8 Ways to Build a Community Within Your Team

Written by Miranda Nicholson on October 18, 2013

Posted in Human Resources

When given the task of planning the Inaugural Formstack All Hands, our CEO set forth the following goals: Have Fun. Eat. Be Together. Learn Some Stuff.   In short, make this community of remote workers feel like a team.  So, I sat down and thought about what would accomplish those goals. Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Tune in and Be Realistic:  Take into account the culture of your office, the gaggle of personalities you work with and think, “Will Herman in Shipping really want to be covered in shaving cream while people throw cheese puffs at his face?”  If the answer is no, move on.  Or if you’re a member of the Formstack team, we live for making each other uncomfortable.  It’s what unites us.  If it makes someone uncomfortable, we say, “Game on!”  It’s all about balance.
  2. Google “Fun team building activities in (Name of your city)”: While this sounds ridiculously simple, it’s how I found the Scavenger Hunt Company we used, the ropes course camp, and tons of ideas for future All Hands.
  3. Team Building isn’t all about Teams.  One of my goals in planning All Hands was to break up the cliques or departments.  Sometimes, they’re one-in-the-same.  What better way to find out that Betty over in HR likes to collect cat statues and so does Lars over in Fulfillment!
  4. Get the Executives on board.  Fortunately for us, our Leadership team is very accessible.  Gaining buy-in from the execs was a fairly easy job for me.  It’s essential during team building that the employees see their “boss” in a different light, creating the warm-fuzzy feeling of community and/or family.
  5. Plan activities to require communication: The last thing you want during a week of team building is for no one to talk to one another.  A Week of Listening! Yay! I did this by incorporating activities in which you had to talk to one another to complete a mission, ask the advice of a co-worker in order to solve a problem, and the popular “open bar at the commencement dinner.”
  6. KISS: No, this isn’t a possible HR violation.  It stands for “Keep it Simple, Stupid.”  Don’t over plan.  If you can find vendors that take care of the event from beginning to end, go for it!  It will save you time, headache and having to check the calendar to make sure there isn’t a solar eclipse happening right when you’ve planned for all the employees to stare at the sun for 30 seconds.
  7. Incentivize the activities.  Nothing builds teams like the opportunity to win something – bragging rights, a rubber chicken, a toilet-shaped coffee mug.
  8. Give them something to talk about.  Remember #2 on the list?  There have to be some elements that will garner laughs.  Otherwise, what are you planning for?

Have you ever planned a company team-building week or retreat? Any tips to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!