3 team building activities to increase knowledge and trust between team members


Do you need to increase synergy and trust within the team? Here are some activities that will help you bring your team together. All of the activities are suited for both distributed teams and on site teams.

Open water challenge

This activity requires preparation on the facilitator part. It will provide an opportunity to experience the benefits of team work, engage in productive debate and learn how to power one another’s knowledge. This activity should be done in groups with 5-8 people.

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Scenario: The team escaped a sinking boat using a life raft that can hold up to 8 persons. You are in the middle of an ocean with no land in sight. You have limited items onboard your raft that may be useful. Each team member can take 1 personal item before the boat goes down. Considering all the resources available, the team will have to work together and manage to survive for as long as they can until you are rescued.


1. Have each team member think about one item she can bring on a cruise. Do not give details about the scenario because it will affect the item each team member chooses to bring. Invite them to think creatively and to send you a photo or image of the item they selected.

2. Create three PowerPoint slides (download the template here) or shared online documents containing information below.

  • Slide 1: Create a slide with the scenario. Include the images of the entire life-raft inventory, provided at the end of this game as well as the following text: “You are the survivors of a ship that has just sunk. You escaped on a life raft big enough to hold eight people. The life raft has the following items on board, which you may use however you choose: 100 yards of fishing line with no hook, flashlight with 24 hours of battery power, 50 feet of rope, 3-hour flare, one oar, and empty water bladder.”
  • Slide 2: Create a slide titled “Equipment on Hand” that includes the images of the team members’ items, and the following text: “You have also brought specific items with you on the ship. You are all wearing t-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops. Other than your clothing and the one item you brought, you have nothing else.”
  • Slide 3: Create a slide titled “Find Solutions” with this text: Think about how you can combine the equipment you have to survive the longest. To use any piece of equipment, you must say the name of the owner when referencing it. For example, “Lynn’s rope,” “Remy’s belt,” “Nico’s knife,” and so on. To increase your likelihood for rescue you need fresh water, a way to signal rescuers, and food.”

3. Present the slides and the challenge. The activity should not last more than 15 minutes. Remind team members of the rule that they must name the owner of the equipment in order to use that item.

After activity discussion:

  • What proved to be the most effective skill in coming up with solutions?
  • Do you feel everyone’s voice was heard while looking for solutions?
    • If yes, what did the team do to encourage everyone’s opinion?
    • If no, what could have been done to increase the contributions?
    • How does this exercise mirror our own team?

Advanced Q&A

This activity deepens the level of self-disclosure and trust among team members and increases the level of inside-team knowledge.

Procedure: Randomly assign a question to each team member. Have them reply during a meeting or conference call. Feel free to make up your own questions!

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  • Tell us about one of your superpowers.
  • Who in your life has had the greatest impact on you? Why?
  • What is your most important daily ritual?
  • Which one of your accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What is the best pet you ever had?
  • What is your favorite song? (all team members should then listen to it)
  • What is a story that gets told over and over during your family gatherings?
  • Are you superstitious? When?
  • What is the most practical thing you have ever learned?
  • What is the characteristic you like most about your friends?
  • What is your most important time waster?

Virtual Map

If you want the team members of your team to be more connected and to know each other more, shared maps are a great way for team members to visualize where everyone lives and works, and provide opportunities for participants to learn more about their teammates. It also works for local teams, it will help team members discover common interests, new restaurants and it will ultimately improve the mood in the team.


1. Create a private interactive customised map (there are several options online, the best free tool is Custom Google Maps) where your team will login to pushpin their info. Team members can include as much or as little detail as they would like to each location.

2. Once finished, team members can click on the locations indicated by their teammates to learn more about them.

3. Each team member should include in the map:

  • The place where you currently work
  • Hometown
  • A place you would like to live
  • A place in the world that intrigues you
  • Sites of the three most significant experiences in your life
  • A place you have visited several times
  • The farthest place to which you have ever travelled
  • The location of your favorite restaurant
  • The location of your first job
  • The manager should include the location(s) of key vendors, customers, or clients

4. The answers should be shared during a meeting.

Anna Danés
Anna worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris have a nice day (www.ricaris.com) in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams (www.managing-virtual-teams.com) is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams.