Virtual Team Building Events

Activity Description

Traffic Jam Team Building

You will find that Traffic Jam is a game that requires some careful thinking as well as communication skills. The game could be compared to playing a game of chess. Basically, you have a group of people divided up into two sides or teams. Both of these sides must cooperate with each other to successfully complete the activity.

Resources: Cones/Floor Markers

Space Required: Small. Indoors or Outdoors.

Group Size: 8-14 ideally (no more than 16)

Total Time: 55 minutes

  • 5 minutes to brief and set up
  • 40 minutes for challenge
  • 10 minutes to review and debrief

Running the Traffic Jam Activity

  • Split participants into two smaller groups (side A and B).
  • Introduce the activity: The aim of Traffic Jam is for the two sides to work their way across to the opposite side in the same order. To achieve success, both sides must work together and carefully select the best move. If you make the wrong move, you will end up in a jam and will need to restart the challenge.
  • Both groups must line up vertically (one behind the other) with A facing B and B facing A. Everyone should be lined up in their team, standing next to a cone.
  • There should also be one free cone to begin with, separating the two teams. Note there will always be one unoccupied cone throughout the activity to allow team members to move.

Start Order: A B C D – FC – 1 2 3 4

End Order: 1 2 3 4 – FC – A B C D

Rules of Traffic Jam Group Activity

  • Participants are not allowed to move backwards during the challenge
  • The only move allowed, is forward towards an open space
  • Players are not permitted to pass or jump over one of their own team players
  • During the challenge, only one person is allowed to make a move each time.
  • Each person is only allowed to occupy a single spot, nobody can share.
  • When a member of any team makes a mistake, the entire group must start the challenge over.

Suggested Learning Outcomes

  • Encourages communication and cooperation with each other
  • Helps to focus on decision making and problem-solving skills
  • Teaches participants how to adapt – resilience

Activity Guidance and Notes

Traffic Jam is all about planning your next move and can be quite challenging. For this reason, it is recommended the activity focuses more on older participants. The game can form part of a workshop for life skills, highlighting issues like failure as well as teaching participants perseverance. The activity can become a bit frustrating as teams try to complete the challenge successfully.

One way to help groups manage the challenge, is to let them break the larger problem into smaller more manageable issues. Start off with allowing only a handful of members, say 4, to complete the challenge. The group can now see how to tackle the task, add two more members and continue, add more members until everyone is back at the challenge together.

Process with the group throughout – talk them thru their frustration, ask how their current solution is working, help them listen to each other if they are struggling to do so, etc.

One of the rules for Traffic Jam is, two members from the same side or team cannot be found standing opposite each other during the challenge. If teams do find themselves in this situation, this is where the traffic jam comes in. Eventually the group will have to start the game over again.

Debrief and Review of Traffic Jam 

Here are some questions to ask groups, which will help members process their experience of Traffic Jam:

At the beginning of the activity, participants often say this activity is impossible, but by the end, they feel great! When the group makes unanimous decisions, they usually make fewer mistakes. Some problems get solved much faster if you focus on the process or how you are interacting, rather than focusing on the problem.

Here are some questions to ask groups, which will help members process their experience of Traffic Jam:

How did it feel to accomplish an “impossible” task?

Would you be given a task if there was not a way provided to accomplish it?

What steps were taken to get the activity done?


Whose ideas were important? (every suggestion)


How many people did it take to do this activity

How difficult would it be to accomplish this task if someone was not cooperating or doing their part? Was it frustrating or enduring?

What was more rewarding, the fact that everyone is standing in a different place or the process that brought you there?

How does that relate to your life and other projects you are involved in?

  • Was there an effective plan in place?
  • At which point during the game did you feel the most frustrated?
  • Did you fail at any point? How do you think failure can benefit the group?
  • What did you do to overcome the failures?
  • Did you make any changes to your plan during the challenge?
  • Were you unable to finish successfully? What happened?
  • Is there any way you could have handled the problems presented better? Was there a way to break down the larger problems to smaller ones?
  • Did you learn anything from the challenge?

Facilitator Blueprint for Traffic Jam

How to Play

  • Split your team into two sub-teams (Team A and Team B). Ensure both teams have an equal number of participants.
  • You will now see some cones in front of you. Team A should line up vertically on one side, Team B on the other.
  • Everybody should be standing next to a cone, and lined up behind each other facing the team opposite.
  • You will notice there is one free cone in the middle separating the two sides. Throughout the challenge, there will always be one space left unoccupied to allow team members to move. 



The aim of Traffic Jam is for each side to work their way across to the opposite side by passing the other team. To achieve success, both sides must work together and carefully select the best move. If you make one wrong move, you will end up in a jam and will need to restart the challenge.

Start Order: A B C D – FC – 1 2 3 4

End Order: 1 2 3 4 – FC – A B C D


  • You can only move one at a time – if you attempt to do more, you will be told to return back to the start position.
  • Participants in the same sub-team cannot pass each other.
  • Once you have made a move you cannot return back to your previous position.
  • There will always be one space which isn’t occupied.
  • No moving backwards.
  • A person can only move forward to an empty space.
  • A person cannot jump over or pass their own team member.

Traffic Jam Activity Solution 

This activity works even if you have odd numbers. First move a person forward into the empty space. Then the first person from team 2 goes around to the empty space, and the second person from team 2 steps forward. This pattern continues (team 1 moves one person, team 2 moves two people, team 1 moves three people, team 2 moves four people, etc.) until all people are moved. After everyone has moved, the pattern is reversed: five people move four, three, two, one.

Hint: There are three “unspoken rules” that if followed, will solve this puzzle.

  • First, at every juncture, there are only two possible moves: one will get them stuck and the other will not.
  • Second, participants from opposing team should always be alternating on the spaces. If one team has two in a row, they have created a traffic jam.
  • And third, for the first half of the game, when they arrive at a juncture, always move the person that is positioned closer to the outward tails of the semi-circle, not the person closer to the centre. After all participants have moved, the pattern is reversed.

Here it is laid out step by step:

Step 1    A moves forward to empty base

Step 2    1 moves around A to empty base

Step 3    2 moves forward to empty space

Step 4    A moves around 2 to open base

Step 5    B moves around 1

Step 6    C moves forward to open base

Step 7    1 moves around C

Step 8    2 moves around B

Step 9    3 moves around A

Step 10 4 moves forward to open base

Step 11 A moves around 4 (A completes switch)

Step 12 B moves around 3

Step 13 C moves around 2

Step 14 D moves around 1

Step 15 1 moves forward (1 completes switch)

Step 16 2 moves around A (2 finishes)

Step 17 3 moves around C

Step 18 4 moves around B

Step 19 B moves forward (C finishes)

Step 20 C moves around 4 (B finishes)

Step 21 D moves around 3

Step 22 3 moves forward (3 finishes)

Step 23 4 moves around A (4 finishes)

Step 24 D moves forward (the task is complete)


Two people from the same team must never stand next to each other to complete the challenge

Traffic Jam Team Building

Basic Details
Property Type : Team Building
Listing Type : Placeholder
Activity Type : Team Building
Focus On : Communication, Collaboration, Leadership, Problem Solving
Outcome Based : Yes
Facilities : Indoor, Outdoor
Props Required : Minor
Duration : 26+ minutes
Exertion Level : Low
Group Size : 1 - 8, 9 - 16
Age : Youth, Adults