The purpose of a team is to manage individuals in an easier and productive way, to build projects as a united group that couldn’t be done individually. The effectiveness of a team depends greatly on its size. Numerous studies show that the more people you have in a team, the more the team will spend time to make decisions together. So, what would be the ideal team size ? This is also important for planning VR team building events as it will determine how many teams you break your larger cohorts into and the type of VR activities depending on the team size.

Social Loafing : The Ringelmann Effect

One consideration for planning VR team building is the Ringelmann effect, this famous concept covers the negative effects of large sized groups and is also called social loafing (Alnuaimi, 2010). It is the tendency we have to depend more on others when we are in a group, rather than trying to perform our best. In big groups, individual contributions seem less impactful and important. It is easier to hide your true efforts when belonging to a team of 30 people. This effect can be reduced depending on the type of task. The more the task involves high cognitive functions and intellectual tasks, the more prominent the Ringelmann effect will be. When planning VR team building we will work with clients to select a suitable group task and equally important the ideal group size for this task.

The Ideal Number Should Be Around 4-6

There isn’t an exact magic number that every group should be, but studies have shown that this number is quite low actually, and revolves around 4 to 6 people (Thomas, 2016). Each additional person can change quite a lot in the group dynamic. Just think of a dyad becoming a tryad. With three people ; there can be two people agreeing against only one, which changes everything. This effect can also be recognized in the difference of odd and even numbers (Klein, 2006).

It appears though that the individual performance losses aren’t all about coordination issues.

It is more about the social support that is given peer-to-peer in smaller groups. To assess whether you should add or not a person in the group ; you should ask yourself these questions :

– What is the team trying to accomplish ? Think of how difficult is the project and what kind of difficulties you will potentially meet.

– How many roles are necessary to complete the team goals? You have to ensure that the team will be complete, and that every aspect of your project is covered. You will need different sets of skills, and maybe they will not be completely covered in a group that is too small. On the contrary, it won’t be advantageous to have too many people having the same role ; it will actually be demotivating.

– When is the deadline ? This question goes along with the previous one. If the deadline is short, then it is ok to have several people with the same role. This will work, but only if the task is relatively simple, and requires simply more time (for example painters working on a building). Some tasks require more thinking and creativity and it will be more complex to manage a team if you add to many people. For longer term projects, you should aim for smaller groups if possible.

With our VR team build services we often work with larger groups of 20-30, we use a variety of tasks and groups so some competitive activities we will have 10 v 10 and for cognitively challenging activities we bring the group size right down to 5 or 6. All groups still get to mix however as we run a variety of activities and can also change team composition to make sure individuals network and build relationships effectively.

How Can VR Team Building Help Coordination And Cohesion

The cognitive biases described above can be mitigated by changing the tasks and the number of people involved on a single project, but also through the use of VR in team building activities. Mostly it creates an ephemeral environment where there can be new kinds of problem solving and bonding that are essential for creating proximity between coworkers. Many teams lack cohesiveness simply because they haven’t been put in certain situations that include emotional triggers. This emotional and affective component is very important in order for a team to become more unified and develop ways of solving conflicts constructively (Becker, 2018).

An effective way of keeping your team to an ideal size is to do a multi-team, and cut your team into smaller but specialized groups (Hoegl, 2005). By developing proximity between group members, some managers are afraid of increasing negative aspects too. This will happen inevitably, but it can of course be regulated. It is actually more beneficial to have a workspace where there is potential conflict because it also shows that coworkers aren’t afraid of telling their opinions and giving feedback on work being done. (Greer, 2007).

We can offer team building for entertainment or for clients that want more specialist VR team building our psychologists can incorporate some of the more specialist elements to create some pressure to see how they perform.

To conclude

The ideal team size will depend on what kind of goal is being set but also the composition of the team. If you think your team is dysfunctional, the size of your team can be an important factor to look upon but there are many others, VR team building helps us flexibly test team sizes and their impact on task performance.

If you are also looking for a simple way to bring your teams together to have fun and rebuild relationships then VR is the ideal way to do that, all our clients have a great time and our team are expert in creating engaging and fun activities due to our learning and development background.

If you would like to utlitise our VR team building services or our innovative VR team assessment platform talk to us now and we will be happy to arrange a demo.


References :

Avdjaj, 2017. Small Team Effectiveness on Decision-making, Small group research 48(2): 215–248.

Alnuaimi, 2010. Team Size, Dispersion, and Social Loafing in Technology-Supported Teams: A Perspective on the Theory of Moral Disengagement. Journal of Management Information Systems, 27(1), pp. 203-230

Becker, 2018. Emotional Labor Within Teams: Outcomes of Individual and Peer Emotional Labor on Perceived Team Support, Extra-Role Behaviors, and Turnover Intentions. Group & Organization Management, 43(1), 38-71.

Greer, 2007. The Pivotal Role of Negative Affect in Understanding the Effects of Process Conflict on Group Performance, Managing Groups and Teams 10:21-43

Ingham, 1974. The Ringelmann effect: Studies of group size and group performance. Journal of experimental social psychology, 10(4), 371-384.

Hoegl, M., 2005. Smaller teams-better teamwork: How to keep project teams small. Business Horizons, Volume 48, pp. 209-214.

Klein, 2006. Team mental models and team performance: A field study of the effects of team mental model similarity and accuracy, Journal of Organizational Behavior 27(4)

Thomas, 1963. Effects of group size. Psychological Bulletin, 60(4), 371–384.

Mueller, 2012. Why individuals in larger teams perform worse, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 117(1).

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