An introduction to team building: How to organise engaging activities

Team-building exercises and events can improve social bonds and help employees understand the context of their roles. But done badly, they’re a recipe for apathy and disinterest.

24 August 2020

A team building exercise is only ever as good as the material delivered and the person in charge of the room. This means that sometimes the exercise could miss the mark, with the participants not getting as much from the time as they could have done.

However, a properly designed and implemented programme of team building can be a massive benefit, helping to engage all participants and foster a sense of unity over the course of the day. And, as beneficial as these activities can prove to be, they should also provide the opportunity for you and your team to have a little fun too.

With remote working ingrained in our 9-to-5 lives more than ever, the need for strong bonds amongst the team is essential. Without that all-important in-person communication, support and camaraderie to keep you all together, things can get a little difficult.

To help things out, we've created this introduction to team building, with tips and advice on how to organise activities that'll help engage employees. Also included is a range of in-person and remote exercises you and your team can try out while working from home.

 

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What is team building?

Team-building activities seek to turn the efforts of individual employees into a cohesive team. Within everyone's roles, team building can occur on a daily basis; it's part of the interactions that employees engage in when working together to carry out what their role requires. Such interactions become the norm for teams, helping each employee know how to appropriately interact within the business as a whole.

Building team bonds

 

What are the benefits of team building?

Builds greater bonds between teams

As well as strengthening your team, a day of activities can help to foster bonds with people from other areas of the business too. There may be people in certain departments who have no need to interact with other team members in their day-to-day, or at the most, you may have emailed them without actually having met face to face; team building allows such barriers to be broken down.

 

Teaches strategic skills

Typically, there'll be a team-building activity that requires colleagues to work together on problem-solving tasks. Such tests of rational and strategic thinking not only provide insights into how other members of the team approach things, but you can then apply what you've learned together to your daily tasks going forward. 

 

Encourages creativity and fun

Perhaps above all else, team building should be fun. Certain activities should be organised to bring your team's creativity to the fore; encouraging them to use their initiative can be hugely beneficial back at the office too, allowing them to use outside-of-the-box thinking more readily to solve particular problems. 

Additionally, by creating a fun environment between colleagues and teammates, this can have a profound effect in the long term, from staff turnover to profits. It's a great way for members of staff to see a different side to their colleagues that they normally wouldn't see at work.

 

Promotes teamwork

Of course, a large part of team building is the emphasis on teamwork. The collaborative efforts here help the team to better understand each other's strengths and weaknesses, which can serve to inform how you approach other colleagues and help to identify the working style and approach to their day that they most thrive under.  

 

Stronger communication

A more fun and relaxed atmosphere when team building encourages staff to be themselves and open up to each other more readily, a quality that is key to success when everyone returns to their regular duties.

 

How to organise a team-building event

Set clear goals

Though ensuring everyone has fun is a priority, it's important to remember why it is you want to hold a team-building event; it has to accomplish goals to be worth the investment.

Establish clear goals and areas of focus that you want your employees to work on during the event. Once you have the basic guidelines in place, you can start thinking of


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Establish a budget

Before you start planning activities, creating a budget will help let you know what you can afford and how extensive the event can be. 

With that said, you don't need a huge budget to help achieve your goals. Some team-building activities can be totally free, and in today's remote working-focused landscape, the low cost of certain activities is certainly attractive.

If, however, you're looking to spend, then keep things realistic but leave some wiggle room for unexpected expenses. Depending on where you're holding the event, you may need to take into account the following:

  • Transportation and parking
  • Venue booking and permits
  • Activity providers
  • Food and beverage
  • Insurance

 

Pick a date and time

You'll have to take into account your team's schedules before committing to a date and time. If there's a big project they're working on and the deadline is approaching, set a date for after they've finished the project.

Additionally, if you plan on holding the event in the evening, then consider that some employees may take issue with this. Their time is limited, and the evening may be the only time they get to spend with their families or loved ones. Make sure that everyone's on board with your planned time and date before going ahead.

 

Develop an event day agenda

Creating an agenda can help you schedule out the day and easily communicate to your colleagues what's going to be happening during the event.

Your agenda should highlight everything employees will be doing, including arrival and departure times, the duration of the activity and meeting points if necessary.

It's worth distributing the agenda to participants in the weeks leading up to the event, with notice that it may be subject to change. This helps set the team's expectations for the day, but it will also give them time to get excited for things.

The benefits of a bonded team

 

Team-building activities to engage your team

Scavenger hunt

Break up participants into teams and provide them with a list of tasks to do as a group, such as taking a picture of a certain building. Give them a deadline by which they must complete the tasks; whoever completes the most tasks the quickest wins.

This is a great way to get people interacting with people they usually wouldn't, encourages creative thinking, and gets people out of the office in a fun, inventive way.

 

The perfect square

You'll need a long piece of rope and some blindfolds for this one. Each team stands in a circle holding a piece of the rope before putting on their blindfold and setting the rope on the floor. Next, everyone takes a few steps back from the circle, and then ask everyone to return to the rope and form a square with the rope without removing their blindfolds. To add to the difficulty, certain team members can be instructed to stay silent.

This task places the focus on strong communication and leadership skills. And by having certain team members stay silent, there's an element of trust involved too!

Bonding with workmates on zoom

 

Activities that can be done remotely

Show and tell

Show and tell is an easy team-building activity to do over a Zoom chat that provides everyone with an insight into each individual team member in a casual, relaxed manner.

Each team member has an allotted time slot to talk about something they own or something intangible that they've been working on in their own spare time. The options are nearly limitless, and it can easily be done on a weekly basis, providing informal opportunities for team building with more frequency.

 

Two truths and a lie

A classic icebreaker, each team member presents three statements about themselves: two truths and one that is false. The team then takes turns guessing the truths and singling out the lie, after which the speaker reveals their lie.

Why not create some healthy competition by creating a points system that the manager can keep track of – the team with the most correct guesses wins!

 

The desert island scenario

In this virtual team building game, group members are given a scenario that involves them being stranded on a deserted island with seven objects – but they can only grab three.

The team then explains why they chose these objects to everyone else. Such answers reveal a degree of creative thinking, and demonstrate how working together helps to achieve better results, letting virtual workers collaborate without being in the same room.

There are all sorts of light-hearted activities you can do remotely. Things like sharing personal facts, revealing bucket lists and sharing pictures can reveal lots about the person and create a sense of togetherness while everyone's a part in the current circumstances.

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