The mood in the office is sluggish. Productivity’s dropping by the second. Creativity’s grinding to a halt. And you can’t remember the last time someone looked up from their desk with a smile on their face. So, with business results on the line, it’s time to rally the troops, lift everyone’s spirits, and restore some life to the room!
That’s where energizers come into play. A type of ice-breaker that’s commonly used as a team warm-up before meetings, these fun activities are designed to invigorate groups, raise energy levels, and improve focus. Today, we’re going to reveal 24 of the best energizer games and activities for work groups that we’ve encountered in our time running company retreats. Enjoy!
Our favorite energizers and team warm-up activities
There’s no shortage of effective energizers and warm-ups for the workplace. In this section, we’re going through 5 of our absolute favorites. Suitable for almost any occasion, they’re the perfect place to start.
1. Group exercise
Some of the best energizers are also the simplest. Case and point? Exercise. Well-known to perk you up, improve your mood, and make you feel more alert, getting the body moving can work wonders in the workplace. There are all sorts of ways to use exercise to your advantage too. For example, you could:
- Hire a personal trainer to run morning workouts in the office
- Go for a short walk as a team each afternoon
- Encourage everyone to do some simple stretches/exercises at their desk
- Go into the hallway and run relay races together
- Clear a space and run around the office for 5 minutes, dropping to the floor to do certain exercises (e.g. push-ups, squats, or burpees) every 20 seconds
However you incorporate exercise into the workday, it’s almost guaranteed to have positive effects on people’s energy levels. Stress relief, improved physical health, and stronger social ties are a few other benefits to look forward to.
2. Attract and repel
Fun, chaotic, and surprisingly difficult, Attract and Repel is a fantastic game for making people laugh and for breathing life back into the room. Here’s how it works:
After clearing a space in the office, gather everyone together and ask them to start walking around the room. Next, tell them to choose 2 colleagues (without saying anything out loud), one of which they must stay as close as possible to and the other they have to stay as far as possible from.
What follows often borders on bedlam! People will giggle with glee and squeal with dismay as they attempt to juggle these two competing goals. Try playing this game for 5 to 10 minutes before a morning meeting or after lunch – traditional low points in terms of energy levels – to feel an instant boost in positivity.
3. Most likely to
Here’s an ice-breaking, energizing, and entertaining game that’s great for small teams of people who know each other already. Expect it to open up funny conversations and help everyone learn more about their colleagues in the process.
Super simple, you play in a circle and take turns asking “who is most likely to”, followed by a specific trait or activity. For instance, Sally might ask the group:
- “Who’s most likely to bungee jump off a bridge?” Or
- “Who’s most likely to play a prank on the boss?” Or
- “Who’s most likely to be a night owl?”
Each team member then votes for whoever they think is most likely to do that activity or possess the trait. To spice things up, you could say that the participant with the most votes must perform a light-hearted punishment, such as making everyone a cup of coffee or handling the next tricky customer!
4. Human rock, paper, scissors
Rock, Paper, Scissors is a classic game you’ve probably played since childhood to pass the time and make group decisions. But have you ever done it using your bodies to make the shapes as opposed to your hands?
That’s exactly what happens in the “human version” of the game. Fun, quick, and ideal for getting people giggling and moving, you start by deciding a full body pose for each item (e.g. rock could be curling up into the fetal position) and then dividing the team into 2 groups.
From there, you face off against each other, taking a few seconds before each round to decide which pose your group will make. When that’s done, you count down from 3 and move as one to do your pose. As always, rock beats scissors, paper beats rock, and scissors beat paper.
5. Pink toe
Ready to channel your inner child and do something silly as a team? This hilarious energizing exercise involves colleagues listening to instructions and pressing different parts of their bodies to objects around the office, depending on their color. Sounds bonkers, right? So let us explain…
You – the facilitator – start the activity by calling out a body part and a color. The team then has to find items in the office that have that particular color and touch it/them with the chosen body part! For instance, if you called out “gray elbow”, people would run around finding something gray to put their elbow on.
The basic version of this game’s fun, but adding a competitive element can make it even better. Why not set a time constraint for completing each task? Or limit the number of people who can touch a particular item? If they take too long or can’t find something to touch, they’re out; the last workmate remaining is the winner.
Quick and easy energizers to try before meetings
Some of the best energizer activities are short and sweet in nature – quick-fire ways to rejuvenate the room and get everyone back into a productive mindset. Here are 5 team warm-ups and games that fit this description:
6. Fizz buzz
We love Fizz Buzz. A classic energizer game you may remember from your school days, it involves standing in a circle and taking turns to count upward from 1. However, there’s a mathematical twist that complicates proceedings…
Every number that’s divisible by 3 is replaced with the word “fizz” and everything divisible by 5 is replaced with “buzz”; numbers divisible by both 3 and 5 are replaced with the words “fizz buzz”. For instance, a typical round would look like this:
“1, 2, Fizz, 4, Buzz, Fizz, 7, 8, Fizz, Buzz, 11, Fizz, 13, 14, Fizz Buzz, 16…”
The idea is to go around the circle as quickly as possible. If someone hesitates or makes a mistake, they’re eliminated. The last person standing is the winner!
