Communication and positive workplace interactions are the cornerstones of any professional relationship. Whether you are communicating with a colleague, manager, or customer, effective communication is always needed. Not only will this reduce confusion and frustration in the office, but it will also help keep your employees engaged.
Sometimes, communication needs to be encouraged. And sometimes to be effective, communication must also be practiced. Research shows that team exercises not only improve communication and motivation among workers, but it also helps create a more cohesive and productive work environment. Here are six refreshing exercises that will help you encourage teamwork and communication in the office.
If your team is feeling drained and stressed, this fun exercise is a great way to refresh and energize them. It doesn’t require much time and the recommended group size is 10-20 people.
- Participants will need to form two equal lines facing each other.
- The game starts when one line turns around, giving the second line 40 seconds to change 10 things about themselves. This can include anything from jewelry or clothing being swapped with other people, untied shoelaces, a different hairdo, or a switched watch or ring to the other hand. All changes must be something the other group can see.
- After 40 seconds, the first group turns around and tries to find all the changes the other group made.
- Once the changes have been recognized, the groups switch, giving each team a chance to make changes.
This game will stimulate the participants’ minds and challenge their memory. Incorporate this activity when a lack of energy is apparent.
Grab Bag Skits
This acting exercise is another great way to refresh and energize your team. It doesn’t require much time but does need some props. Depending on the number of groups you have, each group will need a goodie bag filled with five to six random objects. Recommended group size can range from 10-50 people.
- Form groups composed of three to eight people. (The more groups, the more time this activity requires).
- Give each group a goodie bag.
- Each group needs to create a three-minute skit using all the objects in their goodie bag. Creativity is encouraged example: a pen can be a magic wand, a stapler can be a microphone, etc.
- As the manager, you can either allow your groups to make-up their own skits or assign them general topics. Topics should be work-related, maybe acting out a meeting, process or event.
- Give the groups about five minutes to come up with their skits.
Each group performs.
- Optional step: groups can vote for which group they thought had the best performance. The winning group can be awarded anything from a casual dress day to lunch.
Tip: It’s important that all group members are present for the other group performances.
This exercise is a great way to encourage people to step out of their comfort zones. It encourages teamwork, collaboration, and helps people feel more comfortable with their colleagues.
Salt and Pepper
This activity is fun, excellent for energizing your team, and also great as a get-to-know-one-another exercise. It doesn’t take up a lot of time and requires a few simple materials like a pen, tape, and small sheets of paper. Recommended group size can range from 6-40 people.
- A sheet of paper for every person.
- As the manager, come up with pairs of things such as salt and pepper, yin and yang, shadow and light, peanut butter and jelly, Mickey and Minnie Mouse, male and female, and so forth.
- Separate the pairs and write only one of them per piece of paper. (Salt on one paper, pepper on a completely different paper).
- Tape one paper on the back of each person, making sure they can’t see it.
- When you say go, everyone must walk around asking yes or no questions in order to find out what word they have taped to their backs.
- Once they figure that out, they’ll be able to find their other pair. The two will sit down and learn three to five interesting facts about one another.
- Optional step: have the pairs introduce their partners and the interesting facts they learned about them.
This exercise will encourage communication and creativity among the participants. Learning how to ask the right questions will be a challenge. It will also encourage teamwork as interacting with the other team members is necessary.
Take What You Need
This exercise is an excellent get-to-know-you activity that doesn’t take up too much of your team’s time. All you need is a toilet paper roll or two depending on the size of the group (you can use pennies as another option). Recommended group size is 10-30 people.
- Ask everyone to sit around in a circle.
- Pass around the roll of toilet paper or pennies and tell them to take as much as they think they’ll need, without disclosing what the items will be used for.
- If your employees ask further questions, simply answer them with, “take as much as you think you’ll need.”
- Once that’s done, ask them to count the number of squares they each have.
- Going around the circle, each person has to share a fact about themselves for every square of toilet paper or penny they took. So, if someone takes 10 squares, they need to share 10 facts about themselves.
Tip: In order to avoid someone taking 30 pennies or squares of toilet paper, you could set a limit for each item. The facts don’t have to be long or time consuming.
This activity is particularly beneficial when new employees are hired. It encourages communication, bonding, and helps the participants learn more about their colleagues. You’d be surprised what a simple activity can teach you about someone you thought you knew.
Beach Ball Toss
Whether you’re adding on new team members, merging departments or trying to strengthen the bond between existing employees, the following exercise is great as a get-to-know-one-another activity and doesn’t require much time. Recommended group size is 5-25 people.
All you need for this activity is a beach ball that’s been divided with random questions written on it. (Only you, as the manager, should know what questions are on the ball). Questions can be simple or more complex, i.e. what’s your favorite dessert? what are your weekly goals? if a conflict were to arise within your department, how would you go about handling that?
- Have the participants stand in a circle and begin tossing the ball around. Whoever catches the ball needs to introduce themselves and answer the question closest to their pinky finger. (Another option would be to allow them to choose which question they’d like to answer).
Tip: When coming up with the questions, you may ask the participants to submit three questions each and pick which questions you’d like to write on the ball.
This exercise will help the participants learn more about their colleagues. Unlike a regular meeting, this is a more exciting way to give everyone an opportunity to stay current with each other’s goals and activities.
This brain teaser is funny and really works on teambuilding, problem solving and communication. It will take around 15-30 minutes depending on how well everyone works together. No materials are needed. Recommended group size ranges from 8-20 people.
- Instruct the participants to stand in a circle, shoulder to shoulder.
- Tell everyone to put their right hand in the air and grab the hand of someone standing across the circle from them.
- Now tell everyone to put their left hand in the air and grab the hand of a different person.
- Someone needs to check that everyone is holding the hands of two different people and that no one is holding the hand of someone who’s standing directly next to them.
- The objective of the game is to untangle everyone without breaking the circle.
- If the chain is broken, participants will have to start over.
TIP: Announce that this game requires casual clothing. Also remind others to be mindful of colleagues, especially those with certain physical limitations.
This exercise will prove to be extremely challenging and will heavily rely on teamwork and communication, without which, participants will find it extremely difficult to successfully complete the task.
Now that you’re equipped with a variety of choices, don’t be afraid to incorporate these activities in the office. Not only will you enjoy it and benefit greatly, but so will your colleagues and employees. Don’t forget to post back and let us know which exercises you used and what you learned from them!
Need more ideas? Check out these other Refresh Leadership articles:
Never have I ever…
Have enough room for your team to be in a circle.
Place a piece of paper on the floor around the circle for each person but one.
The person without a home is in the center of the circle.
The center person states an HR appropriate “never have I ever”, true or false.
Everyone that has done the deed must move off their paper onto another before everyone else and they cannot go to the one directly next to them on either side.
Game keeps going as long as time permits or until each person has been center at least once.
You learn a lot about each other.
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