30 Trust-building exercises and activities for teams

Have you ever worked in a team where nobody trusts each other? It’s horrible, right? You never know where you stand with your colleagues! And you feel disinclined to offer your support because you don’t know if it’ll ever be reciprocated.

By contrast, there’s nothing better than trusting your workmates. Because trust forms the bedrock of any relationship, it’s easier to get along, work well together, and feel motivated about coming into the office each day.

That’s where trust building exercises come into play. In combination with things like icebreaker games and team-building activities, they help you bolster employee relationships and improve levels of teamwork. Sounds good? Read on for a comprehensive list of 30 trust building games, exercises, and activities.

Active trust building games

Some of the best trust-building exercises involve getting outside, being active, and solving practical challenges that bring everyone closer together. Here are 6 great examples of these types of trust-building activities:

1. Scavenger hunt

Ready for one of the most popular trust building exercises out there? That’s right, scavenger hunts aren’t just for kids! They’re amazing ways to bring work teams together too. The idea’s very simple:

You separate employees into two or more teams and tell them to find a number of pre-hidden items (or complete particular tasks) in a particular place. Whether you’re in the office, in a park nearby, or at someone’s house, the first team to find everything (or finish their list of tasks) wins!

There are numerous ways to make scavenger hunts even more exciting.

For example, you can set a time limit to add extra pressure to proceedings. Or why not take everyone to a new part of town? You’ll be exploring somewhere new, solving puzzles, finding missing items, and winning prizes every step of the way.

However you do it, this is a surefire exercise to make people smile and generate a newfound sense of camaraderie.

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2. Minefield

Minefield’s another fun exercise that’s sure to keep the whole team happy, engaged, and working together from the outset. Here’s how it works:

Take your employees to an open area, such as a park, and lay out an obstacle course using chairs, cones, paper cups, or anything else you can find. The idea is to create a “minefield” – a space full of items they’re not allowed to stand on.

Next, ask the team to take turns wearing a blindfold while everyone else guides them through the obstacles with verbal commands (e.g. “stop”, “take one step left”, and “walk forwards”). Whoever’s blindfolded isn’t allowed to talk – all they can do is listen closely and follow instructions. In other words, they have to trust their teammates to get them from A to B!

Want to add a competitive element? Split people into teams and treat it as a race. The first team to get each member successfully across the minefield wins.

You could make things more interesting by awarding prizes. Trust us, there’s nothing like the promise of a bottle of bubbly (or a cash prize, or an Amazon voucher, or anything else of value) to get everybody involved.

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3. Frostbite

Frostbite’s an effective trust-building exercise that encourages strong communication and listening skills – not to mention teamwork as a whole. Like the other activities in this section, it works best if you’re in an open space, so head on down to the local park (or clear an area in the office!).

When you get there, break your employees into smaller teams of 5 to 6 people and ask each group to choose a leader (or do this for them if there are certain people you think would benefit from this role). Their objective?

To build a makeshift “tent” using newspaper, string, tape, and other office supplies*! But there’s a catch...

The leader of each group has “frostbite” and can’t move. And, to make matters worse, the other members have “snow blindness” and can’t see. In reality, this involves asking the leader not to do anything practical and putting blindfolds on the others. The only way to pitch the “tent” is to listen to the leader’s directions.

Spice things up even more by setting a time limit. The team with the best tent at the end wins a prize.

*Of course, this same principle can apply to any task, which is good news if you’re short on time and/or want an easier activity!

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4. Running free

Want an easy exercise that only takes a few minutes to complete? Well, running free could be perfect. Quick yet effective, it’s a surprisingly powerful way to bring employees closer together, evoke feelings of excitement and elation, and get them to trust each other better in the process.

To do it, you should go somewhere spacious and outside – like a park, large garden, or playing field. Then divide everyone into pairs, asking one member of each to wear a blindfold. Next comes the fun bit:

Instruct each pair to hold hands and start walking, then jogging, then running, and finally sprinting, with the sighted person leading the way each time! When that’s done, they swap the blindfold and repeat the process.

It’s surprising how much trust you have to put in the person leading you. Expect giggles, squeals, and nervous delight from the get-go!

