By Paula Felps
Team building is a popular way for businesses to increase communication and collaboration among employees. It can even teach them — in a fun way — how to better handle conflict. Although the concept dates back to the 1920s, team building activities have become more innovative and enjoyable in recent years.
“The ideas of those [original exercises] are still valid, but the delivery of the message is different,” says David Goldstein, founder of the Los Angeles-based company TeamBonding. “We now focus on what people are passionate about. [It] can get people working and playing together faster than years sitting across the room from one another.”
Each city has its own distinct environment that makes it easy to customize team building activities to suit both the company’s culture and the city’s personality. In Los Angeles, that means capitalizing on the city’s reputation as an entertainment capital.
“L.A. has some amazing choices for venues,” Goldstein says. Some of his favorite Los Angeles-themed team-building exercises include:
- Escape from Hotel California: Escape rooms are a full-blown phenomenon, and in Goldstein’s version, each team is given a scenario where they wake up in a trashed hotel room with no memory of the night before and no sign of the rock star who booked the room. With just 90 minutes until checkout, team members must work together to be the first to piece together what happened — and how to get out of the room.
- Survey Says Game Show: L.A. is the game show epicenter of the country, and this teambuilding task mimics the popular “Family Feud” format to find out how well team members know their co-workers, their company, and their corporate culture.
- Make a Movie: Lights, camera, action — you can’t have Los Angeles without movies! In this version, participants divide into groups to make the next big Hollywood blockbuster. That means deciding who’s going to direct, who’s going to star, and even who’s going to market the movie. Once it’s complete, team members enjoy the fruits of their labor with a movie screening.
All for One
Los Angeles and the gorgeous California weather make it appealing to go outside for some team building. Activities like sand sculpting on the beaches and piers, scavenger hunts in amusement parks, and agility courses in the sand all lend themselves to increasing cooperation and collaboration in a fun-in-the-sun environment.
Cooking classes encourage all team members to work together to create a great meal, or you could arrange cooking competitions that pit teams against each other as they try to wow the judges with their culinary creations. Both options bring team members together in a creative, enjoyable way.
If you have a music-loving group of employees, team building exercises could include everything from group lip sync battles and karaoke competitions to writing a team anthem or even making a music video together in an actual L.A. recording studio.
Work with L.A. Pros
For the best experience, Goldstein recommends hiring a professional who knows the Los Angeles scene to help you tailor an experience that’s right for your company’s personality and objectives. “Look for a whole team of people who are serious about what they do and belong to professional organizations and are really invested in the business of delivering the best event you expect,” he advises.
Beyond that, another important thing for organizers and HR directors to keep in mind is to leave plenty of time for the event, including set-up. “If your team building partner has enough time to set up and work, it goes a long way to a successful event.”