Most businesses offer their employees some kind of bonding time where they get away from the office and try to get to know one and another while doing something that is hopefully fun.
Having worked in a big corporation for over 15 years, I got to go on a team building exercise at least once a year. Some were fun, and some were definitely not. Unfortunately some managers chose to use the time allotted for team building to do something that is more along the lines of life coaching. One year my group had to do personality traits and the Myers Brigg test to determine if we were extraverts or introverts. This was no fun at all especially since all the other departments got to go hiking in the mountains. I am not saying the life coaching stuff is not important, just that it is not the same thing as bonding with your colleagues in a social setting.
In Calgary we are blessed with a multitude of opportunities both in nature and indoor activities. Depending on the amount of time you have you should be able to find something that everyone in your department can agree on. I found it is best to pick four or five activities and have everyone vote on their number one and number two choices. That way you will ensure that most people are enthusiastic about what you are doing and everyone will have more fun.
Here is a list of suggestions:
- A hike in the mountains - Why not take advantage of something in our back yard that not very many cities can say they have. Of course choose an easy hike that everyone will be able to handle and always consider their safety. There are hundreds of well marked trails in Banff and Kananaskis Country and they are only about an hour's drive away
- Go Karting - There are several indoor and outdoor tracks in the Calgary area that encourage groups and package deals.
- Bowling - It is best to choose the 5 pin bowling alleys because some people find it difficult to handle the big balls in the 10 pin bowling alleys
- Ice skating - This one is fairly tough to pull off because there always seems to be someone that has never skated
- The Zoo - If the weather is nice, this can be a nice casual excursion where everyone leisurely strolls around together. The only downside is if your group is too large then it is hard to keep the group together.
- Heritage Park - Has the same benefits and problems as going to the Zoo
- Skiing - If it is winter, this is a good choice but you will have the same challenges as with skating where not everyone has skied before
- Picnic - There are many great parks that have barbeque pits and picnic tables for the public to use. Fish creek park is great for this assuming it is summer of course
- Laser tag/Paintball - My personal favorite is paintball although you might find some are too afraid of a little bit of pain and bruising. If this is the case you can always opt for laser tag which anyone can play
- Scavenger hunts - You can have someone in your group organize it or go through a third party for this
- Cooking Classes - This one may appeal to you if most of your co-workers are a bit more settled down and older. Together you can learn how to make delicious meals and eat what you created when you are done.
There are many other possibilities, but these are my personal favorites. Regardless of what your department decides to do, make sure you participate because it is really a great chance to get to know everyone you see every day but may not work closely with. I know there were many people in my department that I really had nothing to do with on a daily basis so we would just pass each other in the hall without even saying hi. After team building we would actually talk occasionally and everything felt more comfortable.