One of the most important factors in the success of your business or project is whether or not you have built a solid team. Developing soft skills, problem solving skills, and building trust are hugely important in doing so. That’s why so many organizations have their employees play ice breaker games, solve puzzles, and participate in other group activities. Unfortunately, many of these games can be… well… terrible. But they don’t have to be! In this article we have gathered 8 problem solving team building activities that just might be a little fun for your team. 

The Importance of Social and Emotional Skills in the Workplace

According to a 2019 report by Mckinsey, social and emotional skills are increasingly important in today’s workforce. That’s because machines are steadily beginning to take over more physical, repetitive, and basic tasks. That leaves us with all the human soft stuff. However, hiring managers are having a difficult time hiring talent who excel in communication, creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. Luckily, soft skills can be taught- and that’s where problem solving, team building activities come in!

Team Building Activities Don’t Have to Be Awful

It’s no secret that many employees loathe team building activities. They can be boring, embarrassing, and even distasteful. So how do you build your team’s soft skills without forcing them to do something they hate? Below we have compiled a list of problem solving team, building activities that don’t seem awful. All the activities can be done in the office, aren’t dangerous, and won’t put any introverts on the spot. 

1 | Scavenger Hunt

One of the most classic team building activities is a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. Scavenger hunts are great because they provide a healthy dose of competition, fun, and new memories to start new teams off on the right foot or reinforce positive relationships in established teams. Plus they can be done pretty much anywhere- both inside and outside the office. 

  •  To start, divide your employees into several a few smaller teams. Next give each team a list of activities they need to perform or items they need to produce.

     

  • Set a timer for whatever amount of time you deem appropriate (around 30 minutes if your game is easy and in the office or up to three hours if your game is complicated and involves driving or walking to different locations.)

     

  • The team who can prove that they completed the most activities or collected/photographed the most items wins! 

Some examples of scavenger hunts that your employees might actually enjoy:

  • Retro Tech Scavenger Hunt (ideal for outside the office): Send your employees out with a list of retro tech items like flip phones, typewriters, record players, and polaroid cameras. Have them take photos of each item they find out there. The team who finds the most retro tech items wins. 

  • Office Supply Scavenger Hunt (ideal for inside the office): Have your employees scour the office for supplies on your list. Be sure to include easy items like paper clips as well as difficult to find items like a computer mouse with a roller-ball on the bottom. The team who produces the most office supplies wins

*To really get teams invested, provide a prize to the winning team. A great prize could be gift cards to a local coffee shop or lunch spot near the office. 

2 | Murder Mystery Game

Murder mystery games sound cheesy, but they’re actually pretty fun once you play them. Plus, they can build camaraderie and foster critical thinking and problem solving skills. To start, you’ll want to select a murder mystery game. You can purchase a murder mystery box from stores like Barnes and Noble or Amazon. Typically, the boxes come with everything you need to play including most props. Some fun murder mystery games you can buy online is this 1920’s murder mystery and this masquerade murder mystery from amazon. You can also buy this murder mystery on the night train game from Barnes and Noble. 

How to play

Your murder mystery box will come with its own instructions. But, most murder mystery games start by assigning a character to each participant, one of which will be the killer and the other the victim. Next, as a group, you’ll try to solve a series of clues and puzzles to uncover the killer. Between clues, the group will socialize as their character and try to find even more clues. At the end, everyone will write down who they think the killer is. To end the game, the host will open an envelope and reveal the murderer. 

*Tip: Murder mystery games are the most fun when they’re somewhat immersive. Consider decorating the office and providing food and beverages that go with the story’s theme. You can also provide your employees with their characters before game day so they can come with their own props or costumes if they wish.  

3 | Survival Challenge

The Survival Challenge, sometimes known as “Stranded, “ is great fun especially when you don’t want to leave the office. For this game, you’ll gather your employees into one room and explain to them that they are locked inside (don’t actually lock them inside – it is not safe) and that they must only survive on what is inside the room at the time. Together, your employees must identify items in the room that they think are crucial to their survival. Have them rank the items in order of importance. To win the game, everyone must come to a unanimous decision about the ranking within 30 minutes. 

A few fun alternative ways to play the game: 

  • Divide your team into two or more groups, and have them create their ranking. Whichever group unanimously agrees on the order first wins. 

  • Play hypothetical Survival/Stranded, where you brainstorm survival items without having to physically find anything. Perhaps the prompt would be: what 10 items are most important for a zombie apocalypse, or for being stranded on a deserted island. 

The Survival Challenge is great for building good communication, collaboration, and decision making skills. 