However, you should always make sure people are fit, healthy, physically able, and willing to do this activity first. The last thing you want is for someone to get injured or feel excluded because they have mobility issues.

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5. Pipeline

Pipeline doesn’t just foster trust between colleagues. It’s also an awesome way to cultivate collaboration, communication, and listening skills.

Here’s the basic idea:

Each team member has a small half-pipe with which they have to transport a small ball/marble between point A and point B, without letting it hit the floor.

Each person rolls the ball along their pipe and onto the next person’s, before running to the end of the line so they can take the ball again when it arrives there! This continues until they deposit the ball into a basket at the end of the course.

If they drop it, though, they start over.

Of course, the more people on each team, the easier it becomes, and vice versa. Try to spice things up by adding a time limit and offering prizes to the victor. You could also put obstacles in the way to make the task harder!

Another advantage of Pipeline is that you can play it anywhere. Indoors or outdoors, confined to one room or spread across many, it’s your choice. However, the bigger the space, the trickier the task.

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6. Snakes

If you have a big team of employees that you’re trying to turn into a more cohesive unit, then Snakes could be an ideal trust-building activity. It’s another exercise that involves a large space, but you can do it either indoors or outdoors.

Wherever you choose to go, start by splitting everyone into groups of 6 to 7 people and asking them to stand in a line.

Next, spread items around the room/area that can be picked up with relative ease. These objects can be anything you like – from staplers and coffee cups to chocolate bars and clothes!). Finally, place blindfolds on all but the last person in each line and ask everyone to put their hands on the shoulders of the individual in front.

The sighted person then has to direct the “snake” to each object, without talking. 

They give directions by tapping whoever’s in front of them on the shoulder, who then taps the person ahead of them in the same way, and so on until the front of the line. Tapping the left shoulder means “turn left”; the right means “turn right”. Pulling backward (gently!) means “stop”.

When the guy or girl at the front manages to pick up an item, they go to the back of the line and give their blindfold to the sighted person. It’s now their turn to direct the snake! The activity’s over when whoever started at the back (as the sighted person) ends up at the front.

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Creative/indoor trust building activities

Don’t worry, big spaces and physical activity aren’t prerequisites for a successful trust-building exercise! Some of our favorites involve nothing more than an office and some creativity. Here are 6 of them:

7. Perfect/blind square

Trusting your colleagues doesn’t just feel good. It also has very practical implications. After all, it means you can count on each other for help; to work together to achieve common goals.

The Perfect Square (otherwise known as the “blind square”) game teaches this lesson to your employees and sets in motion the teamwork that’s so pivotal to a successful working environment.

Here’s how it works:

Get your entire team to stand in a circle and give them a long stretch of rope to hold. Next, put a blindfold on each person. They then have to drop the rope, take a few steps back, and spin around a few times until they’re dizzy.

That’s when the fun really starts!

Their goal is to return to the rope and work together to lay it out in the shape of, you guessed it…a perfect square. You can give them as much time as they need or add some pressure by setting a time limit.

We like this activity for its simplicity, but you can definitely make it harder if your team’s finding it too easy! For example, why not get them to make a star, diamond, or pentagon? It’s sure to keep them occupied a little longer.

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8. Trust walk

Looking for a classic trust building activity that never fails to bring workmates closer together? Try the “trust walk” – another super straightforward exercise that’s reminiscent of the “minefield” exercise we described earlier.

Start by creating a path for people to follow, complete with obstacles, twists, and turns. Next, divide your team into smaller groups of 2 to 3 people and give one of them a blindfold to wear. The sighted individuals then have to guide whoever’s blindfolded along the path as quickly (and safely) as possible.

When they finish, the blindfold passes to one of the others. Repeat this process until each group member has completed the course. The first group to have each member complete the course wins!

As long as you clear enough space, you can do the trust walk in the office. However, we recommend trying it outside at some point too!

The extra room available adds to the fun. Heck, some teams choose to do this exercise as part of a larger hiking activity – on a team-building retreat, for instance, where the entire experience revolves around boosting camaraderie.

