If your office is missing that extra something, try bringing in a bit of the playground. Games are the perfect way to bring teams together, foster communication, and insert a little energy into the day. You might be surprised just how many games are possible to be played in an office. These options are excellent team-building activities and help with collaboration and other everyday skills that make your team’s job easier. Here is our list of games, competitive exercises, and office challenges to play right in your office and have some fun. Let’s dive in!
The easiest games for the office
1. Pitch a desk item
This is an improvisation game that can help everyone with communication skills while getting to know each other better. To begin, simply have everyone pick one item from their desk. Their goal is to “pitch” the item as if they are the manufacturer, sharing the marketing strategies they would use to entice customers to purchase. They should include information like their perfect consumer and how they plan to reach them. You’ll need a panel of judges to pick the perfect pitch and announce a winner.
2. Statue challenge
This game is full of silly fun, but can encourage more observational skills and makes people aware of their colleagues. This game is really ideal for people working in larger open spaces. The first participant that you choose is the “statue” leader. At some point in the day, they’ll freeze - it should be random. As other players notice the “statue” they will also freeze. This continues until there is only one person left, and they lose. This is an entertaining game that also offers a bit of stress relief during busy times, and is great to plan when tensions are high in the office.
3. Typing race
Who would have made the best 1950s receptionist? You can find out with this fun activity. Anyone who is interested should gather in one space with their keyboards or laptops. Announce the words that people should type (or write them on a white board) Set a timer and see who can get the typing done the fastest. This is helpful for developing typing skills and is also a great refresher for hand-eye coordination during a monotonous day.
4. Count to 20
Truly one of the simplest and fastest games to play, this exercise doesn’t require any planning and can be done completely spur of the moment. Have everyone sit or stand in a circle together. Start the game by saying “one”. Next, another player will say “two” and so on. The goal is to make it to 20 without two people saying the same number at once. This requires observing your colleagues and predicting when they will speak up. If two people say the same number, the game starts over. Make sure to review our list of minute to win it games, too.
5. “Don’t laugh” challenge
This activity is perfect for closing out a week. On a Friday afternoon (or any time you need a little pick me up), have everyone gather in one place together and then choose one “comedian”. The chosen comedian’s job is to try and get everyone else to laugh - while they try not to. The first person to laugh is the new comedian and takes over the job of trying to get people to laugh. Note: Not everyone is going to be comfortable being so on the spot, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone to be funny. Make sure you know your team and their comfort levels before instigating this game.
6. Two truths and a lie
This is a classic but it never gets old! Especially if you are working with new staff who you might not know as well. Simply have each employee make three statements about themselves - one of which is a lie. Other employees have to guess which statement is false. You can make things competitive by keeping track of the number of correct answers and announcing the winner.
7. Never have I ever
Though this is often played as a drinking game, it doesn’t have to be! It’s just as much fun when playing in the office to get to know colleagues better. Compile a list of safe-for-work prompts like “missed a flight”, “been in the newspaper”, “broken a bone”, or “met a celebrity”. Have everyone raise both hands, and then when prompts are called out, team members should put down a finger for the ones that apply to them. As the game progresses, the first person to put down all of their fingers wins. Or, you can set up a timer, and the person with the most fingers down wins.
8. Rock, paper, scissors
You really can’t go wrong with this game, which nearly everyone knows how to play. If you need a refresher on the rules, recall that rock is represented with a fist, paper is represented with a flat hand, and a horizontal peace sign is scissors. Paper wins over rock, rock wins over scissors, and scissors wins over paper. Everyone should pair off and play 3 rounds, with the winner advancing to the next round. The competition should continue until there is one winner. All you need for this game is a little time and your own two hands.
Another challenging game that doesn’t require anything else is charades. In this classic exercise, players try to guess a word or phrase based only on gestures. If you want to make sure things run smoothly, you might want to prepare a list of safe words or phrases. When playing, have the first player pick a slip of paper and begin acting out the word that was on it. Other players try to guess what they are acting out, and a point is earned for every time they get it correct. Players take turns choosing a prompt and then acting out the phrase. If you feel like keeping score, divide the group into teams of two and keep track of the number of their correct guesses for points.
10. Human knot
This is a fun exercise for improving teamwork and communication. As the name suggests, everyone should tie themselves in a human knot. From there, they’ll try to untie the knot without breaking the chain. Prior to playing, you’ll need to clear a large space to play and make sure everyone has lots of space with no objects people could trip over or bump into. Begin by standing shoulder to shoulder and have everyone hold hands to form the knot. Every person should hold the hands of two different players (not the people directly next to them). Then, try to untie the knot without releasing hands.
