Keep this comprehensive checklist handy when planning your outdoor team building activity.
Keep this comprehensive checklist handy when planning your outdoor team building activity.
Outdoor team building activities make for a great way to get outside and let loose with your colleagues in a non-work environment. Outdoor team building activities can include everything from scavenger hunts to charitable efforts. They also are the perfect accompaniment to corporate events like company barbecues, summer socials, and retreats.
Along with getting you out of the office, outdoor team building has quite a few benefits to reap. In fact, a study conducted by the University of Michigan found that spending time outside even improves cognitive function, particularly memory. Here are three more big benefits of participating in outdoor activities with your colleagues:
- Create Meaningful Connections: Team building, in general, helps you improve your group in several ways, including fostering stronger bonds with your colleagues and further developing specific skills like collaboration and communication.
- Re-Energize Your Team Dynamic: Being outside is not only good for you on an individual level, but it re-invigorates your team, too. That’s because you’re out of your typical environment doing something fun together with your colleagues - and that can breathe in new life into your group dynamic.
- Explore or Rediscover Your Location: Whether you're at an offsite retreat or just in your hometown, outdoor team building activities (like scavenger hunts such as The Amazing Chase) can provide an opportunity to explore or even rediscover your location in a unique way.
To learn more about outdoor team building, our white paper, The Ultimate Guide to Outdoor Team Building, is a great (and free!) resource. And, if you want some tips on how to enhance your summer social event once you've planned it, be sure to check out our blog post.
There are a lot of external factors that can also make outdoor team building activities a little tricky to organize, though. Event planners need to think about things such as their venue, catering, and, of course, the weather. There’s a lot of pressure on them to make sure that everything goes smoothly – after all, if the colleagues have a negative experience, it will likely reflect badly on the planner.
But don't worry, we've got your back. Just use this comprehensive checklist as a trusty guide to make sure you've got everything covered when organizing your next outdoor team building event. The following four points are key to a successful outdoor team building activity:
1. Outdoor Venue Logistics and Accessibility Checklist
Research from EventMB found that 65% of event planners are most concerned about finding a good venue when planning corporate events. The perfect setting can enhance the overall experience for your employees, whereas the wrong fit can really rain on your whole parade. When narrowing down your outdoor venue options, consider the following points to help you make the right choice for your group:
- Size and Space: Make sure the venue you're looking at can adequately accommodate your group size. What’s the capacity for seated versus standing styles? Also, keep in mind any additional space you might need, whether it be for extra chairs, supplies for certain activities, or tables to use as stations. In a space like a hotel courtyard, this is key.
- Covered Spaces: Check to see if there are covered areas in the outdoor venue - important for shade, in case it's very hot the day of your activity or cover if it's raining. Some parks may have gazebos or ample shade from the trees, but if they don't, you might need to rent outdoor tents or canopies to serve that purpose.
- Internet and Audio/Visual Equipment: If you're making a presentation at any point during your activity - or if the event itself requires some sort of A/V accompaniment - be sure you have what you need to set up properly. This can be tricky with an outdoor venue - depending on the space itself, you might need a power source like a generator (check the venue’s policies for that). Consider A/V needs like microphones and speakers, and don’t forget to check on sound regulations for public spaces. Also, see if WiFi is available - you’ll need internet access if you’re using a smartphone app for your activity. A lot of cities offer public WiFi or, if your event is taking place somewhere like a hotel courtyard, the hotel will likely have a connection.
- Bathrooms: Are there toilets on site? Depending on your group size, you might need more than one. And, this goes without saying, but double check to make sure they're clean! Alternatively, you may need to look into renting portable toilets.
- Outdoor Venue Regulations: If you're doing your team building activity at a park, reach out to the local Parks Board to see if there are any permits or waivers you need to sign and make sure that you're actually allowed to set up shop for the day. Some parks require that you reserve the space in advance. Give yourself plenty of time to investigate this, too, in case the process for approval is a long one.
- Liquor License: If you’d like to serve adult beverages during or after your activity, confirm with the outdoor venue if you’re required to have a liquor license. Also, check your local city regulations on consuming liquor in public places. Give yourself lots of time to get this sorted out, in case there are any roadblocks on the way to approval.