Want a slight variation on the trust walk? You could also do an exercise called “the blind trail”. It’s a similar concept, but this time every person on each team is blindfolded. Have them stand in a line, holding onto a rope.

Their task?

Work together to navigate an obstacle course that you’ve laid out (all while holding onto the rope). They’re allowed to talk and use non-verbal communication – enabling them to help and trust each other as they proceed from A to B.

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9. The human knot

As the name of this game suggests, the human knot brings teams together in a very literal sense! A fun trust-building exercise that you can do anywhere and anytime, it’s sure to generate giggles galore.

To play the Human Knot, you’ll need an even number of employees and 6 or more people on the team. The more people you have, the harder the task becomes.

Start the activity by asking everyone on the team to stand in a circle.

Next, tell them to reach their right hand into the center and to hold hands with someone on the opposite side of the circle. They must then do the same thing with their left hand, ensuring they grab hands with a new partner. Take note: you’re not allowed to hold hands with whoever’s immediately on your left or right.

By this point, they should be well and truly knotted. Their goal is to unravel the knot, without letting go of each other’s hands. Want to make things harder? Give them a 5-minute time limit! Feel free to take as long as you want though.

One of the biggest reasons to do the Human Knot is that it levels the playing field. Rather than one person acting as leader and issuing orders, the focus is on working together; everyone has an equal role in achieving the desired outcome.

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10. Blind wine waiter

Of all the trust-building exercises on this list, Blind Wine Waiter’s almost guaranteed to go down well with your employees – assuming they’re aged 21 or older! Why?

Firstly, because it’s a fun, light-hearted game that’ll have you crying with laughter. And secondly, because it involves drinking wine.

Make no mistake though. As breezy and irreverent as this may sound, Blind Wine Waiter’s a powerful exercise that cultivates trust, develops teamwork, rewards strong communication, and helps foster leadership skills.

Here’s how to play:

  1. Divide your employees into teams of 6 people
  2. Ask each team to designate a leader
  3. Blindfold everyone but the leader of each team
  4. Instruct the leader to sit close to their team and on their hands (they’re not allowed to move or use their hands)
  5. For each team, place one bottle of wine, a corkscrew, and enough wineglasses for each person at various points around the room (ensuring nothing fragile is positioned where it might fall or break easily)
  6. Each team then has to follow directions from their leader to find each item and return them to their base (i.e. where the leader’s sitting)
  7. They then have to open the wine bottle with the corkscrew and pour themselves a glass of wine each
  8. Finally, they have to drink the wine and help the leader (who still can’t use their hands!) do the same.
  9. Importantly, each member of the team must perform exactly one task. 

The first team to finish their bottle of wine is the winner! Feel free to set a time limit and award prizes if it seems appropriate.

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11. Egg drop

We love this one! Egg drop (otherwise known as Defend the egg) is another all-popular team and trust-building exercise that a) rewards creativity and b) you can do anywhere. Helping with collaboration, problem-solving, and communication, to name but a few, the aim is simple:

Use everyday materials to build a contraption that stops an egg from breaking when dropped from a height.

Divide your employees into relatively small teams of 3 to 4 people. You then give each team an egg, a limited supply of materials (each team should receive exactly the same materials), and a time limit in which to build their protective device. FYI, having fewer materials makes the activity harder!

At the end of their allotted time (20 to 30 minutes works well), you do 2 things:

  1. Judge each design on its creativity, aesthetic appeal, and any other factors you can come up with (the winners get prizes!)
  2. Drop each contraption – one at a time – from a height of at least 15 feet

If the egg doesn’t break, then the team that designed the device gets a prize!

We should mention that while this activity can be done indoors, you’ll want to choose a setting where you don’t mind making a mess! If you don’t want egg yolk covering your office floor, consider going outdoors for the actual “drop test” part of the task. 

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12. Pinball

Pinball plays on the vulnerability people feel when they’re blindfolded to improve relationships among colleagues. After all, when your sight’s taken away, you have no choice but to rely on others for guidance!

This powerful trust-building exercise takes that concept and turns it into a game. 

