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I'm looking for a team building activity for about 100 software developers. I notice it is quite hard to find something where everyone can participate (male/female, young/old, active/passive profiles).

I'm looking for good ideas, does anyone has good experiences with a specific teambuilding activity?

What I was thinking about

  • Paintball
  • Some type of escape room
  • Nerf gun game at the office
  • GPS game in a city

In the past I already organized quite some activities for smaller groups, but never for this many participants. I am quite free to choose an activity, I'm basically looking for good ideas which I don't have to organize by myself, but I can pay a local place to do the activity.

Think of a place where we pay x euros / person, and we can go paintballing there. Or a place where I pay x euros per nerf gun, and I can organize the activity using these nerf guns.

Type of activity

The idea is to do something not work related, to give all developers a nice evening.

Budget

Budget will be between 50 and 100 euros, the activity will not be mandatory to attend. The company pays, participants don't need to pay.

  • Don't post answers in the comments. OP: what is your previous experience with that? What do you want to achieve at the end? What does your HR say? Answerers: please provide good subjective answer with justification of why it's a good idea, or share your experience. Try not to answer "try this" – aaaaa says reinstate Monica Oct 30 '19 at 16:23
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    What is the objective? How will you communicate it to the participants to get their buy-in? None of the activities you mention as examples is something I would choose to do for its own sake. I would need some work-related motivation. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 30 '19 at 16:38
  • Why are you looking to have a team building activity? And why for so many people at once? – user70848 Oct 30 '19 at 17:06
  • Just rent a cinema, and buy pizza for the 20 people who eventually turn up. If you want to make it really fun, do it during the working day. I'm sure there are more than a few people who would say No to an optional 'fun' event outside work hours (I'm one...) – PeteCon Oct 31 '19 at 13:41
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I would not call an event for 100 people a team-building event, because they can not all have meaningful interactions with eachother. Rather call it a team outing or something.

What my employer has done for a few years is inviting everyone to a themepark/zoo/big outdoor area with different activities and just let us roam freely for the day, closing off with a bbq or other meal. Some years we had an optional quiz to solve during the day, for which the person/team with the highest score would win a prize. This has the benefit of usually having something for everyone to enjoy. If you want, you can form groups of people yourself, but mostly this will get sorted automatically.

For a group as large as yours, these locations will have a specialised team to help you organise + usually some major discounts as well.

As an alternative, if you really want something more focused on team-building, reconsider organising it for all at once and focus on smaller actual teams or maybe even form new teams for a one-time “get to know each other” type evening.

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As you can see in the comments, organising an event for such a large group is really difficult. There's always going to be people who are not happy with the decision, no matter how much effort you put into making it a fun and inclusive activity.

What we do in my teams, although at smaller scales, is for the team members to decide. This normally works very well.

You can send a poll with various options, including the ones you've already mentioned in your question, explaining what the main objective is: to have fun. Then people can vote for what they'd prefer to do. You can even allow people to suggest an activity that's not originally in the list.

Last, but not least, as I mentioned in my comment, it's always good to have a secondary activity that those who don't want to/cannot participate can do instead.

Some of the benefits of this approach are:

  • You give your team members the possibility to have a say rather than telling them what they are going to do for fun. Especially if you let them add their own suggestions.
  • The majority of the people will be happy with the final decision since you'll do whatever option gets the highest number of votes.
  • Those who chose other options may not be thrilled with the final decision, but at least they will hopefully understand the majority decided something else. And if not, there's always the secondary activity.
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    If voting on activities, it's good to have some way for people to flag activities that would be deal-breakers for them. If 60% of staff love the idea of a winery tour and the other 40% are teetotal/in recovery/etc. then you're probably better off going with something that's less polarizing, even if it's not everybody's first choice. – Geoffrey Brent Oct 31 '19 at 4:18
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I will simply answer the question as asked. A company I worked for did Geocaching as a company event. We were split into smaller groups (roughly 5 people) and given a list to find. The further away ones were worth more points to encourage risk vs reward.

