Summer’s Here – Get Your Team Out of the Office

Summer’s Here – Get Your Team Out of the Office

A perfect summer corporate event might consist of staff leaving for an early Friday afternoon off, kicking back on a patio next to a local river or scenic area, with the boss picking up the tab for drinks and nibbles.  With everyone relaxed and having a great time, such informal sessions are sure to build camaraderie, recognize your stellar staff, and serve as a constructive pause from stressful day-to-day business activities.  However, if you are stumped for new ideas that don’t break the budget, why not try one of these?

  • Host your staff at a free community music event.  From NYC to Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and L.A., cities and towns around the country highlight the best of local music at parks on balmy summer nights.  Many organizers rely on corporate sponsorships or donations, which often include a tent or partitioned area.  Attendance is a great opportunity to reinforce your brand, so dress your team in branded t-shirts, give out water bottles, and let your corporate flag fly.  Of course, entertaining your employees at a music event might mean showing off your best hip-hop dance moves, so be prepared!
  • Try a water sport.  Canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding or surfing are fun beginner sports for those who love the water.  Where double-occupancy is possible, draw names among your staff to pair employees who might not work together.  Or, pair experienced with inexperienced paddlers for some practice in mentor coaching.  Supply plenty of sunscreen!

  • Scavenger hunts are fun, active, team-building exercises that can result in long-lasting performance improvements.  While less expensive to create the clues yourself, you can use an app such as to do it for you.  Whichever you choose, give some thought to the desired cognitive and behavioral outcomes of your teams:
    • Leadership vs. followership.  Have team members rotate roles throughout the activity.
    • Recognition and practice of problem-solving skills.  It helps to define the process for the teams first, recognizing that each person has a different thinking style.
    • Cognitive processing, including speed and flexibility.  Both abilities can help reduce organizational change resistance.
    • Conflict management and trust-building.  Nothing like a fast-paced, competitive scavenger hunt to hone conflict, negotiation, and resolution skills!

A post-hunt barbecue is an ideal way to debrief teams for key takeaways and celebrate the day.

  • Other ideas:
    • Put on a lunchtime karaoke potluck.
    • Find a Happy Hour (easy on the wallet).
    • Host a video game competition (ideal for a youthfully-staffed IT start-up).
    • Bake-offs can be yummy and fun (dessert for the company picnic)!
    • Use Uber as the chauffeur for a local winery tour.
    • Plan a “Flick Nite.”  Your staff votes on their favorite movie to project outside on the building wall on a warm evening.  Start the evening off with a barbecue or potluck.

Make it Fun for Everyone

Although not everyone welcomes the idea of hanging out with workmates after hours, careful planning and consideration will encourage participation.  First, select activities appropriately.  For example, a corporate picnic ideally offers activities suited to both children and adults.  Alternatively, an active team-building exercise for a group of Millennials might consist of a rock-climbing day.  If an activity requires some level of fitness, be sure that your employees are happy and able to take up the challenge.  Leave room for cheerleaders as well as participants; both are equally important to the team.

Next, check in with your managers or form a committee to find out what your employees value in a corporate summer event.  An evening of music by a Tom Jones tribute singer might not get you the “Boss of the Year” award!  You are much more likely to get enthusiastic participants when employees are involved in the planning.  For teambuilding activities, using work time buys goodwill and is the best incentive to participate.

Finally, consider that any corporate event should be inclusive to the company, unit, or team.  Cherry-picking participants is a recipe for office discord, so make invitation boundaries clear.  To accommodate those with disabilities, check that offsite locations offer accessibility to the venue, parking, and restrooms.

Summer is the perfect time to get to know your employees better while boosting morale and motivation.  Relax, be engaging, and take lots of photos for the break room wall!