However, unlike the actual pinball machines that you find in old-school arcades, the “pinball” in this scenario is one of your employees…

Wearing a blindfold, they stand in the middle of a circle formed by the rest of the team, getting pushed gently from one person to the other. Whenever they reach someone at the edge of the circle, that individual spins them around and nudges them back across to the other side.

It might sound easy, but the combination of being dizzy and blind puts you in a bizarre and helpless position. It forces you to trust your teammates – to put your fate in their hands. This naturally makes you feel closer to them.

There’s no time limit on this activity. It ends whenever everyone has had a go at being blindfolded!

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Verbal trust building exercises

There may come a time when you want to build trust within your team without asking them to stand up, move around, or use their bodies in any other way! In these moments, verbal trust-building activities are ideal. Requiring nothing more than the ability to talk, they’re super simple ways to improve workplace relations.

13. Two sides of the coin

Two Sides of The Coin is a quick game that’s a surprisingly powerful way to challenge preconceived notions and both forge and strengthen friendships. It revolves around the psychological concept of reframing, which is defined by the American Psychological Association as:

“A process of reconceptualising a problem by seeing it from a different perspective…[which] serves to alter perceptions of the problem’s difficulty and to open up possibilities for solving it”.

Here’s how it works:

Each team member has to think of a negative event that has happened to them in their lifetime. It could be personal or professional, but it has to be true. Importantly, they should also feel comfortable talking about the event.

Everyone then pairs up with a partner (feel free to let people choose or decide for them who will work together) and takes turns disclosing what happened.

Having described it once, they then do it again! This time, though, they have to talk about the bright side of the event. Their partner’s job is to help them find and focus on this silver lining – working with them to reframe the problem into something positive.

They then switch roles so the helper becomes the helpee.

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14. Three truths and a lie

Fun, fast, and easy trust-building exercises don’t get much better than this one. A true classic, “Three Truths and a Lie” helps teams learn more about one another, show off their individual personalities, and become closer friends in the process.

With 3 or more people sitting together in a circle, you ask each person to come up with 4 facts about themselves. But there’s a catch! As the name of the game suggests, only 3 of those facts should be true.

The other should be a lie that’s framed in such a way that it sounds true. The more feasible it seems, the better.

From there, each participant takes turns revealing their facts – keeping their best poker face on at all times. The group has to decide which statement’s the lie, using what they know of the individual to determine their answer. When they’ve finished guessing, the person reveals the truth!

We like this exercise for a host of reasons, but its accessibility is one of its biggest benefits. You can do it anywhere and at any time, with no tools required.

15. “Yes, and?”

Anyone with experience in the active world may have encountered this exercise before. A classic improv game that revolves around cooperation, communication, and creative thinking, it’s fast-paced, funny, and full of opportunities to become a tighter-knit team!

You can play “Yes, and” in pairs, but we prefer it in a larger group. Standing in a circle, the basic idea is to work together to create a silly story, one statement at a time, using the words “yes and” to drive the plot forward. The goal is to make each new statement more exaggerated.

One person starts with a simple statement, then makes clear eye contact with whoever they want to continue the tale. For example:

The goal is to cultivate a fun and carefree atmosphere and to keep the story moving as quickly as possible. Rather than pausing to think of the “right thing” to say, each person should relate the first “yes, and” phrase that comes to mind.

It doesn’t have to make sense – the sillier, the better!

This game can be a tad daunting at the start. But that’s almost the point. By talking without thinking, each team member opens themselves up to being vulnerable.

Far from being mocked, though, they’re celebrated. They discover they can be themselves around their colleagues, which is a huge boost to morale and levels of trust within the team.

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16. You get one question

Some of the simplest trust-building exercises for new teams involve asking good old-fashioned ice-breaker questions. Case and point?

“You Get One Question”.

This super quick and easy game requires minimal preparation, which makes it ideal whenever you want the team to connect and/or unwind. It’s a good way to kick off morning meetings, for instance, or to use when onboarding new employees.

To play, you need to create or acquire some cards with different scenarios or roles written on the back. Examples might include “starting a company”, “babysitting your nephew”, or “being a world leader”.

You’d then split your team into pairs and let them choose a card from the deck. Their task is to come up with one perfect question to determine if the other person would be a good fit for that specific role.

