People have been working together since the evolution of the human race. Because the need for collaboration and togetherness is so deeply ingrained in our psyche, collaboration is now an essential part of our everyday lives, influencing everything from our family structures to our work life. Since the early 20th century, businesses have been working towards nurturing our need for community, understanding that human beings don’t function well when isolated in little cubicles. To combat isolation and boredom in the workplace, companies have long executed team building exercises and company retreats that aim to bring coworkers together in order to boost innovation and productivity.
While team building is certainly important, the more we learn about how to create authentic workplace environments, the more we realize that pushing employees to attend the company picnic every year, might not be that effective. Luckily, workplace experts and businesses alike have been experimenting with different methods of bringing people together and have found some team building methods that not only get the creative juices flowing but take into account the diverse needs of employees in the workplace today.
1. Channel the power of the staycation
Not everyone can afford to go all out on a holiday, so as an alternative, the “staycation” was born. Staycations aren’t just about sitting at home and watching TV but are instead defined by activities and outings that allow people to explore their local area. This same logic can apply to companies looking for a way to invigorate team members without having to pay for an expensive retreat. Offering to take the whole team out to a local event, whether it’s work related or not, is an affordable way to get the team together in an informal way. Just like the staycation allows people to develop a newfound appreciation for what's available in their own environment, giving teams a day to socialize and enjoy a local event or attraction builds a sense of ownership and connection.
2. Get them a coworking membership
While sending your team out on their own might not seem at first to be the best way to bring them together, offering your employees the option to work in another environment together could bring them closer together in the long run. As more companies embrace flexible and remote work, coworking spaces have provided an excellent platform for both freelancers and companies looking to expand their horizons. Many coworking spaces offer flexible part time memberships, ideal for teams that are looking to get together outside of the office on a flexible basis. Employees gain the benefits of a novel and stimulating professional environment offered by coworking space, while also learning how to navigate new spaces together as a team.
3. Invest in your team
It’s been shown, time and time again, that investing in your employees is an effective way to create teams that are more productive, and ultimately more united. Again, you don’t need to go over your budget to show employees that you care. Rather, communicate with your employees on a regular basis to understand their needs and make it a point to invest in these needs on a regular basis. One way to do this is to invest in employee education and skill sets, helping to boost innovation by allowing them to grow in their roles through learning. This can be done by bringing in an outside expert, influencer or freelance professional who specializes in your industry and have them run a workshop. Workshops make room for opportunities for individual employees to work together in groups to engage in problem-solving and learning, which in turn helps them increase communication and builds trust.
Rather than focusing on overly involved social events, like the eminent company picnic, taking a more informal and relaxed approach to bringing employees together can pay off greatly in the long run. Taking a step back and letting employees get to know one another at their own pace, while also benefitting from added benefits such as educational workshops, is an effective way to build company culture that puts employees needs first.
Training Manager at Startup Change Group