The past year was mainly about meeting each other again for us. After the lockdown was lifted at the end of Q1, many companies wanted to schedule a live meeting again. We often heard during the meetings that some employees had never met each other in life. Not crazy, of course, after two years of Covid. Where meeting each other was the theme of 2022, we look ahead to the team-building trends in 2023 and beyond in this article.
What are the big trends in team building for 2023 (and beyond)?
To be able to say something meaningful about this, I would first like to discuss what team building is and what it is not. Next, we look at macro trends influencing team building activities and meetings.
Wat is teambuilding?
A Google search yields the following:
These are a huge number of results that all fall under team building. The same activities are offered on many websites, such as bedrijfsuitje.nl or wegmetdebaas.nl, under both headings. Being on a sloop trip, paintball, riding a Segway, or heptathlon, no matter how fun and useful, is not team building.
It is good to add some nuance here because there is a big difference between an outing and a team building activity.
A company outing is often an annual event where you do something active with your colleagues and, above all, have a lot of fun. It is a reward for the staff. A team-building program should be fun, but it also aims to contribute to the team's development. Skills are consciously trained in a safe environment.
Team building thus becomes an investment in future results.
Team building is:
- A safe and fun environment
- A broader goal than just fun
- Contributes to the development of the group
- Mild competition or a joint result
- IEveryone can participate and share in the result
Team building is not:
- Sporting competition
- Just do something fun together
In recent years, Covid has been an important factor within every organization. The consequences are still noticeable daily for many organizations, and the way of working has changed permanently. This certainly applies to remote working, which affects how employees work together and how often they see each other.
The (work) environment has changed considerably since Covid.
The following trends affect team building activities.
- Hybrid working is an enduring trend. Experts expect that in 2028 no less than 78% of employees will work hybrid. As a result, employees see each other physically less often. In addition, 52% of employees say flexible work policies influence their decision to stay with an organization.
- The tight labour market continues, so companies are increasingly focusing on retaining their workforce.
- VR and AI will play an increasingly important role in the workplace in the coming years.
- The economy will cool down in 2023, and there is a chance of a recession.
For 2023 and the years beyond, we see several clear trends related to macro trends.
Team building trend 1: Activities around culture or core values
Even before Covid, we saw an increase in activities in which the organisation's culture and core values play a major role. Since then, many employees have worked from home for at least an extended period, and remote working still plays a major role in many organisations. You come into contactless with the core values and cultural norms that apply within an organisation. Culture is the space between people (Danielle Braun), and if you see fewer people live, there is a chance that the bond with the corporate culture will also decrease.
An organisation's core values say a lot about its identity, and they say something about shared beliefs that you have. Core values provide guidance and can guide behaviour and help to make the right choices.
A team-building activity in which the organisation's core values are central offers a playful way to (re) activate the core values.
What are the benefits of reflecting the core values in a team building activity?
- Brings core values into head, heart and hands
- Ensures connection between employees
- Provides guidance for daily actions
Team building trend 2: No competition, but cooperation
Team building, company outings and team bonding have traditionally been competitive. You play with your team against the other teams, which automatically means that there is one winner and the rest are losers.
We are taught from an early age that everything is about competition and winning. Playing outside, board games, the best grades, the highest possible education, the best jobs, the highest salary, the most profit, the highest growth percentage, etc. You will find competition everywhere and it is about winning or (the fear of) losing.
Competition can sometimes bring out the best in us, but it's not the only approach that works. A recent article by EY (Is collaboration the new innovation) shows that companies are increasingly focusing on collaboration.
"Business is fundamentally about competition and the survival of the fittest. But recent years have shown the limitations of such thinking."
A transformation is taking place of which we are only at the beginning. New business models prove that collaboration is necessary. Many disruptive models are even completely built on collaboration. AirBnB rents out homes without owning homes. Uber sells taxi rides without its own taxis. Takeaway (home delivery) sells meals without its own restaurants.
Team building programs are an excellent way to let employees experience the power of collaboration. And it creates another special 'by-catch'. Staff will be more motivated. The latest team building programs in which you work with different teams on one common goal provide deeper satisfaction. People are proud. This experience is fundamentally stronger than the momentary pleasure of first place in a competition.
Team building trend 3: Team building shifts to main stage
An activity was often planned during a day of meetings or a conference. This was often the last to be filled in; after the date, location and agenda, there was just some time left to do 'something fun' at the end of the day.
We have been advocating for years not to end with a team building activity, but to start immediately. You will then benefit from the effect of the activity for the whole day (or days for a multi-day conference).
Since the Covid measures have been lifted, we see that more and more organizations use the safe and playful setting of a team building activity to increase mutual bonding and involvement with each other. The number of companies that plan multiple activities in one day is now 5x higher than before Covid.
Team building trend 4: Stay online
During Covid, there was no other choice, and Online was the only way. The first activities that arose at that time were an online pub quiz. Very nice to do once, but this is not part of our team building.
We quickly went to see the possibilities and how you could make the most of the benefits of online.
Important features here are:
- Break-out rooms as quickly as possible from a plenary session
- Not everyone has the same information, so everyone is heard
- A good storyline that everyone goes along with
In this way, the benefits of an online environment are well utilized, and the activity is a real exercise in online collaboration. This has an immediate positive effect on teams that have to consult online.
We now see that organizations where employees often work remotely or in different countries actively use this form of team building to keep the connection between employees alive.
Team building trend 5: Using Gamification and High Tech to practice skills
New techniques such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will probably play a major role in the workplace in the coming years. Nobody knows exactly how and what it entails, but many people are curious about it.
These new techniques are already available in team building activities and offer a great opportunity to get acquainted with them playfully. In addition, these techniques also offer the opportunity to practice skills through simulations.
This way, you can use high tech to train skills for the future. In particular, human skills include empathy, communication, adaptability, coaching, and building trust.
These trends show the increasing influence of team building on the development of teams. Team building is becoming more and more a tool rather than an end, requiring team building companies to offer a greater variety of programs and customization. Companies with one or two successful formulas will find it increasingly difficult because specific solutions have been sought that fit a predetermined goal.