Whether you work from home or in an office, a strong bond between coworkers is a must for a company’s success. Company bonding is important because it:
- Creates opportunities for employees to get to know one another;
- Boosts team morale;
- Gives people a chance to show off their strengths;
- Builds imperative communication skills.
Researchers from one team building study report that “socializing between team members improves communication patterns more than 50%.” Other research from a different study about the effectiveness of team building that “75% of staff say teamwork and collaboration are crucial to corporate success.”
Team building is most effective when everyone is engaged in the activity, but it can be difficult getting people on board. One way to encourage employees to participate in team bonding exercises is by planning activities that are of interest to them.
A great way to achieve this is by taking your next company team-building session outdoors. Let’s take a closer look at how nature could be the boost in morale your team needs.
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE IDEAS FOR EMPLOYEES
It’s still important to be mindful of individual interests and abilities when planning an outdoor team building adventure. While one employee may have an interest in physical activities, others may not.
Listed below is a range of outdoor activities that are great for encouraging excellent communication.
At a glance, hiking may not seem like an activity that could help develop team building skills. When really, hiking with a team requires more communication and cooperation than other activities like a beach day or picnic. You will also want to make sure the team is prepared for the hike, and that they’re going to stay adequately hydrated in order to avoid dehydration or general discomfort. A vacuum-sealed bottle and a dedicated number of rest breaks will help make sure the hike is an enjoyable adventure.
This trip will also require participants to think about how their actions could affect others. Failing to communicate at all — whether as an individual or as a group — could negatively impact the team as a whole. Clear communication is a valuable outdoor safety tip to know that can help protect yourself and others.
Talking to one another can come naturally if you’re hiking in a group. When you take a moment to communicate the small things like what lies ahead in the path and branches to watch for, you’re establishing trust with the other hikers. Building trust is a valuable asset to bring back to the workplace because it helps those around you feel secure in knowing you’re capable of achieving what you say you’ll do.
One of the many benefits of hosting a company picnic is that they’re customizable. Giving employees the option to choose what food to eat and where the picnic is hosted helps them to feel as if their opinion matters.
In addition to voicing their opinion, team members can use this as an opportunity to talk to people they don’t speak to daily, like those in different departments. Aside from promoting social interactions, hosting a picnic outdoors gives employees the fresh air they need to help prevent burnout.
RELAY RACE OR "COMPANY OLYMPICS"
It’s no secret that participating in a relay requires a lot of teamwork. If all employees are mentally and physically up for the challenge, you may consider hosting a company-wide relay race, obstacle course, or mock-Olympics.
It’s important to remember that safety comes first. All parts of the track or course must be achievable by all team members. If an individual feels as if they’re incapable of participating, then it defeats the purpose of working as a team.
Instead, take a moment to plan a course that all participants have an equal opportunity at achieving. You may even consider implementing a prize, like paid time off or free lunch, as an incentive to get everyone to work as a team.
Similar to having a picnic, spending time in the botanical gardens is a low-key outdoor activity that encourages employees to interact in ways they wouldn’t in the office. You may even consider having a picnic in the botanical gardens to get the best of both worlds.
Note that botanical gardens are home to a variety of plants, insects, and small critters. It’s important to pack a few necessary supplies that could come in handy when spending a day in this environment.
A few things to pack for the botanical gardens include, but certainly aren’t limited to bug spray, binoculars, and a plant identification guide.
Of course, having an ocean nearby makes company beach days easier, but this doesn’t mean they can't be done if there isn’t one. Even with access to a lake or river (or any body of water that’s safe to swim in), you can host a successful team beach day.
While at the beach, you may consider playing a game of volleyball or hosting a sandcastle-building contest to get employees to work as a team. This is also a great opportunity to get to know one another in a relaxing environment. In doing so, it allows them to feel more comfortable in each other's presence, which could positively reflect in the workplace.
OUTDOOR EXCURSION PLANNING TIPS FOR YOUR COMPANY
Planning your next company adventure outdoors will come with many benefits. However, those advantages are as good as gone if the plans fail to come through.
Let’s take a look at a few tips for keeping the adventure fresh on the company’s mind.
PUT IT ON THE COMPANY CALENDAR WELL IN ADVANCE
If able, schedule company adventures as far in advance as possible. In doing so, you’re able to give employees enough time to prepare for whatever activity it is. It also allows them to think about the importance of team bonding and what they can do to get the most out of the experience.
Planning also gives vendors, facilities, and organizations associated with your activity time to prepare for your group. The more time everyone has to prepare, the more they’ll get out of the bonding experience.
HOLD AN "ASK ME ANYTHING" (AMA) SESSION
As briefly mentioned above, when employees feel heard, it encourages them to do better. Hosting an “Ask Me Anything,” (AMA) session is a great way to achieve this.
An AMA is a meeting that can be held in person, virtually, or over the phone. During this meeting, attendees are invited to ask any questions they have about a given topic.
For instance, you may consider hosting an AMA session on potential outdoor bonding activities. Those attending the AMA will take turns asking questions, pitching ideas, or providing answers relating to outdoor activities.
If an activity is finalized and the total cost is agreed upon by all, then you’ll want to collect funds as soon as possible. It’s important to be transparent with employees and what their funds will cover. Knowing they’ll get a souvenir like a bottle or travel mug at the end of bonding is another incentive to encourage employees to understand the value of the trip.
PROVIDE DETAILS IN WRITING SOMEWHERE PEOPLE CAN REFER BACK TO
Having the adventure planned and scheduled is one thing, but if the details aren’t set, then it could lead to miscommunication down the road. Confer with a group of trusted individuals who’ll also be attending the event to discuss the details.
Creating a shared document, like on Google Docs, allows those involved in planning to contribute to a single document at the same time. Even if you choose to handwrite in a notebook, dedicating a single place to communicate plans is vital to ensure everyone is on the same page.
If you’re not able to use the same document, take the time to communicate on a daily or weekly basis before the event to compare plans. This is also a good time to double-check packing lists, confirm reservations, purchase last-minute tickets and items, and tidy up any loose ends that may be hanging before adventure day comes.