Team building event venue on a beautiful lake Team building event venue on a beautiful lake

While the debate rages on between champions of remote work versus those corporations forcing employees back to offices - the number one reason leaders on the 'return to office' side give for mandating back to office policies, is that remote work is leading to an erosion of company culture. It's no surprise then, that one of the ways companies are choosing to improve employee engagement, foster collaboration and team bonding, is through corporate offsites, retreats and teambuilding events. To kick-off 2023, a Forbes article offered compelling reasons to make company retreats a priority - exploring the effect on work environment, competitive edge and a company's success.

At TK Events, we've always been a remote first company and it was tradition to bring our remote team together at an annual offsite for some fun team building. This year it was even more critical to spend time together, because the face of our business has changed dramatically (or rather the faces of our business). We've grown from a team of 13 to 25, TK'ers are spread across the globe. While we had great success with our virtual team building during the pandemic lockdowns, (read about our virtual teambuilding event highlighted in Bizbash), being together in person was a big company priority.

Global team

For the very first time, we brought all co-workers together - from the UK, Brazil, British Columbia, and Ontario for a two-day retreat in Muskoka. We can, without a doubt, attest to the importance of teambuilding events for company culture. In fact, there was an often-heard sentiment that the retreat was 'good for our souls'. We met co-workers for the first time, laughed until our sides hurt and just felt the joy of hanging out and spending time with team members.

The importance of team building

A recent Bizbash article on the importance of teambuilding events in building a strong company culture points out a Microsoft study noting that, "When employees make deep connections with their team members and other colleagues, they’re more likely to report higher job satisfaction, productivity, and creativity."


Company Update

What is culture transformation in the workplace?

There's a famous line by the esteemed Peter Drucker in this article in MIT Sloan Management Review "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". It reinforces how "leaders must build a strong culture to make transformation a reality in their businesses post-pandemic."

There is a dramatic shift going on from CX (Customer Experience) to EX (employee experience) explored by Andrew Au, a digital transformation leader - read it here at Speakers Spotlight. Experts agree that leaders need to put energy and thought into the future of work, employee engagement and employee happiness.

In fact, there's a whole generation of young grads and new workers that have not had the experience of building workplace friendships, realizing the benefit of mentorship and networking, not to mention the organic learning that takes place. 

So what did we do? Here's how we applied our creative thinking to our team building event:

Location - we purposefully picked a location that took the Toronto employees away, as well as introducing a true Canadian north experience to our global employees, selecting Touchstone Resort in Muskoka. It really felt like a retreat for the whole team!

Team bonding took place on the bus trip up Highway 400 with a series of icebreakers, and a snowball feedback opportunity - where employees wrote comments on a piece of paper, crumpled it in a (snow)ball and tossed it in the feedback pile.

The agenda - a mix of business and play is a must! In fact we would suggest focusing more on the fun and free time then business because that's where the best team bonding occurs.

Involve the team - the planning wasn't left to one or two people - our entire leadership team were part of the agenda building and planning, each owning parts of the event and content. In doing so, we got the ultimate creative thinking in developing our team building agenda.

Fun Team Building Activities:

We kicked off with a reception at the Touchstone Resort boathouse on Lake Muskoka and closed the night with a beach bonfire, games, s'mores - where we introduced the Brits to graham crackers - and of course music.

A fresh air group painting class and cocktails led by one of our designers was part of the agenda.

The next morning was all business. A state of the nation leadership presentation where we discussed company goals, provided industry insights and brought the entire group up to speed on our company priorities.

Other business content included creative workshops by our Head of Creative and Design to promote communication skills, innovative and creative thinking. We're a creative agency, so an important part of our agenda was having the team members work in small groups to go through brainstorming exercises and a great way to show off their teamwork skills and develop leadership skills.

Teambuilding Activities and Agenda Building

Develop your agenda based on your current company needs. One of the best team bonding activities we did was built on taking the entire group through a personality test with Disc Profile prior to the event. We thought it was important, given the remote nature of our work and team, that we use the profiles as a means of getting to know one another. At the offsite we explored all the different personalities, sharing our personal profiles and the recommendations on how to best work with one another. What a valuable team building activity! In fact, we've all added our disc personalities to our Slack profiles so that team members can use it as a reminder of how best to communicate with one another.

How you structure your agenda should be unique to your corporation. Perhaps you might find this a good time to conduct a mental health and wellness workshop. You can read more about our journey to mental health training in a recent blog post.

Of course no teambuilding event is complete without some friendly competition. We ran our own outdoor team building activities on the beach and seriously killed ourselves laughing.

Then there's all the fun. There was the diving off the dock crowd or the chill in a Muskoka chair crowd. Our final night was a sit-down dinner, dock side, followed by a boat cruise. BUT, it was a wedding party. We have five new brides/grooms at TK Events this year. We told them it was a white party and the rest of the team was told to dress in their best - so that only the brides and grooms were in white. We supplied veils and corsages. The looks on their faces - priceless. 

The final morning offered more free time or an option to join a Yoga on the Dock session.

We topped it off for a pit stop at a local restaurant - the iconic Webers restaurant on the drive home.

Yoga On the DockWater Activities

Make Your Team Building Event A Reality!

10/10 recommend - if you're looking to make a positive impact with an event that boosts morale and employee satisfaction - make your next event a teambuilding offsite. Contact us at the form below - we're more than happy to share the fun and bring our special brand of creative thinking and unique team building activities to your event!

Here's a great team building resource and check-list courtesy of Hubspot

What are the 5 C's of team building?

You should be working on the five Cs, which mean communication, camaraderie, commitment, confidence and coachingability. Using the 5 C's as a guideline is a great way to get started in developing your team building agenda.

What is culture transformation in the workplace?

Culture transformation involves changing cultures across the company and individual departments. It is a deeply engrained 'corporate way' and set of values that is intrinsic to every worker.

How do you lead culture change in the workplace?

Organizational cultures should gradually change. Instead of requiring immediate succession by email or meeting, let staff adapt in a thoughtfully developed plan with milestones. The process may take months and weeks, but it will help your employees. In the plan can be your strategically placed timing for your corporate team building event.

Lounging on the Dock

What is an example of work culture?

Today, more young people are searching for an organization they feel aligns with their personal goals. You can read more in this article from Indeed on the importance of workplace culture and what young workers are looking for in an employer. Organizational culture is often reflected by different things, but the root of it will always be "a company's attitudes and beliefs."

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