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15 Low Cost Team Building Activities to Maximize Fun on a Shoestring Budget

By Preethi Jathanna

Senior Writer for HR and Remote Work

15 Low Cost Team Building Activities to Maximize Fun on a Shoestring Budget

You don’t need an enormous budget to buff up your company’s teamwork skills. Many low cost team building activities can effectively transform uncommunicative colleagues into highly effective workmates, from simple icebreaker-style games to more elaborate squad challenges. 

In this post, we’ll take you through a curated selection of  budget team building activities that you can employ in your business to improve interpersonal connections. Some of these have a very affordable cost per head, while others are completely free. All of them will help foster perennially useful professional capabilities such as communication, creativity, and group problem-solving in your staff.

1. How to Organize Low Cost Team Building Activities?

There are a few key ways you can ensure your activity is well organized and on budget. First, set clear goals about what you want to achieve, as this will help narrow down what events are appropriate. Is the purpose purely for staff to relax and chat, or do you want to highlight teamwork skills? Next, define precisely how much you have available to spend. Does “low cost” mean completely free or is there a modest budget? Finally, make sure everyone is informed and reminded about the date, so that the maximum number of staff attend.

2. 15 Low Cost Team Building Ideas to Maximize Fun on a Shoestring Budget

2.1. Puzzle Challenge

Puzzle Challenge

Puzzle challenges embrace a broad swathe of affordable team building activities, including brain teasers such as rebuses and riddles. There are many free options available online, so you don’t need to spend a cent to source the necessary materials.

These kinds of short puzzles are a great way to get the synapses firing as a precursor to brainstorming meetings. Allot around 5 to 10 minutes for staff to get stuck in, asking them to work either in pairs or in small groups to solve as many of the challenges as possible.

2.2. Outdoor Adventure Race

An outdoor race can be both a figurative and a literal breath of fresh air for your staff, taking them out of the office and into the beauty of nature. As low cost team building activities go, this one is superb for businesses on a budget. All you require is a public green space and some thoughtful planning to create the perfect platform for teamwork and team bonding.

One approach is to combine several field day games, such as a sack race, a three-legged race, and a wheelbarrow race, into one big relay, with staff competing against one another in teams. Alternatively, you can prepare a trail through a local woodland or park that everyone can explore together, solving a series of clues to reach the final destination as quickly as possible.

2.3. DIY Art Contest

DIY Art Contest

One of the most inexpensive group activities for stimulating creativity, a DIY art contest allows staff to show off the more imaginative side of their personality. Whether you opt for painting, drawing, collage, or a more unusual art form like flower arranging, it’s a perfect mood setter for casual socializing between work peers.

If you want to run a virtual event that’s much more convenient and easy on the wallet., you can hire a virtual team building organizer like Hooray Teams to run the event for you, spending a little more for the convenience of having a professional team-building company take charge.

2.4. Escape Room Online

Escape room online

Excellent for developing communication and problem-solving skills, online escape rooms are all about working together to unravel a series of puzzles. For those on a tight budget, it’s possible to find several free online escape rooms, including from specialist companies like Escape the Crate.

However, companies like Hooray Teams provide professional hosts and interactive virtual experiences for a reasonable fee. There are all kinds of quirky settings on offer, from a medieval- themed Dungeon Things to a retro Mafia 360 speakeasy, so your team can choose their favorites.

2.5. Virtual Trivia Night

Virtual Trivia Night

Test your team’s grasp of movies, music, history, sports, and current affairs with a fun night of competitive quizzing. Not only will your staff develop their group decision-making skills as they ponder the answers, but they’ll also get to know one another’s interests along the way.

Trivia nights are easily one of the top low cost team building activities because they can be put together completely free! All you need is someone on the team to volunteer to put together the questions. If this seems too time-consuming, it’s worth considering whether to hire a professional host to do all the work for you. Hooray Teams, for example, can build customized quizzes according to your business’s specific requirements through their Virtual Trivia event.

2.6. Storytelling Session

This simple yet highly amusing team game demands swift improvisation and creative flair. To start, establish the order in which participants will play. The host then reveals a pre-prepared prompt, such as, “I was walking down the street this morning when the sky turned purple.” The first player must then continue the story with a sentence of their own. This proceeds until everybody has contributed at least one sentence to the plot.

To make it more challenging, you can reduce the contribution of each person from one sentence to one word, accelerating the tempo of the game.

2.7. Team Building Bingo

Cheap team building activities don’t get much thriftier than team building Bingo, one of the easiest ways to stimulate social conversations between staff. You can create your own custom bingo cards completely free online, so that the entire thing doesn’t cost a penny.

Like classic bingo, the goal is to be the first person to mark off five squares in a row on a bingo card. These squares should be filled with traits such as “Has run a marathon,” “Can play a musical instrument,” and other similar prompts. Each time you meet somebody who fulfills a trait, you mark your card.

