Winter is coming! Or, depending on where you are in the world and what your body temperature is, it’s already here. In any case, with the holiday and the new year season looming over the horizon, it’s safe to say that we’ll soon be in full winter mode.
What does that mean for team building? In normal years, we would suggest doing a lot of activities and events indoors, given the cold weather. However, this year, with the virus still active and new variants emerging, that might not always be possible or advisable.
Luckily, there are still some great options for team building available. The growth in telework and communication technology has opened the door to a lot of new and exciting online team building activities that your team can try, both more formal programs and ones that you can try with only a little planning on your own.
It’s a good time to point out that no matter what you choose to do with your team, winter is an important time to plan team building activities with your team. In the lead-up to the new year, you want to celebrate your successes and have some collective bonding time before the break.
And remember too that winter lasts for a while after the holiday season. A new-year party or activity with your team can help focus everyone back together, and events throughout the winter period can help fight off the loneliness and lack of motivation that often occur in those dark, cold months until spring.
To help you out with some ideas, we’ve made an easy guide to winter team building activities. Hopefully it will help you out if you’re stuck without any ideas, or inspire you to think of some new activities for your team this winter. So…let it snow!
Indoor activities are great for when it gets colder and you don’t want to meet outside. That being said, it may not be doable to hold indoor events, depending on health advisories. The indoor activities we included here are ones that can be done easily in your office.
1. Suitcase Mystery (1&2)
Invite Japan has two indoor games in its dispatch series, Suitcase Mystery. Both of these games feature a number of puzzles contained in portable suitcases, which can be played in your office, or wherever else your event happens to be (conference room, hotel, etc.).
Suitcase Mystery 1 has a more “antique” feel. The story and puzzles are based in a sort of “early 20th” century vibe. Suitcase Mystery 2 has a much more modern-day aesthetic, with jet-setting story and an innovative smartphone-based hint system.
These games are particularly good at building relationships, even among team members who are meeting each other for the first time. They can also be useful for teams that are returning to the office after spending a while apart.
2. Improv Games
Improv games are also easy to do in your office. Improv games are based around exercises used for improvisational acting, and they can teach teams how to be more flexible, spontaneous and open with each other, as well as how to react in the moment and think more creatively.
One example of an improv game is the “Yes, let’s!” game. One team member shouts out an idea for everyone to do (e.g. “swim in the ocean”, “go to the moon”, “jump in a time machine”–the more creative the better). The other team members that want to do the activity say “Yes let’s” and act out the activity, while those that don’t collapse dramatically on the floor. Another team member shouts out an idea for something to do that builds on the first idea, and so the game continues until no one wants to do the proposed activity.
The shift to remote and hybrid workers has created a wealth of new online tools and applications, which have also allowed online team building to flourish. Online team building is perfect winter, since it all occurs inside, and participants don’t even have to brave the cold to leave their houses.
Online team building can serve other great functions too. If you are part of an international team, online team building can allow you to easily host an event with all of your team members, even if you are located on different continents. It also doesn’t require you to search for a venue to host an event, or spend time on logistics. This may be especially helpful for larger groups.
3. Online team building games
Invite Japan has two online games available this year. These are fun, puzzle based activities that activate teams’ communication and problem-solving skills. They also take team members on unique and memorable virtual journeys, so that they can share new experiences together.
• Tabitantei– The story and puzzles are based around an archaeological adventure across Japan. Teams are guided by colorful characters from Japan’s pre-historic era, who help them solve clues to find magical items.
• Secret Agent: The First Mission– This game revolves around an art heist from a famous museum. Teams are part of an international spy agency that is tasked with using clues to find the location of the missing painting. This is definitely our boldest and most creative endeavor yet, with innovative puzzle designs and an easy-to use online interface.
4. Online holiday parties
Winter may be cold, but it makes up for this with a lot of great holidays. These holidays are a great pretext for team building events, and can be used as a basis to provide some much-needed fun to drive the winter blues away.
Online Christmas Party
First up is Christmas. Sing some carols, decorate a virtual christmas tree, or just drink some eggnog and enjoy the cozy atmosphere. Gift exchanges by mail might also be fun to do, if you can organize it well in advance.
Online end-of-year & new year party
The classic way to celebrate the year that was and ring in the new one. All you need to organize a basic one is drinks and a computer screen. But for more ideas, check out our blog post on this topic. With a little more planning, you can host some fun events like trivia and other online games.
December and January have most of the parties and holidays, so the rest of the winter months tend to get ignored. But this is when the weather gets the coldest, so team members may need a little pick-me-up. Valentine’s Day offers a good excuse for a team building activity. Have an online drinking party, or do a virtual wine or chocolate tasting party. If you’re really ambitious, you could even make your own chocolate together.
5. Coffee (or Hot Cocoa) Talks
The idea here is to organize little informal chats between team members online. Winter is the best time to sip a hot drink, like coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. So combine the two to make a quick and cozy little get-to-know-you activity. You can organize the talks around specific topics, or get team members to prepare little Ted Talk-like presentations to guide the conversation.
6. Online talent show
This is the chance for your team to show off all their skills. Many people have non-work-related talents that their team members might not know about. So this is a great and easy way to learn more about each and build better relationships. The online format might also make members who are shy more willing to share their secret talents..
7. Online cooking party
It gets cold in the winter, so why not warm up with a little team cooking/baking challenge. You can make something simple and holiday-themed, like sugar cookies or chocolate. You can also make drinks like hot toddies or hot cocoa.
8. Olympics viewing party
Remember that the Olympics are back again in 2022, this time in Beijing for the winter games. If you’re not worn out from the last Olympics only a few months ago, why not do a virtual viewing party? The opening ceremony is always a popular spectacle, even for those who don’t like sports. Or you could choose an event that your team wants to watch together. It might be good to get some team building inspiration by watching professional athletes do their best.
Even though we said above that winter is cold, sometimes it’s good to get outside. In Tokyo at least, winter has a lot of dry, sunny days that are not so bad during the daytime. So if you feel sick of staying indoors all the time, pick a day to get some fresh air outside with your team. Go on a hike, have a picnic in a park (if the weather is nice enough), or organize a more detailed day of team building, with the activities below.
9. Scavenger hunts
Scavenger hunts are a great way for your team to get outside, while giving them a more focused goal to work on. Scavenger hunts also take teams to different places that they may never have been to before, so they get to explore something new together and learn about each other. On the way to different locations, teams also have the chance to bond and talk as well.
Invite Japan’s scavenger hunts are puzzle-based, which means that teams use clues that they find at different locations to complete their list of puzzles. We have three different outdoor scavenger hunt options in the Tokyo area: Asakusa, Nihonbashi, and Yokohama. All three games can also accommodate larger groups, which is another plus.
For more information on any of our games and programs, please don’t hesitate to contact us! If you are looking for more formal team building training for your teams, we also have a number of workshops available, which include lectures, discussions, and supplemental activities.