What’s the difference between an office of coworkers and a team? Trust, friendship, a bond between one another. Building and encouraging these bonds is difficult; your employees must mesh well together, be able to like one another, and be willing to form those bonds. There’s a lot that goes into this, from hiring people with the right personalities to making your company a place people can build careers, so they’re less likely to avoid forming bonds because they expect to jump ship.
One thing you can do to encourage these bonds, besides fostering the right kind of environment, is scheduling regular company outings. Outings serve a function similar to a vacation, but for everyone. They let people take a load off and relax while socializing and forming those bonds with one another.
It’s up to you whether you make it purely a vacation-style outing, or a “learning experience” where your team goes to investigate some part of your overall business, or even “team-building” experiences with shared challenges to overcome. We have ideas for all of them, so here are over fifty options you can use to inspire your own company outings.
Social Challenges and Contests
This first group of outing ideas is focused on the more competitive side. If your employees are individually competitive, or if your teams have something of a departmental rivalry going on, this kind of competition can give it a constructive outlet.
Scavenger Hunts. Develop a list of items, from around the office to around the town, and see who can complete the list first. Ask for photographic proof if obtaining the item in question isn’t possible.
Cooking Contests. Setting up a bit of a cooking competition can be a great office challenge, whether it’s a themed potluck or a Chopped-style restricted contest to make anything at all edible.
“Who Am I?”. The game where everyone is assigned a historical figure on a notecard everyone else but them can see; talking to other people becomes a challenge of giving the other person clue to who they are, with winners guessing themselves successfully.
Trivia Nights. A trivia contest, individually or in teams, is always a great way to showcase esoteric knowledge, bring teams together, and instill a little healthy competition. Up the ante with small prizes to really bring out the competitive spirit.
Two-Truths-and-a-Lie. Typically used as an icebreaker, the two-truths-and-a-lie game is a time-honored tradition from high school sleepovers to college parties to corporate team-building exercises, and there’s no reason to stop it now.
Escape Rooms. Escape rooms are swiftly becoming the team-building exercise of choice, and for good reason. Small teams can compete to get the best time escaping a themed room, and there are all kinds of escape rooms popping up around the country now, so you have your choice of theme.
Jigsaw Puzzle Race. Split your employees into teams and buy multiple copies of the same jigsaw puzzle, lay them out in conference rooms, and compete to see which team can finish the puzzle first. Just some good, clean fun.
A traditional company outing brings a team or your entire roster to a destination. This section deals primarily with the local destinations, places to go and things to do in your town of operation. They tend to be relatively low budget because you reduce travel needs and lodging costs, but they’re still a bit more expensive than other outings.
Local Nature Reserve. Everything from a local nature park to a state forest nearby can make for a fun destination in the temperate months. Short hikes or more experienced trails give everyone an option suitable for their fitness level.
Paintball/Airsoft/Laser Tag. Any kind of team-based shooting sport can be a lot of fun. Laser tag is the least potentially painful, airsoft is generally only painful in certain situations, and paintball can leave some welts, but they’re all fun and mostly harmless at the end of the day.
Trampoline Parks. A trampoline park, indoor or outdoor, gives your team some controlled but extreme physical activity to enjoy. Let loose and get to jumping!
Amateur Sports League. The office softball league is a time-honored tradition, but you don’t have to stop there; you can pick up any sport, from kickball to minigolf, and make an office competition out of it.
DIY Fair. When the fair isn’t in town, you can set up your own. It’s pretty reasonable to rent some inflatable entertainment and carnival rides to set up your own little miniature fair and have a great time.
Obstacle Course. Setting up an obstacle course lets your team enjoy having something physical to do outside of their cubicles or offices. You can set up races or competitions, or just let people have fun as they feel like it.
Treetop Ropes Course. If a ground-based obstacle course isn’t quite extreme enough, a treetop ropes course can be a very enjoyable experience, though of course, the safety needs necessitate a little more care and a little less speed than a normal obstacle course would.
Berry Picking. During the autumn season – or whenever a favorite fruit ripens – you can take the office berry picking. Most farms off a “u-pick” option, so just buy everyone a bucket and let them fill it to their hearts’ content. Not only do they get a fun, sociable outing, but they get to go home with a bucket of fruit too.
Geocaching. Geocaching might not be as big as it once was, but it can still be fun to see what kinds of caches people have left around your city. We’ve seen everything from buried guestbooks to semi-forgotten local landmarks, and it’s always an adventure to find out what’s out there.
This section deals with the “outings” you can host in your office. They’re among the cheapest options and they serve to ease the tensions of day to day office drudgery without disrupting schedules too much. Many people can’t take days off to go on vacation with the crew when they have children or dependents at home to take care of, after all.
Nerf War. Buy everyone in the office a Nerf gun, or encourage them to bring their own (unmodded only, please!) and let the foam bullets rip. They’re harmless fun and can incite some hilarious tactics, especially if you put restrictions on when someone is fair game to be shot.
Cultural Celebration. This one works best in diverse offices. Designate one night a month to the culture of someone in the office, whether it’s historical European, Middle Eastern, Asiatic, or somewhere else. Have them develop a short educational presentation, provide everyone with informative gifts (sponsored by the office, of course) and bring in the cuisine. Encourage global appreciation!
Hack Day/Game Jam. Deliver teams a challenge to complete in a day or less, and see what they come up with. Game Jams mean developing a themed video game, hack days are great for little technological gadgetry, and you can adapt the theme to other challenges for a different kind of office.
Ice Cream Social. Who doesn’t love ice cream? You can cater to your entire office with an ice cream bar, or you can challenge small groups of employees to set up their own and give rewards to the most ridiculous at the end of the year. Just remember to bring something extra for those that are lactose intolerant or diabetic.