After a few minutes of thinking and talking, you can then reconvene and discuss the questions and the process of creating them as a group. By the end, your team will have had a stimulating chat in which they learned more about each other.

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17. Sticky notes/Who am I?

Here’s one you may have played with family over Christmas, or as a drinking game with friends at university! This time, though, it’s strictly professional – a trust-building exercise that teaches the virtues of communication and teamwork, while also providing some good light-hearted fun.

Sticky Notes (otherwise known as “Who Am I?”) involves giving each employee a sticky note and pen and asking them to write down the name of a famous person or character. These people can be alive or dead, real or fictitious (e.g. from a movie), but should be a name that everyone in the group will recognize.

Each team member then takes their sticky note and puts it on a colleague’s forehead – ensuring they don’t see who’s written on it! Their task is to figure out the name on their note by asking “yes/no” questions to their colleagues.

For example:

You can play the game in different ways, depending on the size of your team. For smaller groups, it’s fun to sit in a circle and take turns asking questions. For larger teams, it may be easier to walk around as if you’re at a networking event, mingling with others and asking questions as you go.

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18. Desert survival

“It’s 11.30am on a midsummer’s day and your plane has just crash-landed on a remote desert island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Your task is to rank these 20 items that were salvaged from the plane in order of their importance to the survival of you and the team.”

That’d be one way to introduce the classic team and trust-building exercise called Desert Survival! A powerful way to demonstrate that teams outperform individuals and that collaboration’s key to success, this activity always goes down well.

There are three ways to play:

In any case, the team gets around 40 minutes to discuss each item, reflect on their respective pros/cons, and work together to decide what they’re going to keep. In the process, they’ll realize the:

From a managerial perspective, the Desert Island scenario also reveals how well the team works together and how easily they find solutions to a problem. You’ll see how rapidly they approach a state of synergy – where collaboration enables them to leverage their individual strengths and become greater than the sum of their parts.

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Quick trust building activities

On the hunt for effective trust-building exercises that you can do in a hurry? We’ve been through a few already, but here are 6 more to try:

19. Pencil drop

This Pencil Drop activity ticks all the right boxes. Short and sweet? Check. Fun-filled from start to finish? Check. Great for breaking the ice and boosting bonds between colleagues? Check!

Oh, and it’s nice and easy too…

All you need is a ball of string, a bunch of pencils, and some empty water bottles. With the supplies sorted, you can crack on with the task itself.

Start by dividing your team into pairs and asking them to stand back to back. Next, tie one end of both pieces of string around the eraser end of a pencil and the other end around their waists. They then have to walk forward (i.e. away from each other) until there’s no more slack in the string and the pencil’s suspended in the air.

Now the fun can begin! Their job is to work together, walking backward in a bid to lower the pencil into a water bottle that you’ve placed on the floor between them. To make things trickier, they’re not allowed to use their hands.

Want to add some fuel to the fire? Make it a race! Pit 2+ pairs against each other at the same time, awarding prizes to whoever wins.

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20. Willow in the wind

Remember the Pinball exercise we described earlier? Well, Willow in the Wind is very similar. This time, however, there’s no walking involved…

Instead, everyone stands in a circle, with one person in the middle. You then put a blindfold on whoever’s in the center and tell them to a) lock their legs and b) put their arms across their chest.

Then comes the nerve-wracking part:

They have to fall forward, or in any other direction, trusting their colleagues to stop them from hitting the ground! Each time they fall into someone, that person has to keep them upright and push them softly to another side of the circle.

After 30 seconds or so, swap the blindfold around and give someone else a turn. The activity ends when everyone has been in the middle.

Our pro tip is to stop the blindfolded person from falling too far! The further they fall, the harder it becomes to hold them up and push them away. Stay close together to make life easier and prevent accidents from happening.

For a variation of Willow in the Wind, consider doing a trust fall.

A popular team and trust-building exercise, the principle is the same except the blindfolded individual stands at a height (e.g. on a table or wall) and falls backward into the arms of their colleagues below.

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21. Penny for your thoughts

Struggling to stimulate conversation in the office? Keen for employees to open up? Determined to help everyone feel more comfortable, companionable, and communicative?

