Australia's coolest corporate team building experiences
It’s a diary entry that sends a chill up the bravest spine: the corporate team building day.
And fair enough, too — who wants to share intimate experiences with Doug from IT playing two truths and a lie, or be dragged through a three-legged race by an alpha male from sales?
But ever since the 1930s, when Australian-born Harvard researcher Elton Mayo discovered that psychological conditions in a workplace motivate workers more than physical conditions, managers have strived to build effective teams.
Indeed, company researchers have now realised that the social aspects of team building can have a greater impact on successful performance than competition.
In fact, they find teams with high levels of energy and engagement outside formal work events perform better, and that allowing workers to socialise as a group actually improves rather than hinders productivity.
Fortunately, the world has moved on somewhat from the corporate bar crawls, group hazing and forced trust-building games that used to give corporate team building such a bad name.
The best team building events now have a greater focus on fun, a rejection of ritual humiliation, and incorporate just a touch of corporate social responsibility as well.
So what are some of the coolest options for your office’s corporate team building day?
- Take a graffiti art class – Graffiti is everywhere but it’s not a form of art that most people have tried (or at least will admit to). Team builders Hidden Door match corporate teams in Sydney and Melbourne with well-known Australian street artists, who share the basic techniques and encourage creativity. Working on a blank canvas, teams then bring their unique creation to life, which can enliven the carpark or be popped on the office wall to remember an unusual day out.
- Go on an Amazing Race – Based on the hit TV show, the Amazing Race has fast become a staple of office team building, combining the best of a scavenger hunt with a series of challenges designed to push your boundaries. Depending on where you go, you can walk, run, navigate, or taxi your way from checkpoint to checkpoint, but one way to travel in style is with Sydney company Team Bonding’s Kombi Kapers option. You still move between stations and you still need to undertake challenges — but you get to do the whole thing from a chauffeured vintage kombi van. Now that’s class.
- Try a MasterChef challenge — Once again, reality TV is responsible for a proliferation of fast-paced, high-expectation cooking challenges for corporate teams. There are lots of variations on offer, but VictorsFood has made food experience corporate events its specialisation. The Sydney-based company offers multiple cooking competitions, from a gourmet timed event based on MasterChef, complete with professional chef judges, to a two-hour tapas test, where teams make and enjoy different tapas at each stop. They’ll even do a chocolate-only event for those with a sweet tooth.
- Make a Music Video – Forget karaoke after Friday night drinks, this team bonding exercise goes to a whole new level. Teams at this Hidden Door event pick a song out of a hat, then need to brainstorm a video concept, and shoot it in a few hours, complete with props and costumes. Even if you are lip syncing, this is guaranteed to break any office ice.
- Go nuts in a golf buggy – Golf days can be a drag for those who don’t know their tee from their 3-iron, but Corporate Challenge Events has found another way to bring teams together on the green. Their Gold Coast Buggy Rally sends teams hightailing around golf courses, hotels and conference resorts with sporting challenges and a race to complete a set of tasks. That’s vastly more entertaining than an afternoon stuck in a sand trap.
- Give a real helping hand – Corporate social responsibility is a growing theme in team building, with national group Beyond the Boardroom connecting corporates with options to build wooden toys for children, blitz a backyard for a needy Australian, and create cubbies for charities. But the Helping Hands program is something else —each corporate team builds a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb to be sent to a charity for landmine victims. The social enterprise behind the program is nearing its 2017 target of 10,000 hands by December.
- Become your office Survivor – Think the office Type As will find charity work too ‘soft’? Don’t worry. There are still punishing events out there. Bushsports Australia runs Survivor adventure training, pitting teams against each other in a gruelling, competitive environment. Participants can throw spears (though not at each other), race blindfolded through obstacles, build rafts, navigate high ropes and defuse a ‘minefield’. Given many Bushsports adventure courses are used by the Australian Defence Force, this is not an easy day out of the office — but it will show who’s tough enough to make the grade.
So why demand a better team building day?
Not only can you uncover the better nature of your colleagues, and find some fun outside the office, there’s a strong chance your own performance, and that of your colleagues, will be better for it.