Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic ripped through the world, teams and businesses have been divided. Many people worked from home throughout the worst of the outbreak, and since we have gotten to grips with it, hybrid working is now in vogue.
Of course, hybrid working is great for offering more flexibility to employees, but there can now be a lack of team dynamics in the office. For example, 81% of people’s number one reason for hybrid working is a better work-life balance. Pre-pandemic, many people worked in the same office at the same time, but that’s now less frequent.
So, with divided teams, it’s arguably more important than ever to bring people together. Especially as you may have members of your team who joined during the pandemic that some people haven’t met face to face yet.
A survey of over 15 million employees indicated that those with a ‘best’ work buddy are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs. Throwing in a few icebreakers and bonding experiences, now that we can, go a long way to improving morale. But, team building activities in the past have divided opinions among employees, so we’re looking at inclusive activities for a hybrid working world.
Twins & Opposites
For breaking the ice, participants must let their guards down a little, which is why Twins & Opposites is such a great team-building experience. Particularly because it can be done online or in person. The game is designed to allow participants to spot similarities and differences to open up discussions about their lives.
Essentially, participants are asked to grab something from their home with prompts like pet, treasure, snack or family. Players then show off their chosen items and break off into smaller groups to discuss the objects.
Virtually, this is done on the screen, but people will have to bring their chosen props to the office in person. This allows people to bond over their similarities, learn about each other through their differences and make meaningful connections. It’s an ideal game for teams that have welcomed new members in recent years.
Virtual escape rooms
A virtual escape room is a great choice for something that requires a little critical thinking and logic. While they have been around for some time, these virtual experiences received a boost when the pandemic hit and people were searching for things they could do together online.
Virtual escape rooms can host up to eight participants and cover a wide range of themes, from crime or science fiction to spooky situations or medieval mysteries. As they are done in groups, it’s time to embrace some tribalism, pick a team and see who can escape the fastest.
The great thing about escape rooms is that you can choose whether you do them virtually or if you gather people together and do one in person.
Online art classes
One of the benefits of arts and crafts is mindfulness. There doesn’t have to be any stress or pressure on creating something; it’s just a way to spend a few hours together and see what you can make.
Art supplies can be delivered to employees’ homes before the event, meaning they have everything at their disposal to take part. Then it’s a case of finding an online art teacher and getting people involved.
From drawing and painting to various hobby crafts like crocheting, clay model making and papercrafts, teams can create something beautiful in hours. By hosting the classes online, everyone can share their progress on their screens with a virtual gallery exhibited at the end.
Modern versions of traditional activities
Some of the classic team building activities, like go-karting or golf, have modern-day equivalents that don’t come with the same levels of pressure or expectation. For instance, instead of going to a golf course with all of its stuffy rules, your team could try playing on a golf simulator, where no dress codes apply and no paying members try to hurry you up.
Similarly, go-karting, which can be seen as a ‘masculine’ event, can be swapped for something fun and more accessible, like a team game of Mario Kart, which is designed for everybody, not just petrolheads. Plus, it can be done in the office or online, meaning remote workers can join in or visit the office if they’d prefer.
Salt and pepper
The great thing about getting a grasp on the pandemic is that we can do things virtually or create a team-building experience in person. One simple game that allows for team bonding is called ‘Salt and Pepper’.
The premise is simple: write words on a notepad that go together, like salt and pepper, bread and butter, or chalk and cheese. Then, stick one word onto everyone’s back and instruct everyone to try and find their word match. Here’s the crux; participants can only ask yes or no questions!
In a hybrid working environment, it’s unlikely that everyone will be living in the same town. You may have members of your team who live much further away because they don’t mind making a long journey into the office less frequently than if they did it every day. Similarly, there could be permanently remote members who don’t even live in the same country.
The idea behind hometown tours is to periodically invite a member of your team to escort the entire company on a tour of where they live. This can be done through assignments to collate their own videos, pictures, and even websites of local businesses to give their colleagues a guided tour on a video chat. Participants are given the opportunity to share more of their lives with their colleagues and talk about what they are passionate about.
Getting everyone together safely
Where possible, it’s still a good idea to gather everyone together for team building activities. Virtual interactions are much better than they used to be, but there is no substitute for being in the presence of other people.
Covid testing before you gather is for the best to avoid disruptions to work in the event of an outbreak. You wouldn’t want your social event to be the reason why some departments have to shut down! Asking staff to do a covid test and share their results with everyone gives people the peace of mind that they are less at risk.