

Team memory wall | Employee-led workshops | Compliments

Looking for more people management tips?

Get crucial staff scheduling processes right with our complete guide to building rotas.

Improving communication

Choose these activities if poor, slow or miscommunication is a problem at your business or within or between specific teams.

Reverse Pictionary

Group size: Pairs

Cost: Free

Split off into pairs, seated back-to-back.

One half of the pair, the speaker, is given an image of a simple object or shape. To save on printing costs, use smartphones or tablets or draw the object by hand on some scrap paper.

The speaker must describe the image to their partner, the listener - without using specific words that giveaway what the object is. The listener must attempt to draw the object based on their partner's description.

For example, the speaker might be given an image of a deckchair. Instead of referring to the chair's features by name, they must use other nouns and adjectives that relate to positions, sizes, and shapes.

After a set amount of time, or once the speaker has finished, compare the drawings. The listener can then suggest how the drawer could have improved their description.

This activity is trickier than it first appears, but you can make it even more difficult.

  • Don't allow the listener to ask questions.
  • Only allow the listener to ask yes/no questions.
  • Use complex images.

Geocaching

Group size: 2-4
Cost: Free

If you aren't aware of geocaching, it's essentially a global treasure hunt. There are millions of 'geocaches' hidden around the world. These physical containers often house little more than a log to record your find, but geocaching is still an addictive and enjoyable outdoors activity.

It's also perfectly suited to team building, because all you need is a GPS-enabled smartphone and an app. Form small groups and head outside to see how many caches you can find in a set amount of time.

Geocaching is much cheaper than other outdoor team building activities, and its slow pace means there's plenty of time for employees to chat and get to know each other.

Additionally, even with the GPS aid, some caches are very tricky to find - so teamwork, observation and logic all come into play.

Minefield

Group size: 2-4
Cost: Free

Minefield is a throwback to 'the floor is lava' game that you played as a kid - but this time, you're avoiding the objects instead of using them.

There are a couple of variations to this activity.

In the first, an area of the office is scattered with various objects (mines). One person in a pair is blindfolded and the other must navigate them across the minefield only through verbal commands.

This activity teaches employees how to communicate precisely, while building trust between colleagues.

In another variation, an area in the office is split into squares. Some of these squares feature invisible mines, but somewhere there's a clean route through.

The organiser of the activity should have a paper map of the minefield grid with mines marked, plus some way to play a sound effect when a mine is hit.

During the activity, participants must attempt to find their way through the minefield. If they hit a mine, they must head back to the beginning and the next team member gives it a go.

This version of minefield is a test of memory and communication, as participants try to guide their colleagues through the minefield.

Icebreakers

These activities aren’t just for new starters, but for bridging gaps between teams and individuals who rarely work together.

Through the Keyhole

Group size: 3-8
Cost: Free