Although teambuilding events tend to be taken for granted in a corporate environment nowadays, back in 2004, when Outdoor Living was set up, the concept of such events was still relatively unheard of in Malta. “At that time, we mainly focused on teambuilding events as a different and fun way to showcase Malta to conference and incentive groups coming to Malta,” said Danica Fava, Founder and Director of Outdoor Living, a leading teambuilding events company. “Our main activities were treasure hunts and medieval-themed games in historical venues such as Fort St Angelo.”
“We wanted to specialise in something that we really believed in. Before, teambuilding events were regarded as purely fun events. We wanted to change that ideology and show what proper teambuilding events should be like – fun experiences that at the same time provide an excellent return of investment.”
Nowadays, Outdoor Living has a portfolio of over 100 different team experiences – the largest portfolio on the island – ranging from high-adrenaline activities to mental challenges which involve deciphering codes and solving puzzles. “We have events that see teams going out and about exploring a particular area, as well as a list of active team challenges that have been intelligently designed to positively shift the motivational dynamics that influence team behaviour, productivity and performance such as the ‘War of the Dragons’ and ‘Around the World’,” Ms Fava explained.
“We also organise events focused on innovation and invention, whereby teams need to use their creative and analytical skills to build F1 cars, boats and two-metre high puppets. For any organisations that want to do something different for their team, we have a selection of musical activities such as Beatswork, Crescendo and Orchestrate whereby each participant is given an instrument and groups of individuals are transformed into a giant percussion band or an orchestra.”
For long conferences, which can drain attendees’ energy and focus, Outdoor Living offers short energisers aimed at refreshing and motivating the audience, which can also be used as ice-breaker events. And for organisations that find it difficult to get their staff together for a team event, Outdoor Living offers teambuilding activities specifically designed to be carried out during dinners or Christmas parties, such as the intriguingly named ‘Whisky Wisdom’ and ‘Team Tonic’.
“Most of the activities can be customised to suit different group sizes. However, for us, rather than the size of group, the most important thing is that we know what our clients want to achieve through our teambuilding activities so we can tailor-make the activities, to not just meet, but exceed their expectations,” Ms Fava added.
When asked if more companies in Malta are taking account of the importance of teambuilding events, Ms Fava replied that there has certainly been an improvement in the last few years. “We now have clients coming to us once every quarter to organise an event for their team. We have others linking our teambuilding activities to their training or marketing programmes. We have also organised teambuilding activities for local companies in Sicily. All this shows that more and more organisations are recognising the importance of such activities.”
She remarked that over the past couple of years, the company has seen a trend towards collaborative events, where the aim is not for a small team to win, but for the entire group to work together to achieve one common goal. “Two of our most popular collaborative events are ‘Flat Out Pyramids’, where teams are given the task to work together to build a large pyramid, and ‘Beat the Box’. In ‘Beat the Box’, teams have to utilise each individual’s different skills to uncover a series of mysteries and then finally collaborate with other teams to crack a code before time runs out.”
Treasure hunts will always remain popular with all types of companies. “Six years ago, we took treasure hunts to a whole new level by combining the latest technology with the history of our islands. Besides the very popular iChallenge, a treasure hunt using iPads, for which last year we received an award for being the top European sellers of this activity, we now also have ‘Escape the Mob’, ‘Maltaopoly’ and ‘Knights Chase iChallenge’.”
Teambuilding activities can yield several benefits, including increasing motivation and collaboration, encouraging creativity, improving communication and providing positive reinforcement. However, Ms Fava stated that whether or not a company actually manages to reap these benefits depends on the teambuilding activity provider chosen and the preparations made for the event.
“One crucial point to remember when organising a teambuilding activity is to ask yourself why your team needs a teambuilding activity. What areas do you want to focus on? What is the result you want to see after the activity? With the help of your teambuilding activity provider, such information will help choose an activity that is targeted to help your team skills in that area, to ensure the event meets the business skills you want to acquire. We have different activities targeted to help with different skills such as communication, leadership, strategic planning, change management and creative thinking. No activity is the same for any group, which is why it’s important to customise activities according to the profile and goals of every group.”
At the end of all its activities, Outdoor Living offers a debriefing session where participants are asked to reflect on the challenges they completed, and how they can be linked to their place of work. “This is a crucial part of a teambuilding activity,” commented Ms Fava. “This is what makes our teambuilding events worthwhile and impactful. Our aim is to positively affect the culture of teams with lasting results.”
Outdoor Living is also the exclusive licensee in Malta of Catalyst Global products, a network of teambuilding providers spread over 40 different countries. Through the Catalyst network, Outdoor Living attends different training programmes along the year to ensure that it has the best-trained staff in the field of teambuilding events.
The full version of the article originally appeared in The Malta Business Observer