Team Building Activities That Actually Work


I’m not a huge fan of team bonding activities, largely because I’m an introvert who hates games. Okay, not all games, but I don’t want to play volleyball or go rock climbing, or play flag football, and frankly, no one wants me on their team anyway. Everyone wants me on the other team, of course, because I’m horrible at team sports. I also don’t want to tell people my deep dark secrets or fall backwards and have someone catch me. No thanks.

But, not all team bonding activities are made the same, and I found one that I would like. Sure, if you enjoy falling backwards into a team member’s arms, skip this article, but if you want to get to know your coworkers and have fun doing it, keep reading.

Strayboots says that they do “team building activities done right,” and it seems like that’s the case. Strayboots does urban scavenger hunts to help your team come together. It’s got something that introverts like me like (problem solving), and sportsy people like (being outside and walking around), and it can be fun for everyone. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I haven’t done a Stayboots scavenger hunt, but CEO Ido Rabiner walked me through the process and gave me a demo.

Here’s how it goes: If you’re lucky enough to live in one of the 40 US cities where they have established hunts, you can schedule a scavenger hunt. You all meet and divide into teams. Each team logs onto the Strayboots app and is given their first clue. Then everyone is off and running.

All teams have to answer the same questions, but not in the same order. It’s not just “go here” or “go there,” but you have to solve genuine clues and answer questions. Sure, you can Google some of the answers and cheat (which, ahem, I did, but only because Ido refused to fly me and my 25 closest friends to one of their cities. Rude), but why would you want to?

Some of the clues require you to solve a problem; some require you to go to a spot to get specific information. Some require you to take a picture of your group in front of a landmark. You can see from the pictures on their website that people are having a great time.

But why pay for a scavenger hunt when you can make your intern put one together for you? Well, first of all, your intern isn’t an expert, and Strayboots people are. They hire historians and people with art history degrees and people who are very into travel. They also do regular checks to ensure that no needed street is closed for construction and that the building you need to get into to solve a clue is open and willing to help your team with their answer.

It’s also not just about a scavenger hunt; it’s about learning about a new area. For example, they did a custom hunt for a company that was moving their headquarters to Jersey City. The employees got a chance to learn about their new environment in a fun way. Universities have used Strayboots scavenger hunts as part of their new student orientation. It’s a great way to learn about your new environment.

They see that 95 percent of the teams are following the instructions and using hints and sometimes even skipping challenges—this means people aren’t just standing around Googling. They are taking the challenge seriously, which means that it’s a lot more fun.

Now, even if you’re a crabby pants introvert as I am, who can resist a fun scavenger hunt? I even begged Ido to bring them to my city. He said he’d think about it. (Note to Ido: we have tons of expats here in Basel, so lots of people needing to learn their new environments, hint, hint.)

This post brought to you by Strayboots. The opinions are completely mine.

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8 thoughts on “Team Building Activities That Actually Work

  1. How does this work for disabled employees who cannot interact outside well (asthma and allergies,) and cannot move around well (mobility problems?) this seems to presume that everyone involved is able. What do they do besides stay back and man the phones? I ask because I am that employee. I’m absolutely NOT saying to not do this, it sounds awesome and if I could do something like this I’d love it, but how do you make sure that your company is not being, well, nasty to people like me, who would love this but can’t do it.

    There’s a stigma to being the one left behind and there’s also the “they don’t always want to delineate all their medical problems to everyone in the building to explain why they can’t rather than won’t, or won’t because they don’t like this stuff.” That’s what worries me the people left behind.

  2. Hi Antonia,
    Thanks for your sincere comment.
    In our scavenger hunts, no one gets left behind!
    The whole idea is to bring valuable and fun team building activity, and though the main part of it is to get to know the city around you, we always provide alternatives for indoor activities and for people who can’t participate in the walking activity.
    But they do get to participate – we build dedicated in-office challenges, photo-ops, and trivia questions, making sure everyone gets to take part in the event.
    We are not ‘forcing’ our activities on our clients, but rather working with them to maximize the participation and the team bonding, cause at the end, it’s all about the people you work with.

    1. I was going to say that even those who cannot join in the outdoor stuff can be the team leader back at the office fielding calls or helping with clues that are left for just their eyes back at the office.

      It is rather tacky of me to make a comparison to a TV show; but, there is that one crime drama – “Criminal Minds” which has a character who stays in the office doing research while the other team members are out in the field. Even though she isn’t “out in the field” she is still very much a part of the action.

      (And, Yes, I do know TV isn’t real)

      1. You got it, Charles!
        In our Scavenger hunts, it’s not just about following the team leader from one point to another. Every team member can see the questions and challenges on their own devices and can provide support from any place in the world!

        1. Excellent. Finally a company that gets it. Thank you for your amazing response and being sensitive to all of us “not outdoors, or distances” people.

  3. Nah, I don’t want to do team-building scavenger hunts with my coworkers. I just want to do my work and go home.

    We sometimes have food days and do potluck or a small cookout. We stuff our faces, do our work, and then go home. That’s good enough for me.

    1. Yeah, you’re probably right.
      Let’s also skip all the holiday gifts, we’ve got plenty of them already.
      After all, who needs engaged employees, right? 🙂

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