11. Walk around the block
This activity is about as simple as it gets. Simply coordinate a time to take a walk as a group. If you are planning a company retreat or large meeting, make sure to include some time for fresh air and movement. Include the walk in the agenda that you put together: “3:00 - 3:30 - Walk around the block. Meet in front lobby.” It doesn’t get much easier and your colleagues will appreciate breaking up a long day with some stretching and chatting.
12. Office Price is right
Now is your chance to play game show host. Someone who is familiar with the items in the office should be the facilitator, since understanding prices is necessary for the game. Have them choose an item and then a panel of 3 individuals should guess the price without going over. Whoever is closest wins! You can organize this into a tournament where people go against each other for prizes, or just run the game impromptu and see who wants to participate.
13. Impromptu Shark Tank
If you’re building a multi-day agenda and have a couple hours to kill, put together a short-notice shark tank. The key is not to give too much notice - remember, these activities don’t require prep work and the last minute nature of idea generation is sure to lead to more creativity and laughter. Have small teams brainstorm and come up with a few ideas, and then present their best idea to a panel of judges who will decide if it’s worth investing in.
For more games that can be played without much preparation, review our list of team-building games without materials.
Office games that require props or preparation
14. Office bingo
A super fun and simple game, office bingo is easy to put together and everyone can be involved. First you’ll need to prepare the bingo cards. You can either download themed versions online or make one up by yourself with options like “has an organized desk” or “pranked a coworker”. Pass out the cards and then call out each card that you draw. The first person to mark an entire row wins!
15. Matching animal game
This game requires some light preparation, but it’s easy to execute. First, you’ll need to come up with pairs of cards, each with a matching animal (so two tigers, two elephants, etc). Hand the cards out randomly and make sure everyone keeps them a secret. The goal is for players to find the animal that matches theirs without using words - instead, they should make animal noises or movements to hint as to their species. The first “animal team” to pair off wins.
16. Kid photo guessing game
This game is pretty easy to put together at the last minute - everyone will just need time to print a childhood photo of themselves. To play, you’ll post each of the photos and then have staff guess which baby picture belongs to which employee. You can also pass around the photos and have everyone keep track of how many guesses they got correct. To make a competition out of it, announce a winner based on who got the most photo guesses right. There are a lot of variations on guessing games, and you can find more ideas on our blog.
17. Celebrity matching game
This is similar to the childhood photo matching game, only instead of a photograph from their childhood, staff should bring in a photo of a celebrity they’ve been told they resemble. You can either post the pictures in a public space or pass them around and have everyone guess which photo belongs to which person.
18. Blind sketching
This is a great communication exercise and is simple to play at work. The goal of the game is for a player to draw an object that was described correctly. It’s similar to charades, with a player sketches something based on gestures instead of words. You don’t need any special drawing skills, but you do need a pen and paper. It’s also helpful to have a larger open space where people can spread out and draw. Start by pairing off two players as a team. One player will make gestures describing an item and the other participant will draw. If the pair comes up with an accurate drawing of the described item, they win!
19. Chess competition
If you really want to get everyone’s brains cranking, set up a permanent chess set in a corner of the office. You can organize a formal chess tournament, where people play against each other and ultimately reach a winner. Or, you can just allow people to play as they have time and need a break. Chess is a strategic game so encouraging staff to play is a win-win.
20. Human snake
In this highly effective team-building game, players can focus on the value of trust and collaboration. The game requires people to follow the lead of the first player in a line to manage obstacles. This will require a large space that you can manipulate. Then come up with obstacles like books, chairs, or folded paper that you place on the floor. Have participants stand in a straight line to begin, and cover the eyes of everyone except the first player with a blindfold. The first player will walk through the space while other players follow in a line. The first person should help to guide everyone to avoid the obstacles and work as a team. If everyone successfully makes it to the end without stepping on any obstacle, the team wins!
21. Office Olympics
Indoor Olympics is an involved, physical game that has something for everyone. Come up with a series of fun challenges for everyone to participate in. You can set up things like paper basketball, where players attempt to land crumpled papers into a basket; or pencil javelin where players try to throw pencils into a cup. Get creative and come up with some fun contests using items from around the office. Just make sure to keep things safe and simple. This may require a longer period of time to complete, so it’s best as part of a larger retreat or to close out a full day of meetings. Make sure to read our in-depth article on office Olympics for more ideas.
22. Mystery basket
In this game, blindfolded players will try to guess what’s in a basket by feel. To play, gather a bunch of items from around the office. Obviously they should be safe and not have things like sharp ends or spikes. Place everything in a basket or bowl and have blindfolded participants explore the items with their hands and try to guess what they are observing. Keep track of answers with a pencil and paper, and the person with the most correct guesses wins.
