Everyone knows that a bit of team bonding can make a work environment more productive, more successful and more fun. So why is it that whenever somebody mentions a “team-building day”, everybody groans internally?
Well, because team-building days are notoriously not fun. At best, they’re boring and cliché (trust falls? Really?). At worst, they’re awkward, patronizing and humiliating. These aren’t acceptable even for the stalest office environments where nobody knows each other – even less so if you work as part of a tight-knit group that takes on bigger challenges as part of your everyday roles.
If you work in a demanding environment where your colleagues are more like family, here are four ideas for an adventurous day to let off some steam together.
1. Bushcraft and Orienteering
What better way to bond with your colleagues than learning how to survive together in the wilderness? From basic bushcraft like building a shelter and starting a fire, to working as a team to navigate a wild environment, this type of activity day is practical, challenging and fun in equal measure.
There are lots of places around the UK that offer bushcraft and orienteering, so the exact itinerary will depend on the center you choose. For the most part, you can expect to be navigating a forest or countryside using maps and compasses, learning how to start a fire from scratch and how to build a basic shelter in the wilderness. Expect to get wet and muddy!
Teams will need a combination of brains and brawn to succeed, making this the perfect event to boost collaboration between skillsets and departments.
Who’s it for?
These types of activity days usually let you set your own level of difficulty, meaning that everyone can get something out of the experience, whether they’ve done this type of thing before or they’re a complete beginner. Bigger groups might prefer to split down into several teams – either mixing abilities so that each team has the chance to complete the same challenges or by having an “easy”, “medium” and “tough” option.
A decent level of fitness will be required to make the most of the day, and certain parts of the day might not be suitable for those with reduced mobility (and it won’t be much fun for spectators). Best to call up and discuss your requirements if you think your team might have particular needs.
2. Team Gladiator Assault Course
Fancy proving your abilities as a team by facing a grueling physical challenge? Don’t let a few obstacles stand between you and victory – push every muscle in your body as part of an adrenaline-fuelled team-building day on a gladiator assault course.
The gladiator assault course will pit your team against nets, tire paths, sheer walls and water obstacles to see whether you can claim victory or get defeated by the course. Compete together for strength and honor, cheering each other on to reach the finish line in one piece – albeit sweaty, muddy and absolutely exhausted.
If you actually manage to complete the course? You’ll be given the chance to repeat the challenge, going head-to-head with your colleagues to claim the fastest time.
Who is it for?
As the name might suggest, this level of assault course is designed for participants that have a good level of fitness. This particular run is intended to be challenging and might not suit teammates with limited fitness or restricted mobility.
3. White Water Rafting
Take an exhilarating ride down a stretch of raging river rapids, with a single guide and the expertise of your team to keep you afloat. One of the most popular water-based activities, the thrill of white water rafting is a great way to bond with colleagues in a new, challenging environment.
After a full safety briefing, your team will be provided with wetsuits, life-jackets, helmets, paddles and splash jackets before hitting the water. Once you’ve learned how to ‘read the river’, you will head into boats in groups of 6-8, led by a trained raft guide.
Each rapids course is given a rating, with ‘1’ describing calm, flat water and ‘5’ indicating the highest level of adventure (and risk). An easier course will provide you with an enjoyable, bouncy ride, while the most challenging routes will involve fiercer water and require technical skill to navigate narrow channels.
If you decide to go rafting in summer, you’ll probably find that the water is much calmer. You’ll still have a go at the rapids, but you can also try your hand at more leisurely water sports like body surfing.
Who’s it for?
Needless to say, you have to be confident in fast-moving water to be able to enjoy white water rafting, although being a strong swimmer is not mandatory. Weight restrictions may apply and this activity is not suitable for pregnant women, although most centers welcome spectators.
4. Specials Ops Spy School
Don’t think your team will be up for all of that running around and getting wet malarkey? Take them on a role-playing secret mission instead, where you’ll operate under code names and forge a new identity. Based on the real-life taskforce formed by Churchill during WW2, the Special Ops Executive day is about teaching you all the skills you need to carry out secret activities on behalf of the British Government.
In a team of up to ten people, you and your colleagues will undergo weapons and combat training, including a session with Welrods, sleeve guns, pistols and thumb knives. You’ll also get to work with grenades and plastic explosives and learn how to carry out covert tasks like dead drops and coded messages.
Once you’ve completed your Special Ops training you’ll sit down to a wartime-inspired ration lunch and receive your brief. The mission? Put your new skills into action by taking on the role of an undercover British agent that’s been sent into occupied France. You’ll be tasked with causing chaos and obtaining intel on the Nazi advance. For more information about the SOE team building days, have a look at this explanatory post here.
Who’s it for?
The Special Ops Executive day is for anyone that’s ever been curious about the clandestine lives of specially-trained wartime operatives. Whether you’ve wanted to try your hand at clever disguises and covert surveillance or fancy a go at close combat skills with a retro twist, this is the perfect day for you and your team.
About the author: Mike James is an experienced business writer specializing in HR, tech, and cybersecurity. On the latter, he has contributed to many of the leading publications both online and in print – such as StaySafeOnline, GlobalSign, Tech London and more.