20 Unusual team-building activities to connect with your colleagues

Let’s be real. The phrase “virtual team-building activities” doesn’t typically spark a lot of enthusiasm. Especially after endless Zoom meetings, hours of staring at your screen, and a list of things you could be doing instead growing in front of your eyes.

But well-planned, unusual team-building activities can come with several benefits.

Benefits of team-building activities

First off, spending time doing nonwork activities with your employees and engaging them outside of their typical role can increase productivity. In fact, organizations with highly engaged workers show 17% greater productivity, 41% lower absenteeism, and 21% higher profitability than companies who don’t go the extra mile.

Team-building activities can also increase employee motivation, decrease employee burnout, and boost overall morale. Think of it this way — if your team associates their colleagues with a good time (i.e., fun and unusual team-building activities), they might even enjoy their job a bit more.

[Related: The retention metric people leaders aren’t talking about]

Allowing coworkers to “work” with each other in a new light or in a new setting via unusual team-building activities can provide more opportunities for connection and engagement. Team- building activities can also build helpful skills that can transfer easily to workplace tasks, including (but not limited to):

  • Group planning
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Conflict-resolution
  • Collaboration

Who knows? A few rounds of trivia with your coworkers or an evening at a virtual escape room could actually be preparing your team to work together and deliver on their next product milestone.

Additionally, engaging team-building activities can also help your team welcome a new employee, especially in a virtual work environment. Remote team-building activities can give them something to be a part of right away, something to look forward to, and a great way to get to know their coworkers and form connections.

Why go with unusual team-building activities?

A lot of the more common team-building activities run the risk of being too childish, being a waste of time better spent elsewhere, or feeling too uncomfortable for some of the more introverted employees.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

If you can plan out some unique and unusual team-building activities, you can get all of the aforementioned benefits of employee engagement and have a surprising amount of fun along the way.

[Related: Our tried and true virtual event favorites]

Team-building shouldn’t feel cringe-y. It should build trust, encourage communication, be interesting, and hopefully generate a lot of laughter while engaging everyone involved.

You won’t find any trust falls here. Choosing activities slightly off the beaten path or outside of your normal, day-to-day interests can encourage your staff to come together in new ways.

This list of unusual team-building activities provided by our team at Mystery is perfect for remote or hybrid teams, but most can also be adapted for team-building activities in the office as well.

20 Unusual team-building activities

1. Artist-led painting

Grab some paints and a brush because now’s your chance to become the next Picasso!

Let a real artist (someone talented enough to lead the group) walk you and your colleagues through a guided painting sesh. Discover who has untapped talent, and who should probably stick to spreadsheets.

2. Private jazz concert

Listening to music not only decreases stress, but can actually promote healing and improve the listener’s general emotional well-being.

One great way to avoid burnout and relax together as a group is to virtually gather for a private concert. Jazz is a great genre to listen to, since the syncopation of some jazz tunes can actually increase the brainwaves responsible for creativity.

3. Comedy or freestyle rap show

Why not unwind and have some laughs with a comedy or freestyle rap show? Don’t worry, you won’t be the main attraction.

Hire a professional comedian or freestyle rapper to take suggestions from you and your coworkers. They’ll come up with a show that’s uniquely centered around your work, and you’ll be doubled-over in laughter and bonding with your team in no time.

4. BYOB beer tasting

Grab your favorite beer from the corner mart or your fridge and find out just why it’s your favorite after-work beverage. A group cicerone-led beer tasting can teach everyone a thing or two.

[Related: What is a “hybrid” workplace and what does it mean for corporate culture?]

5. Coffee workshop

Interested in upping your morning coffee game?

An easy-to-follow workshop led by a professional barista can teach you and your teammates everything from which beans to choose and the history of coffee origins to how to make the perfect cappuccino.

6. Hot sauce-making class

This class will bring the heat!

Learn everything you could wish to know about hot sauces from a genuine hot sauce connoisseur. Make your own tasty blend perfectly crafted to your preferences!

[Related: Make something deliciously different with your team: 13 food and beverage classes]

7. Flavor trip experience

Ever wonder if a certain fruit tastes the same to everyone? A highly interactive flavor class can teach you and your colleagues all about the science of tastes, and if you should truly trust your own taste buds.

8. Dip-making how-to

Even if your team is working remotely, you can start planning for the next in-person gathering by mastering a delicious dip. Learn how to turn healthy produce options like carrots and cauliflower into mouthwatering dips and appetizers.

9. Guided meditation

Tune in and zone out.

A guided meditation class led by an expert will walk you and your team through some zen moments of meditation. Afterward, you can discuss the tools you need to do it for the future. This kind of activity is perfect for a soothing midweek refocus.

10. Resilience workshop

It’s easy to feel stressed and fall prey to burnout during work hours. A mindfulness workshop can help you and your coworkers master techniques for handling the pressure and staying present.

[Related: Boosting team morale in the new year]

11. Guide to good posture

If you read “guide to good posture” and immediately straightened up a bit, this type of event is for you.

Get some helpful tips on how to stay away from the slouch and give your work-from-home lifestyle an upgrade.

12. Innovation workshop

You and your colleagues will learn helpful tips to turn stress and chaos into creativity and growth with this innovation workshop. Connect with your team and figure out new ways of furthering your success.

13. Hot takes

Defend your opinions, no matter how wacky they are, in a fun debate-style game. Answer hard-hitting questions like “Does pineapple belong on pizza?,” have some laughs, and connect with your coworkers over new (and sometimes fairly weird) things you have in common.

14. Elevator pitch

A friendly and hilarious competition will place you in teams to come up with a pitch for some bizarre new product idea. Figure out each other’s strengths, bust out those creative and collaborative chops, and try not to die laughing.

15. At-home yoga

Grab a mat and take it easy. At-home yogi-led sessions will connect your mind to your body and teach you how to slow down and make the most of your day.

16. Virtual game showdown

We’ll take “super fun and unusual team-building activities” for $1,000, Alex. Get the whole group laughing and showing off their knowledge — or their secret love of old TV game show favorites.

17. Night at the casino

Your virtual host will ensure that your team has an unforgettable night at your luxurious, personal, virtual casino!

18. Murder mystery

Who can you trust these days? Work together with your coworkers to figure out whodunnit with an online murder mystery game.

[Related: 5 reasons your team isn’t loving virtual happy hours]

19. Scavenger hunt

This virtual scavenger hunt relies on coordination and teamwork. Split into breakout rooms and then rush to collect items from around your homes in hopes you’ll beat the buzzer!

20. Magic and illusion design

Led by a professional illusion-designer for TV and film, an illusion design workshop will teach you and your team some secrets and psychology behind some iconic magic tricks.

Check out Mystery’s team-building events today!

Say goodbye to awkward Zoom happy hours. At Mystery, we promise to provide you with unusual team-building activities that will increase employee engagement and bring your team closer together.

98% of companies that try us absolutely love their experience, and 71% feel more connected than ever afterward. The aforementioned events are just a small sampling of the highly vetted and unique experiences Mystery can bring to your team.

Interested in one of our unusual team-building events? Learn more about how our events work, or sign up for a Mystery event today!

Featured image via Pixabay.