7. Got your finger
5-minute energizers don’t get much better than this one. Got Your Finger is fun, fast-paced, suitable for groups of all sizes, and sure to lift the mood. Oh, and it requires no prior planning or preparation either. Here’s how to play:
Ask the team to stand in a circle, close together, and face inward. Next, tell each participant to stick their right hand out with their palms facing the ceiling. They then have to put their left index finger on the open palm of whoever’s standing to their left.
Now the fun can start! When you shout “Go”, each participant must try to close their hand around their partner’s finger before they escape. It’s multi-tasking at its finest – trying to stop the colleague to your left from catching your finger, while simultaneously trying to grab whoever’s on the right.
8. Shock wave
If you’re in a big team and want a fun and speedy energizer to lift the mood in record time, try Shock Wave.
To play, clear a space and ask the whole team (except you, the moderator) to form a circle. Colleagues then have to join hands with the people next to them and shut their eyes. Next, quietly touch the shoulder of one person in the circle.
When they feel your touch, it’s their job to begin the “shockwave” – moving both their arms up and down in a wave-like motion, thus sending it to whoever’s on their left and right-hand side. Those people then continue the wave, taking the “shock” in one arm and replicating it in the other.
This continues around the entire circle until someone on the opposite side feels the movement in both arms simultaneously. At that point, they yell “KABOOM”, and everyone can re-open their eyes. Repeat as many times as you want to!
9. Pass the ball
Popular in interview settings and among new teams, Pass the ball is an effective ice-breaker that both unites and energizes employees. It couldn’t be simpler to play either. Standing in a circle, one person starts by throwing a ball to a colleague and asks them a question as they do so.
The catcher answers, then repeats the process with another teammate. This continues for as long as you wish to play. Potential questions include:
- “What’s your fondest childhood memory?”
- “Where did you grow up?”
- “What was the last movie you watched at the cinema?”
- “If you could have a superpower, what would it be?”
- “Would you rather have legs for arms or arms for legs?”
To keep people entertained and inject more energy into proceedings, try to pass the ball and ask/answer questions as quickly as possible. You could also set rules (e.g. “if you drop the ball you have to do a dare” or “only open-ended questions allowed”) to add another level of fun to the game.
10. Balloon challenge
Start this fun and active energizer by inflating lots of balloons in the office (the more the merrier!). When you’re done, the challenge can commence:
The team’s job is to stop the balloons from touching the ground at all costs! Play for 5 to 10 minutes and explain there’ll be prizes if they succeed.
Want to give the game a competitive edge? Divide everyone into smaller teams and assign each one a bunch of balloons with the same color. They then have to work together to keep those particular balloons in the air (while simultaneously sabotaging the other teams’ efforts).
Bonus points if you can inflate all the balloons before anyone else arrives at the office! Trust us, the look on peoples’ faces when they walk through the door will be worth getting there early…
The best energizers for small groups
Not all energizer activities are made equal – especially where small groups of employees are concerned. Here are 5 invigorating activities to try in this unique workplace dynamic:
11. Isn’t that crazy?
Want to get people talking? Get the team’s creative juices flowing? Instigate some laughs and spark some fun into the day? This energizer will be ideal.
To play, gather around in a circle and explain that they’ll be working together to tell a story. The catch is that they’re only allowed to say 3 words at a time!
After designating a direction (e.g. counter-clockwise), one person begins by saying “Isn’t that crazy?” Whoever’s next then continues the tale with 3 words of their own – a process that continues until the story reaches a natural conclusion. The wackier, wilder, and more random the story, the better. For instance:
- Person 1 “Isn’t that crazy?”
- Person 2 “That the team”
- Person 3 “Has a big”
- Person 4 “Bad wolf waiting”
- Person 5 “In the cupboard”
- Person 6 “That loves to”
- Person 7 “Eat lazy receptionists”
- Person 8 “But dislikes it”
- Person 9 “When people sing”…
12. Walk and stop in sync
Looking for an energizer that’s great for enhancing the group dynamic as well? This one should do the trick. Simple and sweet, start by asking everybody to stand side by side in a line – preferably in a large space – before issuing a simple instruction:
“Walk forward together and then stop at the same time.”
The catch is that they’re not allowed to talk! Whether they communicate through body language, facial expressions, and/or entering some sort of group consciousness, they have to walk and stop in sync, without speaking.
