team building ideas

5 simple yet powerful team building ideas for employees

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Sophia Ellis
Apr 03, 2017

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

Sometimes a team retreat or setting aside time for organized “team building activities” 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 and 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 few people around a table to several offices of people all around the world.

1. Cross-functional brainstorming

When everyone feels like they have a hand in a project, not only is the final result better, but your team will be closer and better 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 prevent 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.

Create small teams for even the smallest tasks and projects on a regular basis, and make sure to include members from various parts of your organization. Your employees will bond personally and will gain a better understanding of different business functions. This will result in the best quality of work and unintentional problem-solving.

2. Facilitate general conversation

As a pretty remote team, one of the things that helps 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 have a stream we’re all a part of, in which 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 can make people feel 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 fast-growing startup. So taking a few days to leave town for team building – like for many companies do – isn’t an option for us. 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 to pick 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, so 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’ll still be 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 expats from different countries. Simply meeting at a popular local bar or restaurant 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 ensure happy team members. We use the cool app Cinco (no Spanish pun intended). Cinco uses local opinions and groups to find the top 5 suggestions for types of bars and restaurants in a city. Using the local recommendations, we created an office group and put together the top 5 bars and restaurants we wanted to visit together.

5. Tune in together

Another simple tool you can try to bond with 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 any additional cost or time to get your team communicating and bonding. You don’t even have to leave your desk! You can learn a lot about each other’s culture (like our diverse team did) and also 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!

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