Puzzle + team building? Ugh, man… really?
Many of us tend to frown when hearing the word ‘puzzle’. However, there are still lots of people out there who enjoy a good riddle or a challenging escape room. That’s why this article’s here for – the team buildings in which people are looking forward to a secret to discover or a code to crack. Stick with us to learn how to play the best 10 team building puzzle activities! Do that even if you’re a… hater. You might actually want to be a part of such a team building once you scan our entire blog post.
We’ve gathered a list of team building puzzles that can be played both as indoor activities, as well as during outdoor gatherings. If you adjust the level of difficulty, you may play these puzzle activities during a team building with kids, a team building with high school students, or during a team building with work colleagues.
All 10 games that we’re about to discuss tackle the players’ sharpness, strategic thinking, and problem-solving skills. They can also be considered great leadership activities and opportunities for people to get to know each other better, bond, and collaborate, while also having fun.
1. Rebus Puzzles
Rebus puzzles are the no. 1 team building puzzle activities because they can be played both indoors and outdoors, as well as during a live team building or a virtual one (that, if you’re part of a remote collaboration, and your manager is looking forward to increasing the level of interaction and connection between employees).
Rebus puzzles can be tough or easy depending on the age group of the players and on how much you’d like to challenge them. A rebus uses letters, symbols, and pictures, to represent a word or a phrase. They are also known as ‘brainteasers’ because they play with the positioning of letters and numbers in order to spell out a trivial phrase.
Take a look at some examples:
- Wineeee = Win with ease
- 12:00T = Noon tea
- FAREDCE = Red in the face
- PumPkinPie = Piece (P) of Pumpkin Pie
- LE/VEL = Split level
- ECONOMY = Growing economy
This puzzle for team building does not only challenge your players’ sharpness but also their imagination and communication skills. You can make it more difficult by turning it into a ‘minute to win it’ team building game for adults, a ‘minute to win it’ game for teens, and even a ‘minute to win it’ activity for kids.
2. Jigsaw Puzzles
Now this one is the most common puzzle for team building. For those who don’t know (so for those who were born a few minutes ago, or lived under a rock until now), jigsaw puzzles are a compilation of individual pieces that, when pieced together in the right way, form one large image. Jigsaw puzzles tackle the players’ ability to focus (even when they’re on the clock), their strategic thinking (how they choose to make the puzzle – by starting with the borders, by grouping the pieces based on colors/items in the picture), their sharpness (their capability to distinguish between similar items/colors in the puzzle), as well as their creativity (their ability to see the bigger picture). Last but not least, jigsaw puzzles encourage collaboration and communication among players within the same team.
Jigsaw puzzles are great because they can be played both online and offline. So, if you’re looking for a quick activity for your virtual coffee break, or for a fun icebreaker game to end your day with, these could be it.
Here’s our way of making jigsaw puzzles more interesting if you’re planning a team building:
- The goal is to complete the puzzle as quickly as possible. Start by dividing your people into teams. Then, divide the puzzle into equal parts and place an equal number of pieces in each team bag. Next, divide the team into two smaller sub-teams (or more, depending on the size of your group) and provide a load of jigsaw puzzle pieces to each sub-team.
- They will think they are competing against each other… until they realize they have no way of completing the puzzle unless they collaborate with the other sub-teams who hold the missing puzzle pieces. Instruct them to put the puzzle together as quickly as possible.
- Your job is to ensure that each team’s puzzle pieces represent an entire puzzle. It’s interesting how this puzzle for team building proves that all team members make up the whole, and often no individual or team can do it on their own. Sometimes, that piece you’re desperately looking for is often held by others.
3. Barter Puzzles
This is a pretty modern jigsaw puzzle since nowadays, we can spot a content creator at almost every corner. In fact, there’s even this new advertising niche entitled ‘influencer marketing’. ‘Barter’ is a strong word nowadays in the business field, so why not involve it in team building games as well?
For this puzzle activity, there’s a twist. Start by dividing your players into teams and give each group a puzzle. Pay attention: the puzzles must be unique and of similar difficulties. The twist is that some pieces of each puzzle are mixed at random with puzzles from other groups. Each team is responsible for completing their puzzle by trading pieces with the other teams. This team building puzzle activity involves strategic thinking, problem-solving skills, communication, but also negotiation skills.
4. Minefield Puzzles
This is a team building puzzle activity for the creative ones. This type of puzzle is a physical or virtual image in which players have to locate the ‘safe’ spots, in a fictitious minefield. Start by giving each of your team a timer and a set of clues to help them identify the safe spots. Next, make it clear that a wrong guess will land them on a ‘mine’, costing points or disqualifying the team entirely. Minefield puzzles promote teamwork during a timed exercise, allowing your people to practice meeting deadlines under pressure.
