By the time you read this blog post, I, along with 25 members of the TSheets marketing team, will be careening down a raging river in the Rocky Mountains, in four inflatable rafts.
Just a normal Friday in the City of Trees.
Ok, ok. It’s more likely that we’ll be gently floating along over Class II rapids — navigating the turbulent waters of team building.
You see, at TSheets, when it comes to team building, we like to think outside the office. We opt for waterfalls over trust falls. Breaking waves over icebreakers.
And here’s why:
We’ve got beer in the breakroom, and no matter the time of day, you’re likely to find a group of developers hovering around the ping pong table in the lounge. Heck, we’ve got a moss wall in our entryway. But none of that changes the fact that we all sit at desks and stare at computers under the harsh glow of fluorescent lights for the majority of our workday.
Eight hours of computer flicker, office lighting, and a lack of sunlight adds up to strained eyes, stress, and terrible posture.
Fortunately, all these symptoms can be treated with a daily dose of the great outdoors. Studies show that simply taking a walk outside each day can help office workers unwind, improve short-term memory, fight depression and fatigue, lower blood pressure, improve focus in and out of the office, boost the immune system, and increase the flow of those oh-so-important creative juices.
Plus, getting outside for a team hike or participating in an adventurous outdoor activity has the power to bring your team together in a way office exercises just can’t.
Of course, there are lots of outdoor team-building activities to choose from. Through the power of Google, you’ve got hundreds of ideas at your fingertips. The trick is choosing the activity that’s right for your team.
Navigating Class II rapids is right for us, but the following tips can apply to any outdoor activity.
DO step outside your comfort zone. But DON’T try to replicate Naked and Afraid.
Pick an activity too tame and your team will succumb to boredom. Pick something too extreme and you’ll see significantly lower participation rates (because I, for one, am not interested in eating a turtle). There’s a sweet spot right there between “taking a stroll” and “surviving for seven days in the wilderness.” Find it.
DO seek professional help in organizing your activity. DON’T try to coordinate everything on your own.
Can you imagine the chaos of trying to plan a rafting trip for 25 people? Yeah, we can’t either. That’s because we left all our planning to the rafting company and our amazing office administrator. Trying to coordinate your outdoor adventure on your own only adds unnecessary stress and increases the chances of something going horribly wrong.
DO pick an activity that encourages teamwork. DON’T opt for individual feats of strength.
You know what’s great about rafting? Everyone works together to propel a giant inflatable raft down a river. If one person happens to have spaghetti-noodle arms, the other paddlers help compensate. But if that same spaghetti person tries to conquer a ropes course, an obstacle course, or any other type of course they must complete individually, they might find themselves feeling more secluded than like an integral part of a bigger team.
DO make sure there is photographic evidence of your outing. DON’T forget to share it on social.
We get it: No one wants their employees spending their entire workday browsing Facebook. But encouraging your employees to interact with each other and spread the good word about your company on social media can actually be a good thing.
For one, it can help increase communication and camaraderie among your team. Secondly, when employees post about all the fun they’re having it work, it reinforces your company culture — aiding in employee retention, engagement, and recruiting.
DO prepare your team ahead of time. DON’T spring a surprise adventure on them.
Part of getting your employees on board with your team outing is giving them time to process the plan. Let them know what you’re thinking ahead of time, give them the deets, reassure them of their safety, and allow them time to adequately prepare (or, in my case, buy a pair of water shoes). The better prepared they feel, the more fun you’ll have!
It’s time to think outside the office! Where will your next team-building activity take you?
Let us know in the comments below!