Team Building Activities You’ll Actually Want to Do

Admit it, hearing the words “team building activities” can be a bit cringeworthy. Maybe you work in a corporate setting and you imagine trust exercises such as falling backwards and getting caught, or page after page of personality questions. Or you work in a hip, young startup that bonds best when it’s team is running through a 5-mile obstacle course. Neither scenario sounds appealing and a trip to the dentist might even be preferred. Thankfully there’s more than one way to assist team building and one of our favorites are board games! Board games are the perfect way for small teams to work together, without the stress of meeting deadlines or endless rounds of emails. But if you're concerned about sitting through endless rounds of Monopoly worry not, these are not your grandfather's board games.

Pandemic is the team building game of team building games, requiring players to constantly communicate and work together in order to prevent epidemics and cure diseases. This is a truly cooperative game where you either all win or all lose. The premise of the game is simple, several diseases have broken out all over the world and you and your team of disease fighting CDC specialists must work together to treat the diseases while researching cures. Each character in the game has a special ability that each team will need to plan their strategy around in order to win the game.

This game does have a bit of a learning curve so it’s recommended that at least one person in each group is familiar with the game.  We recommend playing an initial 2-3 rounds so everyone gets comfortable with the game.  You may find that most teams will quickly lose their first game otherwise. A common complaint of the game is that someone will take on the role of “quarterback” and start telling others what to do. This game tends to punish that type of behavior, especially with inexperienced players. In order to win everyone will need to be an active participant, engage in strategy discussions and overall be a team player. When they don’t, they can easily see how their actions contributed to the team’s loss.

The game is designed for up to 4 players, but you can play with teams of 2 for each role, buy an expansion pack, or purchase additional games and have a few teams playing at once.

Players: 2-4
Time to play: 30-90 minutes
Learning curve: Medium-Hard

Codenames is a team-based party game that may be the perfect icebreaker to get your group started when hosting a game day. Participants will need to be divided into two teams and one person from each team will be designated as the “spymaster”, providing clues to their team of field operatives to uncover secret agents known only by their codenames. This game is a bit like verbal minesweeper as teams work together to decode which “agents” the spymaster is hinting at, without selecting the opposing team’s card or the assassin card.

While this game is not fully cooperative the way Pandemic is, it does require a lot of cooperation and communication as teams play against each other to uncover all their spies first. The games simple rules make it easy for new players to pick up, even those that typically shy away from board games. For the first round we recommended selecting spymasters that are more familiar with the game as “paralysis by analysis” is a real possibility when coming up with clues.

It’s a super fun, easy to learn game that can easily accommodate more than the recommended 2-8 players, though teams of 10 might be a bit too rowdy. As an added bonus, it’s short play time allows for a few rounds to be played in a sitting.

Players: 2-8
Time to play: 15 minutes
Learning curve: Easy

Forbidden Desert is a thrilling adventure where you and your team work to recover a legendary flying machine buried deep in the ruins of an ancient city. A popular sequel to Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert allows players to take on the role of brave adventurers who work together using every available resource to find the machine and escape. The game has three ways to lose and only one to win, so players must make wise decision while working together.

This is a fun and challenging game that’s accessible to all levels of gamers, though we do recommend that at least one person in each group is familiar with the game to ensure a smooth gaming experience. Like Pandemic, there is potential for one person to take over the game, but since there are so many actions to take in each turn, the amount of hidden information ensures that teamwork and cooperation are requirements to win.

The games quick setup time, light rules and compact play length make this a great choice for your next team building event or even family game night. Like Pandemic, you can easily play this game with teams of 2, but we highly recommend getting a few boxes and splitting up into teams.

Players: 2-5
Time to play: 30-60 minutes
Learning curve: Easy-Medium

These are just a few of the board games available today that encourage communication and collaboration while also being a lot of fun to play. But if your employees thrive in a more competitive environment then maybe poker, trivia or even charades might be right for you and your team.

Sasha Surman