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February 12, 2021

Team-building stoke fear in your heart?

The words ‘teambuilding’ may stoke fear in our hearts at the best of times, but during a pandemic, they often mean several extra hours on Zoom – something we could all live without.

Amid the Covid pandemic, companies are increasingly in need of ways to keep their teams focused and maintain a sense of cohesion;  as of March, many will have spent almost a whole year working remotely. So as everything else has moved online, including hiking trips and haircuts, team building has followed suit. But this has brought its own problems.

Whereas at least before Covid the activities involved might have included a day ‘off’ work or a weekend away, now they entail yet more time at your desk, glued to your computer screen. As millions battle Zoom fatigue and – oddly – even longer working hours than before, virtual team building is arguably even more agonizing than the real thing. It’s also inherently flawed.

Since Covid-19, companies have been forced to focus more on events that can be done via video calls, like virtual escape rooms. During these live-hosted events, companies start with a background story (so that there’s a bit of emotion and a bit of theatre) and then task contestants with a series of puzzles that need to be solved within a set time frame.

But it’s much harder to achieve the same level of bonding when you’re not physically together; in the virtual world, there’s less scope for the unexpected or unpleasant to happen – things that you can recall later and giggle about. And this means it’s unlikely to be as good at forging a sense of solidarity.

In a 2018 study,  groups who consumed raw chilies or did upright wall squats – painful experiences – had more supportive interactions among team-members and heightened collective creativity, versus those who were just asked to eat hard-boiled sweets or balance on one leg. So, as infantilizing as organized fun seems, it can provide the opportunity for teams to experience mutual hardships that could strengthen connections, such as struggling through bad weather together or even experiencing team-building #fails like dropping a colleague on their head (though not recommended).

Effective team building is thought to require two things. The first is a change of scenery, which makes the activity seem more like a break and less like a continuation of your normal day. The second is a demonstration that your employer genuinely cares about your wellbeing – and perhaps the feeling that this is the purpose of the task. Virtual team-building fails spectacularly at both o these. First, it’s nearly impossible to provide specialised attention on a group video call, to make people feel like they matter. And if you’re attending a team-building video chat from the same place as your regular meetings, it’s hardly going to feel like a change of environment.

This is why we at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa have developed a special Bush conference package for you that can be adapted to suit your unique needs. Our conference venues are compliant with social distancing and all Government-mandated Covid regulations. We are situated a mere 2-hour drive from Johannesburg and a 1-hour drive from Pretoria near Bela Bela in the Limpopo province making it the ideal destination for your team to travel to in safety. Accommodation can be provided in separate Bushveld Villas that are surrounded by nothing but nature. We also offer a range of open-air team-building activities such as elephant interactions, Quad Bike Adventures, Game View, Clay Pigeon shooting, Paintball, or enjoy a round of golf with your colleagues. For more information on our special Bush conference package please visit https://zebula.co.za/bushconference/

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