Tips for Safe Group Team Building Activities after COVID-19

By Jacklyn Dixon

Posted Apr 14th, 2020 in Tips & News

Tips for Safe Group Team Building Activities after COVID-19 “Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare,” said author Patric Lencioni (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team).  Across the nation, companies are considering the possible long-term effects of isolation and planning safe, exciting team building activities that can recreate bonds that may be stressed during the COVID-19 epidemic. As stated in a study on team building by N. Saraswat et al, group activities are indeed highly effective, but they must be properly designed in order to meet their mark. They should also be safe so that injuries and conflicts do not ensue. What key considerations should management consider to ensure chosen activities are completely secure?
Choosing The Right Time To Ensure Safety
The last thing businesses should do once confinement ends is rush to pursue group activities involving social contact. Predictions are that the return to offices will be progressive (for instance, starting with less vulnerable age groups and involving partial remote working). Right now, teams can also begin connecting via online group team building activities. These can include virtual scavenger hunts (team meet via video conference and race to complete an identical list of tasks), picture sharing time (everyone shares a photo of an non-work-related aspect of their lives), and other home-based activities.

The Great Outdoors
Once teams are fully functional at the office, choosing to build team spirit via group activities outdoors is a good idea. This is because nature has been proven in study after study to significantly lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. In one study carried out just this year, it was found that as little as 10 minutes outside can boost happy feelings and lower the effects of physical and mental stress. For big groups, safe outdoor activities include mindfulness meditation by a majestic landscape or on the beach, geocaching in small groups in a green setting that is relatively flat, and scavenger hunts at a nearby park that also has facilities for you to enjoy an outdoor barbecue and picnic afterwards, as well as a game of football or frisbee.

Training Comes First
Ironically, many group team building activities focused on safety involve some risk. This makes sense, since the idea is for everyone in the team to ensure tasks are completed safely and effectively. Team activities focused on safety include rock climbing and wilderness challenges. Before your team embarks upon these challenges, training (theoretical and practical) are important. Your team should be provided with appropriate equipment such as harnesses, helmets and appropriate footwear, and should be taught by a professional how to use them. There should always be backup (for instance, the use of safety chains in ziplining) and any company you entrust to lead activities should be made up of licensed professionals.
If you are a manager concerned about the effect of confinement on team unity, start out by immediately suggesting occasional virtual team building activities and games. You can also use free time to plan your next team building activity outdoors, ensuring you don’t jump the gun too early. Being safe does not mean avoiding risk; it simply involves following protocol, providing staff with the right equipment, and dealing with trusted providers.

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