Give Penny for Your Thoughts a go!

This trust-building exercise is a quirky icebreaker that begins by putting pennies (or any other coins) in a box. Not just any coins though. They should be no more than 5 to 10 years old, as per the date marked on them.

Next, each person withdraws a coin and tells the team about something positive (or memorable) that happened to them in the year their coin’s from. If they can’t think of anything, they can put the coin back and try again. Go around the circle until everyone’s shared something with the others.

If you wanted to, you could also divide your team into smaller groups of 3 to 5 people, each with their own box of coins. This makes the activity feel more intimate and allays any discomfort people may have around sharing with the whole team.

It’s up to you to determine the right approach for your employees. Whatever happens, though, they’ll learn a lot of interesting facts about each other and feel a burgeoning sense of camaraderie as a result.

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22. Eye contact

On the subject of intimate activities, here’s another quick trust-building exercise that packs a punch. This time, all each team member has to do is maintain eye contact with a colleague for 60 seconds.

Give it a shot! Although it can feel a little awkward in the beginning, the simple act of looking into someone’s eyes can have profound effects. According to Healthline, for example, eye gazing has been shown to:

This exercise could also be useful – not to mention challenging – for team members who are shy and struggle to hold people’s gaze. They should start to feel more comfortable making eye contact, which is a surefire sign of confidence.

At the end of the 60 seconds, follow the activity up with a discussion about the experience. What thoughts were they having throughout it? How did people feel? And how did they feel about the person they were looking at? Can they take anything from it to apply in the workplace? 

Top tip: if you want to stretch this exercise out, you could have people repeat the process with a few additional teammates!

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23. Human spring

The Human Spring teaches participants the value of trust, cooperation, and interdependence – three core qualities of effective teams. If your workforce appears divided, there’s been recent conflict, or levels of collaboration seem to be dwindling, then we highly recommend it!

Here’s how to play:

Divide the team into pairs (consider doing this for them in order to break up the usual cliques and encourage mingling), ensuring that partners are of a similar size.

Next, ask the pairs to face each other and put their hands up, with their elbows bent, and palms facing the other person. They then have to put their palms together (i.e. person A’s palms should be touching person B’s) and lean towards each other, bit by bit, until they’re holding one another up.

That’s the easy bit! The real challenge comes next, when they have to start moving their feet further and further back, while keeping their palms together.

The beauty of this exercise is that each rearward shuffle makes it harder to stay upright without the support of their partner.

Eventually, their feet should be so far back that they’re relying solely on their teammate to stay upright. The pair with the greatest distance between their feet is the winner. They should then swap partners and do it all again!

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24. Birthday line up

Want a trust-building exercise that focuses on cooperation and problem-solving, while simultaneously teaching the virtues of communication?

Birthday Line Up could be perfect. Better still, it’s quick, simple, and can function as an effective icebreaker for any occasion.

You can do this activity as one large group or – for bigger teams – divide them into smaller groups of 7 to 8 people. In either case, you ask everyone to stand side-by-side in a line and to rearrange themselves in order of their birthdays (from youngest to oldest). But that’s not all…

They have to do it without talking. That’s right, this game revolves around non-verbal communication only!

Sign language, nudges, nods, and other strategies of this nature are all they can use to work out each other’s birthdays and put themselves in the right order. Expect fun, frustration, examples of strong leadership, and all sorts of creative thinking to ensue.

For a slight variation on this game, consider taking away peoples’ sight instead of their voices. Ask the team to stand on a bench, blindfolded, and perform the same task. They can speak to each other, but they have to start over again if anyone falls!

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Virtual trust building exercises

Gone are the days when working with colleagues meant you had to share an office with them! For some companies, the rise of video conferencing software means teammates may never actually meet in person.

Thankfully, there’s no shortage of trust building exercises that you can do online to help employees forge stronger connections wherever they are in the world. In this section, we’ll go through 6 of the best:

25. Show-and-tell

Show-and-tell is a useful game for cultivating a sense of unity and cohesion in remote teams. Quick and simple, you can do it any time and from anywhere to help people get to know, like, and trust each other better from afar.

