Beyond Happy Hour: 5 Innovative Team Building Activities

Bonding with coworkers usually involves a few drinks after work — maybe dinner on the company’s tab (if you’re lucky). But there are better ways to strengthen connections with your colleagues.

Here are five creative team-building activities to help you and your coworkers create more authentic relationships.

1. Give Back Together

Whether you’re cleaning up a local trail, sorting food donations at a local shelter or building houses for Habitat for Humanity, volunteering as a team can lead to big returns. In addition to deepening relationships, corporate volunteering can help you develop leadership skills, generate positive PR for your brand and attract Millennial hires, who place a high value on corporate citizenship.

2. Problem Solve For Fun

Explore ways to take your coworkers’ problem-solving skills to the next level. For example, many cities now have “escape rooms”, which require you to solve a series of puzzles in order to make it out together. Other companies put their employees’ creativity to the test by hosting hackathons or design competitions. For example, digital agency Kettle hosts the Kettle Royale, which pits teams of employees against each other to concept, design and prototype a humorous digital product in just two days.

3. Competitive (kind of) Sports

Employees at Snacknation, an office snack delivery company, get to know each other better on their adult kickball team. The league offers a bit of competition, exercise and a lot of laughs. Other companies form teams to compete in obstacle course races, coordinate weekly running groups or host internal ping-pong and softball tournaments. The point is less about winning, and more about getting out of the office for exercise, camaraderie and new experiences.

4. Virtual Coffee Chats

Remote workers want to connect with their colleagues too, and disparate locations shouldn’t mean that they’re left out. TeamBonding, a company that facilitates team-building activities, recommends finding ways for dispersed workers to connect.

For example, remote managers can create a weekly coffee hour by sending team members coffee cards for a free drink, and then having everyone head to their favorite coffee shop to log in and chat. You could even email an ice breaker question such as ‘What was your biggest travel adventure?” or “Who is your role model?” to get the discussion going. The goal is to provide opportunities for the kind of casual conversation that happens around coffee pots and at lunch tables, allowing people get to know their remote colleagues more personally.

5. Bring Back Board Games

You don’t always need complicated ropes courses or trust falls to bond. Board games have been making a big comeback among Millennials, and many companies have found that a little team game playing provides connection, competition and laughs. For example, software company TaskWorld reports that once a week, the staff gathers around to play Settlers of Catan, Magic and more. Create a small board game collection for your office by asking colleagues to donate their old games, and set aside an afternoon a month for some good old-fashioned playtime.

We spend a lot of time at work – taking the time to build bonds with your coworkers can make work a lot more enjoyable. So when it comes to finding ways to connect with your team, think beyond happy hour to something a little more creative and a lot more fun.