team building activities

5 simple yet powerful team building ideas for employees

Sophia Ellis
Apr 03, 2017

Managing our fast-growing company in the very multicultural city of Barcelona has forced us to be quite creative about our team building ideas.

Sometimes a team retreat or setting aside time for organized “team building activities” just can’t be on your agenda or in your budget or schedule. That’s ok! There are other ways to bond and strengthen teams, that are sometimes more effective, that you can practice throughout the day. How you work daily and how you construct your company culture, communication, and processes can help build or break your team’s cohesion.

Here are the top ideas that have worked for us as we’ve gone from a couple people around a table to several offices of people from all around the world:

1. Cross-functional brainstorming:

When everyone feels like they have a hand in the final result, not only is the final result better, but your team will be closer and expert at working together. One of the biggest mistakes older companies make, that newer companies are killing them on, is siloing different business departments. When there is no mixing of different roles and people, it doesn’t matter how diverse your team is on paper. If you keep all areas of the organization from directly working together, the disconnect between members of your team won’t just be personal, it will manifest in their productivity and quality of work.

Frequently create small teams for even very small tasks and projects that include members from various parts of your organization. Your employees will bond personally and will gain better understanding of different business functions that will result in the best quality work and unintentional problem solving.

2. Facilitate general conversation:

As a pretty remote team, one of the things that help members of our team get to know each other over distance is our team chat. We have individual chat streams for each project and business function, but we also keep a stream we’re all a part of where we can celebrate birthdays, acknowledge accomplishments, and introduce new colleagues. It’s our team’s “virtual water cooler”, you could say where we can discuss general news or big ideas. Using private messages or email only makes people feel more disconnected, even if you’re in the same office. It’s hard enough to get to know your co-workers sitting across the hall. Using a chat stream helps break down barriers and constant communication with your whole team makes everyone feel connected.

3. Work remote – but together:

We’re a quickly growing startup. So taking a few days to leave town for team building, like for many companies, isn’t an option. We’re working overtime. But it doesn’t mean we have to forgo a little break from the office. One thing we’ve done a few times this year that everyone really enjoys is picking a location to take our laptops and go work there for the day. Luckily most of us live in cool places like Barcelona and we’re a digital workplace software company and it’s easy to find beautiful locations and work together online. If your team requires a little more infrastructure for work, maybe take half a day and go somewhere else for a team brainstorming session. You’re still productive but connecting in a new way in a new environment.

4. Explore your area:

In Barcelona, many of our employees and interns are new to the city, coming here for new experiences and opportunities. Well, actually, we’re all transplants from different countries. Planning to simply meet at a popular local bar or restaurant at a certain time is how we’ve gotten to know each other and our city. Building connections outside the office doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. The bonding experience is important to ensuring happy team members. With with cool app Cinco (no Spanish pun intended). Cinco is an app that uses local opinion and groups to build the top 5 suggestions for types of bars and restaurants in a city. We use local recommendations created a team group and put together our top 5 bars and restaurants we want to try to get to together.

5. Tune in together:

Another simple tool you can try to bond your team is a fun little app called Festify. It’s basically a group playlist builder. Your team can all suggest and “up-vote” songs to build the perfect playlist for your day in the office! It’s simple but it doesn’t require an additional cost or time to get your team communicating and participating together. You don’t even have to leave your desk. You can discover a lot about each other’s culture (like our diverse team did) and discover some new music. Either way, it’s a great way to get everyone used to working and collaborating together.

As a multicultural team in a new city, we’re still figuring out the best ways to build collaborative work habits. We hope these few suggestions work for your team as well!

Sophia Ellis, Content @Hibox 

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