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Max Shepherd-Cross


September 5, 2023

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min read

8 affordable team building activities for every budget


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Doing something fun with your team outside of the office can be a great way to improve communication and build trust, but if your budget is limited, you're probably thinking that your options will inevitably be limited, too.

And while it's true that many team building activities can be pricey, there are tons of exciting and fun things you can do with your team without breaking the bank.

In this article, we'll explore eight affordable team building ideas that are perfect for any budget.

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Why are team building events so important?

Let's first take a moment to see why team building is so crucial.

Team building activities are important for a bunch of reasons and they can really make a difference in how a team functions. In short, they create an opportunity for your people to break the ice, bond, build trust, and establish strong relationships with each other.

They can come in many shapes and forms, such as:

  • Afterwork drinks (boring, but easy to organize)
  • Trivia games
  • Family fun days
  • Outdoor adventures
  • Problem-solving puzzles
  • Creative workshops
  • Board games
  • Virtual interactive games

You can even opt for virtual team building activities, if your team is spread across different locations or countries.

Here's a few of the ways in which team activities help build a stronger team:

  • They boost morale. When people have fun together, they trust each other more and could feel happier at work. More fun = less stress.
  • They improve communication. Whether it’s a strategic board game or a problem-solving game, team building exercises force everyone to talk and listen to each other. And, perhaps, explain their ideas in new ways.  
  • They also enhance collaboration. When you work together during a quiz game, it becomes easier to collaborate on difficult projects.
  • They boost creativity. When people are comfortable with each other, they’re more likely to share ideas without fear of being judged. And that's how the best ideas are born, right?

Team building activities can even help identify and develop leadership potential within the team. Through team challenges and group projects, your team members get the chance to show their leadership and problem-solving skills and motivate others.

Limited budget? You can still organize a fun team building event that everybody loves

Not every company can splash out on fancy team building activities. Budget constraints can be a real challenge, but, on the flipside, they might also force you to get creative. With some planning, you'll be able to pull off some awesome team building events that don't cost a fortune.

And you'd be surprised to see how many fun team building activities are free or cost very little, ranging from virtual team building games to icebreaker games and from a movie night to scavenger hunts.

You can even look into partnerships with local organizations or community centers to book venues for your team activities for cheap (or even for free), or do some volunteering work to bring your team closer and give back to your community.

Obviously, volunteering should be optional and it's best to give your team at least a few different options, so that each person can choose something that's meaningful for them.

Team building shouldn't depend on the budget you have but rather on the intention and effort put into creating a positive and supportive team culture.

We all have memories of at least one corporate team building event that was organized with lots of money -- but that was also super boring. Inexpensive or free team building activities, on the other hand, can be really fun, if they're done right.

What's an affordable team building?

The success of team events isn't measured by how much they cost but by the impact they have on team dynamics and employee engagement.

To put it simply, the best team building events are the ones your new hires can’t wait to tell their friends about.  And yes, this can be done without straining your yearly budget.

Defining 'affordable' in the context of team building: Factors to consider

Affordability depends on your budget and company size, so it's all relative. That said, when planning affordable activities, here are some things to consider:

  • Focus on those that have a low cost per participant but high impact. This doesn't necessarily mean going for the cheapest option available, though! The value you and your team get from the activity is just as important, if not more.
  • Identify what you want to achieve with the activity. Is it improving team communication? Boosting creativity? Building trust? Or is it simply having fun? Clear goals will help you plan better.
  • Think of the ideal group size. Some activities are better for small groups, while others could be fantastic for the entire team.
  • Decide on the time you want to spend. Some activities are quick, while others might take a whole day.
  • Factor in what you already have on hand and use in-house resources as much as possible, like meeting rooms or outdoor spaces. This can save you a lot of money.

Look for activities that require minimal setup and materials, as these tend to be more cost-effective. Remember to plan the logistics, too, such as location and transportation, to avoid additional last-minute expenses.

A top option you should consider are DIY team building activities. Instead of hiring external help, you can organize your own team building games. This not only saves money but also makes everything customizable.

Top 8 affordable or free team building activities

Let's now dive into the exciting part and talk about eight unusual team building activities for any budget.

Activity 1: Office trivia games

Office trivia games can inject some healthy competition into your workplace. Create customized trivia questions based on your company's culture, history, or industry -- or on any other topic that interests your team. If there aren't many topics that can unite everyone, you can organize a few different trivia games where everyone can participate.