Game/Video Game Tournament. From Monopoly to Mario Party, setting up a tournament, or even just a day of play, can give everyone in the office something to do when they need to take a break, and it’s cheap besides.
Costume Party. Take the casual Friday theme to the next level by encouraging your employees to wear costumes to lighten the workday experience.
Planning a day trip to a local attraction is always a favorite. You can often get special organized tours or group rates to attractions for bringing a whole team or office with you. As long as your team isn’t unnecessarily destructive or disrespectful, you’ll likely be a welcome group for many of these venues.
Local Tourist Traps. Every city has something for tourists to do, but have you ever been? Check out your local tourism board to see what they recommend, and bring your office there to roll their eyes and act like out of towners.
Museums and Exhibits. Cities have museums and exhibits, whether it’s a traditional art and science museum or a themed museum based on anything from ramen to toilets. Bring the team and learn about a topic you might not have ever thought about before.
The Zoo. Who doesn’t like some adorable animals? A day trip to the zoo can be fun, whether it’s seeing some wild cats, peering through the glass at native reptiles, or hand-feeding giraffes.
Local Tour Groups. Much like local tourist traps, you can pay for a local tourism organization to give your team a tour of the city. It can be an interesting perspective to see what your city presents to outsiders.
Brewery/Factory Tours. Factories, breweries, and other large production facilities can be fun to visit, both to see how something is made and to get the branded swag they tend to give out.
Local Concerts. Live music is always fun, and you can book a bunch of seats in a venue on the cheap by buying tickets in bulk, especially if it’s a smaller venue or a lesser-known show.
Private Movie Screening. Theaters are going to love having groups when they’re opening back up, so booking a theater rental for your team to have a private screening of a new release will be a fun experience.
Painting Class. Channel your team’s inner Bob Ross by enrolling everyone in a paint-along class. Everyone can paint, after all, just to varying levels of technical competence.
Exotic Animal Experience. Whether it’s falconry, horseback riding, or going behind the scenes at an animal rehabilitation facility, there are exotic animals all around us, and having a “close encounter” can be a fun time for everyone.
Day to day corporate life often seems to revolve around building up yourself to the detriment of others, pushing profit over product, but sometimes it can be valuable to remind everyone there’s more to life than office work. Volunteering and serving the community can be a great way to instill this humility while helping your community.
Food Bank Volunteering. Help the community by volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen to help those less fortunate.
Habitat for Humanity. What can be better than building a home? A barn-raising is a community event, and HfH is a great organization.
Get Out The Vote. This one mostly works if your office is in agreement over a political issue, but can be a great way to raise awareness and build your team together.
Day of Service. Whether it’s cleaning trash out of a local park or beach, painting some run-down houses, or giving a small business a makeover, providing a day of labor and service gives back to your community.
Local Mentorship. Bring in some interested young people to mentor them on the direction they want to take their lives, and possibly even line up some interns for a few years down the road.
Open Doors to the Community. Bring the community into your office instead of sending the office out to them. Let people come and see what it’s like to work for you and what you do all day.
Fundraiser. Pick a common goal everyone can agree on, and encourage everyone to go out in small teams to raise funds for the cause. You might be surprised at how effective a small fundraiser can be.
Animal Shelter Assistance. Volunteering at an animal shelter can be a great way to help out a local institution, and hey, maybe someone will adopt a new family member.
The destination vacation is typically a once-a-year kind of thing and limited to just when your company is doing well, with good reason: it’s quite expensive to pay for a whole office to take a trip somewhere. Everything from airfare to lodging costs to the costs of entertainment at the destination needs to be paid, and it’s not fair to employees to ask them to foot the bill on a vacation meant to honor them. Still, if you can swing it, these can be very rewarding.
Skiing. Local slopes or distance mountains can be equally compelling.
Tropical Vacay. Whether it’s Hawaii, Cancun, or the Bahamas, you have plenty of choice for a tropical destination.
Theme Parks. Take everyone to Cedar Point, Six Flags, Disney, or a local attraction.
Coastal Snorkeling. Whether it’s reef diving or swimming with sharks, a water-based destination can be fun for the office if they’re down.
Mountain Climbing. It’s not as daunting as it might seem; some mountains are just extended hikes and are fairly easy to climb, but still give awesome views and a sense of accomplishment.
Boat Rentals. Renting a boat and taking it out on a local river, lake, or the ocean can be a great way to party.
Day at the Track. Whether it’s a NASCAR event, a ride-along charter, or a go-kart track, racing gets the blood pumping.
Hit the Casino. Be careful if anyone has a gambling addiction, but it can be a fun time to bring everyone to a casino with a stipend provided by the company, written off as a loss before the evening begins.
Sometimes a trip can serve a higher purpose; more than just letting off some steam, you can give your employees insight into the way your business works outside of the office. Just make sure it’s relevant and try to make it fun; you don’t want to take your office on a “tour” to inspect the software development department to see how your SaaS product is made, after all.
Customer Interviews. Bring in customers and have your team talk to them. You’ll gain insight into how your products are actually used, and the feedback can be very valuable to people normally insulated from it.
Factory Tours. How is your product made? If it’s produced in local factories, a tour can give your team a great insight into how it all works. It’s a bit harder to do a tour if it’s in China, though.
Process Inspections. Similar to a factory tour, inspect the processes used to make your product from start to finish.
Professional Development Workshop. Whether it’s a seminar, a conference, or a class, continuing education can be made into a fun company outing with a bit of solidarity and a budget.
So there you have it; 50+ ideas for a company outing that your employees will certainly enjoy. Which one is your favorite?