Ideas for COVID-safe, team-building activities: part 1

Team building in times of coronavirus brings up issues: How do you get together while keeping safe distance? Read on for our ideas for bringing your team back into the same room with COVID-safe team building games.

Why team building?

Company culture is hard to measure but it’s absolutely fundamental to running a successful business. With no team feeling, people tend to perform less well and feel less motivated by their tasks.

It has been especially difficult to keep teams feeling strong during lockdown and home office. Most of the little rituals which keep us together have been disrupted. No more casual visits to people’s desks, no more gosssip at the coffee machine or shared lunches. With many teams spending months apart, managers are having to think about alternative ways to keep teams together.

Nonetheless, many of us have felt ourselves losing connection to coworkers who we used to see every day.

Team building back in the office

Now that (in some places) people are going back to the office, it’s important to make time to be together again as a team.

Things will be different. We have all lived through big changes in the last months that have affected us on a personal level. For managers, many teams have been reshuffled, while new starters have arrived without meeting their colleagues in person.

So it’s an ideal moment to bring teams back together and organise a team-building event. Team-building activities are important for keeping a company cohesive and happy, by doing something out of the ordinary that also makes you smile.

COVID-19 safety

But it’s not time for a team hug – not yet. With distancing measures still in place, there are restrictions in place for everyone’s safety

That’s why we’ve put together ideas for you to organise your own COVID-safe team-building event. Basic rules: remember to keep a minimum distance from each other, keep the windows open, and provide hygiene products for everyone! Before planning, always check guidelines from local health authorities in case recommendations have changed.

And for those of you still working from home – don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you. We’ll also have some suggestions for virtual activities next week, which work just as well for remote offices and Zoom calls.

Creative Introductions (for new joiners)

In Slack chats and video calls, everyone’s name appears on the screen – but meeting new people in real life demands a bit more memory power. 

So, for new joiners meeting in-person for the first time, why not make the process of connecting faces and names a bit more creative? Provide each team member with a piece of paper and a pen and pick a theme: for example animals, TV characters or celebrities.

Ask each member to write down which animal or character they see themselves as. On the count of three, everyone reveals their answers and explains their thought process. For teams that know each other a bit better, an extension is to guess your colleague’s answers.

Two truths, one lie (lockdown edition)

How well do your team know each other – and have you changed during lockdown?

This is a well-known team-building game, in which one player tells the group two true statements and one false statement about themselves. The rest of the group decides which statement is the lie – and you can extend the game by having teams work together and ask questions for more detail. 

The lockdown edition adds a fun and relatable twist – all statements should refer to what people did or didn’t do during lockdown. For example: ‘I attended every meeting in my pajamas’, ‘none of my family members or housemates interrupted a video conference’, ‘I was always eating my breakfast in the morning call’. See how well you can guess what was really going on while people worked from home.

Keep your distance – movement games

Now your team is back in the building, practice the new phsyical distancing rules in a fun and practical way. Combine this with active problem solving and you have our next team building activity.

Ask your team to space themselves out at east two metres apart in a large room (you could try one of our epic event spaces if your office is too small). Then, challenge the players to arrange themselves and move around while maintaining their minimum distancing. Get creative with the challenges and layer up the rules. For example:

  • Line up in order of height or age; alphabetical order of surnames; the last digit of their phone number; whose home is furthest north
  • Use their bodies to spell out the letters of words you shout out
  • Musical statues – move around the space and stop when the music stops. Anyone seen still moving is eliminated until one person is left
  • Add blindfolds and physical obstacles (like chairs and tables) to make these more difficult

Outdoor games

If you have the option to get outdoors, make the most of the summer weather! Gather the team in a wide-open outdoor area and give your team space for host a COVID-safe team-building activities. We recommend simple, non-contact sports like:

  • Boules
  • Skittles
  • Mölkky
  • Giant Jenga
  • Badminton

Depending on how many people play, remember to bring along disinfectant to clean the equipment regularly and – if you bring food for a picnic – make sure that there is no cross-contamination with shared plates or cutlery.

Whatever you do, take a moment to enjoy the feeling of sharing a smile and a laugh with your team in real-life rather than over a screen – and keep safe!

Still working from home? Don’t worry – we have you covered with Part 2 of team-building guide, with activities that work just as well online! Read it here.