Team building is more than just a 21st-century corporate buzzword; it's about taking a small amount of time away from work to build relationships between staff, develop communication channels, and foster new avenues for creativity and innovation.

Let's take a look at some of the best team building exercises for work, many of which can be organised with social distancing in mind - so there's no need for the pandemic to dampen your team spirit.

Why team building is so important at work

The abundant benefits of team building could make for an entire blog post all by themselves, but in short, it's important because it can increase staff productivity and efficiency by easing the flow of communication between employees and fostering healthy competition in your workplace.

By engaging in fun, no-stress team building, employees can learn about their colleagues' working styles and strengths, which can be applied in more serious situations later on. The bonds and relationships built during team building sessions can help to resolve conflicts at work and promote truly collaborative working practices.

And if anything else, they can just be pretty damn fun.

Top team building activities during Covid-19

There are tons of team building activities you can choose for your staff, many of which can still work during Covid-19. Outdoor activities can be a fantastic choice, offering plenty of space to socially distance while still giving employees the opportunity to face real challenges together.

Many team building event organisers have adapted their offerings to include socially distanced games and activities. Some of the best choices of team building games during the pandemic include:

  • Haka. Have a professional Haka instructor teach your staff in the art of haka, or the Maori ceremonial war dance, and watch your team come together for a group performance at the end of the day. This activity can be done outside, with all participants 2m apart - perfect.
  • Treasure hunts. Orienteering and navigation activities like treasure hunts in which all teammates act individually but cooperate by using walkie-talkies can be a fantastic way to get everyone working together in the great outdoors.
  • Escape rooms. Many escape rooms across the UK are now being redesigned with social distancing in mind, and they're a great way to push your team to work together and think outside the box in pursuit of a common goal: winning!
  • Quiz games. Team building quiz activities don't just have to test your mind, but also your reflexes, your fortitude, and your body. Quizzes are a great way to give your whole team a chance to show their strengths, wherever they lie.

There are also plenty of ways to incorporate team building into your company's daily culture. If staff are in the office, why not initiate a monthly bake-off to foster healthy competition among the team, or start up a physical fitness challenge where each of your employees can set their own goal and record their progress - with a prize for the winner each month?

Virtual team building activities

Maintaining a cohesive company culture during a pandemic is no mean feat. Gone (for now) are the days of quick chats by the water-cooler or Friday drinks after work. With most teams working far apart, it's harder than ever to build friendships, cooperation and camaraderie amongst your team.

For this reason, it's important to make sure your repertoire features team building games than can be played virtually over apps like Zoom or Skype. Not just for use during the current crisis, these activities are perfect for freelancers, contractors, or even staff who might be making the move to permanently working from home post-pandemic.

Here are some of our favourite virtual team building activities, all of which are easy to organise yourself:

  • MTV workspace 'Cribs'. If you've ever seen Cribs on MTV, imagine that but with more desks and houseplants. Encourage your team to pimp their workspaces and show them off over Zoom, with a vote for best workspace at the end of the activity.
  • Group games like Mafia or Werewolf. There are a few of these games about, but they all work similarly: each member of the team is allocated a role, with some roles kept secret from the group. The game plays perfectly via video call, with players relying only on bluffing, wits, and chatter to figure out who's who and win the game.
  • Personality quizzes. Send out a simple personality quiz in advance and ask your team to fill it in, and encourage everyone to share their results in a Zoom team building session. You could even get a personality expert on the call to talk everyone through their personality types. This is a great activity for encouraging your staff to think about their own strengths and weaknesses.
  • Virtual dance party. OK, this one's not for everyone, but if your office is down for it then there's no reason not to encourage your staff to blow off some steam and bust out their best moves over Skype. You could even combine it with a Happy Hour - Friday afternoon drinks and banter over video call - for that real end of the week atmosphere. It might make for a viral video on TikTok, you never know...

Feature photo by Daria Shevtsova