The game couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is host a group video call and ask each team member to bring an item that’s significant to them (e.g. an award, a photo, a toy, a piece of sporting equipment, and so on).

Everyone then takes turns showing their item (via webcam) to the team and spends 60 seconds explaining a) what it is and b) why it’s so meaningful. If you wish, you can then open up the floor to questions so people can learn more about what their teammates just shared.

For best results, try to send everyone an email a few days beforehand, preparing them for the game. This should ensure they all bring something along and feel more comfortable sharing it with the group.

Top tip: Another way to play Show-and-Tell is via email.

This time, instead of talking about a special item over the webcam, team members take photos of it and include them in an email alongside a short message explaining something about it. This approach is often preferable for people who feel nervous about talking on camera.

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26. Unseen drawing

As you know, strong communication is one of the hallmarks of effective teams. It facilitates problem-solving, prevents conflict, and fuels innovation, among a slew of other benefits.

If you’re looking for a way to teach the value of it via video call, then give Unseen Drawing a go at your next virtual meeting! Sometimes called “back-to-back drawing”, this awesome trust-building exercise encourages colleagues to work together and think about how they communicate.

In the usual variation of this game, you’d divide your team into pairs and ask them to sit back-to-back. You’d then give a pen and paper to one member of each pair and an obscure photo/image/drawing to the other.

From there, whoever has the image must describe what they’re looking at (and/or give verbal instructions) so the person with the paper can draw it.

To complicate matters, the “artist” can’t talk! They simply have to listen to their partner and do their best to recreate the image.

When doing this task as a virtual team, you explain the task as a group, assign the roles of “talker” and “artist”, then break off into separate video calls – with each pair on their own call. For efficiency, you could send emails in advance to set the duos, assign roles, and pass on the images for them to describe.

Each pair has about 10 minutes to complete the task, before swapping roles.

Having completed the game, you hop back onto the group call where everyone compares images and discusses the experience.

What did they learn about the importance of clear communication? What problems arise when they’re vague and imprecise? How could they implement those lessons in their daily work lives?

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27. One-question icebreaker

Looking for a virtual trust-building activity that’s a little simpler than the one above? 

Try the “One-question icebreaker”. A versatile game that you can use for any occasion, you can boost the bond between teammates in just a few minutes.

There isn’t a lot to this one! You simply open up a group video call with a single, thought-provoking ice-breaker.

The question itself could be silly or serious, work-related or totally random. Whatever the case, you give everyone on the call a chance to answer it and let those responses spark further discussion.

Here are a few proven ice-breaker questions you could use:

What you need:

28. 5-Minute presentations

Answering a single question about yourself is great. But what if you could spend 5 entire minutes telling the team about something that makes you unique? Or a topic you’re passionate about?

Wouldn’t that be a more effective way to help people get to know you?

Of course it would! That’s why some managers and CEOs ask their remote employees to prepare brief presentations to share with everyone. An empowering trust-building activity, it gives team members a voice – a podium from which to tell their colleagues about who they are and what they enjoy doing outside work.

This brings people together for two main reasons. Firstly, the more you know about someone, the more you care about them! And secondly, the more you open up to others, the more comfortable you feel around them.

The end result is a stronger and more trusting relationship.

As for practicalities, you can approach these 5-minute presentations in a few different ways. For example, why not set aside an entire afternoon to let every team member give their presentation at once? Alternatively, you could start the mornings with one – asking different people to present on each day of the week.

What you need:

29. Home workspace tours

They say you can learn a lot about someone by looking at their home, which is probably why workspace tours are such good ways to build trust in remote teams!

There’s absolutely nothing complicated about this activity. It’s as simple as giving each employee a chance to show their colleagues where they work. They pick up their laptop, smartphone, tablet, or webcam, giving the team a quick tour of their office – or wherever they happen to be working that day.

It’s surprisingly fun though! Employees learn new things about each other, discover mutual interests, reveal their quirks and eccentricities, and gain a much clearer picture of who they work with.

Expect giggles, jokes, friendly banter, and fresh camaraderie to ensue.

