The 7 best team building activities for team workations

It’s time for your team workation. The accommodation is booked, meals are planned, transportation is organized. What else? Oh yes, teambuilding activities. A crucial element of every team retreat that can really help your team members to connect with each other and learn something new. And that can help you as organizers to set a certain theme or guide the group towards a certain learning or shared experience. There are thousands of different teambuilding activities – but not all of them are suitable for every group and really have the effect you’d like to achieve. Almost every one who participated in a team event can tell a story about a team activity that didn’t achieve it’s goal. It was too long or too short, too boring or too challenging, too active or not active enough – short: not customized to the group’s needs. Here are a few ideas for great team events that we made good experiences with, and that can be adjusted to the needs of most kind of groups. Before you start planning any of them, make sure to ask yourself: What is it that you would like to get out of the event? What special needs and expectations does our group have? Are there any restrictions in terms of location, weather, security, safety or any other circumstances? What are our available resources - do we have enough time and budget to plan and conduct it? Ideally, make sure to have team members involved to make it a “user-centric co-creation”. And now go ahead and get creative! Without further ado – here’s the Top 7. 

#7: Guide for a Day

 Fun: 4/5Learning: 4/5Teambuilding: 2/5Preparation needed: 4/5Duration: 30 minutes – 2 hours Your team retreat will most probably take place at a location the team hasn’t been before. And even if you’re already returning there for the 10thtime, there’s most likely still something to learn about the place. Time to learn something new! To get to know the place you’re visiting make a few of your team members your “Guide of the Day”. Ask them about 2-3 weeks ahead of the retreat to prepare fun facts about the place you’re visiting. For example, did you know that Amsterdam has a Bicycle Mayor? It’s a fun activity to start already on the way to the retreat, for example on the train. The Guides can share some of the fun facts they gathered, which will in turn spark conversations and increase anticipation of visiting the location. Of course you can give your Guides some guidelines to promote a certain theme, for example innovation, technology, sustainability, equal rights, social impact, culture or arts.  

#6: Team Charts

 Fun: 4/5Learning: 2/5Teambuilding: 4/5Preparation needed: 2/5Duration: 30 minutes – 1 hour What would be a team retreat without music? It’s great to have a team playlist on Spotify or other streaming services. One team member is the “keeper of the playlist” and asks every team member to contribute a few songs to the playlist. During the retreat, team members can guess who chose with song. Or you could ask each other why they chose a particular song. You could even add a karaoke evening and give team members the opportunity to perform their song – or any other song they like.  

#5: Sports & Social Impact

 Fun: 4/5Learning: 3/5Teambuilding: 5/5Preparation needed: 4/5Duration: 1 hour – 3 hours Sports activities can be great opportunities for teambuilding. However, not every activity is suitable. Think about that before you start planning an activity. First of all, make sure that everyone on the team feels comfortable with the activity. Some people can’t or don’t want to engage in very active activities. Some are afraid of heights or can’t swim. Make sure that everyone feels included. Introductory yoga lessons are usually suitable for most team members, as are beach games, mini-golf or bowling. Disc golf is a great one, too. Electric scooter or bicycle tours are fun as length and pace can be adjusted to the group’s preferences. Make sure that everyone feels comfortable riding a bike or scooter though. At the water, Stand Up Paddling (SUP) is a great team activity. Here in the Netherlands, it can even be combined with collecting waste from the channels. You don't believe that? Check out El Kombi Alkmaar!
And at the beach? Surfing with instructors in small waves close to the beach is a fun event – even if it might already be out of the comfort zone of some team members. Flying a so called trainer kite at the beach is also a fun activity, and perfectly safe with a certified instructor. The same holds true for kitesurfing lessons. They may be out of some team members’ comfort zone, so make sure to make participation voluntary and get people’s written consent. Lessons with a certified kite surfing instructor are then a safe and fun challenge. One kitesurfing instructor usually teaches groups of 2-4 students. So make sure to book enough instructors for your group and let them know about your team members level of experience beforehand. Second, there are activities that might not promote your company’s culture and values. Laser tagging or paint ball for example. Or some boat rides, which have high fuel consumption and may cause water pollution. And what about that personal trainer you invited? Did you brief her or him about the company’s values and code of conduct? Great ideas are events with a social impact, like charity runs, beach clean-up hikes or team sports in collaboration with social institutions. On Airbnb Experiences, you can filter for sports activities and for activities with social impact. Third, think about the weather. What if it rains? What if it’s very cold or warm on that day? Ask participants to bring the right clothes and equipment needed. On a warm day, don’t forget sunscreen and enough drinking water and snacks. Make sure toilets and showers are available when needed. After all, the event should be fun for everyone.  

