You hear ‘team building’ and you think of dress down days. Tug of war competitions. Sports days where pale legs that only ever see suit pants are finally free to blind you as they catch the sunlight from under way-too-short shorts. Those ice-breakers where you blindfold someone and tell them to fall back into another person’s arms… you know the ones, right?
Traditionally, team building activities are all about nurturing trust and getting people to work together as, well, a team. There’s an activity that works for everyone, no matter the size of the company, and it’s a great opportunity to get everyone to feel like they belong to something greater.
Those age-old activities are classics, and while we’ve put our personal twist on the whole ‘team building’ thing, we’re definitely firm fans of the idea.
Not your average stop at the pub
Anyone following our Facebook page will know that we’re no stranger to social events at the office. Our weekly brainstorming sessions, crazy karaoke nights, and renowned food days keep people smiling and keep the vibe light and airy week in, week out. We fell into a routine of organising the same type of events that everyone enjoys – some involved family, some did not. It worked, and things were smooth.
Then one day, just a few short months ago, Ed mentioned that he would be attending a conference in Amsterdam in May. Someone chimed in with ‘take me with you!’ and the next thing I knew, most of the office had booked their flights to a long weekend in the land of the long-legged.
One hour. Literally. Within one hour, almost every member of the team was booked for the first ever Switch trip. It was quick because it was simple – we already love spending time together outside of work, so why the hell not?
Dam you’re beautiful
Fast forward a couple of months – we’ve just chucked our backpacks into our 2 apartments before heading out into the gorgeous, gorgeous city that’s pulling us in. We walk around with our eyes looking up. We lie perfectly still in warm, sunny parks. We shiver in the cold as we walk home through dead streets (we missed the last tram, you see). And we devour every shop window, every museum, every wide open space and every narrow, crooked street the city had to offer.
And we eat good food. Because obviously.
Oh yes, Amsterdam is beautiful. We’re in awe – even those who’ve been there before. But what surprised me the most was not the views, not the locals, not the food. What surprised me the most was the group of people I was with.
Know thy colleague
Maybe it was because we were so far away from the office. Maybe it was the cathartic nature of the holiday following a couple of crazy months of work. Maybe it was the fact that we were literally living together for 4 days straight. Whatever it was, I got to know a whole new side to everyone – their comfort zones, their pet peeves, their limits and whether they snore or not (spoiler alert: everyone does.)
Forget falling back into the arms of a colleague who’s been instructed to catch you – this is real team building. This is throwing a bunch of real individuals into a new situation and watching them figure it out as they learn more and more about each other. New bonds were formed, new discoveries were made and, more importantly, a whole new reservoir of memories, laughs, and inspiration has been filled to the brim and carried into our day-to-day work at the office.
There were bound to be clashes and arguments at times – we’re a family of sorts after all. But now that we’re back at the office and well into day 3 of normality, the dust has settled and I’ve made my mind up.
The idea worked. We did it. We didn’t build a team of colleagues – we built a team of humans.