Since its conception in the mid 1980s ‘team building’ has been all the rage among new, innovative businesses. The simple fact is 70% of workers in the US arrive at work with no real engagement with the company’s aims or direction. The experts at Forbes put it clearly: team building is the most important investment you'll make, directly leading to up to 2.5x increases in company revenues. Having a team directly engaged in their work is a clear priority.
So ok, you want to build a friendly, motivational environment at the office for your workforce, have some kind of regular social activities to ensure your employees communicate and enjoy their work, and make sure they have time to let off some steam, but you’re just not sure how to do it? Here are the best tried-and-tested corporate team building activities to give your company the energy it needs:
1) Challenge your employees with company sports teams
Sports teams give a regular leisure activity for employees to build genuine friendships outside the office and commit more to their corporate teams when at work. It’s always helpful to build relationships naturally in a care-free environment outside of deadlines and stress.
It can also mean cross-departmental bonding on the playing field when different departments’ communication would usually be limited. Key focus here is on ‘regular’ - by having an activity linked to the business out-of-hours permanent teams are formed, allowing much easier and more natural coordination at work.
If your team gets really good, you can take the sport to matches with business competition or trade partners to really build up some healthy rivalry. Just take a look at the New York Corporate Athletic League for an example of how big corporate sports teams can get!
To really solidify that team spirit, why not order team photo shoots to let moments shared on the field last forever?
2) Show how much employees have in common with classic ice breaker games
The age-old ‘two truths and a lie’, ‘would you rather’ and other classic party games from when you were a kid are so common in modern workplaces for a good reason. They take no time at all to organise, and almost every employee will be familiar with the concept. It can even be a kind of nostalgia, letting everyone feel at home in the office space.
Ice breakers encourage better communication and closer co-worker relationships by finding out bizarre, touching or downright hilarious facts about each other. Although corporate shots and LinkedIn profiles may give some kind of introduction to new employees, it’s through these ice breakers that you can really get to know a new person in the office. People start to communicate not just with coworkers, but with friends.
3) Improve teamwork with an escape room
Escape-the-room games have become increasingly popular in the last few years, and combine aspects of a corporate getaway with a hostage escape situation. Teams have to work together to look for clues and solve puzzles to leave a mysterious locked room (maybe not one for the claustrophobic!)
That initial feeling of shock quickly gives way to a group bonding, trapped together, relying on each other’s communication and problem-solving skills to get back out to freedom! That shared experience in itself is enough to give your team something to talk about…
© Escape the Room
Escape rooms are pretty much all-the-rage these days, and there are loads of companies available to offer this unforgettable day out. One of the biggest, Escape the Room, has sites across America, so this team building activity is never too difficult to organise.
Given the craze for escape games at the moment, your employees will probably want you to have the experience filmed or photographed to document it forever!
4) Break the ice with Karaoke
If you really want to get your employees to come out of their shells and perform, karaoke is the activity for you! It may require more extroverted employees, but if the shoe fits… Perhaps you could have a kind of cocktail party beforehand, or corporate drinks. Either way, you’re guaranteed to get results with everyone belting out the classics!
Karaoke bars can be found in basically every town and city in your area and, because of the price and location, are fairly easy to make a regular night out, meaning employees have good relationships outside the office as well as at work.
To really catch people working at their most motivated, most passionate, and probably with the most hilarious results, look no further than karaoke!
5) Try fostering competition with extreme sports
Alright, it’s time to think big. If you really want to push the boat out and show your employees what your company is made of and what its aims are all about, why not organise something like white water rafting, paintball, go-karting or even bungee jumping?! It may sound like a lot to handle, but providing employees with a once-in-a-lifetime experience will definitely build their motivation and dedication to your business.
© Extreme Sports Company
That kind of thing. Team building activities like this aren’t just cool, but give a real opportunity to relieve stress, and tensions between coworkers. Doing something like paintball lets you totally let loose and go wild, and encourages strategic, team-based thinking to achieve immediate objectives. It’s an opportunity to put employees directly ‘in the line of fire’ while having fun outdoors together.
Although they take a bit more time to organise and are unlikely to be regular events, extreme sports are an occasion for the whole office to go wild together. Most of these activities can be found worldwide, but if in doubt check out Extreme Sports Company for whole package deals.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to make sure you capture every moment with professional photographers used to clear and accurate action shots! With team building like this, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to capture the image of an easy-going, fun-loving team at play.
6) Build group creativity with arts & crafts
Creativity is, of course, invaluable in any workforce. You can really harness and improve creative skills with the right kind of team building activities, such as…
Organising cooking classes
This is a nice practical skill, which becomes progressively more creative as the classes go on, and afterwards. Perfect for if you have a small office kitchen space, so people can bring in a little something they made earlier to show to everyone at work.
The New School of Cooking runs cooking lessons specifically for large corporate groups, working on the team aspect of the preparation process, and they offer wine with every meal. There are of course many, many more to choose from across the USA.
Another nice aspect of cooking classes is that it creates its own social events outside the office - once employees have really mastered a certain dish, they’ll no doubt be wanting to invite workmates home to try the recipes they learnt together. Again: the team building creates friendships, as well as a healthy work environment.
Running art classes
Obviously, you can’t expect all your colleagues to be the next Picasso, but that’s exactly what makes this one fun. Getting people to discover their artistic side allows them to break the moulds of what’s expected from their job and find new forms of working. Learning from mistakes and applying creative skills in groups - perhaps with everyone painting the same subject or making the same object out of clay - really creates inquisitive and creative teams at work. Corporate events for art training are offered by companies like Spirited Art across the USA, meaning these activities are accessible and easy to run.
© Spirited Art
If you want to combine this with a classic ice breaking game, there’s having colleagues draw or paint each other. A classic bonding exercise (and a lot easier to organise), this focuses on a collective creativity, and really getting to know your subject - trying to really capture what they’re about down on canvas or paper.
Of course, for both these arts & crafts activities, you’re going to want to document your employees’ talents - and hopefully they will too! For this you’ll need a real professional photographer, someone who knows how to capture art with the best quality commercial photos.
To put it simply, team building is a key part of modern office life. To really get employees to form close bonds with coworkers, open up and show their inner creativity, you have to organise activities fit for the whole team. It’s at that point that people will form really effective, productive teams at work, and keep these close bonds outside the office. Whether it’s regular art classes, or an annual go-karting afternoon, make sure you capture every moment together with fast and professional high-quality photography to solidify those relationships forever.