23. Secret word
Insert some fun and laughter into your everyday office work by playing this silly game. To play, start by writing down any word on a piece of paper (An object or action is usually easiest). Choose your first participant and have them place the paper on their forehead (without looking at it). It’s key that the player doesn’t know what word they are displaying! Other players should gesture to try to get them to guess the word without actually speaking. The person with the card will try to guess the word based on the actions of everyone around them.
24. Tower building
A really fun game, this group exercise requires some materials and a space that’s set up for movement. The main items you need are uncooked spaghetti, marshmallows, tape, and string. You can organize people into groups or have a small group work together as a unit. The goal is to use these basic items to build the tallest tower possible. You can set a time limit if you want to make the game more challenging. This activity is good for team-building and morale boosting, and also helps with communication.
25. Scavenger hunt
A classic activity that gets people moving, you can put together a list of items to find - how far you want people to search is up to you. You can include only items that can be found in the office, or you can choose things that would require leaving the office and exploring your city. Either way, this is a good game for small teams to practice working together, which builds cooperation and collaboration skills.
26. Charity bike building
If you read our recent post on corporate charity, then you know the benefits of doing good for others. Volunteering for nonprofits is a great way to boost morale and also increase goodwill around your brand. Many organizations work on supplying bikes to underprivileged kids, and putting them together is a fun group activity. Many people choose to close out a company retreat with this activity, and you can research your local nonprofits to see who you might be able to support with this activity.
A team that creates things together, stays together! Bring your group together to make something new. You can work as one large group but this is probably easier to facilitate if you break everyone up into smaller teams. Give people time to brainstorm ideas, and then come up with a workable prototype or model. This is a more in-depth activity that takes at least two days (one day for planning and one for bringing in supplies and building). A third day could be presenting the ideas and potentially having a panel judge the entries. For games that are best for larger groups, check out this post.
28. Murder mystery
Channel your inner detective with a mystery outing (or bringing an event into your company). Do some research on your local options: there may be a dinner venue that conducts the murder mystery, or you might be able to find a facilitator that brings in all of the necessary supplies and puts on a program for your staff. This is a fun way to get everyone’s brains working and ramp up communication skills.
29. Pin the tail on…
Return to your childhood birthday with a “pin the tail on” game. You can buy a set from a party store or online, or you can make up your own game with your own visuals. Some people print a large photo of a coworker and have that as the game piece. For example, if your boss always drinks Diet Coke, maybe you have a life-size image of her and participants should try to pin the beverage into her hand. As a refresher, the game involves having participants approach the game, one at a time, to be blindfolded and spun around. Then, they attempt to pin an accessory to the larger picture. It’s usually good for some laughs to see where everyone’s pins ended up.
Chances are you’ve had some good times at your local karaoke bar. If you have an upcoming party or large event, why not bring the karaoke to your team? Karaoke machines are easy to buy and pretty inexpensive. Set one up and have colleagues take turns picking a few songs to belt out. Note: this is a more festive activity that is best for fun social outings, rather than as part of a serious meeting. Additionally, not everyone will be comfortable with singing in front of others, so it’s really important that you make this activity completely extra-curricular and optional. For more work happy hour ideas, make sure to follow our blog.
31. Lunch, learn, and game
Lunch and learns are a great way to gain information about something new. If you have some gamers in your organization, why not put together a lunch and learn where the focus is the game? Participants can share tips and help each other improve, while playing the game and enjoying their lunch. Simply set up a conference room with the necessary devices. Make sure everyone has space to sit comfortably and engage with the game as well as each other.
32. Customized jigsaw puzzle
Have you seen the puzzles that are made from a photo? You can create them on websites like Shutterfly and they make a fun addition to any office (as well as a thoughtful gift). If you have some great pictures of your team, why not have one made into a puzzle that your team can work on together? You can set up a special date to work on the puzzle, or just place it on a table in your break room or a conference room and encourage people to work on it occasionally as they need a break.
33. Ice cream and icebreakers
Speaking of taking a break, the only thing better than an enjoyable break is a break with treats. During your next large gathering, pass out some ice cream and host a few icebreakers. The focus should be on getting to know new things about your colleagues, particularly if they don’t already know each other well. For more getting to know you ideas make sure to follow our blog.
34. Human Hungry Hippos
Do you remember the game Hungry Hungry Hippos from childhood? Bring the game to life with this super physical challenge. You’re guaranteed to get some laughs after even the longest meetings. The concept is simple: you recreate the classic game using your own bodies, skateboards, laundry baskets, and plastic balls. You can have 3 or 4 people go against each other every round.
To start, one person lays on their stomach on a skateboard, and another participant holds their feet in order to steer. The laying-down player should hold a laundry basket upside down, ready to snatch the balls. The leader should dump a basket of small plastic balls onto the floor to start the game. From there, each pair of players scrambles to grab as many balls as they can with their basket. The pair with the most balls at the end wins. This game is best suited for people who don’t mind getting physical and aren’t afraid of looking silly.