Here are some ideas:

  • Something specific to your industry
  • Travel and geography trivia games
  • Movie or literature quizzes
  • Sports trivia games

A few people sitting in an informal indoor area
Office trivia games are a great way to boost engagement and motivate hybrid workers join you in

Activity 2: Virtual team challenges

If a part of your workforce is working remotely, you can use virtual team building activities. The possibilities are endless:

  • Virtual escape rooms
  • Online scavenger hunts
  • Virtual cooking/baking challenges
  • Puzzles and quizzes
  • A language learning game

This gives your remote team members the opportunity to socialize with others and not feel left out.

Activity 3: Outdoor adventures

Take your team out of the office and go outside! These can include activities such as nature hikes, trail running, orienteering, or even team-building obstacle courses.

An outdoor team building can be very budget friendly, since you don't need to rent a venue. You might still need to plan your team's transport, though.

Activity 4: DIY workshop sessions

Tap into your team's creativity with DIY workshop sessions.

Encourage team members to share their creative skills by organizing interactive workshops where they can teach their hobbies or crafts to coworkers. This is an excellent way to boost collaboration; plus, you'll be surprised at how varied and exciting your team's hobbies can be!

Activity 5: Volunteering or charity work

Giving back to your local community is not only fulfilling but also a terrific team-building opportunity.

Organize a charity event or a volunteering day where your team gets together to make an impact. For example, you could:

  • Spend a day sorting and packing food at a local food bank
  • Take part in a charity run or walk
  • Volunteer to cook and serve meals at a local soup kitchen
  • Collect and sort donated clothing for a local shelter
  • Mentor students in your community as a team

Activity 6: Team building games for hybrid teams

If you've embraced hybrid work, it's important to organize regular team building activities that each team member can participate in, regardless of whether they're working remotely on that day or have come to the office. Consider some of the examples from point 2 above, but also:

  • Thematic virtual meetings (for example, "Introduce your pet", "Tell us about your biggest achievement outside of work", "What's one thing we definitely don't know about you?", and more)
  • Virtual lunches or cocktail making parties
  • Book clubs

Looking for a simple way to know who's coming to the office and when, or to encourage your team members to join in for team events? Officely is a workspace management software that does all that (and more!). Plus, it's a tool your team will actually love using, and which is directly accessible in Slack.

Activity 7: Creative problem-solving tasks

Challenge your team's problem-solving skills with a few creative tasks. These can include riddles, puzzles, or even team-based escape rooms or scavenger hunts.

We promise that decision-making under pressure can be really fun... Especially if it has no implications on your actual work!

Activity 8: A movie night

Set up a projector and watch a movie together. Make a shortlist and have the team vote on their favorite, and then spend some time chatting about the movie before everyone heads home.

No movie night is complete without snacks, so make sure you get some popcorn, chips, and drinks.

Top tips for implementing affordable team building activities

Now that you have a number of affordable team building activities to choose from, let's discuss a few tips to ensure their successful implementation.

Communicate with your team

Even if you’re on a tight budget, you can still make your team building activities impactful and fun.

Keep the communication lines open and get feedback to see which activities your team loves the most. Set clear goals for each activity and have a quick chat afterward to talk about what everyone enjoyed or didn't like. And, as usual, make sure you implement your team's feedback.

Plan ahead and delegate

Give yourself enough time to set up the event -- and delegate a part of the organization to your team. This can help you find deals on supplies and avoid last-minute expenses and will also make everyone feel more involved and in charge.

Keep it simple

Sometimes, the simplest activities are the most effective, so don’t overcomplicate things. Focus on simple things and try out different approaches. A simple treasure hunt where teams compete about who finds different items faster can be much more enjoyable than an evening at a fancy cocktail bar!

The best team building experiences aren't the most expensive ones

Team building doesn't have to drain your budget. By organizing a few affordable team building activities in the next quarter, you can boost communication and improve trust within your team. Try it out!

And, if you have a hybrid team and are looking for a way to encourage participation in team activities and events, Officely is exactly what you need: With it, team members can know who's coming to the office and when, and see what events you've planned and say whether they'll be joining.

Book a free demo to see how easy it can be to plan for your team activities if you have the right tools.

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Max Shepherd-Cross

Max Shepherd-Cross

Max is one of the cofounders and CEO of Officely, a flexible work enablement platform. He has helped thousands of businesses not only transition to flexible work but instil it at the core of their culture and brand.

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