5. Geography Puzzles
Since we’ve tackled creativity, strategy, and influencer marketing, let’s move on to some geography. This puzzle for team building requires people to connect country names with their locations on a world map. Players are supposed to do that as quickly and accurately as possible on a world map. You can play geography puzzles live and come up with some printed templates, or you can do it virtually, as a FaceTime game, and use blank world maps. (Here’s an example of a website you could use: https://www.geoguessr.com/ ). This puzzle for team building allows people to get to know each other better. Maybe some might discover geography is a common interest so they might have something else to talk to each other about, during a 5-minute break.
6. Math Puzzles
Math = puzzles (most of the time), so it’s not a surprise that we’ve involved this type of puzzle activity for team building in this article. It tackles not only the players’ mathematical skills but also their critical thinking.
Start by looking up math problems. You could go for a specific area, depending on the age group, or if you’re interested in turning it into a classroom resource, or for more general math problems, that could be a challenge for adults with different backgrounds.
- ‘Sudoku’ is an excellent puzzle for team building, especially if we’re talking about teens and grown-ups. Every day, Sudoku puzzles appear in newspapers all over the world, and there are hundreds of online resources that generate puzzles based on difficulty, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to get hold of a few of them.
- ‘Turning the Fish’ appears simple, but it may stump your players. After arranging the sticks in the proper order, challenge them to make the fish swim in the opposite direction using only 3 matchsticks.
Take a look at some other examples here: https://www.rd.com/article/math-puzzles/.
These team building puzzle activities foster teamwork toward a common goal, regardless of whether team members divide up or collaborate on tasks. Now that’s an extremely valuable asset from our point of view.
Riddles are our personal favorite. They are linguistic puzzles that put a team’s creativity and general knowledge to the test. The answer to a riddle is usually simple, but the complex nature of the riddle necessitates critical thinking to arrive at the simple answer.
Prepare a riddle challenge for your team building. Start by splitting your people into groups, then provide them with identical lists of difficult riddles and a time limit for identifying answers.
- Q: Here on earth it is true, yesterday is always before today, but there is a place where yesterday always follows today. Where?
- A: A dictionary.
- Q: What disappears as soon as you say its name?
- A: Silence.
- Q: A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in three years. Which room is safest for him?
- A: The third room, because the lions haven’t eaten in three years, so they are dead.
- Q: Each morning I appear to lie at your feet. All day I will follow, no matter how fast you run. Yet I nearly perish In the midday sun. What am I?
- A: Shadow.
This team building puzzle activity requires team members to actively brainstorm, listen to one another, and evaluate each other’s ideas.
8. Scavenger Hunts
Planning a scavenger hunt is fun! Even more so if you’re excited to throw in some team building puzzle activities! Scavenger hunts test people’s strategic thinking, focus and concentration, critical thinking, and leadership skills. Here are some examples:
Scavenger hunt clues for kids:
- I can’t mix the batter, but I can bake a cake. (oven)
- I come in pairs, I’m easy to lose, and I go between your feet and your shoes. (socks)
- You carry me to a picnic, and I carry everything else! (basket)
Scavenger hunt clues for adults:
- The building that has the most stories. (library)
- The countdown continues! Need to think about this clue? I’ll give you a minute. (minute timer)
- You cut me on a table, but I’m never eaten. (deck of cards.)
Scavenger hunt clues for indoors:
- I make bones hard and cookies soft. Babies love me. (milk)
- Is it cold in here, or is it just me? Leave me open, and things will go sour really fast. (fridge)
- I have blades but I’m not a knife. Want to cool down? Give me a whirl. (fan)
Scavenger hunt clues for outdoors:
- I’m a bed without sheets, and I’m always dirty. (flowerbed)
- Make a wish, but don’t take a drink. (fountain)
- Watch where you’re walking. If you step on a crack, you might break your mother’s back! (sidewalk)
9. Name That Movie Opening
If you are the next Cristopher Nolan (or just a BIG movie addict), we’re sure that you can think about some fantastic openings. Well, these could work out as great team building puzzle activities. Start by asking your team to name as many movie openings as quickly and accurately as possible. If your team is not a fan of movies, feel free to substitute them with popular TV show openings, movie themes, or animes.
10. Three Truths and A Lie Puzzles
The classic version of ‘Two truths and a lie’ turns into ‘Three truths and a lie’ for this team building puzzle activity. It can work as a great icebreaker game, but also as a way to create meaningful connections among players. Everyone has to tell three truths and a lie about themselves, while the rest has to guess which is the lie. This can create opportunities for casual friendliness and encourage collaboration.
Hope you could find what you were looking for. Check out eTeamBuilding for other fabulous team building ideas!