5 cringe-free team-building activities

‘Team-building’ is one of those business topics that will set eyes rolling. It can conjure up all sorts of images where colleagues are flung together into awkward scenarios which they would have rather avoided.

Research from Citrix has shown that 31 percent of office workers say that they can’t stand team-building activities. So why do team-building activities remain a staple of offices everywhere? Despite employee perception, there is plenty of research supporting the benefits of activities that foster healthy team culture and group dynamics.

So rather than thinking of team-building as something awkward and forced, take a fresh spin on it with these five low-key but high-impact ideas.

Eat together
This is such a simple solution for team building, but one which is frequently overlooked. How often do you see colleagues enjoying a relaxed lunch break together? In most cases, the honest answer would probably be seldom.

“Team lunches, dinners, picnics, or coffee outings can be a great way for co-workers to unwind and get to know each other in a social situation,” says David W. Ballard of the American Psychological Association.

Encourage team members to take a coffee break at the same time, or provide spaces for them to sit down together at lunchtime. Rather than viewing this time as lost productivity, remember that it’s often during relaxed moments that great thinking and discussion occurs.

Keep moving
It’s so easy for an office to become a stagnant space, with the same layout for months or years. But if you want to encourage new and stronger relationships, change up the seating arrangements. Give the turnaround a name, and make it a quarterly event, for example. While employees like to feel that they have a ‘home’ or their own personal space at work, this can be achieved while also making sure that no one gets too comfortable in one place. By adjusting seating plans, you’ll be helping to keep things fresh and it will give all team members the chance to really get to know each other.

Volunteer / participate in charity events
One of my all-time favorite work events was a charity abseil my employer organised many years ago. In addition to the fun of rappelling down the side of our office building, my team enjoyed the build-up and a little light-hearted training beforehand. There was no pressure to get involved – it was purely optional – but as a result I think everyone wanted to give it a go, and because it was for charity, no one felt like they were being thrown into an awkward situation. It was one of those days I will never forget, and turned out to be the most effective team-building scenario I have ever experienced.

There are many business charity events available. Byte Night, which last year saw 1,400 people sleep out on the streets for charity, is a popular one within the IT industry. But there are many others you could get onboard with if an overnight isn’t your thing.

Believe it or not, giving back has business benefits, too. Studies have shown that corporations with community involvement retain employees at a dramatically higher rate than the average, while also reaping benefits in leadership, productivity and morale.

Hold a hackathon
In businesses where teams are mobile and geographically dispersed, it can sometimes be too easy to lose people to their individual roles. Making the time to get together once or twice a year for a company hackathon’, where team members come up with new ideas to grow business, can bring people together and provide value to the company.

It can be a day for blue sky thinking, where all ideas are listened to, and where there are no limits on what employees can suggest. Days such as these can help individuals feel like they are a valued member of the team, and there’s no reason why they can’t be fun too.

Hold a work book club
There’s something quite nice about everyone reading the same book at the same time. It can be the perfect conversation opener in the morning: ”so are you enjoying the book? How far have you got?”

While not everyone’s a reader, a book club can be very easy for interested employees. The company could set aside a small budget for purchasing books, and the group can meet monthly to discuss the book they’ve been reading. Team members can also take turns selecting the books to read. Get pointers on how to set up a work book club.

Do you have a great team-building story to share? If so, we’d love to hear. Share your story in the comments below.

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