Ugh – team building. Who actually likes the sound of that? It usually feels so forced, so unnatural, so time sucking. But it's actually a crucial part of creating a successful business and organizational culture.
Simple team activities can help keep employees engaged, motivated, and connected. The key to good team-building at work is to take work completely out of the equation. This is a good time to break down barriers, get some fresh air, and get to know your coworkers as fellow human beings who enjoy food and a good time just as much as you do.
Better yet, this is a good time (and excuse) to peel your eyes off that computer screen and get active. Moving our muscles not only stimulates the body but the brain too. Here are some active ways to get your team moving, communicating, and, most importantly, having fun.
1. Take a walk. Destination: food
Those who eat together, succeed together. Is that how it goes? Food is a universal icebreaker, so grabbing coffee or tea, lunch, or an afternoon snack with your cohorts is a great way to change the scenery and focus your attention on something far more important than work: i.e., eating.
The catch here is to pick a spot that's at least a 15- to 20-minute walk from the office. Believe us, that walk back will do wonders for your digestive system too. A monthly team lunch is a great thing to add to everyone's calendar. A different person can pick a new spot each month.
2. Play ball
Yep, perhaps the most traditional form of team-building goes back to those youthful days on a field when the simple thrill (or absolute fear) of kicking or tossing around a ball created some of your earliest bonds. Kickball is often a favorite pastime for many.
Paintball corporate team-building programs are even a thing — though you may be scared of (or totally ready for) pelting your boss in the crotch. So, yeah, kickball may be the best place to start. It brings out the child in everyone, which is a great foundation for connection.
3. Bend your mind and body
Yoga has this incredible power of creating community and connection by first looking inward. Many yoga teachers offer corporate classes and programs that will come directly to your office. They can create programs suited for all levels and ages. This may be scary for some people, and beginners will likely feel timid. Remember that everyone in the yoga room is feeling just as self-conscious as you are — doing such an intimate activity around coworkers can feel awkward at first.
But trust the teacher. The beauty of yoga is to forego all judgment — of others and yourself. This idea can create a special bond among your team, all while relieving stress and strengthening minds and bodies.
4. Get out and volunteer
One of the easiest and most rewarding activities to organize is a volunteer outing. Beach and park cleanups can easily be arranged with local organizations and Parks and Recreation departments.
There are also numerous fun runs, walks, and bike rides associated with various foundations going on throughout the year. Of course, food banks and soup kitchens could always use extra hands. Or how about planting a tree or working in a garden? Small teams could even go one step further and get their own plot at a community garden — free veggies for everyone.
5. Go urban sleuthing
Get to know your coworkers as well as your own city with a walking tour or scavenger hunt. Many companies offer private tours and corporate scavenger hunts that explore the city's history, food, landmarks, and various quirks. Urban sleuthing will fire up the brain in a whole different way and will encourage both problem-solving and teamwork.
For a more casual exploration of your city, culinary walking tours, specializing in everything from artisan chocolate to craft beers, are becoming especially popular with excursions — if those can't bring a team together, we don't know what will.
An organizational culture of camaraderie is essential to creating a successful business. When people look out for one another, support their peers, and have a good time at work, it leads to greater engagement, retention, and productivity.