4 | Escape Rooms In or Out of the Office

Escape rooms are hugely popular and fun. Plus, they’re great for fostering the communication, teamwork, and reasoning skills your team will need at work. Probably the most fun way to experience an escape room is to book an in-person immersive escape room at a local escape/ puzzle room business. However, you can create your own escape room in the office if you don’t wish to venture out. 

What are escape rooms? Escape rooms are live puzzle games in which participants must use clues and solve puzzles in order to “escape” from a locked room. Escape rooms are typically timed and have a fun set theme like “pyramid tomb,” “haunted house,” and “Alice in Wonderland.” Check your local escape room for themes and group rates. 

Alternatively, if you don’t want to leave the office you can DIY an escape room. You’ll need:

  • A padlock and key/code 
  • A room
  • Optional decorations
  • 5-10 clues/puzzles

Set up

Pick a room in the office to act as your escape room (it could be fun to decorate it according to your theme). Hang your padlock near the door to act as the room’s “lock.” Hide the key somewhere in the room that is very difficult to find. Create your clues – each one should lead to a new clue and finally to the location of the key. If you’re using a padlock that has a code, the clues should progressively reveal each letter/number of the code. 

How to play

Gather your employees outside the room and explain to them that they are to be “locked” into a room and that they must solve a series of puzzles/clues in order to escape. Set a timer based on how easy/complex you wish your game to be. Explain to the group that they must work as a team in order to solve the puzzles and escape the room on time. Let the game begin! 

*Tip: it can be helpful to monitor employees in case they get stuck. You can also provide limited clues that the team must use strategically.

*For safety reasons, you shouldn’t actually lock your employees in the room. Even professional escape rooms have unlocked emergency exits.

5 | Team Jenga 

Jenga is one of those games that everyone can have fun playing. It’s fun, easy, and simple but also super nerve wracking and competitive. You can make the game even better by playing it in teams. That way, it can build communication, leadership, and problem solving skills for your team.

How to play Team Jenga

First off, you’ll need a Jenga set. Jenga.com has some good ones with some fun themes. Next you’ll want to stack your blocks according to the game instructions to form a tower. Divide your team into smaller groups. Let them know that each team must work together to choose which block to remove from the tower. It can be a good idea to have them switch off who in the team physically removes the blocks as well. Whichever team manages to avoid toppling the tower wins!

6 | Dumb Ideas First

Dumbest ideas first is well… kind of a dumb game. But, it’s simple, easy, and potentially fun even for those who loathe team building exercises. Plus, it can help your team think creatively to find solutions that they normally might dismiss. 

How to play Dumb Ideas First

To start, present a problem scenario to your team. This scenario can be grounded in your field. For example, if you are a project management team, your scenario can be that you are trying to secure a contract with a client but that they are considering a competitor as well. Have your team come up with “dumb” or “outlandish” ideas that could win over the client. Write them all out on a piece of paper or a white board. Next, work together to make a list of least to most likely to be successful ideas. 

*Tip: You can make this game even more fun by creating a fantastical scenario. For example, the problem could be that the office has become haunted and you must clear out the ghosts before a high stakes client meeting. Or, your boss has turned into a toad and you need to stall the clients until you can turn him into a human again. 

7 | Two Truths and a Lie Team Edition

Two truths and a lie is a classic icebreaker game. It’s perfect for helping coworkers get to know each other and become more comfortable in a team. With Two Truths and a Lie Team Edition, you’ll add a little bit of competition. 

How to Play Two Truths and a Lie Team Edition

Divide the group onto two or more teams. Have each member of the group come up with two truths and a lie. For each person, each team must agree on which answer is the lie. Record each team’s progress. Whoever guesses the most lies correctly wins!

*Tip: You may want to set time limits on how long each group has to make their guesses to keep the game moving. 

8 | Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower

Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower is a classic team building game that can help foster communication, collaboration, and creativity. Divide your team into smaller groups to create some friendly competition. This game is fun because it’s creative, hilarious, and potentially delicious. 

How to Play Marshmallow Spaghetti Tower

First off, you’ll need a couple bags of marshmallows and dried spaghetti. Divide your team into groups and give them each some marshmallows as well as spaghetti (4-6 marshmallows and 20-30 spaghetti sticks for shorter games). Tell each team that they must work to create as tall of a tower as possible with the given materials. The team with the tallest spaghetti tower wins!

Conclusion

Problem solving, team building activities are important for developing a bonded and cohesive team. But, they won’t help much if the whole team finds them boring or embarrassing. Luckily, this list can help you select problem solving team, building activities that may actually be fun. 

Last tip: You can share this list with your employees and have them vote on which activity/activities they would like to participate in. That way, you won’t have to guess whether they’ll enjoy it or not. 

 

If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please use the comment section on the bottom of this page. And don’t forget to check out our blog for more interesting content!