Online team building is here to stay, and yet there’s a resurgence in outdoor team building as well.
Team building has been pushed into the digital world by the pandemic and is still very much there even though live corporate team building events are making a comeback, with some quite literally going back to nature.
When people were working in isolation many forward thinking company bosses kept an eye on the importance of teamwork and team spirit, with many searching for online team building experiences. In short, businesses were and continue to think ‘out of the box’ when it comes to team building.
Zara Taylor from GOTO Events, which specialises in corporate team building events across the UK revealed: “This time last year live events weren’t a thing and we adapted to this by pushing remote team building events. The demand was so high that in November we had to declare ourselves fully booked for Christmas, with most team building events overflowing into the new year to fill the demand.
“This year, we are very much seeing that same level of enquiries for remote as we are live, if not more. It’s not only the pandemic that is fuelling the rise in the remote team building, the increase in decentralisation and remote working means that businesses are not grounded by geographical borders when it comes to recruitment. So, inevitably, remote team building brings employees together.
“As businesses move into 2022, the way we all work is very different to the way we worked before the pandemic. Communication has switched from faceto-face to digital methods, but the need for teams to work simultaneously and in cohesion with one another remains the same.
“We’ve seen a significant switch in the way businesses are hosting their internal and external meetings, along with events. There is now a higher number of businesses wanting to incorporate some method of interactive team experience into their meetings, whether that be live or virtual. These range from halfday activities to simple conference energisers, to full-day events.”
In the past, the very mention of team building would spark groans of dismay in the office … but not now: “Looking back a fair few years ago, the phrase ‘team building’ was often referred to as a taboo topic and highly associated with standing up and introducing yourself to your colleagues. Today, the foundation of team building is still the same, but the significant difference is the way it is executed. Team building has changed.
“The need for businesses to know and understand their employee’s communication means, skill sets, and learning styles is imperative for teams to succeed. These are often overlooked, and, consequently, can be pushed aside with busy work schedules, increased workloads, and the way we now work. As a result, team building must be engaging and enjoyable and that’s what we strive to achieve.”
And it seems to be working. Zara said: “After a tough 18 months, businesses are wanting to bring their employees back together, whether that be virtually or in-person. We have most definitely have seen an upsurge in the demand for team building events. Our website traffic is nearly double compared to 2019 and both enquiries and bookings are also higher than those before the pandemic.”
Just some of the teambuilding activities GOTO Events offer include a soapbox derby where teams must design, build, decorate, and dress their own wacky racer car before teams battle it out in head-to-head races. Another is the crystal challenge, where teams compete against one another in an exhilarating mix of activities, dashing through Aztec, Medieval, industrial, and futuristic zones.
They have just launched a brand-new event called Quid Games, based on the famous TV series Squid Game, consisting of fun children’s games adapted to adult size (but obviously without the violence!) Companies have never been more mindful of the environment, sustainability, and social responsibility and one corporate venue where all this happens was inspired by one of the Beatles’ best-loved songs.
John Lennon penned Strawberry Fields Forever in homage to the grounds of a Salvation Army children’s home just round the corner from his Liverpool home. He’d hear the children playing, clamber over the wall to join in and then found solace in the trees and nature. That’s all captured in corporate events at the Strawberry Field visitor centre, which features the Beatles story, along with the piano John was playing when he wrote Imagine.
The social responsibility comes from fees from corporate events which go towards a scheme called Steps At Strawberry Field which helps young people with learning difficulties and other barriers to work learn job skills, get work experience and, ultimately, paid employment. The centre gives corporate groups the chance to do art or woodturning sessions, but the unique corporate experience is outside where they do the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, or forest bathing in nearby woods.
One of the guides is Louise Yates from Clear Perspectives, which specialises in supporting leaders and teams to develop healthy relationships with themselves, each other, and the natural world. Louise said: “More space is needed in venues to allay fears over COVID, but there is no bigger space than the outdoors. We look at nature in such an in-depth way it plays on all our senses and develops a natural sense of curiosity along with increased positivity and appreciation of the word around us. Nature helps people to relax, to be able to put aside their pressures and clear their minds.
“Shinrin Yoku helps people who have been apart for so long in the workplace to reconnect and the experience of being in nature makes them interact, behave differently, and really get to know one another. It means that when they return to work, they will work more effectively as a team. What we do is not team building, it’s team development based on mutual trust at a time when there is so much mistrust and uncertainty in the world.”