Team building should be more than simply connecting colleagues and seeing managers in a new light.
Good team building can also genuinely reinvigorate the workforce, form long-lasting friendships and make work a better place to be - sometimes it also helps local communities or people in need.
But for the results to be worthwhile, such exercises need to be away from the rigidity of the office and take place in a new space - ideally somewhere the whole team can stay overnight and enjoy flexible meeting spaces should room be needed.
An evening or two away in a different city will feel like a holiday and is likely to make everyone feel more engaged with the planned activities, with the added advantage of promising workers that much-needed downtime.
In fact, research suggests getting away from the office for work is positive, especially to different cities.
According to a recent Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts survey, 88% of regular business travellers say they make an effort to see or experience some of the city they are visiting on business, with 43% exploring at any chance they get.
So we asked around for examples of awkward outcomes of team-building sessions, and some really are all-too cringeworthy. Names have been changed to protect the employed.
Build it together
Awkward: “The idea was for the whole team to come together and make something, so, being a tech company, we thought we’ll make a movie,” Jack tells us. “The title our boss gave us was How To Make The Office A Happier Place. What could go wrong, right? Everyone went into a little booth and had five minutes. I decided to take this opportunity to profess my love for a co-worker – ‘if you go out with me what a wonderful office this would be’ kind of thing. I was pitching it as funny, but when it came to the viewing, I just came across as, well, odd.”
Worthwhile: Companies don’t need to get overly quirky, but building things together is the hallmark - both literally and symbolically - of all such exercises, made all the better when the end product is something actually useful. Bring the metaphor of all the pieces coming together by learning how to build a bicycle from scratch with Charity Bike Build, with the added satisfaction of donating the bike to charity afterwards. Do this in a different city than your office, and such physical and mental exertions mean the whole team can enjoy some much-needed downtime afterwards by staying overnight in a hotel, along with the hotel bar and hopefully the boss’s credit card...
Singing and winning
Awkward: “I held the event at a karaoke bar to show I was a fun boss,” admits Akin, who hosted his first and only team-building event for his staff a few years ago. “But the problem with karaoke bars is it always ends up with people drinking too much and making a fool of themselves, which is more the territory of the Christmas Party. I had an agenda, but everyone was too drunk to follow it, which left me feeling like the party pooper and quite ostracised, which is not a good look for a boss. When one of them started singing Kelis’ I Hate You So Much Right Now, I took it as my cue to leave...”
Worthwhile: Singing can indeed bring colleagues together, as long as it’s in unison and not focussed on one person. The One Voice workshops include warm-up exercises – both voice training and confidence building – which then culminates in a choir performance in front of a live audience, and a professional recording to keep as a memento. Talk about working together in harmony! And you can count on one keen bean to take advantage of free Wi-Fi in the hotel stay after to send it to those back in the office. Oh the horror!
Help others to help yourself
Awkward: “We were playing an exercise called Winner/Loser,” recalls Stephanie through shudders. “The idea is for one person to go up and talk about a negative experience, then another person to retell the story but by putting a positive spin on it. The quiet guy from accounts, let’s call him Brian, was first to go up and announce his wife had left him for another man and cleared out their joint bank account... could anyone lend him some money to pay this month’s rent?”
Worthwhile: Team building shouldn’t reinforce employees’ day-to-day stresses but they should offer an escape from the norm and the opportunity to do something completely different, which can be a hugely liberating experience. While we all have the best intentions, finding the time to really do something meaningful for others rarely arises. An off-site work trip can be a great way to get teams working together, while doing good for others, local communities and those in need.
Indeed, studies have found employee engagement is heightened by corporate social responsibility. Pick a charity team building activity such as a community kitchen, where the team work together to create exciting dishes that are then served to the needy. Why not head to London to cook Asian food, half of which will then be distributed to local charities across the capital? As the survey above says, “the vast majority of employees want their company to be a force for positive impact in the world.”
Comfort is key
Awkward: “We hired a space in the local church,” remembers Anjana. “It was a cold, dark room, with really uncomfortable chairs. It felt like we were in an AA meeting. Our head of sales read up on team-building exercises and turned into a drill-sergeant. He made us play back-to-back games that we didn’t really understand, and he was too impatient to explain them to us (I don’t think he really got how they worked either).”
Worthwhile: It is clear that the setting is important when it comes to successful team building, as are professionals to oversee it. Hotels such as Crowne Plaza are perfect, ideally located as they are in prime city locations. A dedicated Meetings Director can ensure your event is tailored to the needs of the team and budget, and, if it’s indoor team-building exercises you’re after, find you experts who know exactly what they’re doing and are not lifted straight out of the sitcom The Office!*
* Crowne Plaza offer a highly-rated, dedicated Meetings Director to look after all your needs from start to finish.
Whether it is a meeting for two or a conference for 200, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts have got you covered, with more than 95 hotels in premium business locations across Europe.
To find out more about how Crowne Plaza is changing the face of modern business travel, is ideal for worthwhile team building or to book a room, visit crowneplaza.com/businessmostly.