Next-Level Team Building to Enhance Company Culture

by Katie Dufort

In a recent business poll by the research company i4cp, more than 71% of respondents stated that their organizations either already emphasize or aim to emphasize corporate culture in their day-to-day practices. Longtime proponents of a positive corporate culture have argued that it can enhance long-term prospects, but it is equally true that a negative one is linked to diminishing performance. The Great Resignation, for instance, has often been attributed to a toxic culture. In the rapidly changing workforce, businesses need to first understand and control culture if they want to increase performance.

It would be an understatement to say that businesses had to get inventive with team building during the pandemic. There were so many restrictions that made it difficult to connect, such as a limited number of people in the office, muted microphones during Zoom calls, and a lot of masks. However, businesses are discovering that the rise of remote work does not necessarily need to lead to a decline in corporate culture. 

A former sales training executive, I founded Scottsdale-based Puzzle Rides, a mobile escape room-style scavenger hunt on golf carts. Throughout the pandemic, and even more so now that remote work has taken over, my company provided team-building outings for up to 80 individuals. Teamwork is used in conjunction with route components to complete a series of adventure puzzles where teams have a finite amount of time to get to their destination. This is next-level team building.

In planning team-building activities, businesses can guarantee an improved experience by following the below suggestions.

Think outside the box, literally. Get the team outdoors. Business owners should avoid the mistake of having their team gather in the office or on Zoom for a virtual happy hour. There are numerous advantages to taking a break from the structured work environment to get some fresh air. Not only will staff have the opportunity to experience a change of environment, but being outside lowers stress, restores mental energy, and improves focus and creativity. The International Journal of Environmental Health Research discovered that spending just 20 minutes outside is sufficient to boost well-being, thus promoting inspiration, productivity, and overall workplace happiness.

Mix and mingle groups. Unfortunately, many workers find that offices can be cliquey, and some new bestie duos are sure to have formed during the pandemic, further fostering a less inclusive “inner circle.” However, employers’ efforts to encourage broader social connections in the workplace and assist employees in developing strong relationships with one another contribute to a more successful workforce. More equal interaction between team members leads to improved problem-solving and decision-making as well as the development and expansion of each team member’s existing skill sets. Leaders should separate people into unlikely groups, so they interact and get to know others they have not been given a chance to.

Let lower positions lead and management follow. Balance is essential in all aspects of life, including workplace management. It is important for business leaders to allow employees to step up from time to time to develop their leadership skills and confidence, as well as to increase employee satisfaction. For example, if Betty is typically bossy in the office, it would be important to make sure meek Sam takes the reins during a collaborative activity for a change. It is best to also allow administrators to lead, while upper managers take a backseat. Leaders will find that offering employees the chance to shine goes a long way in boosting workplace satisfaction and retention rates.

Fun not friction. Friendly competition never hurts anyone, so next-level team building should do just that — allow teams to connect on another level. While healthy workplace competition is a catalyst to increase engagement, communication and performance, too much competition can backfire. A reported 43% of employees will leave the company if they feel pressured to perform at all times. It’s important to keep the activity fun and light.

The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly and significantly altered the workplace. Adjusting to new norms may appear easy in theory, but is more challenging in practice for companies, particularly when it comes to corporate culture. Leaders must consider which cultural changes they want to maintain and which they need to roll back as organizations adapt to operating post-pandemic.

There are, however, countless opportunities to enhance workplace morale and teamwork, and workers are more appreciative of an organization’s efforts the more inventive the activity. Along with mobile scavenger hunts, other creative next-level team-building events to think about include a murder mystery dinner, an in-house Shark Tank competition, building something for a cause, dog park showdowns and team retreats.

Katie Dufort is the founder of Puzzle Rides, a mobile escape room-style scavenger hunt on golf carts that takes riders through Old Town Scottsdale and Historic Downtown Prescott. Teamwork and elements of the route are used to solve a series of adventure puzzles where teams have a limited amount of time to reach their final destination. 

Photos courtesy of Puzzle Rides

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