Long reads

The lighter side of corporate teambuilding

26 Apr 2018 By Eleanor Whitehouse

From The Hunger Games to herding ducks, People Management offers you a carefully curated list of the more unexpected staff bonding exercises

If you’ve ever been asked to put on a blindfold and allow yourself to fall backwards, arms folded across your chest, with only Steve from finance between you and a rather nasty head injury, you’re probably all-too familiar with the concept of corporate teambuilding.

And while there are plenty of benefits to engaging your workforce in a day of problem-solving – including building trust, improving communication and increasing collaboration – in reality it can be hard to find activities that are sufficiently original, or free from hot coal-related injuries, to be worth the outlay.

So if you’ve ticked off the wine tasting and obstacle courses, People Management brings you a selection of slightly more unusual corporate days out.

Dog yoga

Bringing a whole new meaning to the ‘downward dog’ pose, renowned dog yoga – or ‘doga’ – instructor Mahny Djahanguiri offers yoga classes with a canine twist for up to 15 people, which she says offer a host of benefits, including reduced stress levels, improved sleep and better digestion. Unfortunately, participants have to provide their own dog.

The Parmesan Job

Based on 1969 heist classic The Italian Job, this event – run by The Team Building Company – puts teams behind the wheels of a fleet of Mini Coopers on an “elaborate” treasure hunt around a British location of their choice, complete with clues, challenges and shady gangsters. Teams will practise their communication and problem-solving skills in a race to retrieve a prize, and might even get a chance to blow the bloody doors off.

Ukulele fiddling

Not a musician? Not to worry. Sarah Weiler, founder and ‘faSILLYtator’ of Power of Uke, has taught ukulele to corporate groups from the likes of EY and Google, and claims to have even the decidedly tone-deaf able to play a song together by the end of one session. According to Weiler, group ukulele sessions help to “break down barriers and deepen relationships” and leave participants feeling “motivated and more aligned”. It seemed to work for George Formby, at least.

Stand up paddleboarding

A cross between surfing and punting, stand up paddleboarding is the “world’s fastest growing watersport”, according to provider Active360, which offers sessions along the River Thames in west London and nearby canals. As well as bonding with colleagues and developing their core strength as they paddle through the water, participants can also do their bit for the environment – Active360 pairs paddleboarding sessions with removing plastic pollution from waterways.

Duck herding

Think One Man and His Dog, but with more feathers. Midlands-based Garlands Corporate’s duck herding sessions are run by a qualified shepherd, as well as several well-trained collies. Utilising their communication, teamwork and problem-solving skills (as well as a lot of shouting), herders are taught how to instruct their collie before shepherding a flock of ducks around a set course, including tunnels and slides. A crook is included for added authenticity. You’d be quackers to miss it.

Zombie killing

If you prefer your workforce to bond over shooting at hordes of blood-covered, half-dead creatures intent on making them one of their own, creatively named company Zombie Experiences provides – unsurprisingly – ‘zombie experiences’ in a range of locations and fully immersive settings across the UK, from an abandoned asylum in Liverpool to an underground bunker in London. Victims are promised anything between one hour and a full day in a “tense, chilling zombie environment” with “all weapons and ammo provided” as they work together to eradicate an outbreak of the undead.

Ice sculpting

In perhaps the ultimate icebreaker, London-based The Ice Box will bring an ice-carving workshop to any venue in the UK or Europe. Teams are given a demonstration and a crash course in techniques, before being let loose to create their own sub-zero masterpieces in groups of two or three. The firm promises participants will “have to learn to work together, listen to each other and get creative”.

The Hungry Games

Based on the hugely popular dystopian novel and film series The Hunger Games, this session from KDM Events pits ‘districts’ of employees against each other, bringing together a host of arena combat and bush survival techniques and exercises. Teams learn the art of working together as they build waterproof shelters, light real fires and make their own eating utensils from scratch, culminating in a final death-defying archery battle (with foam-tipped arrows). May the odds ever be in your favour.

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