Avoid the post-holiday blues with these fun mid-winter hybrid and virtual team building activities.
For many companies, the period of time after the holidays is one of the hardest to get through. Employee engagement is generally low, productivity is down, and most are lacking motivation. Plus, with the added challenge of pandemic remote working, the winter blues can be exacerbated by Zoom fatigue.
The good news is, there’s a way to break up the winter and get your employees back on track: a mid-winter team building activity! Everyone always expects to have an end of year holiday party, but very few expect something in the darkest days of January or February when they really need it most.
There are two main reasons why team morale and productivity are low at this time of year.
First, it’s because it’s a busy season. There are holidays to celebrate, parties to attend, projects to wrap up, presents to buy, and seemingly shorter days. It’s mentally exhausting, expensive, and overwhelming for many, and we usually come out the other side with low energy levels and poor eating habits.
Second, is the post-holiday winter slump. Usually after all of the aforementioned parties and fun, comes a period of mental fatigue when we know there are no more holidays in sight, our bank accounts have been diminished, and spring still feels months away! In addition, the combination of 40% of Americans reportedly struggling with mental health along with the pandemic and other seasonal affective disorder symptoms, means this winter is going to be even harder for most.
Helping us out though, is the benefit of remote working, which allows some of us to actually be more productive over the winter months. It turns out when you allow employees to skip commutes in cold weather, work in their PJs from the comfort of their own home (at a temperature they want!), and have flexible working hours, they can achieve more. It does often come at the cost of morale and team engagement, so that’s where mid-winter teaming building activities can help!
We’ve written before about the importance of improving employee engagement and the importance of running team building events with the rise of hybrid working arrangements. Team building activities in winter can be a great antidote to this post-holiday slump. It’s a chance to help your employees take their minds off of the work week, feel appreciated after a month of giving, infuse some energy into their workday, and have something to look forward to!
Team building activities and events have a number of benefits to include improved mental and physical health, team morale, leadership skills, and communication skills. Because when team members participate in a joint activity focused on connection, it can boost their confidence and self-esteem, reduce anxiety, make them feel valued, and improve overall employee engagement. It’s basically a win-win for everyone.
7 Fun & Engaging Winter Team Building Activities
Whether you’re working in the office or remotely, there are lots of great winter team building options available to help improve team morale and engagement.
You can plan a turn-key event or organize everything yourself. Just remember to choose an activity that is suitable for the climate (indoor activities may be more comfortable for all), promotes team communication and engagement, and isn’t too stressful to organize. Because after the silly season, you don’t need any added headaches.
1. Relax And Disconnect With A Warming ‘Urban Retreat’
Great for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events, a short wellness retreat can be a great way to promote health and wellness and counter any post holiday blues or habits! Think about tying together an agenda of 2-4 hours to really give employees a chance to disconnect from the work week, relax, reset, and recharge. Some ideas include hosting a yoga or dance session at a local studio, running a group-wide meditation with a professional facilitator or a recording on Headspace or Calm, bringing in a guest to discuss mental health or nutrition in the workplace, and giving out wellness goody bags.
2. Volunteer For A Local Charity
There are all sorts of ways your team can give back to your community over the winter months. You can volunteer to run a toy drive, sign up to serve meals at a soup kitchen, distribute warm clothes and supplies to the homeless community, or help sort food at your local food bank. You may know of a local organization to support, but if not, you can check out VolunteerMatch, JustServe, or Catchafire for some ideas on how your time and skills could be best used. Whether it’s one hour, a whole day, or over a longer period of time, allowing team members to volunteer over the winter months has been shown to improve team engagement and morale and make employees happier.
No matter how you choose to donate your time and efforts, it’s sure to be a rewarding experience. Remember, even a little bit goes a long way.
3. Delight Your Team With A Virtual Chocolate-Making Experience
Why not reward your team with a delicious chocolate gift and a hands-on experience all in one? It’s inclusive and fun, and makes for the perfect mid-winter escape. Companies like tinyB Chocolate offer virtual, hybrid, and in-person experiences where each team member receives a chocolate kit, complete with everything they need to make beautiful, delicious Brazilian truffles or cookies. Everyone is then invited to a live chocolate-making class filled with culture, story-telling, conversations, and competitions.
4. Work Together To Break Out Of An Escape Room
If your team thrives while problem-solving, an in-person or virtual escape room might be the perfect mid-winter activity for you. Growing in popularity, escape rooms allow you and your team members to work together as a team to solve puzzles, problems, and riddles in order to escape the room and avoid a loss. They’re fun, high pressure, and great for working on communication and collaboration skills. While there’s no shortage of escape rooms in major and mid-size cities, there are a lot of virtual escape room options to help bring virtual teams together, no matter where they are.
5. Spend A Day On The Slopes Or Ice
Though getting outside may not be an enticing thought for most, it’s a great way to get some fresh air and take a break from the work week. This option obviously won’t work for all team locations, but if your team is based in a snowy area, consider getting out for a ski day, snowshoeing, ice skating, or sledding adventure. These activities can be a great way for everyone to connect, find their inner child, and get some much needed fresh air. As an added bonus you can organize some catering (think hot chocolate, cookies, and more) and weave in some team-building games like an obstacle course or a snowman-building competition!
6. Play An Adrenaline-Inducing Game
Why not break up the winter blues and get everyone’s adrenaline pumping? It’s a great way to bring the team together, to have some fun, and to get everyone out of their comfort zone. Psychology Today even says it can be the antidote for boredom, malaise, and stagnation.
Some classic games include laser tag, bowling, and karaoke (it’s adrenaline inducing for some!) or you can think a little broader and explore indoor acrobatics, an obstacle course, or martial arts class. Just remember, these games aren’t for everyone. So first size up your team to see if everyone is physically and mentally ready for the challenge before putting down your deposit. As with any team-building activity it’s important to include everyone!
7. Taste Your Way Through Your City
Enjoy some time outdoors as a team by doing a walking food tour of your city. It’s a chance to meander through the streets, taste lots of local delights, and create opportunities for informal conversations amongst your team members. Plus, there is the added bonus of supporting local businesses like restaurants who have been doing it tough over the past 20 months.
Depending on where you and your team are based, you can usually find a reputable local company to help you explore the sights and tastes of your own hometown. There are also larger tour operators like Secret Food Tours or some on this list from Fodors. Regardless of their size, most of them will willingly cater their tours for your own interests and schedule. Just remember to remind everyone to show up hungry!
What winter plans do you have for your employees? We’d love to hear your ideas!