The Ultimate Guide to Team Building

by Harry Prince,

25 June 2021

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Contents

Some of you might feel a bit tired of hearing the word team building. We hear you. Sure it’s a corporate buzzword, but this ultimate guide to team building will show you its value. 

Team building activities – when they’re done right – are great for company culture. And improving company culture is, yes, another corporate fantasy to cynical eyes. But, this guide is here to say otherwise. 

So we hope your eyes light up as you make your way through our guide, and it works wonders for your company culture. Enjoy! 

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The Importance of Company Culture 

What is Company Culture?

Company culture is one of those phrases that we all know, but find hard to articulate. In short, company culture includes the following: work environment, company mission, leadership style, values, ethics, expectations, and goals. This culture is most evident in the attitude and behaviours of the employees in relation to each other and the company itself. 

The term company culture originates from the UK, but it is also known as organisational culture, corporate culture, and workplace culture. But no matter the name, it refers to the same thing: it’s the nature of how a company goes about attaining growth, and by that we mean, how they motivate their employees. 

So, we can say then that there is a good company culture and a bad company culture. A good company culture is when team members have a voice, are appreciated, and feel an affinity for who they work for. A bad company culture is where the employees feel the latter. 

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What Are the Benefits of Company Culture?

Good company culture means employees work harder, which means more money for the company. It’s as simple as that. But if you’ll indulge us, we’re going to break it down a little bit. We’ve narrowed it down to four key areas that, if nurtured, will reap dividends. 

Communication: Good communication is an essential part of good company culture. Healthy communication stops minor problems from becoming major ones by identifying and sorting them early. Don’t take our word for it; 86% of workers believe work-related issues stem from a poor communication culture. It also fosters greater problem-solving capabilities amongst the team, and it is better for mental health in the workplace.  

Relationships: If employees get along, they’re more likely to go the extra mile for each other. In companies where the employees don’t get on, you’re going to hear things like “that’s not my job”, which is a death sentence for productivity. A good company culture sees team members lift each other up. 

Valued Employees: This comes down to good management. Valued employees will feel more inspired and will work hard to maintain the respect they’ve earned. Employees that aren’t valued are more likely to give you the old minimum effort. 

Company Loyalty: An employee that believes in the company and is invested in its success will produce better results. An employee who feels indifferent or negatively towards their company can view work as a means to a paycheck. So poor company culture might see employees turn in the bare minimum. 

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How to Improve Company Culture

Employees aren’t dumb. They can see empty gestures a mile away. A free pizza once a month doesn’t make up for toxic work culture. Just like a big effort on valentine’s day doesn’t make up for a bad relationship. 

You can improve company culture by listening to team members’ thoughts, opinions and feelings on their work environment. You can let them know when they’re doing well and that you appreciate them. These small gestures – so long as they’re authentic – can go a long way. 

But to trackback for just a second, monthly treats can be very much appreciated. Free pizza, drinks on a company tab, team outings – these things can be lovely gestures to invigorate a team. However, be careful not to substitute genuine company culture. 

And of course, on how to improve company culture, we move on to the core purpose of this article: team building…

Team Building Activities: From the Classics to Off-Piste Options

A team-building activity is an umbrella term for any activity that improves team communication, relationships, and loyalty. They tend to be collaborative or competitive tasks and can be in-house, during or after work. In our book, team-building has to be fun for the employees. Otherwise, it’s just more work. 

Icebreakers and Micro-Activities: Team Building on Company Time

Icebreakers are meant to be short and sweet. They should be fun and build communication and rapport between team-mates. You can do them before you start work, at lunch, or during breaks. They’re ideal for gently leading you into intense workshops or brainstorming sessions. 

The Dad Joke Challenge: The beauty of the dad joke challenge is that it’s the silliest jokes that make you crack. All you need to do is compile a list of dad jokes, and by that, we mean jokes that aren’t funny. It’s best to split into three, two competitors and one judge. You take turns telling these jokes to each other. If you make your opponent laugh, you get a point. Simple. 

Town Hall Democracy: All you need is a moderator, a list of hot topic questions, and a group to argue for YAY or NAY. Of course, nothing too politically insensitive, but nothing too boring either! “Does pineapple belong on pizza?” could be a good jumping-off point. 

Heads Up: Heads Up is an app that is great for parties and collective madness. It’s easy too. Someone places a phone over their forehead, and other players see a name, place or a thing. They have to describe what they’ve read without saying it. Expect raised voices! 

Speed Networking: Just like with real speed dating, you could pair up your guests for 2 minutes at a time. Give them two simple tasks: getting to know each other and finding out something interesting they’ll remember by the end of the session. Simple. 

Classic Team Building Activities That Work

We say that the best team-building activities are out of the office and separate from work. This leads to more authentic bonds between team members. They can be months in the making or as little as impromptu work lunches or spontaneous nights in the pub.  

