Team Building Trends in Australia: What's Hot & What's Not

February 28, 2024

team motivation

Just as fashion evolves with the seasons, so too does the realm of team building. Methodologies, and strategies for fostering cohesive teams undergo continuous evolution, responding to shifts in workplace culture, technology, societal norms, and popular culture.

From the rise of remote team building in the digital age to the emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, these trends shape the way teams collaborate, communicate, and thrive. Like the ebb and flow of fashion trends, staying attuned to the latest trends in team building ensures that organisations remain adaptive and responsive to the ever-changing needs of their workforce.

So what's hot and what's not in 2024?


The Good, the Bad, and the Cringeworthy

When the phrase ‘team building activities’ is uttered, a mixed bag of emotions and images can flood the mind. For some, the notion evokes the joy and anticipation reminiscent of a school excursion – a break from the daily grind, a chance to step away from routine tasks, and an opportunity to bond with colleagues while having fun. Yet, for others, there's an unmistakable twinge of dread lurking beneath the surface. The mere thought of what might transpire is enough to begin contemplating a strategic sick day.

A core element of team building is to foster a sense of unity within a group, transcending individual differences to achieve collective success. 

As people who organise team building activities for a living, what to anticipate: a palpable surge of positivity. Even the most hesitant individuals in the group inevitably find themselves laughing and sporting smiles as the team building event wears on.

However, there are instances where individuals attempt to organise team building activities themselves or with unreliable companies where the execution of team building activities often falls short of this ideal. When this occurs, at best it leads to eye rolls and reluctant participation, and at worst, heightened levels of anxiety and resentment.

Bad & Cringeworthy

Team building activities have undergone a significant transformation over the years, unfortunately, not everyone has got the memo. Much of what was once considered to be effective bonding exercises may now seem outdated or even counterproductive. Others, well, others we don’t even know how they got a start!

Trust Falls: Picture this: standing on a platform, blindfolded, and hoping your coworkers will catch you as you fall backwards. While trust falls were once a staple of team building events, they're now viewed as clichéd and uninspired. Participants often feel awkward or even anxious, and the exercise doesn't necessarily translate to building genuine trust in the workplace.

Divisive Activities: Examples of this include extreme sports or physically demanding challenges. While to some they might seem like a thrilling way to bond, they can also alienate team members who aren't comfortable with such activities. Whether it's skydiving, intense workouts, or competitive sports, these activities can create divisions rather than foster unity among team members.

Other examples might include overly creative pursuits. While some may relish the thought of belting out a few tunes at karaoke, to others it’s a recipe for disaster and humiliation.

Too Much Touching: Human pyramids, hand-holding circles, or other activities that involve excessive physical contact are falling out of favour in today's workplace culture. With increased awareness of personal boundaries and respect for individual comfort levels, activities that require excessive touching can make some team members uncomfortable.

Disconnected Activities & Messages: A well-tailored team building activity can integrate a message or theme seamlessly. However, poor execution of this can be jarring and often feels somewhat patronising. Take, for example, a ropes course intended to teach the value of customer service. A good facilitator can of course integrate your desired message into any team building activity. The challenge arises when the activity itself becomes the primary focus, relegating the message to an afterthought. This imbalance can result in the message feeling forced or incongruent which ultimately leads to participants feeling disconnected from the intended lesson.

Forced ‘Fun’: Another hallmark of poorly designed team building activities that elicits groans from participants. The pressure to enjoy oneself can feel suffocating. Instead of fostering genuine connections, these activities can breed resentment and disengagement, with employees counting down the minutes until they can escape back to the familiarity of their daily routines. 

In some instances, poorly designed activities can create an atmosphere of forced 'fun,' leaving everyone feeling the pressure to enjoy themselves. In contrast, in other cases, individuals may feel as though their unique approach to fun is misunderstood. This is especially true if they’re singled out for their behaviour or forced into participating the same way as everyone else.

In the case of the latter, it’s important to take a step back and recognise that just because some individuals aren't approaching the activity in the same way doesn't mean they aren't enjoying themselves. Take the time to observe and check in on them to ensure they don't feel excluded. Trust that everyone will find their own way to participate and enjoy bonding with the team.


Cardinal Sin

One of the gravest errors a leader can make is to assume uniform preferences within their team. What might be an exhilarating adventure for some could be a harrowing ordeal for others. Take, for instance, the idea of skydiving. Even if it were to appeal to the majority of your team, often there are inevitably a few who would recoil at the mere suggestion. That’s no longer a team building activity but an exercise in discomfort and alienation.

Even seemingly innocuous activities can have unexpected implications. For instance, if the organiser of the event is the only one interested in the activity, but the entire team is compelled to participate, then your team will come away from the activity united on one front… but probably not the one the organiser was hoping for.

It’s crucial to recognise that everyone has varying levels of comfort and interest. Rather than imposing activities based on personal preferences, strive for inclusivity. Seek out experiences that resonate with the diverse interests and sensibilities of the team, ensuring that no one feels sidelined or anxious.

Effective team building isn't about indulging personal preferences; it's about fostering a sense of unity and respect among team members. By avoiding sweeping assumptions and embracing inclusivity, leaders can create experiences that strengthen bonds and promote collective growth.


The Good

The Classics: Classics are classics for a reason. Activities like the Amazing Race, Survivor-inspired challenges, or even scavenger hunts have stood the test of time for a reason. They tap into natural instincts of competition, cooperation, and problem-solving, providing a fun and engaging way for teams to bond. They are also the perfect type of activities to incorporate a theme or organisational message.

Experiential Team Building Events: From escape rooms and Wall Street-esque scenarios to virtual reality simulations, these immersive experiences offer a hands-on approach to learning and collaboration. Teams work together to solve puzzles, overcome challenges, and achieve common goals, all within a controlled and safe environment.

CSR Team Building Activities: Combining team building with corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives is gaining traction. Volunteering for a cause, participating in community service projects, or organising fundraisers not only strengthens team bonds but also fosters a sense of purpose and social impact. These activities allow teams to give back to their communities while working together towards a shared goal.

Many organisations dedicate annual budgets, allotted time, and even set targets for CSR initiatives, underscoring their significance in today's corporate landscape. CSR team building activities epitomise a win-win scenario, offering both team development and societal benefits.

Innovative Use of Technology: Two key technological trends making waves in the realm of team building are virtual experiences and app-based challenges.

Virtual Team Building: As COVID swept the globe, we were forced to adapt to a virtual climate which cemented virtual team building activities. Virtual team building activities offer a wide range of possibilities, from virtual escape rooms and online trivia games to interactive workshops, CSR activities, and team-based challenges. By simulating real-world interactions in a virtual space, these experiences foster collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills while bridging the physical divide between team members.

App-Based Challenges: By using app-based challenges, employees from different locations can participate simultaneously, fostering unity and camaraderie throughout the organisation. App-based activities like AppVenture Urban Explorer and Spy School provide widespread organisations with the opportunity to connect more frequently with teams outside of their region. Whether solving riddles, completing tasks, or taking part in photo challenges, these activities encourage collaboration, friendly competition, and creative thinking.


Once you have experienced team building activities that have been both tailored to your group and well executed, the phrase ‘team building activity’ will no longer incite fear and trepidation. The key is being aware of and understanding your team's dynamics and discerning which activities resonate with them. If you’re uncertain about this, contact our friendly team at Beyond the Boardroom. We will guide you through every step of the process, from selection to execution.

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