#4: Art Night

 Fun: 4/5Learning: 3/5Teambuilding: 4/5Preparation needed: 2/5Duration: 1 hour – 3 hours An Art Night is a great opportunity to get creative together. It involves a relatively low time for preparation, everyone can participate and will take something home from it. Whether it’s a painting workshop, a photography course or a do it yourself workshop, there are many different options for any kind of group. Organizations like ArtNight.com organize events and provide all the materials needed.  

#3: Who’s in the picture?

 Fun: 4/5Learning: 3/5Teambuilding: 5/5Preparation needed: 3/5Duration: 10 - 20 minutes This is a cool team activity as it’s quick to prepare and execute, with a high teambuilding factor. It’s best to do at the end of a team event. You only need some memorable pictures you took of your team during the event and a PowerPoint or a similar presentation tool. Combine your best photographs in a presentation, one photo per slide. Choose the ”Dissolve In” or “Checkerboard” animation and set Duration to “very slow”, so that the picture appears only very slowly in presentation mode. Divide your group into small teams of 2-4 people and let them sit in a half circle with good view at the presentation screen. Present the pictures as a team quiz by asking a question before presenting each new picture. Easiest: “Who’s in the picture?”. A bit more challenging: “What color are the shoes of the team member on the very left of the group picture?” or more goal-oriented:  “What was the key take-away from this activity?”. You get a teambuilding activity, a presentation of the event pictures and a learning effect from it.  

#2: Talent Show

 Fun: 5/5Learning: 2/5Teambuilding: 4/5Preparation needed: 4/5Duration: 45 minutes - 60 minutes Who doesn’t love a talent show? It combines great entertainment with the opportunity for your team members to show hidden talents they might not be able to show every day. Make sure to announce the talent show at the very beginning of the retreat if it’s for example a 5-day or 7-day retreat. If it’s a shorter offsite event you might want to announce the talent show already a week or two ahead of the event. Set a theme and give your team guidelines on what type of performances are in scope or out of scope. Set a clear time limit for each performance, ideally not more than 4 minutes (plus 1 minute buffer and 2 minutes in between performances). Choose an entertaining presenter and prep her or him sufficiently, for example with some fun facts about the performers (that are suitable to share in this context). Ideally, conduct the talent show on the 3rdor 4thnight of the retreat – ideally not on the last night. In that way, the performers have a bit of time to prepare during the retreat and there’s still time to talk about the performances after the talent show. Usually, the event has a great bonding and teambuilding effect as you create very unique shared experiences. There are many many examples of great contributions, including self-composed songs, dance or artistic choreographies, poetry or standup-comedy. If you want to make sure the performances relate to your retreat goal, set a specific theme. You’ll be astonished how the artists will interpret it!  

#1: Scavenger Hunt

 Fun: 5/5Learning: 4/5Teambuilding: 5/5Preparation needed: 4/5Duration: 45 minutes – 2 hours We love scavenger hunts! Why? They are the perfect combination of creativity, activity, learning and teambuilding. When designing the quiz questions, there’s no limit to your creativity. You can ask questions about the retreat location and thereby include elements of a Guided Tour (see #7). You can include creative questions about the team or the retreat purpose and by such create a learning and teambuilding effect. And of course, you can make them as active as suitable for the group. From a walk around the retreat house to a city walk, a hike or a bike or electric car tour.  Even the number of questions and duration are flexible, and how much competitive elements you’d like to include. We’ve created great custom scavenger hunts and are happy to create a customized challenge for your team. We also partner with the 100 Point Challenge, a super cool and professional event company that runs those city walk-quizzes with Fujifilm Instax contests in among others Amsterdam, Stockholm and Copenhagen. Are you ready to take the challenge?
So, quite some food for thought. What’s your favorite teambuilding activity during a workation or offsite event? How do you ensure teambuilding during your team retreat? Have you tried any of these? What did you learn? Any additional feedback or tips? Looking forward to learn from you!  This article was written by Anne-Marie Jentsch, co-founder of Out of Office Workations and owner of Out of Office Consulting.