Keep going until they achieve the goal and consider debriefing when they’re done. What did they learn? How did it feel? What lessons will they take forward?
13. The chair game
Here’s another awesome energizer for small groups that enables co-workers to have fun and get to know each other at the same time.
To play, you’ll need to find a sturdy chair for each employee and put them all in a single line. Next, ask everyone to stand on one, facing the same direction. From there, the group must reposition themselves in order of age (or height, or some other metric of your choice) – swapping places without touching the ground.
It goes without saying, but make sure a) your office chairs are sturdy enough to hold people safely and b) everyone is physically capable of doing the task! If there’s any risk of harm, or if somebody may feel left out if they’re unable to play, consider skipping this energizer for something else on this list.
14. Don’t answer that
Fun and laughter are guaranteed with Don’t Answer That. A verbal exercise this time, all participants have to do is stand in a circle asking each other questions! As you’d expect, though, there’s a caveat…
You don’t answer the questions directed at you.
The person standing to your left does it instead. For example, imagine that James asks you, “What’s the most embarrassing moment of your life so far?” You’d have to stay silent while Jeanette – the person to your left – claims it was when you got drunk at the last Christmas party and told the CEO you loved her.
The idea isn’t necessarily to be truthful (although it isn’t a rule that you can’t be!). The goal is simply to have a good time, make people laugh, and lift the mood.
15. My first job was…
Here’s another easy, energizing, ice-breaking, and amusing activity that brings teams together and helps co-workers learn more about each other.
To play My First Job, start by handing out a pen and a post-it note or scrap of paper to each participant. Next – and without showing anyone else – they have to write down whatever their first job was, before folding up the paper, and placing it in a hat/box in the center of the room.
From there, teammates take turns selecting a post-it from the pile, reading the role to the group and then guessing who wrote it. If they get it wrong, the rest of the team can jump in, working together to decide who had the job. Expect friendly banter, laughter, and all sorts of revelations to ensue!
Top tip: My First Job can be played in remote teams too. You’d simply ask people to send their jobs to you – the moderator – privately beforehand, then plug them into an online tool such as Wheel Decide. Employees can then spin the wheel and guess the owner of whatever job they land on.
The best energizers for large groups
Doing the previous activities with larger groups is like trying to squeeze into a shirt that’s a few sizes too small. It almost fits, but doesn’t feel quite right – or have the effect you wanted. If you work in a big group, try the following 5 energizers instead:
16. Your north
As well as being a good energizing activity for large groups, Your North is a great exercise for sparking conversation about the importance of team alignment and direction. Even better, it’s also simple and fun to play.
Here’s how it works:
- Ask the group to stand up, leaving plenty of space between them (everyone should be able to put their arms out to the side without touching anyone or anything)
- Show the team where north is (this could really be north if you have a compass on your phone, but feel free to make it up otherwise!)
- Tell everyone to cover their eyes with their left hand and spin around 10 times, keeping their eyes covered the whole time
- When they’re done, ask everyone to stretch out their arm and point toward where they believe north is now (their eyes should still be shut)
- The team can then open their eyes to see the many different directions in which people are pointing
17. Red light, green light
Red Light Green Light is another popular team warm-up/energizer that you may remember from childhood. Simple to play and fun to participate in, your team has to line up on one side of a room and move toward a finish line whenever you – the facilitator – shout “green light”. When you yell “red light”, they have to stop.
If they keep moving forward, fall over, or do anything other than stand completely still, then they’re out. The winner is the first person to get to the finish line.
You can also play in separate teams instead of doing it individually though. In this version, you’d split everyone into 2 main groups, with the winner being the first group to get everyone across the finish line.
Top tip: Like many large group energizers, Red Light Green Light works best when you have a bigger space to do it in. Consider going outdoors to a local park if your office can’t accommodate the exercise.
18. Collaborative portraits
One of the hardest parts of joining or working in a large group is remembering everyone’s name! Collaborative Portraits is a warm-up activity that helps tackle the problem, while also providing an entertaining way to get to know your colleagues.
To run the exercise, hand out a piece of paper and pen to everyone in the group and ask participants to write their names at the bottom. They should then start walking slowly around the room.
When you say “stop”, they must find someone nearby, swap their pieces of paper, and draw their partner’s eyes. When that’s done, they swap back (so they’re holding the paper with their name on it).
You then repeat this process for the remaining facial features (i.e. nose, ears, mouth, hair, chin, accessories, etcetera…). By the end of the task, everyone should be holding a full “self-portrait” that’s been drawn by their colleagues!
Top tip: Consider displaying these drawings somewhere in the office. It’d be a fun memory of the exercise and could become a decorative focal point for people to look at in idle moments.
19. Competitive Human knots
Human knot is a popular team-building activity that requires at least 6 people. To play, everyone stands in a circle, puts their hands into the center, and grabs somebody else’s hands with their own (ensuring they’re holding 1 hand from 2 different people).
