Out of office: Home team-building options

  • 06 Aug 2020

The workforce may be scattered across many locations, but team building activities needn’t grind to a halt. Here, William Ham Bevan reveals how to give remote workers a chance to get together, tackle a common challenge and renew their team spirit.

Given all else that has been going on, team building may well have been shunted to the bottom of your priority list. But as businesses come to terms with remote working as the new norm, finding a way to maintain company spirit has never been so important. 

If you’re looking for team building activities suitable for scattered groups, there are three approaches you can take. The simplest is the DIY method: using Zoom, MS Teams or another videoconferencing platform for campfire-style Q&A sessions, or good old-fashioned parlour games such as Pictionary. Some apps, such as the suddenly ubiquitous Houseparty, have a selection of games built in.

For something more sophisticated, you can choose an off-the-peg activity from a team building company, and run it at your convenience. The third option is to go for a fully managed experience, run in real time by a remote facilitator. 

 

Many team building outfits have branched into offering both types of activity since the beginning of the year, so there’s no shortage of possibilities. Here are six to consider.

1 Morning morale booster

The Energiser aims to provide a quick shot of positivity at the start of the working day. Guided by a facilitator at White Rhino, team members are asked to complete a creative challenge in their own home, taking photos or videos that are then turned into a presentation for everyone to share. 

“It’s a good way to kick off the day, and it’s totally voluntary,” says Timmon Whitehead, White Rhino’s Managing Director. “People can log on to our app, complete the challenge and submit their responses, which are then collated and shared. It’s great at keeping people engaged and in touch with the workforce.”

£20pp plus VAT, plus £450+VAT facilitation fee. Maximum 10 teams of five people. 01483 757692, white-rhino.co.uk

2 Distant harmonies

Professional opera singer and music teacher Helen Astrid is offering group workshops via Zoom and Skype. She says: “A session might start with warm-up exercises, or call-and-response scales, before we move on to the piece the group has chosen. I’ll teach it phrase by phrase, so the group can perform it together at the end.”

Although video conferencing tools are geared to speech rather than singing, she has found ways to adapt her tuition. “There’s the problem of latency – a slight delay in the audio,” she says.

 

“But I can send through an accompaniment file for the song in advance, so everyone has it on their device. As long as we all start at the same time, it works very well. Everyone gets engaged and really enjoys the experience.”

Around £695 for a 90-minute session with five participants. 07710 245904, corporatesingingworkshops.com

3 Art for art’s sake

Big Picture is a collaborative art activity resembling a giant jigsaw puzzle. Each group member produces part of a large design, and teams must stay in close contact, or the result can be a surrealist mess.

“The teams make an artwork that reflects the company’s brief: a logo, or something representing its key values,” says Andy Wells, founder of Zing Events. “It helps with communications among individuals, highlights business objectives, gets everyone motivated 
and guarantees fun.”

Around £630 plus VAT for 15 participants. 020 3621 1080, zingevents.co.uk

4 Cyber challenge

A hacker has locked your company’s computer files, and is threatening to erase them in 45 minutes. That’s the storyline of Lockdown: Beat the Hacker, a virtual challenge from Greenhat People.

Saving the data means cracking some wickedly tricky puzzles. Different members have personal clues, making smart collaboration a must.

The group is split into teams of three to five people, all connected to each other by video conferencing software. The game is run on the team leader’s web browser, and a live leader board ramps up the competitive pressure.

 

From £19pp – minimum cost £200. Minimum three people, no upper limit. 020 3642 5992, greenhatpeople.com

5 Smarter than the average quiz

White Rhino’s Virtual Away Day takes the company quiz and runs with it. After a video briefing with a facilitator, participants are split into teams and compete using their own devices. The object is simple – score as many points as possible – but doing well means collaborating closely with teammates.

Mr Whitehead says: “It’s a bit more strategic than the standard quiz. It’s more in-depth and takes longer to complete – and there are some photo and video challenges that can be shared with everyone afterwards.” 

£20pp+VAT, plus £450+VAT remote facilitation fee – or £50pp+VAT plus £995+VAT facilitation for this and two other activities. Maximum 10 teams of five people. 01483 757692, white-rhino.co.uk

6 Let me out...

Escape rooms were the hit of the last decade, so it’s no surprise that many outfits are adapting the experience for remote workers. Zing Events uses a live virtual host, video conferencing and augmented reality technology to convey a convincing sense of claustrophobia.

 

“Our Virtual Escape Room is a highly engaging, experimental activity that will keep your team working creatively,” says Mr Wells. “It improves problem-solving skills with cryptic tasks, riddles and puzzles – aiding communications skills and problem solving under pressure.” 

Around £675+VAT for 15 participants. 020 3621 1080, zingevents.co.uk  

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