The Workplace - April 2019

The Workplace - Guy HaywardAt a dinner party recently, a friend who works in the corporate team-building space was telling me how busy, yet competitive and saturated, his market had become. I was surprised – it is something that I no longer consider.

Corporate team-building was designed in the 1980s for  teamwork, bonding, cross-team communication and ‘improving collaboration’. But surely the modern workplace has changed all this.

Work is so much more exciting now than it used to be, even compared with five years ago. There are so many elements that we do together now at work that the need to push an outward-bound course seems old-fashioned, and I found myself intrigued to understand if there was a modern world of team-building. Sadly, I’m not sure it has evolved that much, but I did find some super examples of bringing teams together – in particular, businesses that created their own festival-style retreats.

Shared office space provider WeWork recently hosted a bonanza featuring the bands Florence and the Machine, Two Door Cinema Club and BYOB. The company invited employees, members and guests to join them in a weekend filled with music, lawn games, archery, dancing and yoga, all with the intention of connection. The ‘summer camp’ for adults encapsulated WeWorks’ ethos – that the workplace is a place that brings us together, and is a place that should engage and inspire us.

This is something that I support, and one of the reasons we created MyLondonWorks.

PR and marketing agency Octopus Group takes its people to its Roctostock festival every year for a weekend of team-building in tents, enjoying live music and downtime together. CEO Jon Lonsdale explains: “We love getting away from the stresses and strains of the office for 24 hours, and friendships are formed.”

These work-style retreats have abandoned the traditional conference-style talks and activities, in favour of bonding over a shared love of music. They are much more appealing and allow cross-team connections to naturally occur – especially when tagged Instagram posts are used.

It’s popular in our industry to schedule a work ski weekend. Over the past couple of years we have added to our annual calendar: canoeing down the Zambezi, climbing Kilimanjaro, cycling around Machu Picchu and trekking across Madagascar. These are life-changing, unique experiences.

Our golden ticket programme, where we send random mixed groups away for the day, works in every regard. We’ve sent people tandem skydiving, hot air balloon riding and abseiling down the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Try them; they are not your traditional team-building events, but they are more powerful.

Guy Hayward redefining the modern workplace CEO, Goodman Masson

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