You can do these tours at any time. However, we think they’re most enjoyable when saved for morning meetings or the final group video call of the day. Take that approach and you either start or finish the workday with something light-hearted. It’ll set a positive tone and put a smile on people’s faces.

What you need:

30. Final 30 seconds

What was the defining moment of your life? What’s the best thing that ever happened to you? What incident(s) enhanced your personal and/or professional life? What’s the most exciting, adventurous, or rewarding thing you’ve ever done?

Those are the types of questions around which this trust-building exercise revolves. Put them to your team at the next virtual meeting! To help them narrow down their search for answers, frame the initial question like this:

“What moment from your past would you choose to relive in the final 30 seconds of your life?”

Give each person a while to think about it and then go around the proverbial circle sharing your answers. Oh, and feel free to start proceedings with a story of your own! Telling the team about a special time in your life will encourage participation.

Honest and unpretentious, this exercise is a potent way to create a newfound sense of unity among remote employees. Having had a glimpse into their colleagues’ backgrounds, desires, and personalities, they’ll understand and be able to relate to one another better. Expect teamwork and trust to improve as a result.

What you need:

Tips for running trust building activities 

With the trust-building exercises behind us, here are a few key titbits to help you run them more effectively and prepare your team:

1. Remember the refreshments 

Providing free food and drinks makes a difference in two main ways. Firstly, it’s an added incentive to come along and take part! You’re more likely to get everybody’s buy-in if they know there are tasty snacks on the menu.

Secondly, it’ll give the team the energy they need to partake fully in the activities – especially if you have lots lined up for them to do.

Be sure to consider their dietary requirements though. Check for allergies and other restrictions beforehand so you can buy suitable refreshments.

2. Provide advanced warning

We mentioned the value of advanced warning in a few of the trust-building exercises above. However, it’s worth re-emphasizing as a general rule of thumb!

Never spring these types of activities on your team. Giving people forewarning allows them to prepare for the day – arranging their schedules so they don’t miss any deadlines, client meetings, and so on. Let them know what activities you have planned, how long they’ll take, and what (if anything) they need to bring.

This is of particular importance if you have any introverts on the team! Whereas extroverts are usually down for lively team bonding activities, those who dislike being in the limelight may appreciate the chance to prepare themselves.

3. Get approval from above

Do you have a boss, manager, or any other superiors in the company? If so, we suggest you notify them of the activities you have in mind and seek their approval before confirming anything with the team.

This should help you avoid any issues that could otherwise occur. For example, it wouldn’t look good if your session clashed with a meeting they’d been planning, or if a new deadline arose that they needed your team to hit. Furthermore, it gives them the opportunity to come along – whether it’s to lead an activity or say a few words.

4. Pick a suitable location

It goes without saying, but the venue for your trust-building event must be suitable for the activities you have planned and the guests you’ve invited. For instance, if it isn’t in your office, then is the location:

Asking yourself those sorts of questions should ensure you choose wisely. Conference rooms and recreation areas are popular choices.

5. Set the tone

The location, refreshments, and exercises themselves all contribute to the success of a trust-building event. However, the energy you bring to the table is another vital piece of the puzzle. You can’t expect the team to be excited, enthusiastic, and willing to participate if you aren’t!

So set the tone from the outset. Put a smile on your face, arrive in an upbeat mood, and express your gratitude for people’s attendance. That positivity and optimism will rub off on the group and they’ll respond with effort, interest, and eagerness. You can expect the trust-building activities to deliver better results as a result.

Try these exercises on a team retreat

There you have it, then: a long list of effective trust building exercises to help you create strong, cohesive, and productive teams.

Done right, these activities eradicate conflict, iron out issues among colleagues, and create a happy, cohesive, and productive environment that’s a joy to be part of.

All that’s left to do is find the perfect opportunity to put them into action! With that in mind, why not organize a team-building retreat? These offsite experiences bring employees together in a fun and unique environment, which makes them ideal for trust-building activities. The best part?

Surf Office can organize the entire trip for you!

We use our local knowledge to craft unforgettable work retreats in 110 different locations. Simply tell us what you want and we’ll take it from there. It’s never been easier or more affordable to kill the routine and organize a winning team-building experience. If that sounds good, then click here to get in touch.

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