As great as life in the virtual world is, it is, of course, no substitute for face-to-face human interaction. Whether it is the spontaneity of getting up and writing on a whiteboard to capture thoughts and ideas as they tumble forth from group discussion. Or the fact that we all absorb so much from the non-verbal communication of others.
For now, and for the foreseeable future bringing teams together in person is not possible, however it is likely to be something that businesses, large and small, will want to organise as soon as it is safe to do so. After many months apart, it will be important to bring teams who have been working from home back together, both to re-engage with business goals and set out future strategies but also to re-create bonds through shared experiences.
Historically, team building has played a key role in developing team spirit through fun-activities with a shared objective that can be translated back into the office environment. However, as with much of what we have previously taken for granted, the continued requirement for social distancing – whether that be 1m or 2m – will have an impact. So, what might team building activities look like? How might they be adapted?
For both venues and companies who organise team building activities, this has been a time to review and re-assess the delivery of this type of event; now and in the future. Many companies have re-imagined their offering to be available online until such time as events in person can take place again.
Social distanced team building
Workshop-type activities such as cocktail making and balloon modelling have readily been adapted to be run virtually. And there are activities such as archery, target shooting and Segway experiences that, by their nature, already have 2m distance between participants for safety reasons.
It is though hybrid events that Mark Fanning from ACF Team Building is predicting will have particular appeal in the future. Events that allow teams members to participate either in person or virtually. Mark says “Activities that rely on communication and problem solving, rather than physical activity can easily be adapted to include a virtual element. For example, treasure or scavenger hunts can be run with small groups onsite and other team members joining in from home via a video link. Or team experiences such as making a short film or creating a company choir which require roles for directors, scriptwriters and lyrists, all of which can easily be done from home. With all of our years of experience, safety combined with fun has always been at the centre of everything we do.”
Phil Hill from Cryptic Events, a mobile escape room experience has developed a virtual, online game that is being adapted to be run as a hosted event through Zoom. But he is also working on a game that can be played with social distancing, where all players have their own set of boxes and props but need to communicate with each other and share information to solve the puzzle. He says, “If things go as expected and more people are choosing to work from home in future, I think that team building will be more important than ever. I think there will be an element of virtual team building but also a need for away days, to maintain team morale and maintain good mental health.”
Safeguarding must be a top priority
From a venue’s perspective, there remain lots of questions yet to be answered but as Paul Williamson from Hillside Brewery explains “We are looking forward to opening but the most important thing for us is making sure that we are safeguarding our team and also out friends, visitors and guests who come in to see us. We’re fortunate in that we have lots of space, both inside and out which means that we have the ability to accommodate groups with social distancing in place. As a venue, we love hosting team building events and are reviewing how we can continue to offer a programme of safe experiences.”
So, whatever team building events look like in the future it is clear that a lot of thought, creativity and care will have gone into making both the activity and the venue safe for all to enjoy the experience of bonding with colleagues once more.