The teams were divided so that people who didn't normally work together were teamed up. This meant you got to know a few new faces and there were prizes for the highest scoring team.

After a few hours the company put on some food and handed out some jokey awards i.e. most competitive etc.

Link

I feel like everyone enjoyed it, it gave me a chance to work with new people and I imagine the cost to the company was pretty low. This event was for roughly 30 people but I see no reason it wouldn't scale up.

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As others have said it will be hard to find events this large that still revolve around team building. However, I think it is not impossible.

Depending on if your budget is per person or in total for the entire event, here are some ideas that came into my mind.

Look for large activities that make your employees work, think and act in team.

Paintball would be a good idea.

Another idea could be a VR park. Here you could have them do a myriad of activities although it might be a hassle to find a location able to serve all hundred of them at the same time.

Escape rooms are a great idea as well and lately have been getting a lot of traction. Some event organisers offer large scale escape rooms as well (eg escape a castle and such).

A trek/hike where you divide everybody up in teams, provide them with a map and compass and make them work together to find their way to a certain location. with or without objectives on the way. (depending on the physical average of your hundred people you might want to pick an easy or more challenging route)

Perhaps you could hire a location and then have several instructors of several sports come and give initiations in those sports.

Create a tournament of sorts. (have them compete in something you know they will like, or something relevant to your business. Games, chess, running, tasks relating to your business and so on). Perhaps divide them up in teams again instead of making it one on one.

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100 people, give or take, is not a team:

A group does not necessarily constitute a team. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort which allows each member to maximize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses

The fact that so many people cannot really be a team is loosely / indirectly related to The Magical Number Seven:

... the number of objects an average human can hold in short-term memory is 7 ± 2

Therefore, joining all these people in one activity would be quite difficult.


As an alternative, these people might act either as several:

  • independent teams;
  • cooperating teams;
  • competing teams;

Considering that you want to organize exercises, the team size should not be bigger than about 10 people. As mentioned, the teams can do:

  • totally unrelated activities;
  • interconnected activities - the results of one team are used by the next, to reach some complex output;
  • all doing the same activity, see which ones finish faster, better, cheaper;
  • mix the above into a multi-athlon: all teams must go though the same several challenges, each team doing one challenge at a time.

The activities are as varied and rich as imagination:

  • sports: darts, football, running...;
  • building something: a cart, a device to land eggs from a high height without breaking, a bridge, a house / shelter for bad weather...;
  • "scientific": solving all kinds of puzzles, showing out-of-the-box thinking, ingenuity, imagination; chess, go; ...;
  • etc.
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As the other answers state, it's not really teambuilding with 100 people involved. You have to split them up in smaller teams and let them do something. At max you can also let the teams interact with each other.

Our company does something like this on a regular basis, and we are even 200 - 300 people. Here are some inspirations, though they maybe more expensive than your budget.

  • Stunt training: We invited some professional stunt men and did some fun things, sword fighting, fist fighting, climbing, setting each other on fire (seriously, not joking here...)
  • Movie shoot: We invited a film crew and shot some short movies in smaller teams and presented them at the end of the day
  • Making music: I missed that one, but we invited a music school and everyone could try different instruments together with the teachers. At the end, all played a simple song together
  • A day at the beach: We all were going to a beach and could do lots of different water sports

After the main event there is always a big party. It may not be a real teambuilding event per definition, but everyone has some great fun, gets to know other people they don't usually work together with (don't let them choose teams by themself, mix them up) and it really improves morale. If you find something cool, don't hesitate to increase the budget, if possible. The morale of your people should be worth that.

Also I think the most important aspect of such events is the fun. Those typical team-building activities may look good in a book, but from my experience, most people don't really take them seriously. Just let the people have fun with each other, the rest will work itself out over time.

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