July 13, 2022

9 team building activities without materials that don’t suck

A detailed list of fun and simple team building activities without materials suited for in-person and virtual teams.

Putting together team building activities often requires a lot of time, money, and effort. But sometimes, you might find that you have no time to prep or no budget for extra materials. If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar position, this is the article for you. To help you get out of sticky situations like this, we’ve put together a list of time-saving team building activities that require no materials for both in-person and virtual teams

In-person team building games with no materials

Jumping straight into our list of fun team building games with no materials for in-person teams to play in the office. 

1. Conducted story

Best for: Encouraging communication and collaboration

At the top of our list of team building activities that require no materials is ‘conducted story’. This game is one of our favorites because it helps players sharpen their communication skills by encouraging them to listen and pay attention

To play,

  • Have all players sit in a circle. Begin the story with the phrase, “Once upon a time…”
  • Have the person seated next to you continue the story by adding at least one sentence. For example, “...there was a man named Sam who went to the supermarket’. 
  • The next person continues the story by contributing another sentence. 
  • Go around the circle a few times, each person adding a sentence until an interesting story has developed.  

The goal of this activity is for players to create a seamless story with a sensible and continuous plot. At the end of the game, you can lead a conversation on the importance of communication and working together as a team to achieve a common goal. 

2. Human knot

Best for: Small teams of 5 to 9 players

The human knot is one of those no-prep team building games every team should play because it helps reveal how well a group can work together. It's also interesting to observe because as the game progresses, you get to see how well players communicate with each other, who remains patient and who gets frustrated, and who takes on the role of a leader

To play, 

  • Set a timer for 30 minutes. 
  • Have everyone stand up and form a close-knit circle, touching shoulder to shoulder.
  • Each player should then hold out their right hand and randomly grab another person’s hand in the circle. Once that’s done, have them repeat the process with their left hands. 
  • The group must then work together to untangle themselves without letting go of each other’s hands before the timer goes off. 

3. Tea and coffee

Best for: Testing out listening and memory retention skills

This quick team building game without materials is effective at teaching teammates how to listen and pay attention more. If not that, at least they’ll leave the game knowing how their teammates prefer their teas/coffees. 

To play, get everyone to sit in a circle. Have the first person start by stating their preference for tea or coffee and how they like to take it (black, with cream, with sugar, or both). For example, “I prefer coffee, and I like mine with cream only”. 

The person sitting next to them must then recall the first person’s preference and state their own. For example, “Kate prefers coffee, and she likes it with cream only. I prefer tea, and I take mine with cream and sugar”. 

Go around the circle, with each person recalling the preference of the person before them, alongside stating their own. 

4. Group lineup

Best for: Fostering creativity and better communication 

This activity is great because it works as a ‘get-to-know-you’ game for new teams or a communication improvement game for established teams. 

To play, 

  • Gather your teammates and instruct them to line up in the correct order of a chosen criteria. For example, you could have them line up in order of their shoe sizes, heights, or birthdays. 
  • Let them know that they are not to speak to each other or write anything down, then give them 5 minutes to come up with a non-verbal/written mode of communication.  
  • Set a timer for 30-minutes and have them begin. 

The goal is for them to figure out a creative means of communication to help them arrange themselves in the correct order and quickly complete the task. 

5. Awareness circle

Best for: New teams 

This game helps teammates recognize any differences or similarities between themselves. 

To play, you’ll need to come up with a list of statements. For example, “I’m an only child”, “I consider myself adventurous”, “I can play an instrument”, etc. 

Gather everyone in a circle and read through each statement. If it’s true for any teammates, they should step forward. Once everyone has seen who’s stepped forward, have them return to their original position and call out the next statement. 

 At the end of the game, encourage teammates to discuss some of their differences and similarities. 

Virtual no-material team building activities

Presenting our favorite indoor team building games that remote teams can play from the comfort of their home offices. 

6. Home office tours  

Best for: Showcasing cool workspaces 

This no-material team building activity is great because it requires little to no preparation but is still guaranteed to be a fun time. More than that, you can use any virtual conference platform to connect with your teammates, no matter where in the world they are. 

The rules are pretty simple. Teammates take turns showing off their home offices or workspaces. They can also share any cool items they’ve decorated their space with. The goal is for remote teammates to learn more about the people they work with by getting a glimpse of their real lives. It can also help people discover shared areas of interest

7. Guess what?

Best for: Small to large virtual teams 

‘Guess what?’ is a fun and engaging game by Gomada that helps co-workers learn new things about each other that they ordinarily might not have known. And the best thing about it? It requires no preparation - all you need to do is show up on the platform. 

For this guessing game, each team member chooses a bunch of questions they want their co-workers to answer about them. For example, ‘Have I ever been on TV?’, ‘Am I more of a morning or nighttime person?’

Once everyone has chosen their questions (and secretly provided the correct answers), teammates can then take turns guessing the right answers about their co-workers. 

8. Secret word

Best for: Improving communication in small teams 

‘Secret word’ is one of our best team building guessing games. Not only is it fun, but it also helps teammates exercise their communication and problem-solving skills.  

For this game, have one person pick a secret word. They can then tell the group what letter their word starts with. Given this limited information, the group has to guess what the word is by asking questions about what category it falls under. For example, if the word starts with an M, they can ask questions like “is it a country?”

If the answer is no, the owner of the word needs to respond with ‘No’, followed by a word that begins with the letter and fits the category provided by the group. For example, “No, it’s not Morocco” (because Morocco starts with M and is a country). 

If they can’t think of a word that fits the given letter and category within 5 seconds, they’ll need to tell the group the next letter of their secret word.  

The game goes on like this until the group figures out the word. 

9. Business pitch 

Best for: Sparking an entrepreneurial spirit

‘Business pitch’ is a smart no-material team building game that brings out the creative sides of your teammates. More than that, it will help you recognize leadership talents and entrepreneurial skills within your team. 

To play, divide your team into smaller groups. Give each group 15 minutes to come up with a unique business idea. This could either be for your company or an enterprise of their choosing. Once the time is up, have each group pitch their idea and present a basic business plan. The group with the most interesting idea wins. 

What are the benefits of organizing team building activities without equipment? 

Team activities that require materials are great, but team building activities without equipment also have their benefits. For one, they leave room for creativity as teammates won't be able to rely on materials to help them communicate or solve problems. This encourages them to be more creative and think of outside-the-box ways to reach their goals. 

Some other benefits include:

  • Time-saving
  • Ideal for teams with limited budgets
  • Requires little to no preparation
  • Fun and easy to participate in 
  • Works for both old and new teams

No-prep team building games - a fun and effective approach to team building 

Team building activities don’t always require a long list of equipment, nor do they have to be expensive or time-consuming. You can keep things light and casual by eliminating the use of materials and choosing the more affordable route. Not only would this relieve some of your stress, but you’d also find that your teammates have fun while still developing the skills they need to work better together. 

If you’re interested in learning more about team building, you can check out some of our other resources, like team building activities for workfree virtual team building activities, and team building apps.

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