How to organise a team activity with purpose

We’re time short, budgets are tight and a pandemic is wreaking havoc on the world. If you’ve been tasked to propose or run a team building / team activity, organising a team activity with purpose should be top of the agenda now, more than ever. Read these top 10 tips to check you’ve got all your bases covered.

1. Define the purpose

I know this sounds obvious – but it’s really important to establish. Is this a reward? Is it to unite a team? To grow relationships? Or does the group simply need some ‘fresh air’ – a break away from a heavy agenda?

2. Consider your participants

You might not personally know the group. But using your Sherlock skills you can get a broad picture of who they are and what they’d enjoy. Sales teams tend to be extroverts and love competition. Whereas a team of accountants are quieter and might feel uncomfortable if they are put centre stage.

3. Don’t ignore the ripple effect

How’s the company doing? Consider how colleagues from other departments or lower positions might perceive the activities you are planning. If recent redundancies or cut backs have been made – how well would news of your senior management team’s cocktail making afternoon be received?? Be sensitive.

4. Timing is everything

Traditionally, team activities take place in the afternoon – question this. We’ve seen the benefits of starting the day with the activity, especially for a geographically dispersed team. Lots of opportunity to catch up informally first (like a warm up act). However, what is even more successful is to intersperse them in a day’s agenda. Smaller pockets of activity throughout a meeting programme keep energy levels high, all day.

You can also combine elements of the day. You can learn to make a new style of breakfast like the team from Octopus Energy did or make your own lunch like the IT Senior Management team did with our friends from the Wild Oven.

5. Location, location, location

Rather than reaching for the tried-and-tested, look at what activities could be created on the doorstep, within the local community. Try to connect the event / activity’s purpose with another organisation, charity, artisan or team. Search your community and find a group who has overcome obstacles or faced similar challenges. Going behind the scenes or trying your hand at someone else’s job. Shared experiences like this can be insightful, rewarding and, often, humbling.

6. Don’t get left in the dark

My top tip for any event – not just a team activity. Look at the sunrise and sunset times for the date of your event. Morning yoga on the lawn is much better when it’s light! Rather than rushing participants to a kayaking session before dusk, get creative. What about giving everyone headtorches and go night kayaking?? No timing stresses and something a bit different…

7. Spending quality time together

More than ever, we are time short. Therefore why would you want to send participants back to their rooms to get changed? This is a waste of valuable time. It also ruins momentum. Because there’s always that one person everyone’s standing around waiting for…

The solution is easy. Don’t do an activity where you need to change. Either wear the appropriate clothes from the beginning of the day or do something that you can do in any dress code.

8. Wake up the senses

Team activities generally are ‘hands on’. However, if you are looking to invigorate, don’t forget how important the other senses are too. Smell is the sense most closely linked with memory. We’ve all at that moment where you are transported back in time from sniffing a scent. If indoors, reed diffusers work really well and if possible choose an area with a natural perfume – like an orchard or a rose garden.

Artists studios – like this pottery one are an explosion for the senses

9. Shout it from the rooftops

Having an activity with purpose is a good-news team story. Adding some great content to your marketing and social media platforms. Let your customers, potential customers, employees and other stakeholders know how you organised an activity with the local community; how much everyone loved it and how it made a difference.

10. More for your money

An activity with purpose isn’t a flash-in-the- pan experience; really fun while it lasts, but quickly forgotten. Activities with purpose have depth. They have soul. They have legacy. And rather than ROI – you get POI. The Power of Investment – the power of investing in your staff and the power of working with your local community.