I overheard a conversation recently when running. Two fellow runners, working from two unnamed companies, were complaining about team off-sites that were coming up. Though excited to be out of the office for the day, one explained they were hoping it would simply be a day at the beach. I heard them discuss their frustration and future dread if office administration planned silly and childish name or team building games. It came across as something that would be “beneath” them.
In college I worked summers as a camp counselor and taught middle school for many years. As you might imagine, team building, names games, and get-to-know you activities are all a major part of creating culture in these settings; you do this each summer (even with the same campers) and even once a month in the classroom throughout the school year. Students trusting each other, learning something new, and being silly all support a positive classroom and learning environment. When I overheard these women running ahead of me having this conversation, I was a bit surprised. In an office, though we might ask about each others’ weekends and be familiar with a few personal facts about our colleagues, I would hardly say that it constitutes shared experiences which is what, in education, we learn supports team growth and trust. We are certainly capable of forming strong relationships with our coworkers (everyone has their work BFF of course!), but there is a reason companies invest time and resources into team-building: it works.
Though heading to the beach to shmooze would definitely be relaxing, without some organized activity, I’m curious what the goal of their offsite is. As an entrepreneur or manager of people there are many options to choose from that can align with company values and mission. Volunteering, playing tourist, a boat tour, a 5k run, and even a day at the beach could be meaningful with a clear goal that’s been communicated to the team. Though team building doesn’t always have a health twist to it, I love these ideas for 5 New Approaches to Team Building Activities That Are Healthy and Actually Fun!
Care to share your favorite (or least favorite) team offsite or team building activity? We’d love to hear!