The group then attempts to untangle themselves without letting go – ducking, twisting, and climbing over each other as they go. It’s fun, chaotic, difficult, and great for uniting teams, having fun, improving communication, and honing leadership skills.
In Competitive Human Knots, we take things to a new level.
This time, you separate your large group into separate teams of 6+ people and pit them against each other! The first team to untangle themselves wins. Alternatively, you could set a time limit to stop the activity from taking too long. The team that’s made the most progress by the end, wins.
20. Stand back to back
Short, snappy, funny, physical, and with a powerful message about collaboration, this energizer for large workgroups is hard to beat.
It starts with participants pairing up with someone of a similar build. They then sit back to back on the floor and link their arms together. Their task?
To stand up while remaining with their backs together and arms interconnected.
Aside from providing plenty of laughs, this warm-up activity provides a valuable opportunity to discuss the importance of trust, alignment, teamwork and moving in the same direction to achieve a common goal. Take advantage of it!
Always be sensitive to people’s differing physical capabilities though. Skip this exercise for something else if it doesn’t seem appropriate.
Energizers and warm-up activities for virtual meetings
What if you don’t work face-to-face with your team though? If you’re spread around the world in a remote arrangement, does that mean you can’t benefit from energizing activities? Of course not! Here are 4 final energizers and team warm-ups that are ideal for virtual team meetings:
21. Roulette questions
Quick, easy, engaging, and ideal for getting to know one another, Roulette Questions is an energizer/ice-breaker that’s sure to go down well before virtual meetings – especially for new teams.
The game involves using an online roulette wheel (like this one) that’s full of different questions. Co-workers take turns “spinning” the wheel and answering whichever one they land on.
Simply work your way through the questions until there are none left (many roulette tools allow you to eliminate questions as you do, ensuring you never land on the same one twice) or until everyone has answered something!
Try playing with a time limit to inject more energy into the activity. For instance, depending on its size, you could challenge the team to get through the questions in 10 minutes or less. This should stop the game from dragging on too long and make it more enjoyable to boot.
22. Up, down, left, right
Ready for a fun, 5-minute energizer that’s suitable for groups of all sizes and you can do via video call? This one ticks all the right boxes.
Start the activity by asking everyone on the call to stand up – ensuring they’re still visible on the webcam. Then all you do is say the words “up”, “down”, “left”, and “right” and tell the team to point their heads in the corresponding direction.
Do this for 30 to 60 seconds at a fairly rapid pace. Next, change the rules so that people have to look in the opposite direction to what you say. So when you say “down”, they should point their heads toward the ceiling, and vice versa.
Keep going for another minute, gradually speeding up as you go. The light physical movement and mental challenge involved should invigorate and focus the group before your meeting; the mood should feel brighter too.
23. Team tour
One of the simplest energizers you can do before a virtual meeting is to ask each willing employee to give a 1-minute webcam tour of their workspace. Take turns showing people around, telling them where you are, and accepting questions about the location and/or any noteworthy items/observations.
We like this exercise for remote teams because you often find that people are working in some unusual places! From cafes in Zanzibar to the breakfast bar in their brother’s house, you learn more about each other and find new things to talk about.
To spice things up, you could send prior instructions to cultivate a “special workspace” for the day. This could include putting up decorations, going somewhere new, or bringing family photos to show the group.
24. Show and tell
Show and Tell is a classic virtual ice-breaker where co-workers tell each other about an item on their desk that holds some special significance to them.
However, we like a different version of the exercise! This time, each participant takes a photo of their workspace (or their lunch, or shoes, or something hanging on their wall) before the video call and sends it to you – the moderator.
After compiling these snaps into a presentation and putting it on-screen during the meeting, you take turns guessing who took each photo and explain why you think so.
Try these energizer and team warm-up ideas today
It’s natural for energy levels at work to dip sometimes. People get tired, motivation ebbs and flows, and setbacks take a toll on team spirit. Likewise, it might be early in the morning, when that first round of coffee hasn’t hit yet!
Nevertheless, when you need everyone at their best and want to re-invigorate the room, it pays to have some energizers and team warm-up activities up your sleeve.
With any luck, the ideas in this article will help in that regard. Keep them in mind, put them into practice, and it shouldn’t be long before your team’s fired up, focused, and operating at 100% again. Looking for the perfect place to try them out?
Why not arrange for your team to go on a company retreat? Or, better yet, why not work with Surf Office to organize the perfect retreat for you?
With years of experience and an extensive network of local connections in countries around the world, we’re experts at doing exactly that. We help businesses break out of the usual routine and enjoy unforgettable team-building experiences – saving them time and money in the process.
To learn more or get the ball rolling, get in touch today.