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What is (and what is not) a team building activity?

What is (and what is not) a team building activity?

What is (and what is not) a team building activity?


Actividad de team building en Wayco


The idea that the cohesion of a team affects its productivity is due to the Australian psychologist Elton Mayo, precursor of what we know today as team building. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Mayo argued in the now famous Hawthorne Studies that a person’s professional performance depends on the good or bad relationship he or she has with his or her co-workers.

The message struck a chord in the business sphere, which, with a view to competitiveness, made work climate a major issue and started to develop mechanisms to improve teamwork.

By definition, team building activities are group dynamics and techniques that combine fun, collaboration and skills development, so that a team learns to work more effectively. Without these elements, what we are talking about is another work psychology called team bonding: playful activities focused on creating interpersonal bonds outside the work context.

Do we know the difference between the two, and do we delude ourselves by calling team building after-work beers? Maybe you’ve never even done a real team building activity in your professional career… Let’s look at some examples.


What NOT


  • Tasting of wines or craft beers

The wide range of tastings and gastronomic experiences is left out of team building. Although the details of the work end up coming up in conversation, in this space of disconnection, the tendency is that the approach includes a certain frivolity and that they interact more with groups or people already related within the organisation.


  • Trust falls, also called Trust Fall.

A widespread practice in the United States, which consists of one person in the team dropping from a platform so that the rest of their colleagues can catch them and prevent them from falling. The aim is to reinforce confidence within the company and the responsibility of its members, but the criticisms are clear: stress, lack of usefulness and lack of job orientation. If someone catches you on the fly, it won’t make you speak in a different tone of voice or improve your coordination the next day.


  • Practising any risky sport.

It is taken for granted that outdoor physical activities are a fun pastime for everyone. First mistake. The assumption is that taking people out of their comfort zone will cause them to seek alliances to meet the challenge. Mistake number two.

Certain sporting activities encourage competitiveness, undermine morale and pursue short-term goals that are not aligned with teamwork. Therefore, if you opt for a team bulding activity of a sporting nature, it will be necessary to choose one that guarantees the involvement of all people – in one way or another – and that promotes communication and coordination between them.


  • Conferences 

One-way management talks based on PowerPoint and without question time are antagonistic to team building techniques. In order to involve the team in the success of the company, to transmit the corporate culture and to reinforce their commitment, the result is feigned interest and boredom.


  • Weekend swords

Proposing corporate events at the weekend or at the end of the working day is a double-edged sword. Firstly, because it does not respect the balance between personal and professional life and time off, and secondly, because it denotes poor management of the corporate culture. In addition, people are faced with the awkward situation of deciding what to put first, and the fear of negative feedback if they choose not to attend.


What it does


  • Professional retreats

The organisation of days that combine teambuilding, teambonding activities with informal One to One meetings or the presentation of projects or strategies, are gaining more and more prominence. They are known as professional retreats and their planning is usually entrusted to professional companies such as 4wanders.

It can be held at any location, as long as it is outside of the usual workspace. At the Wayco Cabanyal rooms, for example, we had the opportunity to host the group dynamics that the company Aztec, specialised in cybersecurity, organised during its professional retreat in Valencia.


  • Escape Room

Their easy customisation and the large number of skills and internal dynamics involved make escape room games one of the most popular team building activities. They test logic, creativity, decision-making processes, role identification, etc.

Another positive point of gaming is that it allows members to experience situations that simulate their daily challenges as a team and to reflect afterwards on their performance or the techniques used.


  • Volunteer programmes

Within the framework of Corporate Social Responsibility, many companies offer group volunteering activities. These can be carried out on a one-off or repeated basis, and in both cases, they contribute to consolidating the company’s values and strengthen coordination for the achievement of a shared objective.

The strength of this dynamic – in terms of team building, of course – is the message it conveys: common goals are more important than individual interests.


In this type of team building activity, the recreational component is reduced in favour of learning and professional development. Here the facility to customise the content and determine which new skills are more necessary according to departments is one of the main benefits: conflict management, leadership skills, creative thinking, etc.

What will be essential is that the practical component of these workshops or trainings is high.

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