The Office Olympics combines the best parts of team building, friendly competition and play that can be shared as a team. While it’s up to each individual company and organizer, the games can be focused on building connections in the workplace or simply relaxation and fun!
Inspired by the Olympic games, coworkers will create teams and compete against one another (in a friendly way, of course) in various events, from outdoor activities like racing to indoor team-building activities. Most of the games are short and sweet, so a variety can be done throughout the day.
The main purpose of the Office Olympics is to break up the monotony of the work day and encourage employees to relax and get to know each other better. Many of the games listed here are best played in summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also host an Office Olympics, Winter Edition as well!
Now that you know what the Office Olympics is all about, check out these 14 game ideas that you can play with the team.
1. Rubber band archery
Archery is a classic game that also can be a little dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily, there is a way to play the game, office style, using a common stationary material: the rubber band.
Instead of a bow and arrow, players use their fingers to pull back the band and shoot it at the target. Marking out a spot on the floor with packing tape, team members all shoot from the same location at the target, which can be anything that makes it evident that it was hit, like a bell or bowling pin.
For a little tutorial, check out this great Office Olympics video dedicated to rubber band archery.
2. Office soccer
Soccer was the first team sport to be introduced to the Olympic games in 1900, so in the spirit of teamwork, it’s a great game to integrate into your Office Olympics. You can use desks, or even chairs set apart from one another, to serve as the goal.
If you’re pressed for space, you can play Desk Top Soccer. Find a tabletop with enough length to set up two goals and crumple some paper to create a soccer ball.
This event allows coworkers to team up and play a friendly match of office soccer, promoting play and teamwork.
3. Paper plate frisbee
Throwing the discus was one of the first Olympic sports introduced in ancient Greece, so it’s a must-add to your Office Olympics roster. Frisbee is also an easy game to play in and out of the office, should you decide to use a sunny day and have access to outdoor space.
If you’re stuck inside, there’s no reason to give up the game; instead, get creative, and instead of buying a frisbee, use a paper plate from the office kitchen. There will be less risk of breaking anything in the office, and it’s using materials used, hence being true to the event's purpose.
Mark off where each team member’s frisbee lands and the team that threw the furthest distance is the winner.
4. Pencil toss
Another classic game, the javelin toss, was played alongside the discus. It would be impossible to throw a javelin in the office unless you have extraordinarily high ceilings or none at all. Use what you have in the office and grab some pencils to create a miniature version of the javelin.
Like rubber band archery, mark a point where you will throw the pencil. Since the pencil will not stick to the ground, you can establish who has thrown it farthest by marking off the point with tape. Alternatively, the game can use a trash can or open container, and see which team can make the most accurate shots.
5. Ping pong tournament
As open office plans became more popular, more companies started setting up breakout rooms where employees could decompress by grabbing a coffee or playing ping pong. If you already have a ping pong table in the office, this is an ideal game to add to the Office Olympic games—a ping pong competition works well with individual players and teams.
While there is the classic two-person setup for table tennis, there are numerous games, like playing with two balls at a time or a group game that gets smaller as people must step out if they miss their turn to hit the ball.
6. Rolling chair obstacle course
The rolling chair race is a great way to get creative and transform the office into a playful space for the Office Olympics. Using different rooms, furniture, and anything you can find, create an obstacle course that can be completed in an office chair. This means making sure spaces are wide enough for the chair to fit, and ensuring that team members can actually get through so all they have to focus on is winning the race.
Time each person completing the obstacle course and the team that makes it through in the least amount of time takes home the gold.
7. Broom Hockey
Broom Hockey is just what it sounds like! But, instead of playing with a puck and sticks, you grab some brooms from the cleaning closet and make a puck out of paper. Roll it up into a tight ball so that it rolls smoothly in the direction you want.
It’s best to have a designated open area to play this game, so use any break rooms or conference rooms, using the underside of a desk or a trash bin as your goal marker.
8. Mental gymnastics
This game is all about mental energy. Easy to play and can be done anywhere from a break room, to the office common space, mental gymnastics can be any type of quick trivia game, even including Pictionary if you have a lot of artists on your team.
Perfect for teams, trivia encourages employees to work together, relying on their smarts and pop culture knowledge. You can even make the game workplace specific and test how much your team knows about one another, ultimately bringing them closer together.
9. Duct tape three-legged race
The three-legged race is the ultimate teamwork game. Players are taped together by their ankles, using their outer legs and a single middle leg to move as seamlessly as possible to the finish line.
If you have an outdoor area, this is a great place to host this game, as it is best played with enough space to make the race challenging. If you’re playing inside, find the widest open area between the starting and finish points. If you have teams that are larger than two people, you can split up into groups within the same team.
10. Coffee run
For this game it’s ideal to play on a surface that’s easy to clean or outside. Each team splits in two groups and races against each other relay style, tagging in the next team member to run to the finish line. Sounds easy enough, but where the challenge comes in is each team has a full cup of coffee that they need to run with.
The coffee run is a perfect combination of physical exercise and coordination skills, just make sure you don’t play where you’re not ready to spill some coffee.
11. Paper airplane race
Like the pencil javelin, the paper airplane race centers on how far you can get your paper airplane to fly. Each team constructs their best engineered plane and marks where they ultimately land. Each person on the team should have a chance to fly the place and the team that gets the furthest is declared the winner
12. Bin Basketball
Grab two trash bins in the office and play ball! You can purchase a ball for this game but also just as easily use a tightly crumpled up piece of paper. Split into teams of two and play for around 10 minutes so each team member gets a chance to take a shot. Winner is determined by the team that makes the most baskets.
13. Balloon race
Grab a small bag of balloons for this game and make sure you have enough space to run a small to medium size race. Like the coffee run, this game requires that you place a balloon between your knees and make it to the finish line without dropping (or popping!) the balloon.
Like the other races in the Office Olympics, make sure there’s plenty of open space for teams to move and play until each member of the team gets a chance to run.
14. Virtual Olympic games for remote teams
If you are unable to meet in person or have a fully remote team, there are plenty of virtual games you use for a Zoom-style Office Olympics. Make sure you pick games where employees don’t have to buy extra materials and everyday things people would have in a home office, such as paper, pencils, and pens. Some easy and fun games that can be played with just those three items are:
If you have the option, consider a virtual event and reserve some open space in a park or public space where you can host an in-person Office Olympics. Virtual events are also a great addition to boosting employee morale and spirit throughout the calendar year.
How to execute a successful Office Olympics
Ensure you have enough space and materials to play the games you choose. Once you’ve established what events will occur, devise a schedule and determine what prizes and awards will be given to the winning teams. Employees will split into small groups and play each game for a set time, which depending on team size, can be from 5 to 15 minutes. After completing the matches, teams rotate until each group has participated in each competition.
To finish off the day of events, consider offering an awards ceremony with home made medals out of office supplies. If possible, dedicate part of your budget to invest in some prizes for winners, like a gift card or an extra day of PTO. Most of all, hosting an Office Olympics is about having fun and bringing employees together through the power of team building.
Planning a team retreat and looking for activities to help foster connection and teamwork? The Surf Office can help you plan your retreat and integrate games and team building challenges like the Office Olympics to maximize your time with your team.