2.8. Office Scavenger Hunt

Whether played in person or virtually, scavenger hunts are a fantastic way to bolster intelligent teamwork. At their simplest, they feature a checklist of items for players to find and photograph, though they can also incorporate other fun challenges like riddles and trivia.

For a professional-looking, economically efficient office scavenger hunt, consider using a free app to host your contest. Goosechase, for example, includes gamification elements like leaderboards and activity feeds, as well as pre-built templates that you can use to make a bespoke hunt for your workplace. 

2.9. Two Truths and a Lie

Among the finest low cost team building activities that also double as an icebreaker, Two Truths and a Lie requires players to take turns relating three statements about themselves. Two of these statements should be true and one should be a lie, but it’s up to the group to figure out which is which.

Two Truths and a Lie is brilliant for promoting social interactions between employees, allowing them to learn more about one another through a light-hearted game. It’s also a way to nurture a team’s ability to amicably discuss and debate a problem before coming to a consensus. 

2.10. Code Name Game

Code name game

One of the most fun free team building activities out there, the Code Name Game is all about strategy and communication. Players are divided into two teams, with each one nominating a “spymaster.”  The job of the spymaster is to get their team to identify all of their assigned codenames from 25 possible options.

This game is based on a board game called Codenames, which has a free online version that makes it incredibly easy to run your own office contest. Although it can be played with an unlimited number of people, squads of about 3 or 4 tend to work best for office team building, as this allows for more active participation.

2.11. Virtual Karaoke Party

There are very few cheap group activities for adults that are more entertaining than virtual karaoke parties. These singing sessions are a great way for staff to show off their musical flair while bonding over pop bangers. You may even find the online element encourages the shrinking violets among your staff to come out of their shell.

YouTube has its fair share of karaoke content that you can access for free. There are also companies like KaraFun and Singa that charge a subscription fee but offer a more sophisticated interface to host your group sing-a-thon.

2.12. Team-building Apps

We’ve already mentioned a scavenger hunt app you can use for team building, but there are tons of other apps that are equally good for strengthening company unity. Some are based around games, while others supply a platform where staff can support and praise one another. 

Kahoot!, for instance, is a quiz-based platform that can be used to gamify group training, while Nectar incentivizes coworkers to recognize one another’s contributions to the team through personalized shoutouts.

2.13. Nature Walk and Talk

Cheap corporate event ideas don’t come more picturesque than a nature walk. Something as simple as a scenic hike can be the foundation on which stronger team bonds are built, as staff take in the views while engaging in casual conversation.

Websites like Komoot and AllTrails have a huge database of routes for locations around the globe. Consider adding a teamwork element into the mix with an orienteering challenge or by incorporating a scavenger hunt into the out-of-office excursion.

2.14. Quickfire Icebreakers

Quickfire icebreakers

If you’re looking for budget team building ideas for employees that can be conducted in a short space of time, quickfire icebreakers are a savvy solution. Designed to stimulate staff interaction, the conversations they engender lead to closer working relationships.

Games like Icebreaker Roulette, Would You Rather, and Who Done It can all be played in just 5 or 10 minutes, making them incredibly easy to slot into busy schedules.

2.15. Online Cooking Class

Cookery classes are one of the more complex low cost team building activities to arrange, but the tradeoff is that they tend to be very popular with staff. For a budget setup, choose a simple recipe that requires common everyday ingredients. Food websites like Tasty have video content that you can use to guide staff through a basic (but delicious) meal. 

If you can stretch the budget, consider employing a professional business to lead the class, whether it's to teach how to make pasta or lobster bisque. Although this is a pricier option, many of these virtual sessions come with kits that are delivered straight to employee homes for added convenience.

3. FAQs

3.1. What are the 4 main types of team building activities?

Although there are numerous types of inexpensive team building activities, they can be divided broadly into four main categories: those designed to develop camaraderie and relationships, those designed to build communication skills, those designed to encourage creative problem solving, and those designed to foster collaborative decision making.

3.2. What are successful team building activities?

The success of a low cost team building activities depends on setting clear objectives from the start. If the aim is principally to create a more personal connection between staff that can translate into better professional efficacy, then fun activities like karaoke nights are likely to be the most successful. Alternatively, escape rooms are ideal for problem solving and communication.

3.3. What is the 30 second game for team building?

The 30 second game involves asking staff to think about a 30-second moment of their life that they would like to relive. Everyone takes it in turn to briefly describe the memory, enabling colleagues to learn more about one another in a very short amount of time.

3.4. What are fun events in office?

Bingo games, art challenges and quickfire icebreakers are all low cost team building activities that can easily be deployed in the workplace for some light-hearted fun. As long as you have a suitable space and the right equipment, you can even host more elaborate events such as karaoke sessions and scavenger hunts in the office.

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