By Heather Hafner
It’s time to start planning your annual team building day. This year, you’ve decided to take it outside. It would be great for everyone to get together and enjoy the outdoors at the same time. What could happen?
Well…plenty. Team building can be a great way to engage your employees, increase communication and collaboration and it is an opportunity for those who work remotely to connect with employees from the home office. A smooth running, fun and fulfilling day can create all of those opportunities. The team building environment is a key component to success.
Here are a few key considerations.
- What kind of team building program are you going to hold? Many programs can be held inside or out. For instance, a Gold Medal Games activity is composed of competitive team challenges using mostly ropes, buckets and balls. This event can be held in a ballroom setting or in a park. Rain and wind will have little effect on this program. Most everything can get wet and the activity supplies are heavy enough to not be changed by the wind, minus any balloon-involved activities. But, what if you are holding a SmileKits care package program. A SmileKits program includes the decoration of a canvas bag, table-based activities and wish list items such as blankets, games, toys, movies, puzzles and toiletry kits. To prevent damage to your care packages items, this activity should be held under a tent with walls or indoors
- How active are your participants? Both indoor and outdoor programs can be physically taxing depending upon the intensity of movement or even how long they have to remain standing. Outdoor programs tend to be more active and incorporate fatigue factors such as sun, wind, rain and movement. A day in the sun can be invigorating for some and exhausting for others. Plan for shaded areas, sunscreen and water stations if an outdoor program is your choice. Also, limit the full-sun activity time to short increments and mix in shaded table-top activities.
- Do we need tables and chairs? I have often heard, “my people don’t need tables and chairs. They can stand.” For three hours? Really? Everyone? Tables and chairs are usually readily available in a conference center or hotel ballroom. Plan for at least some chairs or benches for outdoor programs, even if you think you have a young, active workforce. Even fit, young employees have injuries. And it is common for some older employees to have nagging foot, knee or back issues. Not having sufficient seating when they need it can inflame old injuries. Participants who are uncomfortable or in pain are likely to disengage and not get the most out of the day and they may become detractors when you suggest ideas for next year’s team building day.
- What is the perfect program length? The length of your event depends on your program, goals and your setting. In a ballroom environment, your participants can sit comfortably for hours. They have bathroom facilities, tables and chairs. An indoor program can start to fizzle after four hours. Your outdoor program may need to be shorter if the environment is too hot, cold, wet or uncomfortable. But, imagine a full day in a beautiful lakeside setting with picnic tables, food, activities, shade and a cool breeze. This could easily last eight hours. We also recommend bringing bug repellant and sunscreen just in case anyone asks for it.
- At the end of the day, how do you want your employees to feel…invigorated, relaxed, awe-inspired? Getting out of the office or conference room may just be what the doctor ordered. A cooking program in an inviting outdoor setting or a unique fun venue might be what your team needs. Is an active, or more cerebral, program the right fit for your team? Make sure you are not catering to management’s request without considering everyone involved. Just because someone sounds good in a magazine or in a television ad, doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for for your team. You don’t often find the answers to better teamwork escaping a room while a party for ten-year old’s is doing the same thing in the next room. Always offer accommodations for those with special needs to make sure everyone is comfortable, included and having a good time.
A successful team building program can take place in many settings and involve a multitude of activities. The secret to choosing the right event for your team involves finding the program to meet your goals and ensure the environment is right for everyone.