Social distancing is an important weapon in our fight against Covid-19. But after more than a year of working from home and keeping teams physically distanced in the workplace, how can employers hope to bring them together for a fun and sociable team-building experience?
Worry not, gentle reader: there are loads of great team-building activities that can be done outdoors!
Suitable for a variety of budgets, the following outdoor team-building activities are the perfect way to get your employees talking, cooperating, and forming bonds that will make them a better team.
After all, social distancing doesn’t mean we can’t have fun...
In your local area
You don't have to spend hours travelling to get your team talking. Many of the best team-building activities can be done right here in your own backyard...
1. Sightseeing snaps
It’s easy to take the places we live or work for granted, and we often start to miss the things that are right under our noses after a while. Remedy this by sending your staff out on a sightseeing tour in your local area.
Start by dividing your staff into teams of 3-4, then supply each team with an identical list of locations to visit — both well-known and off the beaten track. The goal is for them to stop by each location, snap a group photo, and send it directly to you, the ‘taskmaster’ back at base.
For an added layer of fun and complexity, provide specific instructions for each of the photos taken — for example, asking your staff to act out a scene from a famous movie or be photographed holding a particular item at each location.
2. The Apprentice scavenger hunt
Inspired by the BBC TV series of the same name, divide your staff into teams and provide them with identical lists of items to find in your business’ home town or city.
The goal here is for each team to obtain the listed items (or photos of the items if you’re on a budget) and to return to an agreed location by a set time, with points docked for any items they miss.
Be sure to include a few cryptic clues or unusual items on the lists to test your teams' problem-solving skills.
3. Baseball & BBQ
It might seem a bit cheesy, but why not head out to your local park and organise a day of baseball, rounders, cricket... whatever ball game takes your fancy?
If you have enough staff, split them into a series of teams and get a tournament going — just be sure to mix your teams up so that you have an even match of skilled and (how shall we put this?) not-so-skilled players to keep things fun for everyone.
Finish off with a nice picnic or barbecue and you've got yourself a great little day outdoors at little to no cost.
After the year we've just had, we could all do with finding a few new ways to de-stress. Check out these ideas for easy-going team-building experiences for your team.
4. Mindfulness retreat
What better way to learn about yourself and the people you work with than by taking some time out to work on your mindfulness skills?
Mindfulness courses and retreats are becoming increasingly common — and affordable — these days, and come with a number of benefits, not least giving your staff a chance to destress.
Typical activities include group mindfulness and meditation sessions, guided walks, and gentle yoga sessions, so you and your staff are bound to leave feeling refreshed and closer as a team.
5. Team camping
Get your team talking by escaping to the wilderness and roasting some marshmallows.
Whether you glamp in fancy yurts or sleep under the stars will depend on your budget (not to mention how your team feels about roughing it!), but camping is a great way to get away from the pressures of work and your various, attention-hungry devices (no smartphones, please!).
Just be sure to schedule in time for some fireside chats and pack plenty of delicious supplies.
6. Group art class
Why not get your team's creativity flowing with a group art class?
Not only will your staff get to see one-another's hidden artistic ability, but with activities like painting, drawing and sculpting known for stimulating creative thought, you might even come out of the session with some great ideas for your business too!
Budget & old-school activities
Team-building doesn't have to cost the earth.
If you've got some free time and a wide open space to play in, there are plenty of ways to get your staff working together and getting to know each other a little better.
7. The classic egg drop
The rules of the egg drop are simple: in teams, staff must devise creative ways — usually involving a pile of office supplies — to prevent a raw egg from breaking when dropped from a great height.
It might make you feel like you're back in primary school, but the egg drop is perfect for team building not just because it gives your staff a chance to use their problem-solving skills, but because it's so much fun to watch each others' madcap attempts at either slowing the egg’s descent or cushioning its fall.
8. The minefield game
Another cheap and cheerful activity that rewards careful teamwork is the minefield game.
In a large, open space, position a series of ‘mines’ (these can just be circles of cardboard or something like football training cones) for your teams to navigate around. Each team nominates one member at a time, who must wear a blindfold and listen to the directions shouted from the sidelines by their teammates in order to get from one side of the minefield to the other. The team that reaches the other side first wins.
Take this game to the next level by having multiple players cross the minefield at once, or place prizes (and booby prizes) in various locations for teams to risk attempting to collect on their way across the minefield.
9. Company hike
Team-building hikes have been a firm favourite in the corporate world for a while, but with good reason: as well as being incredibly rewarding to finish, long walks are a great opportunity for your staff to talk and get to know each other better.
Team hikes can be as cheap or extravagant as you need them to be. Those on a budget can arrange to pack their own supplies and meet at a hiking spot, while those wanting to make more of an occasion of it can book onto a walk with a local provider who'll draw up a full itinerary and even provide food and transportation.
Get your team's blood pumping and give them a day to remember with one of these adrenaline-fuelled team-building activities.
10. Whitewater rafting
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous — and don’t mind getting wet — then nothing brings a team together like hurtling down a river in a dinghy!
Whitewater rafting is an unforgettable experience for your team to share, as they'll need to communicate and work (hard!) together to get down the river safely and not too wet.
Rafts usually hold only a small number of people, so try to put staff who don't always work together (or perhaps who do, but need to improve their communication skills) into teams.
Go-karting is easy to pick up and is tremendous fun, regardless of whether your staff already hold driver's licenses.
Your hosts will usually record lap times as a matter of course, making karting the ideal event for business owners looking to foster a bit of competitive spirit — and for those who fancy themselves as the next Lewis Hamilton to show off!
Karting can be done either indoors and outdoors, but due to the nature of the activity social distancing should be pretty easy no matter which you decide on.
It takes a lot of guts to walk across a bed of hot embers, but if you’re looking for a team- and confidence-building activity to remember, fire-walking is definitely it.
It should go without saying that fire-walking is something that should only be attempted under expert supervision, so don't be tempted to tip your barbecue over and give it a whirl at the end of a day at the beach!
13. Paintball or airsoft
Paintball and airsoft might not be for the faint-hearted (or easily bruised) but both are great ways to foster cooperation and teamwork, plus give your employees a good aerobic workout.
Either pit your staff against each other or form one big team to work together and share the spoils of victory — or the blame, if you end up losing to another business out on a team-building day!
14. Team assault course
If you're looking for a real physical challenge, sign your team up for a group assault course — the muddier the better.
Assault courses encourage your team to work together to overcome the obstacles, literally helping one another up, over, and under to reach the finish line together.
They’re strenuous, sure, but completing an assault course as a team is immensely satisfying, and bound to leave your team with lasting memories of the day.
Feeling altruistic? Combine your team-building with some volunteer work and benefit from the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from doing something for the good of others.
15. Community volunteering
Spend a day, or perhaps even just an afternoon, volunteering in your local community.
This could be litter-picking, repainting fencing*, weeding, helping out at a local food bank... it doesn’t matter just so long as you’re getting stuck in and doing your bit for the community.
*With permission, of course!
16. Beach cleanup
Take your team to your nearest beach and spend a few hours litter-picking. All you’ll need are some heavy-duty bags, gloves, and a good dollop of sun lotion.
Add a competitive element to the day by splitting your staff into teams and awarding prizes for the most litter collected by the end of the day.
When you’re done, you'll be treated to one of the best rewards ever: a day on a pristine, litter-free beach! Don't forget the frisbee!
Still looking for team-building inspiration? On a slightly tighter budget? Don't miss our roundup of low- and no-cost team-building activities for businesses.