The Best Team Building Ideas for Startups

So, you’ve officially created your company and built a team to run it. Congratulations! The hard part is just beginning. The next imperative step is ensuring your team gets along and can work well together. This is where team building comes in. Now, hang on. I know. I can just imagine you rolling your eyes, imagining chintzy games of two truths and a lie, the awkward glances, the shifting in seats as people just want to get to work… but hear me out. When a startup is in its early stages, the team is usually small; everyone’s contributions are critical to the company’s success. By engaging in team-building activities, team members can learn to work together more effectively, communicate better, and understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Keep reading to understand the full benefits of team-building activities and see suggestions for in-office, off-site, and virtual team-building ideas.

Why Team Building is So Important

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Encouraging your team to bond can lead to increased productivity, improved problem-solving skills, and better decision-making. It can also help to create a positive work environment and boost employee morale. In addition, team building activities can help to identify potential leaders within the team and foster their development. In today’s competitive job market, employees want more than just a paycheck. They want to work for companies that value their contributions, provide growth opportunities, and have a positive work culture. By investing in team building, startups can demonstrate their commitment to creating a supportive and collaborative work environment, which helps attract and retain top talent.

Deciding What Styles of Activities Work Best for Your Team

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Keep in mind what kind of team you have built. Is your company full of serious academic types? Or fun-loving individuals? Do you mostly have older employees or younger ones? You can take this information to build a list of potential team-building activities. However, don’t make this decision alone! Instead, talk to your team. Send out a survey to see what kinds of activities they enjoy, what sounds fun. See if they want to stay in the office, meet somewhere, or go the virtual route! By involving your team in the decision, you’ve taken the first step to encourage collaboration. You’re also showing that you value their input. While you won’t be able to pick one perfect activity, you can select a few that covers what everyone likes. If someone complains about a planned activity, you have the opening to explain that this is one of a few. While you understand they don’t necessarily look forward to this one, attending will encourage the rest of the team to participate in the one they prefer. This can promote compromise and conflict resolution.

In-Office Team-Building Activities

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Icebreakers and games can be successful if they appeal to your team. An older, more experienced team may not be interested in ‘two truths and a lie,’ but they may love putting together trivia nights. A younger crowd may wince at office bingo but love the idea of setting up a tabletop rpg once or twice a week after work. You need to lean into who your team is and find compromises between their preferences. Another excellent idea for in-office bonding is office-supplied lunches. Order from a local business and comp the bill for your team, then sit around the meeting room and chat. Another idea is to offer lunch-and-learn sessions, where you can eliminate awkward small talk by hosting a professional from your field or projecting a webinar on the wall to learn from together. This also encourages individual team member growth. Since your business is new, you can also hold meetings with the team to discuss setting up the office and what they want to see in policies and procedures. Let them help set the foundation for the company. This can bolster loyalty, giving employees a bigger stake in running things. If no one on your team is toxically competitive, consider having company-wide challenges.  These can be anything from seeing who can build the most impressive canned food mural (where you donate the canned goods after judging) to scavenger hunts. You could also set cooperative challenges, like rewarding the entire team for every dozen canned goods collected for the local food bank. You can even order custom-branded items for rewards, anything from magnets and koozies to golf umbrellas or beach chairs.

Off-Site Team-Building Activities

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Off-site excursions are a great way to build camaraderie and explore the city. You just want to find activities that appeal to your team. You may want to try an escape room together or tour the local zoo or aquarium. Perhaps an evening out at a local restaurant or a paid bus tour. Company retreats can also be great. Getting away from the hustle and bustle, coming closer together as a team, and benefiting the company and employee growth. You can also take your team to local events, like movies, theater performances, or sporting events. If you have a small budget, see if the team would like to pitch into a team fund that can be used to pay for activities or pay for luxury items around the office, like a fancy coffee machine. You may be surprised how much they are willing to help spot if they enjoy the outcomes.

Virtual Team Building Activities

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Even if your team doesn’t meet in person, there are team-building activities. Especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, many online tools are available to host events for your team. The easiest is to choose an online game everyone enjoys and schedule a time to play together. Other ideas include a virtual watch party or ordering delivery for the team to all try new foods together. You can also host a virtual space like Zoom to watch a webinar together. Ultimately, the key to successful in-office team-building activities is choosing enjoyable, inclusive activities that promote teamwork and communication. Gather the team’s input on activities they would like to do together and find a time convenient for everyone— even if it needs to be on the clock. You may be surprised just how productive a happy and close team can be when you take time to have fun.

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