With social restrictions soon to be eased, are in-person team building events set to make a comeback, or will virtual continue to rule?

Given that social contact is set to become much less restricted in the coming months and outdoor venues begin to open back up ready for some good weather, it might be that after a year of being stuck inside doing Zoom quizzes the popularity of outdoor team building activities will boom with spread of the virus less likely out in the open.

“Outdoor activities will of course become more popular as the weather gets warmer, and this aligns with the importance of physical activity and wellness becoming a big focus,” commented Jonny Edser, Managing Drector at team building events company Wildgoose. “It is more crucial than ever that employers support their employees’ wellbeing by ensuring their teams are staying active and engaged.”

On the other hand, it seems that virtual and hybrid events will remain popular even after the pandemic is over. EventMB found that 71% of event planners will continue to employ a digital strategy to maintain their virtual audience once they return to physical events and that 66.5% of event professionals plan to use hybrid as their go-to format once in-person events resume, undoubtedly virtual team building activities will remain post-COVID.

“As we move into the spring and summer months with restrictions easing, we have received a number of enquiries from companies whose workforce is now fully remote, suggesting that virtual is here to stay,” Edser explained. “However, with social contact gradually being introduced in many workplaces we also expect a gradual return to face-to-face events as the weather picks up. This will include a demand for events that accommodate a hybrid working world, facilitating both remote and in-person employees.” It seems that hybrid team building activities may be the way to go forward, allowing employees a choice of whether to attend in-person or virtually.

Virtual team building certainly can have its advantages, but arguments are prevalent for both sides. They can cost a fair bit less than in-person, though this can come at the cost of engagement and accessibility is much better. While logistical and health and safety concerns are much less of a minefield, Zoom fatigue is a real and prevalent consequence of an influx of virtual activities, and employees are feeling more isolated than ever.

Interestingly, Soundofcollegues.com, a website which streams background office sounds such as phones ringing and people chattering, has had 75,000 visitors from the UK ­­­– showing just how much employees miss being in an office environment surrounded by other people. Employee mental health has certainly suffered from the isolation of working from home, and a recent survey by Aetna International indicated that a third of employees are concerned about this issue. In-person team building events are perhaps the best way to tackle this feeling of isolation and bring out the best in employees.

 

“Everyone’s ready to do face-to-face team building,” says What An Event Owner and Director Michael Hanson. “It’s not going to completely replace virtual, but just after the year we’ve all had, we’ve seen several enquiries in the last four weeks from people wanting to their team face-to-face and outdoors. Certainly, outdoor team building is very much in people’s minds at the moment.”