Published On: 09/08/20221555 words7.8 min read

How to transform a team-building activity into a team-building experience?

Team building has always been an important part of the company culture, but employee activities have become even more important in the last few years. During the pandemic, many people experienced difficulties staying and working from home. They deeply missed their social life, going to the office and mingling with coworkers. 

But after almost two years of lockdown, things have changed. Many employees actually got used to staying at home. This way, they have more time for themself and their family. People also explored different relaxing and meditative experiences at home. It’s not surprising that painting and crafting have become part of many people’s lifestyles.

When everything returned to the “previously normal” life, the companies realised that people didn’t want to be at the office. They didn’t feel like they wanted to socialise that much. Unfortunately, teamwork became a difficult task for people as they got used to working on their own. 

The feeling about team building is quite mixed. You can hear employees saying:

  • “I don’t want to be forced to socialise or to do any activities after work. After spending 40 hours a week at the office, looking at the same faces, the only thing I want is to leave the office”. 
  • “I don’t see the point of my company asking me to spend one day outside running and jumping with my colleagues. This doesn’t help me to get to know them better. It just makes me hate my job as I am not a fan of physical activities”.

I have been researching this topic for quite a while. And believe me, a number of the people I spoke with do not like team building. On average, 80% of people don’t enjoy team building, while 20% think they are great for the team. 

That doesn’t mean that the companies have to stop doing team buildings. Contrariwise, team bonding and building events must be part of the company culture, philosophy, and management mindset. 

Having a team building once a year is not enough; honestly, it’s a waste of money. Some experts advise that companies with the best results must have at least one team bonding activity per month and team-building events at least 3 times a year.

Even more importantly, those events need to be organised more thoughtfully and with the employees in mind. We need to start thinking about those events not as a “team-building activity” but as a “team-building experience”. 

What is the difference between “activity” and “experience”? I think it’s pretty much self-explanatory. An activity is something you can do with or without pleasure. It is something you’ve been asked as a part of your commitment as an employee.

Experience, on the other hand, is something by default to make you feel good, evoke positive emotions, and make you remember this moment.

The team-buildings become crucial for the company culture and employees’ well-being. Therefore, managers need to find a better way to make their employees happy in the workplace.

Before we go deeper into this topic and see the most important elements to create a team-building experience, let’s define team building and team bonding.



Team bonding, on the other hand, is all about getting to know each other and developing loyalty between the team members. The main goal is to bring the team members together to enjoy some fun time and activity that doesn’t require achieving any goals or objectives. This can be anything like going out for drinks after work, a mini art or craft workshop after work, or so on.   

How do you transform a boring team-building activity into a great experience where the team members will have fun and remember what they’ve learnt? 

Setting the objectives

People of different ages enjoy different things and perform activities differently. If you have a group of different ages, the activity should be something suitable for all team members.

Also, some activities are more likely to appeal to men and others to women. The team-building exercise should not take people out of their comfort zone as this will trigger a desire to escape. They will not enjoy the process; hence, the team-building goals won’t be achieved.

A study by the University of Sydney shows that some people hate compulsory team building. That is why I recommended an approach where people can discreetly opt out of team building, and their choice would not be visible to management.

The personality of the individuals or cultural background 

Not many people like active sports or going to the gym. I can raise my hands here. People like me prefer something more relaxing and quiet, where physical activities are not required.  

However, people active in exercising like jogging, riding a bike, and going to the gym regularly, will be very bored to have slow-paced indoor activity. 

To be on the same page with your employees, you can send an anonymous questionnaire and what they like and don’t like in terms of team-building activities. This one-time research will give you the necessary information about what kind of activities you can plan for your team.

Setting the objectives

As opposed to team bonding, team building needs to have objectives. This activity aims to build good working relationships and make the team members work better together.

One of the most common mistakes managers are guilty of is planning team building without having clear objectives.

Why is this important?

The different objectives will require different exercises. For example:


Improving communication and encouraging teamwork 


Back-to-back drawing or guess-the-movie type of activity. 

Divide the team into small groups and ask them to turn their backs. One group has to explain something while the other has to draw a picture or guess the movie. 

Increasing creative thinking and innovativeness 

Painting a puzzle picture or marshmallow spaghetti tower. The ideas here are for the team to collaborate and to perform creative solving problems.

Collaboration skills 

Artsy Scavenger Hunt – the original scavenger hunt is to hide different objects or pictures of the objects and give your team a time frame to find them. 

Add a bit more fun and creative twist, ask the team to find and paint or craft the object.

Catering for your event

Talking about the experience, we can’t skip the food & drinks options.

Regardless of your team-building and bonding activity plan, it would be best if you always thought of some snacks and drinks.

This is not only because you will enhance the experience but also because the food and drinks help people be more social. By the way, this is how the paint and sip business started. An artist in the US encouraged her adult students to bring some wine to the studio just because most people thought they could not paint.

The big question is, “What drinks & food should you provide?”

Shall you have alcoholic drinks or just soft drinks? Shall you have some crisps and sweets or provide some healthy yummy snacks?

This part of the event depends greatly on the budget, personal preferences, and where and when the event will be held.

You as an organiser will decide on the quality of the food, but there is one thing you should always be mindful of: the alcohol should always be less than the food.

The ideal ratio is 40 alcohol and 60 food.

When people drink without food, they get drunk quickly. So you can limit the drinks per person with tickets or vouchers. Let’s say each team member can redeem 2 glasses of wine and 2 or 3 soft drinks, for example.

This will not only help you with planning your budget but also reduce the possibility of getting people drunk.

Set the mood with decoration

You may ask, “Hey Mariella, why will I need decoration for a team building? Isn’t this all about the task and the activity?” 

I’ll say – yes or no. You want people to enjoy the activity and want them to feel good about it. A little extra touch, like some small flowers, candles, balloons, or a banner with a happy message, will bring a happier feel into the room. 

So the next time you plan a paint party, craft activity, or something else at the office, think about how you can enhance this experience with something a bit more special. 

This also can be a starting point for the entire event. 

Final thoughts

A team is a group of people with different personalities and professional experience. They don’t just work together but work towards goals and company objectives. Their ability to be collaborative, creative, and able to come together and tackle a problem depends greatly on regular team building and bonding events. If the approach to those events is a bit more special, the employee will be more enthusiastic and engaged with the activity. 

Today, plan the team building as an experience to bring more happiness and smiles to your office.