In this final part of our blog trilogy on conferences and corporate events (you can find part one here if you want to start from the beginning!), we wanted to step away from the traditional annual conference and look at some of the other team-building events and activities that are on offer.
Of course, these can vary wildly in terms of the amount of planning required, the expense involved, and the level of disruption to the business, but if planned well, all will help you to foster collaboration, improve communication, and develop trust and camaraderie across your teams. Some will work for some teams in some businesses, others are more universal.
It’s important to considerer the preferences and comfort levels of your team members when deciding upon and planning activities. If Cyril from Accounts is only months from his already delayed retirement, and is still recovering from a knee op’, ziplining across a Welsh quarry may not be the best bet for him.
We’d also advise properly debriefing after the activity to discuss what was learned, how team bonds were improved, and how the experience can be applied to the workplace moving forward.
Here are a few good examples of team-building activities that may suit your business or some of your teams.
Outdoor Adventure Activities:
There are plenty of options in this category, but three of the more popular (and hair-raising) options are zip-lining, tree-top ropes courses, and white-water rafting. All of these foster teamwork and communication and build confidence and cooperation in a challenging, outdoor environment. Not all of your staff will thank you for this kind of activity, but those who do, will love you for it, and benefit greatly.
Escape Room Challenges:
I’m sure these need no introduction or explanation, as their popularity has exploded in recent years, but the advantages of having your teams work together and solve problems in order to "escape" from a themed room within a time limit should be clear to see. Another advantage with escape rooms is that they’re relatively inexpensive, they exist in almost every town and city in the country, and they won’t take up a whole day, reducing the impact on the business.
There are also online versions available, which can be even cheaper and done from the comfort of your own workplace, even if they are less immersive. Check out reviews before parting with any cash, though, as the quality of these can vary quite wildly!
Cooking Classes or Challenges:
Teams work together to create a meal, promoting creativity and collaboration. If you don't want to splash out on a professional kitchen setting, you may be able to create something lower-key in your staff canteen or kitchen.
Participants work in teams to solve clues and find hidden items or complete challenges. Pay for a professional version or create your own taking in your building(s) and outdoor areas. Please be careful if you're going to have teams competitively tearing around your car parks or areas busy with traffic, though!
The right board games will encourage strategic thinking and teamwork. Or invest in some quality brain teasers and puzzles (physical or digital) to stimulate critical thinking and collaboration.
Team Sports and Competitions:
Football, basketball, rounders, volleyball… the list is almost endless. Physical activities promote teamwork, communication, and friendly competition. And, of course, they’re good for body as well as soul. You could also consider setting up a tug of war or relay races to foster camaraderie and team spirit. Feeling really brave? Set up an obstacle course for colleagues to guide a blindfolded team member through. Great for communication skills. Padding advised!
Team Building through Art:
Not got a sporty lot in your company? Look into painting or sculpting workshops. These encourage creativity and collaboration, and can be great fun, even if you’re not that artistic. (In fact, the less artistic you are, the funnier the event can be, as long as everyone is alright with some friendly mocking!) Nude art classes should probably be avoided.
Team-Building Workshops and Seminars:
Of course, there are some offerings which are designed specifically as professional away-days and with business up-skilling in mind. Communication Workshops focus on improving verbal and non-verbal communication skills, whilst conflict resolution workshops help teams learn to manage conflicts constructively. Role-Playing or simulations that mirror workplace scenarios can help team members practice problem-solving and decision-making.
Alternatively, it's quite easy to set up events around tools like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or StrengthsFinder to promote self-awareness and understanding among team members.
It's worth remembering that what you gain from these activities in professional up-skilling, you may lose in the sense of fun or break from routine.
Community Service or Volunteer Work:
Participating in a charitable activity as a team can strengthen bonds and provide a sense of purpose. Even something as low-key and easy to arrange as a litter-picking day can bring a surprising sense of reward to participants. And these events are great to shout about after the event (both internally and out), for a bonus shot of good PR!
Camping or Retreats:
Multi-day outings in a natural setting can provide some of the finest opportunities for team bonding and away-from-the-daily-grind relaxation, but they are significantly more expensive and disruptive to work patterns. As with any rugged outdoor shenanigans, this may not appeal to all your people!
Online games for Virtual Meetings
If you want something lower-key (and easier on the petty cash tin) but that still brings the fun factor, take a look here for some ideas.
In this trilogy of blogs, we have looked at the importance and benefits of incorporating some form(s) of conferences, events, or team building activities into your comms strategy. If done well, you will see the engagement and motivation of your teams soar, and feel the collaboration and team spirit take hold, as people connect cross-departmentally and escape the routine of their everyday work lives.
Whether it's the knowledge sharing and networking opportunities of an annual conference, or the team-building fun of an escape room, the time taken to organise these events should pay handsomely in motivation, collaboration, innovation and creativity.