- Garbage and Recycling: Is there efficient garbage disposal and recycling at the outdoor venue? If there's not, check out the options for a nearby recycling depot and garbage disposal that any waste can be dropped off at after event clean up.
- Ease of Access: Is the outdoor venue easy to get to? If you're participating in a team building event as part of a retreat, meeting, or conference, and your activity venue is in a different location than where your group is staying, is it walking distance from your base? If not, is there transportation nearby that'll allow you to easily get there and back?
- Transportation: If transportation is needed, is there a shuttle provided by the venue for taking participants to and from the venue? If not, you might have to look into renting one. If you do require a shuttle, ensure that is has enough space for any supplies that participants may need to bring for the activity or for personal items, like backpacks. Alternatively, if they need to take public transit, inquire about buying a group ticket package.
- Parking: If your colleagues are driving to the activity venue, make sure that there's ample parking available. Also, check to see about the cost - is parking complimentary or is there a fee? Do they have to park on the street?
- Wheelchair Access: If there are any people on your team who use a wheelchair, ensure the venue you choose for the outdoor activity has the appropriate ramps or entrances. Also, it’s important that the terrain is comfortable to navigate through, as well.
You can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather (Picnic Party Games, anyone?). So, if you're doing an outdoor team building activity, you must be prepared - not only for rain, but also for extreme heat, wind, or anything else that might fall out of the sky. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning a team building activity outside:
- Check the Forecast: If you’re booking your activity quite far in advance, do a quick check on the seasonal weather patterns on your activity date. They can be a good predictor of what you can expect. If, historically, it’s been stormy or blisteringly hot on your event day, you might want to reconsider the date for something more statistically in your favor.
- Peace of Mind Plan: When you partner with Outback for your outdoor team building activity, you'll get to take advantage of our Peace of Mind Plan. That means that when you book an outdoor activity with us, you'll be able to switch to an indoor activity as a last-minute substitution if the weather turns - free of cost.
- Consider a Destination: If weather is a serious issue for your outdoor activity, why not make it a destination event? If you have the means to do it, this works especially well if you're doing team building alongside other big corporate affairs like company retreats or conferences. Check out our blog post, The Top 20 Destinations in North America for Company Retreats, to scope out some good spots.
Whether you have a physical activity, a long day of festivities planned, or are just going to be out in the sun for a few hours, be sure to have sustenance available for your colleagues to refuel. But when it comes to food, there are a lot of factors to consider, from allergies to portion size. A few things to remember:
- Dietary Preferences: Consider dietary restrictions, preferences, and allergies. Sending out a poll to your colleagues for the specifics is a good way to go about it - and be sure to do this well in advance, so that you can cater (literally) to everyone's needs.
- Portion Size: Will you be needing a full lunch or dinner spread? Or just some snacks to munch on while doing your activity? The amount of food you bring in will depend on if your activity takes place in between a long day of meetings or if it's just the main event itself. Gauge your portion size to what you’ll realistically need for your day.
- Refrigeration Options: Whether you're bringing in food yourself or have catering coming in, make sure that either it's okay to be left out in the open or that you have a way to refrigerate it. Look into renting a portable refrigerator (Polar Leasing has a variety of options for events) or check to see if the venue has a kitchen that you can use. Coolers are a great option, too.
- Cutlery: Will you need to use cutlery for your snacks? If so, think about compostable options - they're much more environmentally friendly than the plastic variety, particularly if you have a larger group. Companies such as Green Paper Products and Greenmuch allow you to purchase biodegradable utensils in bulk.
3. Personal Accessories
You can never be too prepared! Email your colleagues this little personal checklist of things for them to remember for event day.
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes
- Apply sunscreen beforehand and bring a bottle with you to reapply throughout the day
- Wear a hat or, at least, bring one with you to protect from heat stroke
- Bring a change of clothes, in case you're doing an activity where you might get wet
- Pack a refillable water bottle and replenish throughout the day – it's important to keep hydrated, especially if it’s hot
- Bring hair elastics to tie long hair back
- A fully-charged phone – for taking photos or for your activity, if it’s smartphone-based
Need Further Support with Planning Your Outdoor Team Building Activity?
To learn more about how you can plan a successful outdoor team building activity for your corporate group, just get in touch with our knowledgeable Employee Engagement Consultants.