35. Conference table curling
If you have a beat up conference table that you don’t mind adding a few more scratches to, try this take on an olympic favorite. Set up a few items at each end of the table, and then use other objects to try to slide across the table and hit the thing at the end. Coasters or matchbox cars are good options for sliding, and the end objects can even be as simple as a post-it note. This simple game is also a great addition to a day of activity, such as hosting an office Olympics.
36. Game like it’s 1999
Who didn’t love Super Mario Brothers? Break out your old Nintendo console and encourage everyone to take a few turns reminiscing with this exciting game. So that everyone feels included, people can create a cheering section or come up with a victory dance for the end of each round.
37. Cubicle fixer-upper
If your team has a love of home decor, then an improvement challenge is right up their alley. If you want, you can give people a day’s notice so they can bring in some items. However, with no notice, they’ll need to be more creative. Everyone can fix up their own desk area, or work in pairs and “fix up” each others’. It’s fun to see what clever improvements people come up with, and such an organization can actually be helpful!
Activities for hybrid teams
38. Online lunch and learn
Similar to a regular lunch and learn, set one up for your virtual teams. Set a time and determine a topic, and you might want to invite a special speaker to present. The idea is that everyone can learn more about something interesting to them over their lunch.
39. Weekly yoga sessions
If your company has a focus on wellness, then implementing a weekly yoga practice is a good step. Set up an online meeting and either have an instructor go through poses or have someone who is proficient in yoga volunteer to lead the group. Keep the meetings at the same time each week so people can plan around it.
40. Trivia Tuesday
Set up a recurring meeting where participants have the chance to answer trivia questions. You can change the theme each week, or use a random trivia question generator online. Again, keeping the meeting at the same time each week allows people to plan around it and attend as they’re able.
41. History improv
Challenge your team’s improv skills as well as their history knowledge. Create an online meeting, and then choose a participant randomly to start. Come up with a historical event and then have them reenact it or tell the story as if they were there. This can be difficult on the spot and usually encourages a fun and silly vibe.
Test your knowledge of geography by playing this online game. Players are dropped into a random area on Google Street View and have to guess where they are. This friendly competition is a great way to brush up on geography!
43. Chopped: virtual edition
If you’ve never seen Chopped, it's a cooking show where participants receive a basket of random (usually unrelated) ingredients that they must turn into a culinary masterpiece. You can make this a virtual activity by sending out grocery orders to your team so that everyone has the same ingredients. Then, set up an online meeting so everyone can get a peek into each other’s kitchens. This is a fun way to get to know a more personal side of colleagues that are far away.
44. Hot takes
Throw out some quick, controversial statements that are sure to generate conversation. Everyone should take a turn sharing their “hot take” and enjoying the chats that ensue. For example, “Pizza is a terrible food”, or “Cats are better than dogs”.
45. House tours
You don’t need a single thing for this activity besides an online conferencing system. In your next virtual meeting, leave a few minutes for each person to show part of their house. They can share their workspace, a home project they’re proud of, or just a general tour. Either way, it’s a nice peek into the more personal lives of people you work with.
46. Would you rather?
This style of question makes for a really fun poll idea and also encourages conversation. Climb a mountain or dive in the sea? Make sure people explain their answer. If you have a recurring meeting, this is a fun way to kick it off each time since it’s quick and easy. Visit our article for the list of would you rather questions.
47. Virtual escape room
There are multiple options online for “escaping” a virtual room. Do some research and see which option might work best for your team. You get all the benefits of a real escape room including collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Best of all, you don’t ever need to leave your desk! Explore this post for more problem solving games.
48. Virtual scavenger hunt
Host an adventure for your virtual team by putting together a scavenger hunt. Create a list of items that people should be able to find around their house. Set a timer and give everyone a chance to gather the items and return to their screen. The first person who returns to their seat with all the items wins.
49. “Guess the desk”
Prior to your next virtual meeting, have everyone take a photo of their workspace and then send it in. To kick off the meeting, show all the photos one at a time and have attendees guess which desk is whose. You’ll want to give people a bit of notice so that they can clean their messy areas!
50. Virtual city tour
If your team is scattered around the country, take turns having one person per meeting show off their city. They can hold their phone as a camera and show you some highlights from their town. Note: Obviously this only works if people can walk around outside, so you don’t want to choose meetings where people need to be in front of their screen or taking notes. The tour guide needs to be free to roam to make this fun.
Put some playtime into your work programs
Any of these games make a great morale booster and a fun break. However, take things a step further by planning a company retreat that mixes game-style fun with educational sessions, strategy meetings, and more.
If you’ve been hesitating to plan a company retreat, reach out to Surf Office for help. We work with organizations of all sizes in all industries to put together fun and engaging retreats that bring teams together.