Cooking workshops are great because they’re hands-on. They’re intensive and yield excellent retention from their attendees. Anything with food or drinks is always a winner. Whether it’s tasting experiences or beer-making workshops, people love it! 

Speaking of food and drinks, there’s the oldest and most popular team building activity of them all. The old classic, going out for drinks. Drinking isn’t for everyone, of course, and these sessions can get out of hand, but we’re all adults here! But to be on the safe side, here’s a guide to surviving your next office party

And what if you want something more wholesome and stimulating? Well, let’s split up gang and look for clues, as the famous cartoon goes. Of course, we’re talking about an old fashioned scavenger hunt. A scavenger hunt is just plain fun. It’s also great for developing collective problem-solving skills. The beauty is that it can be arranged in-house cheaply. Or you can go all out and engage a professional company. 

How about a trip to the park? What could be better than a sunny day in the park, the smell of a BBQ, and some cold beers? Add a game of rounders, and you’ve got a perfect day. Rounders is ideal because you don’t need expensive equipment and it’s accessible for people of all skill levels. 

And at the end of the day, physical activities are great. They can be serene and wholesome, like yoga workshops in the office, for example. Or perhaps a bit more rough and tumble like paintball or laser tag. 

Virtual Reality: Virtual reality experiences are taking off right now. They’re a great novelty to get your team excited. Take virtual jetpack tours and experience a whole host of competitive gaming experiences. Great for competitive occasions. 

Immersive Dining: A meal within an immersive environment is achieved through techniques such as projections, animations, costumes, dancing, singing, acting, storytelling, narrative action, set designs, and more.

To see what we’re talking about, you can find out about London’s hottest immersive dining experiences and get your team involved. 

Recycling: The environment is a hot topic right now. Cleaning plastic from public nature spaces like beaches and canals are great modern team-building exercises. There are programmes like this in every major city. For example, you could clean the beaches in Barcelona with the Clean Beach Initiative or combine it with a boat trip around Amsterdam’s canals with the Plastic Whale. It’s a great feeling to know that you’re doing something selfless, especially when you do it together. 

Going the Extra Mile: When Team Building Requires Packing

This is the World Cup of team building activities: going away. These trips can be expensive, so they are not common. But if you can tie it in with work, then you can give your team the best of both worlds. 

It could be anything from team outings in a foreign city while you’re at a conference to a day trip to a local town or a hike in the hills. These can be as intense as you like, from gentle river cruises to the Oxfam Trailwalker, a gruelling 100km charity trek with loads of international locations. 

As we said, it’s expensive, but this is the ultimate expression and commitment to improving company culture through team bonding. 

Remote Team Building Activities: Company Culture in the ‘Work From Home’ Era 

Most of us have had to work from home due to COVID-19. So, many of the traditional team building activities we’ve just mentioned are temporary no-goes. These are done through face calls, on whichever platform you prefer. Leaders in the field include Zoom, Google Meets, Skype, and Microsoft Teams

Online team building activities are so important. With a 2500% increase in virtual team building since the outbreak of COVID-19, it’s developed into a professional service. Companies like Okun aim to develop well-being and prevent burnouts with various workshops such as yoga, cocktail making, and sports. 

Cook-a-long: This one is great for honing those communication skills. Each session, a member of your team volunteers – or is assigned – to lead a cooking workshop. They send an ingredients list in advance, and they talk you through the cooking process. With any luck, you’ll all have matching meals to eat at the end of it. 

Be warned, these sessions can get loud and mad, but they’re great fun. And the reveals at the end can be pretty funny too. Besides, it’s great to learn some new dishes from your colleagues! 

But a word to the wise, don’t choose something too extravagant when it’s your turn to lead the cook-a-long. Your colleagues won’t appreciate a €100 ingredient list, we can assure you! 

Pub Quiz: Here’s the thing, everyone loves the thrill of the competition. There’s nothing that unites people more than either winning or resenting other people that are winning. Not that you can incentivise folk in a competition scenario like this. Even the smallest and pointless prizes can get people invested in your games.

Buddy Calls: This one is simple and quick. Team members are assigned a partner each week on a rotating basis. All it means is 15-minute calls on a Monday and Friday morning. It’s a simple case of checking in and talking about each other’s work. 15-minutes isn’t much in the context of a day, and it’s great to keep in touch about something that doesn’t have to be related to work. 

After-Work Drinks: And, just like in real life, nothing is stopping you and your colleagues from meeting up – online – after work to share a couple of drinks. Share some jokes, your sorrows, your gossip, whatever you please. It is a classic! It might even be better than the real thing: you don’t have to dress up or waste time and money on transport.  

Wrapping up

Well, there you have it, two terms you hear a lot of in the corporate world, and now you know it’s for a good reason. 

If you have any burning questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. And if you want local recommendations for team building activities, just ask one of our local city experts

Harry Prince
Harry Prince

Creative Content Manager who sings to his dog.

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