As COVID-19 continues to disrupt standard practices in the business world and beyond, the importance of having fun at work and bringing teams together has, unfortunately, been pushed to the wayside.
Understandably so, with businesses fighting for survival, however – as many seasoned employers may testify, the cost of low staff engagement ultimately impacts an organisations’ bottom line.
Outdoor Living, Malta’s longest running and largest company dedicated to innovative and dynamic teambuilding events, can help address the challenges brought on by homeworking through a series of remote teambuilding events.
Ultimately, “team alignment is crucial for an organisation to succeed, and this cannot be achieved unless there is great communication between everyone in the team,” explains Outdoor Living Managing Director and Co-Founder, Danica Fava.
Asked about just how important it is for employers to actively ensure communication and engagement within teams are maintained throughout this challenging period, Ms Fava commented:
“I guess in an ideal world, we would all have had time to prepare, train and practice how best to work remotely so that there is no impact on team performance, before actually starting to work remotely.
“For many of us, remote working was an abrupt change and with that we were faced with many challenges which we were not prepared for. Having said that, and with all the changes that are happening around us every day, teams are still expected to remain cohesive and reach their goals.
“Isolation, disengagement and anxiety, are all common challenges being faced by many remote workers and which result in negatively affecting the performance of the business.”
No business, whose aim is to be successful, was ever in a position to ignore employee engagement and team performance, she stresses.
“Now, more than ever, teams have to work harder to keep their strong relationships and it is the responsibility of the organization to assist teams to stay engaged and build on their teamwork.”
To this end, Outdoor Living works with Catalyst Global as its official partner to support its mission to bring teambuilding activities to Malta, whether it is remotely, hybrid or in person.
Catalyst Global is a network of highly passionate teambuilding providers from all over the world. It is the largest teambuilding network, with 50 top worldwide teambuilding providers, where all members share best practices and resources.
“All members share a common goal of creating highly relevant, socially responsible, good value experiences for their clients,” says Ms Fava of Catalyst Malta, which is operated locally under an exclusive licence by Outdoor Living.
“Through the shared learning, we keep pushing our boundaries and the high-quality level of how we deliver our events.
“Through this, as Outdoor Living, we are the local market leaders in delivering high quality teambuilding events as our level of delivery is matched against the biggest teambuilding companies in the world,” she explains.
“Thanks to our Catalyst partners, when we went into lockdown and many people started working remotely, through our shared experiences we came up with different virtual teambuilding events in just two weeks. Today, we have the largest portfolio of virtual teambuilding events and we have around 30 different virtual activities.”
Onto the benefits which can be reaped from undertaking online teambuilding events, Ms Fava says that when properly organized and managed, such activities are all about using fun innovative games to improve team dynamics.
“Through our virtual teambuilding events we make people aware of their present doings, and, by completing different challenges, we look at best teamwork practices, how to succeed and build a winning team.”
For change to happen people need to be aware of what they are doing and what can be done better, she asserts.
“When a person realizes all this by himself and has full control of his change journey, change is more likely to happen successfully.”
Acknowledging that there are challenges to working remotely, Ms Fava says through virtual events such as the Infinite Loop – an escape room game – the importance of active listening and clear communication is highlighted.
“At the end of the activities we gather teams together and share experiences of what worked best and what could have been done better. We then discuss how such learning outcomes can be applied at the workplace.”
Outdoor Living boasts a large variety of online teambuilding games which are designed to cater for different learning outcomes.
“Fun is common in all programmes we offer, since we believe that fun is an important element to succeed and work together better.”
Going into further detail about various games, Ms Fava says:
“We have events like the Digital Global Innovation Game, which focuses more on design thinking; Peak Performance, which focuses on strategic thinking; and the very popular Infinite Loop, which is designed to make teams more aware of effective communication and the importance of sharing clearly the information to be able to move forward.
“We also do fully customized events, where the client shares with us his requirements and what he would like to achieve from the event and we design and build a team activity for them accordingly.”
Asked for any personal favourites, which are guaranteed to elicit high levels of engagement, Ms Fava points towards The Race Around the World, which she says is not just a personal favourite but one that continues to enjoy positive feedback from clients who take part.
“There’s something about travelling that gets people together and also creates a positive feel. In our Race Around the World there’s something for everyone – it’s not just about fact finding but also about thinking outside the box and being creative.
“When one thinks of a virtual teambuilding event, one may think of sitting down and staring at a screen for one or two hours.
“Race Around the World is a high-energy event where participants have to get up from their seats to complete challenges, and as teams use different props found in their houses they create a personal bond with their team mates.
“We now also have the Race Around the World Festive Edition, where teams discover festive facts from around the world as they race through the night delivering presents. It’s a great fun event to get teams together for the Christmas period which can also be combined with around the world gifts to be sent to the participants homes so that they can share the gift with their colleagues during the virtual event.”
While businesses may be seeking to cut back spending during these uncertain times, others understand that a disconnected team can be far more costly.
Gallup, a well-established American analytics and advisory company based in the US, conducted research which shows that companies with a more engaged workforce have a higher productivity rate than that of team with lowest engagement.
The study further shows that employees who are not engaged cost their company approximately 18 per cent of their annual salary.
“This year may not be the best for many businesses but if an organisation wants to be successful, the least it should do is cut costs on team development,” says Ms Fava when asked about concerns businesses may be having to spend on employee training while the global economy continues to operate on unsure footing.
“Having a disengaged workforce will lead to higher staff turnover and this further adds to the expenses of the business as they have to recruit and train new personnel.
“One advantage of virtual events is that they cost less than in-person events, since major costs like venue fees and travelling are not required when organising virtual events,” she concludes.