We may as well face facts: team building during quarantine was weird. Of course, that doesn’t mean businesses and teams didn’t find their unique ways.
Now, however, we’re working toward a return to normal, although our article 15 Remote Work Startups to Watch for in Europe notes remote work is probably here to stay, in some capacity. Many Europeans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, and yet a recent piece on Euronews.com suggests that millions are still working from home. Still, a new pandemic surge like what we saw last winter is unlikely, and it is now realistic to think about gradually easing back toward a society we recognize.
This, for many, will mean getting back to work, or at least having the option of visiting the office or seeing co-workers in person. And this too is going to feel a little bit weird! We’ve lived through an incredibly trying and unusual time, and resuming business as usual will be awkward, jarring, and in some cases even genuinely unsettling. This is an issue unto itself, and one that company leaders will need to address. But for the purposes of our discussion here, it also makes in-person team building all the more necessary! We’ll all need to re-learn how to socialize and collaborate in person at work, and team building can help that process along.
To that end, we have some fun ideas for how to get back to those real-life, non-Zoom team activities.
1. Actual Happy Hours
Some of us have been so desperate to escape the dreaded Zoom happy hour (and Zoom meetings in general) that a WSJ.com article proclaimed an end to Zoom back in October of 2020! Needless to say that was jumping the gun more than a little bit (and was arguably pretty irresponsible). Now, however, it’s not unreasonable to consider in-person, after-work happy hours. These aren’t always mentioned as specific “team-building” exercises, but they are commonly cited as great ways to build relationships and a sense of community within a workplace. Co-workers can relax, let loose, and revel in the end of a workday together, all while bonding in a way that doesn’t specifically revolve around a task or project. Teams need only take the appropriate safety precautions, and they can once again engage in this kind of in-person activity.
2. Board Games
For a more low-key way to socialize and build up some team unity — perhaps even in the actual office — board games are a terrific option as well. Most everyone enjoys a good board game now and then, and having a few in stock is a great way to give teams an easy way to have some recreational time together. Classic options like Clue, Trivial Pursuit, and Risk will always be good for some games among co-workers. Though if you really want to get everyone talking, laughing, and learning about one another, something a little more interactive — like Pictionary or Apples 2 Apples — can do the trick. These are games that require a little bit more creativity (and often some humour), and they can help to loosen team members up and make the environment a bit more carefree. (Needless to say, we could all use a bit of that these days!)
3. Poker Games
For a similar alternative to board games that might be a little bit more challenging and intellectually stimulating, offices can also turn to the occasional after-hours poker game. Some may view this as more of a niche option, but as a beginner’s guide to poker by Poker.org states, the game remains one of the world’s most popular pastimes. It’s more commonly played than many assume, in other words, and even if some in the office are new to it, it’s easy to pick up the basics. It’s a worthwhile idea in the end because there’s a certain intimacy to poker that almost forces players to get to know one another. Even in casual, carefree games with lots of laughter and no real money on the line, there’s something about sitting around a table trying to read opponents’ bluffs that fosters a closeness. It is, all in all, an excellent bonding activity.
4. Cinema Outings
Finally, there are also cinema outings to consider! For the past year, there’s been a great deal of doom and gloom among movie lovers who worried that cinemas wouldn’t survive the pandemic. As society begins to open back up however, it’s clear that many of them made it, and are doing regular business again already. Perhaps we should have listened to Tom Hanks, who was cited by Variety.com months ago as being almost unusually optimistic about the fate of theatres. At any rate, the movies are open again, and a team outing to a popular film can actually make for great team building. Even if no one can talk during the actual activity, there will typically be a lot of discussion among team members recapping the film and branching off on conversational tangents. Shared experience simply has a way of bringing people together.
With all of this said, we want to urge people to remember that the pandemic is not over, and precautions are still necessary. Not all in-person activity should necessarily be resumed just as it was before. But we can certainly come a lot closer to normal now, and that means that the above-listed team building activities are back on the menu for offices opening back up again.