Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Team Building

Note: This report is apart of a series coming from activities done with my news writing class.

Yesterday, in my weekly news-writing workshop, our class formed into three groups and completed an interactive scavenger hunt on and around Wall Street. The game involved one designated smart phone user within each group texting or emailing answers to questions about various locations in this financial center.

It was cool. I had fun chatting with my group and seeing our collective competitive spirit arise. We also received a brief history lesson from a pleasant New York woman about the relationship between the song “New York, New York” and the War of 1812.

The only downside, we lost.

But this activity got me thinking about team-building exercises in general. In a time of slow growth, does it make sense for businesses to spend money on activities that don’t directly relate to the production of their product? Also, other than anecdotally, how does one measure an idea as subjective as workforce compatibility?

SO I did some Google searches to find out more. The first thing I learned is it’s a large industry. Various corporate excursion companies offer activities ranging from expensive retreats at mountain resorts to more basic day field trips, similar to my scavenger hunt.

Also, speaking of Google, I found a 2009 article explaining their cutbacks due to the down economy. One of the things to go…..their annual employee retreat to Lake Tahoe. That one must’ve hurt.

I think it’s wise for companies to drop the extravagant excursions to distant resorts, but I see the advantage of small-scale activities where workers can get to know each other outside the office. If employees are comfortable around each other, I think there is a good chance they will also willingly challenge each other. And, a robust marketplace of ideas within an office should lead to better products.

At the very least if they’re doing a scavenger hunt, they might learn some handy Jeopardy facts from friendly locals.

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