When last have you considered outdoor team building activities as a way to boost employee engagement and general morale?
It may seem a little old-school, but at a time when COVID-19 has separated us from our teams for so long, getting together outside in the fresh air to do something fun as a group is actually a great way to reconnect.
Effective teams share certain characteristics, one of which is that they often spend time together outside of the workplace. Generally speaking, this strengthens the internal cohesion and bonds that underpin employee engagement and workforce happiness. By facilitating this in a space where they can enjoy competitive camaraderie, you are paving the way for some serious long-term ROI.
The benefits of team building are difficult to ignore. It improves productivity, increases collaboration, encourages creativity, provides positive reinforcement, and boosts peer-to-peer communication. In addition to all of this, it’s also just a great opportunity to have some good, old-fashioned fun at a time when everyone is under a lot of pressure due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, etc.
Want to get in on all this cohesion-boosting action? Add some outdoor team building activities to your employee engagement repertoire in 2021, and get ready to enjoy some exceptional results. Here are eight great ideas to get you started:
Eight Outdoor Team Building Activities To Empower & Inspire Your Team In 2021
1. Movie-Themed Obstacle Course
Arrange an obstacle course on an open field, or at a location suitable for team-building activities, and challenge your team to coordinate, plan, communicate and trust one another as they work their way through an array of challenging low-impact competitive activities.
This could include things like spear throwing and paintball shooting, puzzling out treasure hunt clues, building giant puzzles, etc. Tying it to a movie theme like Tomb Raider or the Adventures of Tintin is a nice way to get everyone excited and in on the fun. You could even ask them to dress up to get in the spirit of things.
2. Outdoor Art Challenge
This collaborative outdoor team building idea invites team members to work together to create a big artwork. You can decide which medium works best for your purposes. Perhaps you want to create something from clay or tackle a large paint-by-numbers piece.
Another way to go is to create a piece of functional art, e.g. a few benches that can be enjoyed during a break. A sustainable way to go would be to use eco-bricks covered with cement, which can then be painted or decorated with mosaic.
TOP TIP: It helps to have a professional artist on hand to show participants how to use the materials, etc. before they jump in.
3. Crime Scene Investigation
Everyone loves a good murder mystery, and these days there are so many crime scene investigation shows that pretty much everyone has an idea of what it entails.
Set up a 'crime scene' and divide your team into groups of investigators. Give them access to a case file with information, 'suspects', an interrogation room, evidence processing tools, etc. Teams then have to piece together the evidence to build a case and justify an arrest based on means, motive, and opportunity.
4. Cook Up a Storm!
South Africans love cooking, and we have so many wonderful cultures from which to draw inspiration. Instead of hosting just another company picnic, why not invite your employees to split up in teams and bring their A-game as part of an outdoor cooking extravaganza.
It can take the form of a BBQ, a potjiekos competition, or even an ‘around the world’ feast where teams dish up food from a country of their choice.
To up the ante, limit the number of tools they have at their disposal to make the food. Set a time frame in which they have to make it, and have them make it from scratch in person on the day. Choose a winning team, and enjoy the spoils afterwards!
5. Take a Hike!
Although it can be fun to make things a little more involved, sometimes a basic activity like a gentle hike in a nearby green zone can be just as rewarding. Taking into the account the fitness levels of our employees, you could keep it very low-key and basic by going for a leisurely morning walk with a picnic at the end.
Alternatively, if your team is quite fit, you could make a day of it. Pick a likely hiking route in your vicinity and pack some backpacks with supplies to keep everyone hydrated and fuelled. Getting outside and working up a sweat together is a great way to bond and create new connections among employees who don't necessarily interact regularly.
6. Outdoor Treasure Hunt
Create a cryptic treasure map that teams have to use to navigate activity points in a given outdoor area (a large garden, e.g. botanical gardens work well). Challenge them to complete exciting group dynamic activities and perform a task to find a clue at each point.
7. Go On A Cycle Tour
There are a variety of cycle tour operators in major cities throughout South Africa. Sign up for a tour in your vicinity and have it coincide with lunch at the end of the cycle loop. It's a great, educational way to enjoy the outdoors and work up a bit of an appetite.
8. Plant A Herb Garden
Create a patch of greenery at your office by planting some herbs as a team. This will require an initial layout, planting, and long-term care. It doesn’t have to be big to be effective, even a balcony garden will do the trick.
Outdoor team building activities are a great way to promote employee engagement in teams who may have been working in a dispersed fashion for quite a while. Choose a fun, inspiring activity that will get your crew out of their heads and into their bodies to have fun with their co-workers and reignite the important bonds that bind them together as a whole.